'Twas the night before . . . and blah, blah, blah. You know already that for many people television is as integral a part of tonight's activities as stockings and cookies for Santa. And not to worry, some favorite chestnuts are roasting on the open tube.
FIRST, A NON-SECTARIAN NOTE -- It's not related to the holiday, but tonight's scheduled repeat of CBS' "Evening Shade" is a good example of why this quiet little series is one of the season's better entries. Through the magic of videotape, football coach Wood (Burt Reynolds) discovers his moment of high school heroism in the big game was based on a bum call by the officials.
THE MOVIE MARQUEE -- It seems inconceivable there could be someone who has not yet seen "It's A Wonderful Life" this month. But it's on again twice tonight, including 8 o'clock on Channel 45 and 11 p.m. on channels 22 and 67, plus a handful of screenings into tomorrow on various cable channels. Also on again (at 8, Channel 54) is "A Christmas Story," Jean Shepherd's humorous remembrance. "Roots: The Gift" comes back from 1988 at 9 on Channel 13, and Loretta Young stars in the 1986 TV movie "Christmas Eve" at 9 on Channel 2. "The Homecoming," the movie that inspired the series "The Waltons," is also airing tomorrow, at 12:30 p.m. on Channel 11.
MUSICAL INTERLUDES -- Among the traditional melodies: Maryland Public Television (channels 22 and 67) has carols from the Mormon Youth Symphony at 7:30, a 1978 performance of "Ahmal and the Night Visitors" at 8, more carols from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir at 9 and "A Joyful Gospel Christmas" at 10. Channel 2 fulfills its tradition at 11:30 by launching 5 1/2 hours of non-stop singing by Maryland choirs, performed while a fireplace flickers on screen. And the three network news/talk shows all have yule music on Christmas morning. Further, "Christmas at Boy's Town" airs at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow on MPT, and at 11 a.m. on Channel 2, "Tim & Daphne" are scheduled to present the Morgan State University Choir in performance.
ON THE SPIRITUAL SIDE -- Televised religious observances include: divergent Christmas Eve services from Decatur, Ill., and Berlin, Germany, at midnight on ABC (Channel 13), a live Christmas Eve mass from Atlanta's Episcopal Cathedral of St. Philip, also at midnight on CBS (Channel 11), and the annual Christmas service from the Washington Cathedral at 10 a.m. tomorrow on Channel 11. The traditional Christmas Eve service from St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, with Pope John Paul 2nd presiding, can be seen here only on Washington's Channel 4 (at midnight).
SOMETHING OLD, SOMETHING NEW -- In the non-music, non-church and non-movie realm, the holiday classic "A Child's Christmas In Wales" can be seen on cable's Disney Channel at 8 tonight, and a spoofy newcomer, "A Very Retail Christmas," with Ed ("Married With Children") O'Neill, premieres at 8:30 on NBC.