Happy Thanksgiving. Those of us who write about television have much to be thankful for. Though I don’t have many opportunities to express it, I am grateful for you, my faithful readers, without whom this humble column would have no purpose.
We can also be grateful for a television medium that continually reinvents itself. Ten years ago, few would have predicted the abundance of new programming, good, bad, excellent and forgettable, produced by streaming services as well as traditional networks and cable outlets.
While we’re on the subject of product, Netflix has chosen Thanksgiving to debut its lavish and energetic holiday movie “The Christmas Chronicles” (TV-PG). While it boasts the production efforts of Chris Columbus (“Home Alone,” the “Harry Potter” franchise) and plenty of special effects, its story also contains some ancient chestnuts.
Santa (Kurt Russell) rules over a steampunk Christmas village, complete with a vast card catalog listing all things naughty and nice. Like countless holiday movies, Christmas is in crisis. As we saw in “Elf,” Santa and his sleigh run aground in the big city, where urban tykes exchange their cynicism for wide-eyed wonder as the jolly St. Nick demonstrates the tricks of his trade. Along the way, the big guy behaves like a cool, if somewhat arrogant, “dad” and has time to perform a James Brown number as well.
It’s a fools’ game to predict the “future” of holiday movies or consider which ones will become classics. I’d file this one in the group of bloated and overproduced efforts, somewhere between the Jim Carrey desecration of “The Grinch” and the widely unloved 1985 epic “Santa Claus: The Movie” (1:30 p.m., CMT).
- When did Thanksgiving become a day about celebrating celebrities?
Fox offers “MasterChef Junior: Celebrity Showdown” (7 p.m., TV-PG). Martha Stewart joins host Gordon Ramsay to preside over a panel including Terrence Howard, Eric Stonestreet, Alyson Hannigan, and NFL legends Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith as they compete for charity.
Over on ABC, “I’m Coming Home” (9 p.m.) follows Broadway star Kristin Chenoweth, country music singer Jake Owen and “Shark Tank” entrepreneur Daymond John as they return to their hometowns. Gee whiz, famous people have families, too! Tyler Perry and Tiffany Haddish also share holiday memories. Produced by Whoopi Goldberg.
No network has been more energetic about blending celebrity and royalty than ABC. “Meghan’s New Life: The Real Princess Diaries” (8 p.m., ABC) follows a former “Suits” star in her new job.
- Marathons include a holiday binge of “The Simpsons” (7 p.m. to midnight, FXX, TV-PG). IFC begins a 24-hour “Pee-wee’s Playhouse” (5 a.m., TV-Y7) festival. WGN offers a six-hour helping of “Last Man Standing” (6 p.m.).
Netflix drops the entire second season of its “Mystery Science Theater 3000” reboot just in time to celebrate the goofy franchise’s 30th anniversary.
In other streaming news, CBS All Access streams the entire second season of its police comedy “No Activity.”
- John O’Hurley hosts The National Dog Show (noon, NBC), with commentary by David Frei.
- “20/20” interviews the cast and crew of “Mary Poppins Returns” (7 p.m., ABC), premiering next month.
- The New Orleans Saints host the Atlanta Falcons in “Thursday Night Football” (7:15 p.m., NBC).
- A prince invites a onetime professional ice skater to spend “Christmas at the Palace” (7 p.m., Hallmark).
- A newly single woman resists returning home for the holidays in the 2018 romance “The Christmas Contract” (7 p.m., Lifetime).
Chuck Jones directs the cartoon portions of the 1970 live-action-animation adaptation of “The Phantom Tollbooth” (7:15 a.m., TCM), featuring the voice of Mel Blanc and starring Butch Patrick (“The Munsters”).
“Football Night in America” (7 p.m., NBC) ... On two helpings of “The Big Bang Theory” (CBS, r, TV-PG), the honeymooners (7 p.m.), Sheldon’s audition (8 p.m.) ... Ryan Seacrest hosts the second night of the iHeartRadio Music Festival (7 p.m., CW, r, TV-PG) ... There’s no smart way to confront a bully on “Young Sheldon” (7:30 p.m., CBS, r, TV-PG) ... Murphy’s Thanksgiving cooking leaves guests edgy on “Murphy Brown” (8:30 p.m., CBS, TV-PG) ... A killer returns from the dead on “S.W.A.T.” (9 p.m., CBS, r, TV-14).