Animal lovers may find "Project Nim" (9 p.m., HBO) hard to take. This heartbreaking odyssey reveals as much about animal instincts as human cruelty.

Born in 1973, chimpanzee Nim Chimpsky was subject to horrors from his earliest days. His mother was "put down" when he was only a few days old so he could be "raised" by human researchers and learn sign language. Nim's ensuing years are a

tragicomic roller coaster of lin-

guistic breakthroughs and broken furniture as scientists try to domesticate Nim, only to have the clever primate trash their homes and bite them in the face. This behavior lands Nim in grimmer laboratory settings.

News of Nim's institutional-

ization earns him supporters who begin a campaign to liberate the chimp. But where can he live? What is "natural" to an animal raised by humans to "ape" human behavior?

---Fashions from the Jazz Age loom large on "Project Runway All Stars" (9 p.m., Lifetime). The remaining six contestants must design a proper outfit for one of three 1920s-themed events. Guest judges include designer Jenny Packham and actress Gretchen Mol, who just completed the third season of "Boardwalk Empire," set during the early years of Prohibition.

Fans of this era's clothes have only to wait until Jan. 6, when a third season of "Down ton Abbey" arrives.

---Michael prepares to flee the country on the two-hour season finale of "Burn Notice" (9 p.m., USA). But not before running into an ambush that sees Sam (Bruce Campbell) shot and Jesse (Coby Bell) captured. It's a fitting season-ender for a series with more than its share of cliffhangers.

---The end is near -- for "Jersey Shore" (10 p.m., MTV, TV-14), at least. The gang gathers to say goodbye on the very last episode of the series that saw the gregarious vulgarians through hookups, a trip to Italy and the destruction of their stomping grounds by Hurricane Sandy. For those who just can't get enough, the kids reunite (11 p.m., MTV, r) and discuss their lives since the camera crews departed.

HOLIDAY HIGHLIGHTS

---Former residents of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. recall the holiday season on "A White House Christmas: First Families Remember" (8 p.m., NBC).

---Linus, Lucy and Rerun seek canine company in the 2003 special "I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown" (8 p.m., ABC, TV-G).

---A war widow (Janet Leigh) has two suitors sniffing around the mistletoe in the 1949 romance

"Holiday Affair" (8 p.m., TCM).

---Country stars share personal anecdotes about the holidays and sing a song or two on "CMA Country Christmas" (9 p.m., ABC), hosted by Jennifer Nettles of

Sugarland.

---The Griswolds illuminate with a vengeance in the 1989 comedy "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" (9 p.m., ABC Family).

OTHER HIGHLIGHTS

---Hosts Khloe Kardashian Odom and Mario Lopez reveal the winner live as one lucky performer emerges with a $5 million recording contract on the season finale of "The X Factor" (8 p.m., Fox, TV-14).

---Finch tries to give Reese his birthday off on "Person of Inter est" (9 p.m., CBS, r, TV-14).

---Andy's family tree has interesting branches on "The Office" (9 p.m., NBC, r, TV-14).

---Leslie lectures the elderly on intimate matters on "Parks and Recreation" (9:30 p.m., NBC, r, TV-14).

---Watson and Holmes track a child abductor on "Elementary" (10 p.m., CBS, r, TV-14).

CULT CHOICE

The shaggy operator (Kevin Costner) of a driving range sobers up long enough to contend for a

national golf tournament title in the 1996 comedy "Tin Cup" (8 p.m., NBC Sports), co-starring Rene Russo and Cheech Marin.

SERIES NOTES

---Sheldon plays cupid on "The Big Bang Theory" (8 p.m., CBS, r, TV-14).

---Stefan and Damon have different ideas about Elena's new status on "The Vampire Diaries" (8 p.m., CW, r, TV-14).

---Alan has a thing for Walden's mother on "Two and a Half Men" (8:30 p.m., CBS, r, TV-14).

---Vincent defends the accused killer of an immigration judge on "Beauty and the Beast" (9 p.m., CW, r, TV-14).

LATE NIGHT

---Cory Booker is scheduled on "The Daily Show With Jon Stew art" (11 p.m., Comedy Central, r).

---Paul Rudd, Rita Wilson and Ben Gibbard appear on "Conan" (11 p.m., TBS).

---Judd Apatow, Bobby Lee, Heather McDonald and Ryan Stout are booked on "Chelsea Lately" (11 p.m., E!).

---Mandy Patinkin and Michael Stipe sit down on "The Colbert Report" (11:30 p.m., Comedy

Central, r).

---Katie Holmes and Jon Bon Jovi appear on "Late Show With David Letterman" (11:35 p.m., CBS).

---Jay Leno welcomes Katherine Heigl, Marjorie Johnson and Johnny Mathis on "The Tonight Show" (11:35 p.m., NBC).

---Billy Crystal, Tyson Chandler and Cee Lo Green visit "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon" (12:35 a.m., NBC).

---Craig Ferguson hosts Quentin Tarantino on "The Late Late Show" (12:35 a.m., CBS).

Kevin McDonough can be reached at kevin.tvguy@gmail.com.