By Mike Hughes
Gannett News Service
"It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie," 7 p.m., NBC. At their best, the Muppets are wonderful. Here's a new example that's warm enough for kids and witty enough for grown-ups. The evil Ms. Bitterman (Joan Cusack) wants to foreclose on the Muppet Theatre. She'll scheme, lie and alter the contract. She's spotted from heaven by an angelic accountant played by David Arquette. Now he must get permission from God (played, of course, by Whoopi Goldberg) to intervene. There are moments including a long "It's a Wonderful Life" riff when we realize this would be better at 90 minutes. Most of the time, however, it's a merry and funny film.
"The Brady Bunch in the White House," 7 p.m., Fox. Shortly after this film begins, an astonished Mike Brady (Gary Cole) is president. Carol (Shelley Long) launches her national clean-up-your-room campaign. Things go well until the kids break a priceless Ming vase (they shouldn't play ball in the house) and the homework gets switched with NASA papers, making people assume a meteor will destroy the world. Yes, this is silly. But it's also fast and fun.
"Mary Christmas," 7 p.m., Pax TV. Here's the most serious of tonight's three new movies. John Schneider produced it and plays a wealthy widower whose daughter is lonely. Tom Bosley plays the new governess (he prefers governor) and Cynthia Gibb is a reporter doing a story about them. Coming up is one of the most contrived plot twists in TV history; then again, Christmas is when contrivances are OK.
"The Lost Battalion" (2001), 7 & 11 p.m., A&E. This superb movie tells the true story of a lawyer (Rick Schroder) who became a World War I officer, leading his men in a desperate fight behind enemy lines.
"U2's Beautiful Day," 9 p.m., CBS. Here are highlights from two U2 concerts last year in Ireland.