“American Masters: Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould” (8 p.m., PBS, check local listings) looks at the complex man behind the popular musical legend. Along the way it examines the nature of 20th-century celebrity that had as much to do with so-call high art as popular culture.
Following in the footsteps of pianists over the centuries, piano prodigy Gould conquered the music-loving public with his 1955 New York City Concert debut at the age of 22.
At the depths of the Cold War, he would travel to the Soviet Union and make believers of that nation’s discerning musical audience as well. Yet less than a decade later, Gould would take the dramatic step of abandoning live performance to concentrate solely on recordings.
He saw that way as a means of leaving behind the trappings of concert celebrity and trail-blazing a more intimate relationship between a single artist and an audience of one. Gould’s recordings would become essential LPs and all but redefined Bach for an upcoming generation.
This “Masters” returns to some of these recordings and also includes interviews with Gould’s lover, personal assistant, collaborators and manager — in short, those who best knew the temperamental artist and interpreter.
• With a week to go in 2010, bring on the year and decade round-ups. “50 Most Insane Celebrity Oops” (8 p.m., E!) features not-so-well-thought-out antics and outbursts from Mariah Carey, Jessica Simpson, Kristen Stewart, Adam Lambert, Katherine Heigl and of course, Snooki.
• Turner Classic Movies salutes the late director Blake Edwards with four of his best-known films, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (7 p.m.); “Days of Wine and Roses” (9 p.m.); “The Pink Panther” (11 p.m.) and “Victor/Victoria” (1 a.m.). Edwards died Dec. 15.
Tonight’s other highlights
• Spike unspools a “Band of Brothers” (8 a.m. through 11:42 p.m.) marathon.
• Dishonesty is the only policy on “House” (7 p.m., Fox).
• Johnny Depp stars in Tim Burton’s 2005 version of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” (7 p.m., ABC).
• “The Dog Whisperer” (7 p.m., National Geographic) returns for three nights of new episodes and old favorites.
• Atlanta hosts New Orleans on “Monday Night Football” (7:15 p.m., ESPN).
• Lightman tries to save a veteran on “Lie to Me” (7 p.m., Fox).
• A bloody feud takes no breaks for Christmas on “The Closer” (8 p.m., TNT).
• A diplomat’s daughter is slain on “Hawaii Five-O” (9 p.m., CBS).
• Timothy Dalton guest stars on “Chuck” (9 p.m., NBC).
• Closure does not come easily to Joe on “Men of a Certain Age” (9 p.m., TNT).
• George Duran hosts the “American Chocolate Championship” (9 p.m., TLC). May the best morsel melt.
Some feared that Will Ferrell’s career hit a brick wall when he created the expensive 2009 comedy bomb “Land of the Lost” (8:15 p.m., Cinemax) based on a television series not everybody remembered.