The Charlie Browniest: If you spend the 7 p.m. hour watching garbage like “The Biggest Loser,” what does that make you? Instead, reacquaint yourself with one of the few things from childhood that stays around and continues to pay dividends: “A Charlie Brown Christmas” (7 p.m. ABC/KOCO-5).
Since it acquired the rights to broadcast the 1965 animated special — the first of the “Peanuts” holiday shows — ABC has restored some cuts that were made to make room for mersh, and paired it up with a mini-doc unfortunately hosted by Whoopi Goldberg. Nevertheless, you hear from Schulz himself and from at least one of the former kids who voiced the show. Schulz, by the way, lobbied successfully to have real kids do the voices, which is why (a) it has more charm than it would otherwise, and (2) the voice track occasionally has noticeable edits — especially when Sally talks. You love it, and the Linus sermon still gets to me. This show was disparaged when it aired for being a downer, but it’s really just a cartoon that resembles real life. Except for the whole dancing dog thing.
Reap What You Sow: Do you need something aggressively stupid in your viewing diet that is not reality TV? Of course you do — sure, you could watch that great Frontline episode “Spying on the Home Front,” (8 p.m. PBS/OETA-13) about the government’s domestic spying program (seriously, DVR da Frontline — you might get smarter during the WGA strike), but what you really need is something that won’t tax your mind but won’t make you feel like you need brain bleach at the end.
That something is “Reaper” (8 p.m. CW-34) about young underachiever Sam (Bret Harrison), who works at a big-box hardware store and learns that his parents sold his soul to the devil so that his father could survive a life-threatening illness. Personally, I thought it was horrible when my parents sold my authentic 1975 “Star Trek” bridge with the transporter that had green and red buttons to make Kirk “disappear,” but jeez.
When the bill comes due, Sam learns that he is indentured for life as a bounty hunter for escaped souls, and he reports directly to Satan himself, played by Ray Wise (Laura Palmer’s dad from “Twin Peaks”). Sam and his buddies spend each episode chasing down murderers, arsonists, Patton Oswalt and other rogues who have broken the bounds of the underworld and now walk among us. When they capture them in a mission-appropriate “vessel” that shows up in a wood coffin each week, Sam and Co. take the soul back to the true “hell on earth,” the Department of Motor Vehicles.
“Reaper” has its “meh” points, especially sidekick Tyler Labine’s Jack Black-lite routine, and the Home Depot stand-in, the Work Bench, constitutes one-too-many satires this year of Big Retail. But Wise steals the show every time with his CEO suits and evil perma-grin. Casting Wise was a genius move, and enlisting Kevin Smith as a story consultant (and pilot director) was another. This is for “Buffy” fans, Smith fans and “Heroes” viewers who think their show should develop a keener sense of humor. “Reaper” is big, dumb and nasty fun that will appeal to your inner (or outer) geek.
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