What's on TV
SHOWS FOR DEC. 7-13
It's a Wonderful Life (NBC, 8-11 p.m.): For the first time, former President George Bush describes the visuals in the Capra classic for the nation's blind and visually impaired people.
Live from Baghdad (HBO, 8-10 p.m.): If the beginning of the film seems too frenetic, hang on because that false energy gives way to a believable pace. Based on the memoir by senior executive producer Robert Wiener, the story is straightforward enough: CNN tough-guy reporters get into Baghdad before the Gulf War begins and report as long as they can. Michael Keaton stars as Wiener with Helena Bonham Carter as Wiener's producing partner, Ingrid Formanek. Sexual tension between the two distracts from the action, and seems gratuitous. Though the film is involving - even exhilarating at times - the self-congratulatory tone diminishes its effect as a story.
A Charlie Brown Christmas (ABC, 8-9 p.m.): The old favorite includes an all-new animated "Charlie Brown's Christmas Tales" in which each of the Peanuts gang appears in his or her own vignette. As Charlie Brown combats the materialism of the age, the others join him in their own discoveries of the meaning behind the tinsel.
A Motown Christmas (USA, 8-9 p.m.): Comedian D.L. Hughley hosts a joyous Motown Noel with Stevie Wonder singing "Joy to the World," and India.Arie offering an exquisite rendition of "The First Noel." Even secular tunes get a "soul"-ful treatment, especially Thelma Houston's "Please Come Home for Christmas" and The Temptations' "Get Ready."
Miss Lettie and Me (TNT, 8-10 p.m.): Movies fit for the family are rare on TV, but this one is a sweet, if uneven, exception. Mary Tyler Moore lends her presence as a hardhearted old farmer who sacrificed the dreams of her youth for others, only to be deserted by them. Her favorite niece sends her 9-year old daughter to stay with Miss Lettie (Moore). Miss Lettie keeps her distance as the child learns about farming from the hired hand (played with genteel good wit by Charlie Robinson). The ending comes as no surprise, but what could have been merely formulaic comes a little closer to the way love really works.
Biography of the Year (A&E, 8-10 p.m.): According to this energetic documentary, the people who most impacted our culture this year includes murderers and politicians, beautiful women and whistle-blowers. We might disagree with choices like Martha Stewart and Ozzy Osbourne, but there's no disputing the inclusion of President Bush; Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon; Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat; Halle Berry, the first African-American Best Actress; Washington-area sniper suspects; and FBI whistle-blower Coleen Rowley.
Robbie the Reindeer in Hooves of Fire (CBS, 9-10 p.m.): An award-winning clay-animated adventure from BBC's 3-D animation stars Ben Stiller as a new reindeer on Santa's sleigh team and Hugh Grant plays his rival in the role of senior reindeer Blitzen. Britney Spears and Jerry Stiller also lend their voices.