Archive for Tuesday, December 20, 2011

New ‘Deck’ is a few cards short

December 20, 2011

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Murder, mayhem and mistletoe mingle in the 2011 mystery “Deck the Halls” (8 p.m., TNT), based on a novel by Mary Higgins Clark. Stuffed like Christmas fruitcake with too many coincidences, “Deck” stars Scottie Thompson as Regan Reilly, a fetching super sleuth who just happens to be the daughter of world-famous crime novelist Nora Reilly (Jane Alexander). Kathy Najimy is Alvirah, Nora’s most avid reader and amateur crime solver. She and her husband (Larry Miller) just happened to have won $40 million in the lottery. And Alvirah just happens to meet Regan at the exact moment that her funeral director father has been kidnapped!

While I’m always a sucker for scenes of dozens of Santa Clauses at a funeral home, this movie never quite settles on a tone, straddling the line between holiday whimsy and serious sleuthing. If anything, this misfire succeeds only in making proven mystery/comedies like “Monk” and “Psych” look good in comparison.

l When Planet Green launched in 1998, some wondered how it could fill a schedule with environmental programming. It hasn’t. Like many cable outlets, it has abandoned easy definition to simply imitate other cable shows from other networks. Hence, “Midnight Snacks” (9 p.m.) offers a hybrid of Anthony Bourdain’s Travel Channel efforts and “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” from the Food Network.

‘‘Suzilla” (9:30 p.m.) becomes the latest show to celebrate competitive eating. We knew Green would not stick to recycling and sustainability for long, but promoting gluttony seems to be a real betrayal of its mission.

Tonight’s holiday highlights

• A holiday overload on “Glee” (7 p.m., Fox).

• A picture book comes to life in the 2004 fantasy “The Polar Express” (8 p.m., ABC Family), which manages to delight children and appall adults with creepy, unlifelike special effects.

• George C. Scott plays Scrooge in the 1984 adaptation of “A Christmas Carol” (8 p.m., AMC).

• Decorations mean war in the 2006 comedy “Deck the Halls” (7 p.m., FX). Not to be confused with the film reviewed above.

• The big guy’s daughter moonlights as an elf in the 2011 fantasy “Annie Claus Is Coming to Town” (7 p.m., Hallmark).

• The 2010 special “Saturday Night Live Presents: A Very Gilly Christmas” (8 p.m., NBC) offers clips of seasonal skits past with a special emphasis on Kristen Wiig and her catchphrase driven character. Hardly Wiig’s (“Bridesmaids”) smartest material.

• Frankie throws a Christmas Eve party on “The Middle” (8 p.m., ABC).

• Fresh from the creche on “Raising Hope” (8:30 p.m., Fox).

• Oscar winners Marcia Gay Harden and Peter O’Toole find themselves in the 2008 bauble “Thomas Kinkade’s Christmas Cottage” (9 p.m., Lifetime Movie Network).

• The 2011 documentary “A Night at the Movies: Merry Christmas” (9 p.m., TCM) celebrates films of the season.

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