Starved for smart television? Feast on "Restless" (9 p.m., Sundance, TV-14), a two-part British miniseries based on a novel by William Boyd.
"Restless" is a period piece -- make that two period pieces -- set in the wilderness of mirrors of international espionage, a shadow world where no one can be trusted and where transgressions are never forgotten.
Michelle Dockery may not be a household name, but many TV viewers know her as Lady Mary Crawley on "Downton Abbey." Here she's Ruth Gilmartin, a slightly bohemian Ph.D. candidate. The year is 1976, and Ruth is a single mother who discovers that everything she knows about her own mother, Sally (Charlotte Rampling), is a lie.
It turns out Sally is not a nice British lady but a Russian woman, Eva Delectorskaya (Hayley Atwell), who assumed a new identity in 1939 to work for British intelligence. "Restless" flashes back to the war years as Ruth learns more about her mother's fantastic and dangerous past and her work with a dashing English officer (Rufus Sewell) who also became her lover.
"Restless" makes the most of its two period settings. Its depictions of '70s fashions are notably restrained; Ruth's fashions mark the midpoint between late hippie and the casual androgyny of "Annie Hall." The wartime flashbacks also accentuate the contrast between the drab privations of Europe and the lush deco fantasy of home-front America, a place where Eva/Sally's work -- and the secrets she revealed -- put her life in danger through several identities over three decades.
"Restless" may remind viewers of the 2011 "Mas terpiece Theatre" presentation "Any Human Heart," a drama also based on a Boyd novel, which explored the extraordinary actions of seemingly normal people, set against the backdrop of world conflict. "Rest less" concludes at 9 p.m. Dec. 14.
---More than 70 years after the event, television commemorates the surprise attack that finally plunged America into World War II. "Pearl Harbor Declassified" (10 p.m., Military) takes the limited film evidence from Dec. 7, 1941, and uses the latest technology to offer the clearest possible frame-by-frame documentation of the first 15 minutes of the stunning attack. This new special follows two repeats of the 2006 documentary "Myths of Pearl Harbor" (8 and 9 p.m., Military Channel).
---Hollywood reflections on Pearl Harbor include the 1953 melodrama "From Here to Eternity" (3:15 p.m., TCM) and the big-budget 1970 war movie "Tora! Tora! Tora!" (5:30 p.m., TCM).
---The best and most notable video games get their due on the 10th annual Video Game Awards (9 p.m., Spike).
---A business owner mulls the plight of returning veterans on "Undercover Boss" (8 p.m., CBS, TV-14).
---"Saturday Night Live" (8 p.m., NBC, r, TV-14) airs holiday clips new and old.
---Gordon helps Barefoot Bob's, a Bay State beachside restaurant, on "Kitchen Nightmares" (8 p.m., Fox, TV-14).
---A man's swollen face is just the beginning of his woes as "Monsters Inside Me" (8 p.m., Animal Planet) explores a parasite that threatens to shut down his organs.
---A brash police officer (Rob Lowe) becomes a suspect in his fourth wife's disappearance in the 2012 true crime drama "Drew Peter son: Untouchable" (8 p.m., Lifetime Movie Network).
---A Texas town touts a haunted hotel and something called "crazy water" on "Ghost Adventures" (9 p.m., Travel, TV-PG).
---Peter takes the battle to the observers on "Fringe" (9 p.m., Fox, TV-14).
---The holidays and hockey take center stage on "Phineas and Ferb: For Your Ice Only; Happy New Year!" (9 p.m., Disney, TV-G).
---Linda assists a shooting victim on "Blue Bloods" (10 p.m., CBS, TV-14).
---Random pedestrians are quizzed on pop culture and current events in the Internet comedy series "Funny or Die's Billy on the Street" (10 p.m., Fuse).
---The whole town takes a nap on "Haven" (10 p.m., Syfy).
---Tom Hanks stars in the 1984 comedy "Bachelor Party" (7:45 p.m., IFC), released the same year as "Splash." Both films confirmed his box office appeal.
---Hunting and cooking on "Last Man Standing" (8 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).
---Nikita uses Cyrus as a pawn on "Nikita" (8 p.m., CW, TV-14).
---Reba looks for dirt on her ex on "Malibu Country" (8:30 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).
---A speakeasy becomes a crime scene on "CSI: NY" (9 p.m., CBS, TV-14).
---The Huntress joins the fray on "Arrow" (9 p.m., CW, r, TV-14).
---Blake Shelton, Brody Stevens, Arden Myrin and Chris Hardwick appear on "Chelsea Lately" (11 p.m., E!, r).
---Dustin Hoffman and One Direction appear on "Late Show With David Letterman" (11:35 p.m., CBS).
---Jay Leno welcomes Leslie Mann, Jim Rome and Garbage on "The Tonight Show" (11:35 p.m., NBC).
---Melissa Rycroft, Reba McEntire, Mike Tyson and Future appear on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" (midnight, ABC, r).
---Elijah Wood, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Big Boi visit "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon" (12:35 a.m., NBC).
---Craig Ferguson hosts Julie Delpy and Richie Sambora on "The Late Late Show" (12:35 a.m., CBS).
Kevin McDonough can be reached at email@example.com.