TV Picks: ‘Homeland,’ ‘Mr. Magoo,’ ‘Doctor Who’

Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol
Mr. Magoo supervises as Bob Crachit carves the turkey in “Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol.”
(United Productions of America)

“Homeland.” I know it’s Christmas week, and we’ll get to that in a minute, but the “Homeland” finale is this week, and after last week’s stunning revelations, it’s difficult to think of anything else.

Revelation one: “Homeland” is still a great show. Sure, it floundered and even momentarily failed a bit when the popularity of Damien Lewis’ Brody caused creators to keep his character alive for at least one season too many, but this season has been wonderfully tense and on-target.

Revelation two: CIA Black Ops head Dar Adal (F. Murray Abraham) is in bed with terrorist Haqqani. Or at least in the car with him. Now, the minute ol’ F. Murray showed up two seasons ago, it was difficult not to suspect there were larger, darker forces afoot. For one thing, he’s too good an actor to confine to such a marginal role; for another, he does have very villainous vibes.

Whether those vibes are treasony-villainous or double-agenty villainous is, one hopes, what the finale will reveal. But Carrie and Quinn need to make up, and Saul needs to be back in charge, so, you know, whatever it takes. I mean, the good folks at “Homeland” have already killed the president, vice president, blown up the FBI and now the embassy in Islamabad so. ... Showtime, Sunday night, 10 p.m.


Christmas television, to be watched on the sofa with kids, in a sea of wrapping paper or while downing traditional gin punch for no good reason:

“Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol.” It’s the first animated holiday special, and it shows. But the jaded few who don’t love “A Christmas Carol” certainly must love Mr. Magoo (voiced by the late great Jim Backus), and most of us love both.  Dec. 19, CW, 8 p.m.

“One Direction: The TV Special.” See again “gin punch,” but if you have a teen or tween daughter, this will be on in your home. Try to keep any ambient teen or tween boys out of the area and your comments to yourself. It is the holidays, after all. Dec. 23, NBC, 8 p.m.

“The Doctor Who Christmas Special."  Always gorgeous, inevitably clever and often a time of casting transition, “The Doctor Who Christmas Special” has long been a staple of the holiday for Whovians and Anglophiles. This year marks Peter Capaldi’s first holiday as the Doctor, with “Shaun of the Dead’s” Nick Frost joining him and Clara (Jenna Coleman) as a Santa, who, if the sneak preview is to be believed, seems more action hero than jolly old elf. BBC America, Dec. 25, 9 p.m.


“Call the Midwife Holiday Special.” For surefire Christmas spirit, it’s tough to beat a show about a 1950s British midwifery service run by a group of fine and feisty nuns and nurses in London’s East End. Pageants will be staged, mince pies distributed, goodwill spread among men and women and, of course, lots of babies born.

More important, most important, Vanessa Redgrave, who has done the voice-over for the series since it began in 2012, shows up in all her exquisite glory to book end the tale, which, like the series, is based on the memoir of Jennifer Worth. Seeing Redgrave, if only briefly, is as fine a holiday gift as television can give. PBS, Dec. 25, 8 p.m.

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