Mel Brooks Strikes Back!" (9 p.m., HBO) features an interview with the ageless writer/actor/director/producer before a live and clearly affectionate audience.
In an all-too-short hour, he reviews the arc of his career from Catskill hotels to television, Broadway and Hollywood. Brooks even recalls his service in World War II, when he taunted nearby German soldiers with his version of "Toot Toot Tootsie Goodbye!" a performance met with gunfire instead of
Interviewer Alan Yentob, creative director for the BBC, plays the straight man to Brooks' manic act. Clearly unfamiliar with American geography, and ethnicity, some of his questions are so off the mark that they often seem like setups for Brooks' astounded retorts. Look for clips from Brooks' "2000 Year Old Man" routine, "The Producers," "High Anxiety" and other gems.
---The list of celebrity-driven holiday extravaganzas grows shorter every year. As both a critic and a viewer, I used to look forward to Kathie Lee Gifford's over-the-top Christmas specials because I knew they would be groan-worthy displays of excess.
I like to think that Gifford knew her Christmas specials were horrendous, but she provided a kind of holiday service by upholding a tradition dating to the days when Mitzi Gaynor ruled the roost and Dinah Shore walked the earth. Time was, you didn't even need Christmas for some of these tacky onslaughts. I seem to remember a "Perry Como's Easter in Guadalajara," back in the early 1980s. What's Easter without Charo and Ann Jillian?
This year we have seen specials from two "The Voice" judges, Cee Lo Green and Blake Shelton. At least one involved singing to Muppets. Shelton also appears on
"Michael Bublé: Home for the Holidays" (10 p.m., NBC). The Canadian pop star returns to his family in Vancouver to sing along with Rod Stewart and Carly Rae Jepsen. Will this all go over the top? Let's certainly hope so.
---If there's anything with more potential cheese than a Christmas special, it's a network celebrating itself. Look for the "Syfy 20th Anniversary Special" (9 p.m.) to tout everything from the critically acclaimed "Battlestar Galac- tica" to original spoof movies such as "Sharktopus." Dean Cain narrates.
---"Chopper Live: Road to Revenge" (9 p.m., Discovery) follows the antics of the Teutul family of motorcycle builders and artists.
---Live semifinal performances on "The Voice" (8 p.m., NBC, TV-PG).
---Trace Adkins and Kristin Chenoweth host the American Country Awards (8 p.m., Fox, TV-14).
---Richard Chamberlain, Rachel Ward and Barbara Stanwyck star in the 1983 miniseries "The Thorn Birds" (8 p.m., Encore).
---Narrated and directed by Oliver Stone, "Untold History of the United States" (8 p.m., Showtime) recalls the 1950s as a dark time of nuclear threats and deepening Cold War.
---The New England Patriots host the Houston Texans for "Monday Night Football" (8:30 p.m., ESPN).
---Howie Mandel hosts the lim-
ited-run holiday game show "Take It All" (9 p.m., NBC, TV-PG).
---"The Layover With An- thony Bourdain" (9 p.m., Travel, TV-PG) visits Sao Paulo, Brazil.
---A ranch has fallen from celebrity hot spot to near ruin on "Hotel Impossible" (10 p.m., Travel, TV-PG).
---A camping trip turns deadly on "Hawaii Five-0" (10 p.m., CBS, TV-14).
---Beckett returns from her suspension on "Castle" (10 p.m., ABC, r, TV-14).
A teen whiz (Matthew Broderick) nearly sparks World War III in the 1983 drama "WarGames" (7 p.m., Sundance).
---Robin becomes jealous on "How I Met Your Mother" (8 p.m., CBS, TV-14).
---Do-gooding done well on "Ex treme Makeover: Home Edition" (8 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).
---Tegan and Sara perform on "90210" (8 p.m., CW).
---Vulcan logic on "The Big Bang Theory" (8:30 p.m., CBS, r, TV-14).
---On two helpings of "2 Broke Girls" (CBS, TV-14): grand openings (9 p.m.), sugar daddies (9:30 p.m.).
---Bart loses his grip on "Gossip Girl" (9 p.m., CW, TV-14).
---Seth MacFarlane, Retta and Jack White appear on "Conan" (11 p.m., TBS).
---Gerard Butler, Nico Santos, Arden Myrin and Mo Mandel are booked on "Chelsea Lately" (11 p.m., E!).
---Diana Krall sits down on "The Colbert Report" (11:30 p.m., Comedy Central).
---Anne Hathaway and Jake Johnson appear on "Late Show With David Letterman" (11:35 p.m., CBS).
---Jay Leno welcomes Matt Damon and Of Monsters and Men on "The Tonight Show" (11:35 p.m., NBC).
---Ted Danson and Emilia Clarke appear on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" (midnight, ABC).
---Laura Linney, Dave Attell, Solange and Chuck Leavell visit "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon" (12:35 a.m., NBC).
---Craig Ferguson hosts Kristen Stewart, Sloane Crosley and Terry Fator on "The Late Late Show" (12:35 a.m., CBS).
Kevin McDonough can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.