Poor ABC if only they could make their shows better simply by juggling the lineup.
"Grace Under Fire" (8 p.m.-8: 30 p.m., WMAR, Channel 2) -- It's a new time period but the same old Grace, as Ms. Kelly continues her educational pursuits. But is it funny? ABC.
"The Story of Santa Claus" (8 p.m.-9 p.m., WJZ, Channel 13) -- A toy maker named Nicholas Claus (voice of Ed Asner) starts the tradition of giving children toys for Christmas. And the world's retailers have never been able to thank him enough. CBS.
"Billboard Music Awards" (8 p.m.-10 p.m., WBFF, Channel 45) -- Surprise, surprise, another awards show. Who woulda thunk it? Among the scheduled performers: Celine Dion, ZZ Top, Severn's own Toni Braxton and New Edition. Chris Rock is the host. Fox.
"The Drew Carey Show" (9 p.m.-9: 30 p.m., WMAR, Channel 2) -- It's a new time period but the same old Drew (which is a good thing, since this is one of ABC's few bright spots), as he tries to impress a hot-shot salesman just assigned to his store. ABC.
"Ellen" (9: 30 p.m.-10 p.m., WMAR, Channel 2) -- It's a new time period but the same old Ellen, as she bests Ed (Bruce Campbell) at bowling. But is it funny? ABC.
"PrimeTime Live" (10 p.m.-11 p.m., WMAR, Channel 2) -- In his first interview since going slightly wacko in public this past summer, actor Robert Downey Jr. sits down for a chat with Diane Sawyer. Among the revelations: He was artificially high pretty much the entire time he was filming "Home for the Holidays" here in Baltimore two years ago. ABC.
"Cactus Flower" (3 p.m.-4: 45 p.m., Showtime) -- Walter Matthau's a dentist, Ingrid Bergman is his nurse and Goldie Hawn is the free spirit who steals every scene she's in and won an Oscar for her troubles.
"A Disney Channel Christmas" (7 p.m.-8: 30 p.m., Disney) -- Ninety minutes of Christmas cartoons culled from the Disney archives sounds like a can't-miss to me.
"An Unexpected Family" (9 p.m.-11 p.m., USA) -- The ever-dependable Stockard Channing is wonderful as Barbara Whitney, a frazzled career woman who unexpectedly finds herself playing mother to two kids when her sister decides to chuck it all and move to London. Whitney not only doesn't have any children, she doesn't want kids and can't understand why anyone would. Needless to say, she turns out to be far better mommy material than anyone would have imagined. The movie's a charmer, especially since it never allows the schmaltz level to get too high.
"The Odd Couple" (11: 30 p.m.-midnight, Nickelodeon) -- Series stars Jack Klugman and Tony Randall were always trying to get the laugh track eliminated from their show, and this once, they succeeded; you won't hear a single forced laugh tonight, as Oscar, fired from his sportswriting job, is hired to write for a girlie HTC magazine. John Astin, the immortal Gomez Addams himself, guest stars.
Pub Date: 12/04/96