“Neverland” (8 p.m. Syfy) offers a prequel to the “Peter Pan” story by way of “Lost,” “Avatar” and any number of fantasies that may or may not include the kitchen sink. It starts out in Victorian London. No, make that on the bounding waves in the 1700s. No, it begins on a lost planet long ago and far away. It’s about time travel. Magic. Fairies. Pirates. Native Americans. Alchemy. You name it.
The principal, or most coherent, story among many tales is that of Peter (Charlie Rowe), the impish leader of a band of merry pickpockets who work the London streets circa 1906. Hired by their mentor, Jimmy (Rhys Ifans), to rob a jewelry store, they bite off more fantasy than they can chew when they happen upon a magic orb that transports them to a mystical land filled with pirates, Indians, crocodiles and a forest city created by an Alchemist.
Bob Hoskins, who appeared in the 1991 fantasy “Hook,” returns here as Smee, the henchman to the fetching captain Bonny (Anna Friel), whose ship and crew find themselves sharing the mysterious dimension with Peter, Jimmy and the gang.
Like many made-for-TV spectacles of this sort, “Neverland” is nothing short of eye-popping in the special effects department. But once you get beyond the visuals, the four-hour effort is more overwhelming than engaging. Story all but eclipses character development. It often rattles along like a freight train of subplots rather than present a smooth narrative with a definitive hero worthy of our attention and affection. The tempestuous friction between Jimmy and Bonny often overshadows anything Peter is up to. Look, or rather, listen, for Keira Knightley as the voice of Tinker Bell.
• Nothing says “Christmas special” like stars, former stars or near stars who pretend to get excited for the holidays when a film crew and a bevy of designers visit them (often as early as September or so, given shooting schedules).
‘‘Celebrity Holiday Homes” (7 p.m., HGTV) never disappoints in this department. A yuletide roundup of familiar faces, this year’s “Homes” has designers clamoring to fix up Kurt Warner’s home for the holidays. For the record, he was an NFL quarterback for the Rams, Giants and Cardinals, as well as a contestant on “Dancing With the Stars.” And, as we’re frequently reminded, he has seven kids. So does my mother. But she’s always hung her own tinsel.
Other stars and recipients of free decorating include Jordin Sparks, winner of “American Idol,” and “CSI: Miami” regular Eva LaRue.
Tonight’s other highlights
• The Saints host the Lions on “Sunday Night Football” (7 p.m., NBC).
• Prince Charming faces a crossroads on “Once Upon a Time” (7 p.m., ABC).
• Canning returns on “The Good Wife” (8 p.m., CBS).
• Chuck plays divide and conquer on “Desperate Housewives” (8 p.m., ABC).
• The canine Christmas onslaught continues with “A Golden Christmas 2: The Second Tail” (8 p.m., ION). That’s golden as in retriever.
• “Alaska State Troopers” (8 p.m., National Geographic) returns with a two-hour season premiere.