Television's best bets: Nov. 18-24

Contra Costa TimesNovember 18, 2012 

Don't miss

"The Dust Bowl" -- After all these years, Ken Burns continues to serve as America's most famous history teacher. This time his lesson plan focuses on the environmental catastrophe that destroyed the farmlands of the Great Plains and triggered deadly dust storms during the 1930s. Dramatic photographs illustrate the devastation, and heartbreaking accounts from survivors help to put a face on it. 8 p.m. today, PBS.

Today

n Carrie Underwood, Pink, Usher, Linkin Park, Taylor Swift and Nicki Minaj are among the scheduled performers at "The 40th Anniversary American Music Awards," where the winners are picked by fans. 8 p.m., ABC.

n Wonder what Charles Dickens would think of "It's Christmas, Carol!" This latest twist on his classic tale features Emmanulle Vaugier as a ruthless CEO who is visited by the ghost of her former boss (Carrie Fisher). 8 p.m., Hallmark.

n Brace yourself: Oprah's handing out stuff again. "Oprah's Favorite Things 2012" has our benevolent host highlighting the holiday season's must-have items and presiding over a big giveaway for some military spouses. 8 p.m., OWN.

Monday

Messy family drama again collides with the crime-fighting on "Hawaii Five-0" as Christine Lahti returns in her guest stint. Seems that McGarrett (Alex O'Loughlin)

is trying to set up a reunion between his mom and reluctant sister (Taryn Manning). 10 p.m., CBS.

Tuesday

n "David Geffen: American Masters" is a profile of the usually camera-shy man who rose from the mail room at the William Morris Agency to become a hugely influential entertainment mogul. Among those interviewed: Tom Hanks, Cher, and Steven Spielberg. 8 p.m., PBS.

n Jamie Lee Curtis and Rob Reiner make for wacky guest stars on "New Girl," playing the divorced parents of Jess (Zooey Deschanel). They're invited to Thanksgiving dinner, only to learn that it's a "Parent Trap"-like scheme. 9 p.m., Fox.

Wednesday

The tawdry shenanigans continue on "My Life Is a Lifetime Movie." One segment focuses on a teacher accused of being a sex offender. Another features a woman who becomes ill when a neighbor fixates on her husband. 10 p.m., Lifetime.

Thursday

n The "Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade" is a holiday tradition that ranks right up there with football and antacid tablets. As always, the big stars are those gigantic balloons and that bearded guy in the red suit. 9 a.m., NBC.

n "Bad 25" is director Spike Lee's salute to Michael Jackson's landmark album "Bad." Included: interviews with Jackson's collaborators and plenty of great rehearsal footage. 9:30 p.m., ABC.

Friday

"It's a SpongeBob Christmas!" is a special that finds the citizens of Bikini Bottom turning into jerks, thanks to a devious plan by Plankton. 9:30 p.m., CBS.

Saturday

The new comedy "Marvin, Marvin" sounds sort of spacey. It stars Lucas Cruikshank as a teen alien sent to Earth to evade evil invaders on his home planet Klooton. 8:30 p.m., Nickelodeon.

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