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TV: Five shows worth watching tonight: December 21

A select viewing guide for Friday, December 21

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COMEDY Corner Gas (Comedy Network, 8 p.m.) The great Canadian sitcom signed off in 2009, but the Christmas memories live forever. Tonight’s rebroadcast is the classic third-season holiday episode in which gas jockey Brent (Brent Butt) is aghast that his dotty mother Emma (Janet Wright) is planning for a traditional family Christmas. Elsewhere, Lacey tries to go home to Toronto for the holidays, but somehow ends up in Vancouver. Wanda (Nancy Robertson) scrambles to get the season’s hottest toy. And Hank, bless his heart, organizes a gift drive for a needy family. If nothing else, the episode will have you missing Corner Gas all over again.

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HISTORY 2012: The End is Now (History, 9 p.m.) Hold off on paying those bills. According to some interpretations of the Mayan calendar, the world is supposed to end today, in which case nobody’s going to mind if you skip a credit-card payment. In this gloomy special, author and conspiracy theorist Brad Meltzer deconstructs the doomsday prophecy and posits several theories on the manner in which civilization could potentially come crashing to an end. The program includes visits to several survivalists who have created elaborate private bunkers for the big extinction event.

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NEWSBack to the Beginning with Christiane Amanpour (ABC, 9 p.m.)And now, a sobering reminder that Christmas started out as a religious holiday. News veteran Christiane Amanpour explores the fundamental roots of Christianity, Judaism and Islam in this two-hour documentary. Using the Old Testament as her road map, Ms. Amanpour journeys to the Holy Land to determine the validity of several timeless Biblical stories that have inspired billions of people. Did Noah’s Flood really happen? Watch and learn.

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DOCUMENTARY As Seen on TV! The K-Tel Story (CTV Two, 10 p.m.) First broadcast in 2006, this smart documentary tells the very Canadian story of K-Tel, which sold millions of items to viewers back in the seventies. Supported by low-budget commercials on late-night television, the company hawked such essential items as the Veg-0-Matic, the Patty Stacker, the Miracle Brush, the Fishin’ Magician and countless pop-music compilation albums. Mostly the documentary is a profile of Saskatchewan-born entrepreneur Phil Kives, who created K-Tel and built it into a brand-name empire in Canada and all over the world; by one estimate, K-Tel sold more than 500-million greatest-hits albums worldwide.

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MOVIE Mr. Woodcock (MuchMusic, midnight) Every person remembers that special teacher that really made a difference. In this uneven but entertaining 2007 comedy, Seann William Scott plays John, a formerly portly kid whose early teen years were made a misery by his sadistic junior-high gym teacher Mr. Woodcock (Billy Bob Thornton). Fast-forward two decades and John has trimmed down and become a successful self-help author. All his confidence is shattered, though, when he returns to his hometown and learns his widowed mother (Susan Sarandon) is about to marry the dreaded Woodcock! Parks & Recreation’s Amy Poehler stands out in the support cast as a ditzy publicist.

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