Here’s what up in the world of TV for Tuesday, December 16. All times are Eastern.
Elf: Buddy’s Musical Christmas (NBC, 8 p.m.): First, Elf was a fairly well-liked Will Ferrell movie. Second, it was a Broadway musical adaptation of that fairly well-liked Will Ferrell movie, because why not? And now, 11 years after that fairly well-liked Will Ferrell movie came out, Elf is now an animated adaptation of both the original movie and the Broadway musical, featuring the voices of Jim Parsons, Mark Hamill, Ed Asner, Kate Micucci, and, uh, Jay Leno. We’re mostly just flummoxed by this particular creative evolution, but Erik Adams is here to assure us that this stop-motion-inspired special is, like all previous iterations of Elf, actually pretty good! And so Elf’s gradual takeover of all pop culture continues apace.
Person Of Interest (CBS, 10 p.m.): The show returns after a two-week hiatus to air one final episode in 2014. Such programming moves might seem inexplicable, but Alexa Planje assures us that this is just the Machine’s way. Question the wisdom of the Machine at your own peril! And watch tonight’s episode, we guess.
Ground Floor (TBS, 10 p.m.): For all those pondering the vexing existential quandary that this show is called Ground Floor despite the fact that its hero Brody does not, in fact, work on the ground floor, tonight’s episode has got you covered, as Brody does indeed spending some time working on the actual ground floor.
Benched (USA, 10:30 p.m.): Nina responds to taking on one of Phil’s old clients in the only sensible, ethically upright way available to her, which is to get into a bet with Phil. Emily L. Stephens considers Nina the Pete Rose of lawyering, in that she’s pretty sure the show is about to reveal Nina used to play third base for the Cincinnati Reds. Oh, and also the whole betting when she shouldn’t thing.
The always festive Sean O’Neal drops by to pay tribute to Saturday Night Live’s “Hanukkah Harry” and use the year’s news stories to look at 14 reductive ways to define 2014. Television is mentioned, but mostly for how all TV shows are becoming movies and/or all movies are becoming TV shows now. Nothing is ever just one thing anymore! (Case in point: We don’t know if you’ve heard about this, but that movie Elf has been turned into a stop-motion animated special.)
MasterChef Junior (Fox, 8 p.m.): The second season of Gordon Ramsey not yelling at children—well, not much—ends with the two finalists preparing a three-course meal. We were pretty enthusiastic about the season premiere, so Gwen Ihnat will check in on tonight’s finale.
NCIS/NCIS: New Orleans (CBS, 8 p.m./9 p.m.): CBS’s other Tuesday dramas are also new, and, like the Thanksgiving entries, the main fun here is how the synopses cram in yuletide themes. On the flagship, “the NCIS team consult with three cyber-terrorists they imprisoned after a citywide Internet shutdown the week before Christmas” while “McGee reflects on the case and Gibbs’ infamous rules as he writes a heartfelt letter to his father.” Not to be outdone, the N’awlins version mixes in the usual dose of murderings with a subplot in which “Brody discovers the normally holiday-obsessed Lasalle is strangely unenthusiastic about Christmas.” Whatever could be wrong with Lasalle!?
Sacred Journeys With Bruce Feiler (PBS, 8 p.m.): In this series that is probably in keeping with one of the seven or eight possible true meanings of Christmas, biblical scholar Bruce Feiler accompanies people as they make pilgrimages to holy sites from various world religions. The first episode features veterans hoping to be healed in the waters of Lourdes France, while the night’s second entry sees pilgrims visiting 88 Japanese temples in a single 870-mile journey.
Truly Strange (Smithsonian, 9 p.m.): In an episode titled “The Secret Life Of Breasts,” we learn: “Possible reasons why human breasts are growing bigger and appearing earlier. Also: breast tissue and breast milk are analyzed.” Do with that information what you will.
The Running Man (Sundance, 8 p.m.): With most movies, we are left only to wonder, “Hey, wouldn’t this be so much better if legendarily personal-space-ignoring Family Feud host Richard Dawson was the villain?” This post-apocalyptic Arnold Schwarzenegger flick is the only movie bold enough to answer, “Yu bet your ass it would.” Also, have you heard about Subzero?
Total Recall (FX, 8 p.m.): On the other hand, this movie asked the question that should never be asked, namely “Wouldn’t it be cool if we took a crazy-ass Paul Verhoeven and Arnold Schwarzenegger movie and just let Len Wiseman and Colin Farrell do their thing?” This is the only movie we need to know the answer, “You bet your ass it wouldn’t.” Not even Bryan Cranston doing a riff on all-time political sleazebag John Edwards is enough to salvage this one.
NBA Basketball: Warriors at Grizzlies (ESPN, 8 p.m.): The Memphis Grizzlies are a damn fine team, but let’s just stop for a moment to marvel at the 21-2 Golden State Warriors, who are currently on pace for a final record of 75 and freaking 7. Now, there’s no way in hell they’re actually going to go 75-7, and head coach Steve Kerr is the first to tell you that, but still. This is madness. Oh, and to give you a sense of how loaded the Western Conference is, the 19-4 Grizzlies are on pace for a final record of 67-15, and they’re only a game up on two other teams for second place in the conference. That probably isn’t the best way to give you a sense, admittedly, but that’s still insane.
Marco Polo: Hey, another episode of Marco Polo! It was, uh, not good. Let Kyle Fowle explain.