Two holiday specials are worthwhile


The odds against it happening are very high, but tonight TV provides a sort of holiday miracle: two watchable Christmas specials on the same night. One is from 1965 -- and that's the newer one. The other, seen for the first time since it was performed live on the DuMont network, is from 1951.

* "A Charlie Brown Christmas" (8-8:30 p.m., Channel 11) -- Vince Guaraldi's jazz score is terrific. Linus' lecture about the true meaning of Christmas is right on the money -- and right about the money, too. Then there's the Snoopy dance, seen in animated form for the first time -- and that scrawny Christmas tree, which Charlie Brown identifies with for all the right reasons. Like "The Wizard of Oz," this is an annual TV tradition too good to ignore. CBS.

* "1994 Billboard Music Awards" (8-10 p.m., Channel 45) -- Dennis Miller returns to Fox, but only on this one night, as co-host of "The 1994 Billboard Music Awards" with Heather Locklear. Scheduled to perform live: The Rolling Stones, Stone Temple Pilots, Tom Jones and Melissa Etheridge, among others. You know what they say: A Rolling Stone Temple Pilot gathers no moss. Fox.

* "Touched By An Angel" (9-10 p.m., Channel 11) -- Every guest star on tonight's "Touched By an Angel" comes from a different avenue of show business. There's Charles Rocket of "Saturday Night Live," Ed Marinaro of "Hill Street Blues," Nancy Allen of Brian De Palma's movies, and Brooke Adams of "Days of Heaven." CBS.


* "The Honeymooners' First Christmas" (10-10:45 p.m., DIS) -- Believe it or not, there's still a "lost" episode of "The Honeymooners" that hasn't yet been telecast, and this is it. Performed live on Dec. 21, 1951, it was an expanded, unusually ambitious "Honeymooners" sketch on Jackie Gleason's DuMont variety show. Pert Kelton is Alice, Joyce Randolph is Trixie, Art Carney is Ed Norton, and Gleason is not only Ralph Kramden, but also plays Fenwick Babbitt, Joe the Bartender, the Poor Soul, Rudy the Repairman and Reginald Van Gleason III, all of whom find their way into Ralph's apartment during his absence. The Poor Soul's wordless sweetness and Reginald's energetic dancing are the highlights of this extended sketch, and Paul Reiser performs the almost superfluous duties of on-air host.

* "The Larry Sanders Show" (10:30-11 p.m., HBO) -- This is a repeat of the hilarious episode in which Larry (Garry Shandling) gets romantically entwined with Sharon Stone -- who both inflates and deflates his ego.

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