It’s still November sweeps and every episode is supposed to be a really big deal, but for my money, all the best action happens on Sunday.
And action is the word with “24: Redemption,” the TV movie that sets up the new season in January. Plus, it’s all about action with Comedy Central’s “A Colbert Christmas,” which would be way too early for a holiday special, except it’s got Stephen Colbert singing and playing with the likes of Jon Stewart, Willie Nelson, Elvis Costello and a bear.
As for the rest of the week, here’s What To Watch (or Not):
“Nova: The Bible’s Buried Secrets” (8 p.m. on PBS): The title for this two-hour special is a bit too flashy, and actually undersells it. What we really get is a fascinating look at the origins of the ancient Israelites and the rise of the belief in one god. It compiles decades of archaeological and literary research, and interviews biblical scholars to draw a picture of the earliest days of monotheism.
“Law & Order” (10 p.m. on NBC): The old battleship has a new energy this year with Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston) as the DA mixing his legal tricks with a sudden ambition to get re-elected. This week, he and the “L&O” gang deal with a murder involving a polygamist cult.
“Top Chef” (10 p.m. on Bravo): A reminder that Season 5 in New York started just last week, and you can still catch up with a repeat at 9 p.m., then more new chef-testant scrambling at 10 p.m.
“CSI” (8 p.m. on CBS): There’s been a streak of depression growing in a show that became so popular for its mix of murder and brightness, but that’s because producers are building the case for Grissom (William Peterson) to leave on Jan. 15. So far, though, it’s not overdone, and tonight, Grissom testifies about his old nemesis, the miniature killer. His demons will have a field day.
“30 Rock” (9:31 p.m. on NBC): As if this show weren’t funny enough, this week, Steve Martin guest-stars as an oddball businessman with the hots for Liz (Tina Fey).
“Star Wars: The Clone Wars” (9 p.m. on Cartoon Network): The animated series gives some solace to people jonesing for more “Star Wars.” Except maybe this episode. Jar Jar is back and is mistaken for a Jedi. I want to know why he’s still mistaken for a good character.
“An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving” (9 p.m. on Hallmark): Jacqueline Bisset stars in a movie based on a short story by Louisa May Alcott showing that 19th century kids had issues with their families, too. They just didn’t text about it. Plus, it’s a Thanksgiving story, and we’re pro-Thanksgiving around here.
“24: Redemption” (8 p.m. on Fox): It’s good to see ol’ Jack (Kiefer Sutherland) again. He’s in Africa working at a boys school, but, oh yes, trouble finds him again. Didn’t see that coming. He also runs into the usual “24ish” adversaries, including a sadistic warlord, a weaselly bureaucrat and, of course, a guy who is French.
“True Blood” (9 p.m. on HBO): It’s the end of the season for Sookie and the vampires, and the serial killer is about to strike again. But the show will return for another season, so bet that plucky Sookie (Anna Paquin) and Bill make it through.
“Entourage” (10 p.m. on HBO): Another season-ender, and the Hollywood boys bounced back this go-round with an all-around better year.
“A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All” (10 p.m. on Comedy Central): Absolutely, it’s too early for Christmas specials, which is why Stephen Colbert dancing around a mountain cabin in mukluks and a red snow suit is perfect. Plus there’s that moment with the mistletoe and the bear.