What's on TV
SHOWS FOR DEC. 13-20
Jackie Chan Adventures: A Jolly J-Team Xmas (Kids' WB, 9-9:30 a.m.): Charming and funny, this adventure finds the J-Team saving Christmas from the wicked Daolon Wong, who has built an army of fierce snowmen to abduct Santa Claus.
The Man Who Saved Christmas (CBS, 9-11 p.m.): The very best of the holiday dramas is an understated tribute to a man most of us have never heard of: A.C. Gilbert, inventor of the Erector Set. Jason Alexander plays the toymaker who struggles with his conscience over whether to retool his toy factory and make munitions for the war effort.
I Was a Teenage Faust (Showtime, 8-9:35 p.m.): The family film stars Robert Townsend, Morgan Fairchild, and young Josh Zuckerman in a mildly entertaining story based on the myth of a scholar who sold his soul to the devil. Townsend plays an incompetent lesser demon who has a hard time finding likely candidates for his boss in Indiana. When he overhears Brendan say he'd sell his soul to date the teen queen, he swings into action. It loses all of the meaning of the original, but younger teens may find it amusing.
The Christmas Truce (The History Channel, 8-9 p.m.): One of the truly amazing and unlikely stories in all of human history occurred one Christmas Eve in the trenches of World War I. Despite strict orders to the contrary, German and British soldiers spontaneously began to celebrate Christmas together. Fraternizing with the enemy could cost a soldier his life. Nevertheless, after singing carols together, they played games and exchanged food on the battlefield. This marvelous documentary presents us with archival footage, photographs, and contemporary interviews with the descendents of men who participated in the truce. This may be the best Christmas story on TV this season.
Second String (TNT, 8-10 p.m.): Even those who don't care for football will find this TV movie exciting. Those who know more about football may scoff at the plays and some of the sentiments. But even skeptics will enjoy Jon Voight's caustic performance as a hardheaded coach and Gil Bellows as a much maligned quarterback. Some harsh language make it unlikely fare for younger family members.