On The Weekend Watch:
THE HOLIDAY SPIRIT -- The holiday specials continue to count down toward Christmas. And note that one of the previous network annuals, Dr. Seuss' "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," could also be titled "How Ted Turner Stole the Grinch," for it is viewable again this year only on cable, at 7:30 tonight on his TNT service. (The network precedes the show with another good Seuss animation show, "The Butter Battle Book.") On Friday night, "Mickey's Christmas Carol," a collection of classic Disney cartoons of the season, comes to CBS (at 8 p.m., Channel 11), and the film "White Christmas" is being screened on Channel 2 (at 8:30 p.m., in pre-emption of the NBC lineup). And on Saturday on ABC (8 p.m., Channel 13), we have "Winnie the Pooh & Christmas Too," followed at 9 by the 1988 film "Ernest Saves Christmas."
SCHOOL DAYS -- It may be the toughest job anyone can hold these days. In "A Matter of Principal," at 8 tonight on Channel 11, Loretta Swit stars in a realistic drama about the daily strife in the life of a city high school principal. It is part of the local station's ongoing "Great Expectations" community affairs project.
GOING NATIVE -- Earlier this week, Kris Kristofferson brought the nativity story to fictional American Indians (in the cable film "Miracle in the Wilderness"). On Friday (10 p.m., Channel 11), singer John Denver brings music of the season to an audience of some 4,000 Assiniboine and Gross Ventre Indians in Fort Belknap, Mont. "John Denver's Montana Christmas" includes guest stars Clint Black, Patty Loveless, Kathy Mattea and The Indian Children's Choir.
TOP HONORS -- In a cable first, the ceremonies awarding "The Nobel Prize" are being televised from Stockholm, Sweden and Oslo, Norway, at 11 p.m. Saturday, cable's TBS network. Included in the show is a concert featuring soprano Dame Kiri Te Kanawa with the Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra.
THE RACE IS ON -- Actually, the best debate so far is whether New York Gov. Mario Cuomo should or should not run for president. But NBC on Sunday (at 6:30 p.m., Channel 2) is pTC offering the first televised debates of the coming election year, between announced Democratic candidates. They include former California Gov. Jerry Brown, governors Douglas Wilder and Bill Clinton, and Sen. Tom Harkin.
THE BIRTHDAY COP -- Actor Peter Falk reaches a milestone on ABC Sunday. The new movie "Columbo: Death Hits the Jackpot" (9 p.m., Channel 13) marks the 20th anniversary season of Falk as the persistent detective. The first "Columbo" series episode with Falk in the role was seen Sept. 15, 1971. But did you know the character of Lt. Columbo is older than that? In August, 1961, an episode of "The Sunday Mystery Hour" on ABC featured the detective, with Bert Freed in the part.