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The Globe and Mail

TV: Five shows worth watching tonight: December 25

A select viewing guide for Tuesday, December 25

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SCI-FI Doctor Who: The Snowmen (Space, 9 p.m.) No turkey for sci-fi fans this Christmas Day. Doctor Who fans need to stay awake for the annual holiday outing of this beloved British series that began in 1962 and just keeps going and going. Quirky Matt Smith returns to the role of the time-traveling alien, who this time seems barely up to a battle royale with the evil Doctor Simeon (Richard E. Grant) and his army of malevolent icy snowmen. On the upside, the good Doctor has a brand-new companion named Clara (Jenna-Louise Coleman) at his side.

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MOVIE The Homecoming: A Christmas Story (Vision, 9 p.m.) First broadcast by CBS during the 1971 holiday season, this homespun TV-movie morphed into the weekly series The Waltons, which ranked among the most-watched shows on television for nine seasons. Based on the childhood memories of novelist Earl Hamner Jr., the story takes place in rural Virginia and focuses on the Walton clan as they prepare for Christmas during the Great Depression. It’s Christmas Eve and the family is waiting for patriarch John (Andrew Duggan) to return from his laborer job in the city 50 miles away. His wife Olivia (Patricia Neal) hears a radio report about an overturned bus and sends out eldest son John-Boy (Richard Thomas) to find his father. Along the way, John-Boy makes friends with a turkey thief, drinks moonshine with a couple of old lady bootleggers and discovers the true meaning of Christmas, which is all you can really ask of any holiday TV-movie.

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COMEDY New Girl (Fox, 8-10 p.m.) Take the New Girl test: If you’ve never seen a single episode of this sophomore sitcom starring Zooey Deschanel, settle in for tonight’s mini-marathon and by the third show, you’ll be hooked. Deschanel provides more than enough reason to watch for her portrayal of Jess, a free-spirited single gal who dumps her two-timing boyfriend and moves in with three single guys, who by now have become her best platonic pals without benefits. And to the show’s credit, most of the comedic scenarios presented in the series have a ring of truth to them. Tonight, watch Jess fret aplenty when she receives an expensive gift from a guy named Paul (Justin Long) after only a few dates.

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DOCUMENTARY Princesses of the World (CBC News Network, 10 p.m.) Who could have guessed that all princesses don’t necessarily lead a charmed existence. This British documentary runs through an extended list of modern-era princesses, which includes reams of footage culled from newsreel vaults. Considerable screen time is devoted to the late Princess Grace of Monaco, who gave up her movie career to wear a crown. Naturally, there’s a profile of her daughter Princess Stephanie, who, according to this account, was forever affected by the accident that took her mother’s life and has allegedly slept with countless pop stars and chauffeurs. And naturally the film touches on the most tragic princess of all: Princess Diana, who finally escaped a loveless marriage only to be hounded to death–literally–by the paparazzi press.

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NEWS The Queen’s Christmas Message (CBC, noon) Stop stuffing that turkey and stand up straight: The Queen is about to speak! Make time this Christmas Day for the annual message from Her Majesty. The tradition began on BBC Radio in 1932 with King George V addressing his loyal subjects on Christmas Day. Queen Elizabeth picked up the torch in 1957 and today’s message is heard by millions around the world. Besides airing in high-definition and podcast format, the message even has a Twitter handle and this year will be available, for the first time, in 3D. Although The Queen’s broadcast rarely surprises, she raised eyebrows with her 1992 message in which she acknowledged the breakup of royal marriages and a fire at Windsor Castle, dubbing the year, “annus horribilis.”

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