This guide is designed to alert readers to the scope and variety of programming coming up. Listing is not meant to represent blanket endorsement. Viewers are urged to be selective. FRIDAY Goya (PBS, 9-11:30 p.m.): ``Great Performances'' presents Pl'acido Domingo in the Washington, D.C., world premi`ere performance of an opera written, staged, and directed by Gian Carlo Menotti.

David Letterman's Second Annual Holiday Film Festival (NBC, 10-11 p.m.): Original comedy short films and videos by Michael J. Fox, Jonathan Winters, Diane Sawyer, and others who dared. For Letterman lovers only. SATURDAY

Sword of Gideon (HBO/pay cable, 8-10 p.m.; also Dec. 2, 7, 11, 16, and 19): Engrossing tale about a top-secret Israeli anti-terrorist commando team formed to avenge the deaths of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics. SUNDAY

All-Star Party for Clint Eastwood (CBS, 8-9 p.m.): Just about every major star comes out for a Variety Clubs salute to the mayor of Carmel.

Barnum (CBS, 9-11 p.m.): Burt Lancaster stars in a biography of this ``greatest showman on Earth.''

Man-Eaters of Kumaon (WTBS/cable, 8-10 p.m.): ``National Geographic Explorer'' presents a drama based on the life of India's famous ``tiger man,'' Jim Corbett. MONDAY

Japan Reaches for the 21st Century (PBS, 10-11 p.m.): Host Daniel Schorr takes a look at how Japan's till now disciplined political and social structure is coping with automation, an aging population, school reform, barriers against working women, etc. TUESDAY

Are You Swimming in a Sewer? (PBS, 8-9 p.m.): ``Nova'' explores how several United States cities are dealing with harbor pollution.

Global Africa (PBS, 9-10 p.m.): Conclusion of ``The Africans,'' which is probably the most controversial segment of what has proven to be the most controversial series ever shown on PBS.

Barbara Walters Special (ABC, 10-11 p.m.): Lionel Richie, Betty White, and Richard Pryor talk frankly to an inquisitive Barbara W., who delves into delicate areas that sometimes evokes evasive answers. WEDNESDAY

The VIII International Tchaikowsky Competition (PBS, 9-10:30 p.m.): The most dramatic moments from this Moscow piano contest, sometimes called ``The Olympics of Music.'' THURSDAY

Agatha Christie's Miss Marple: A Pocketful of Rye (PBS, 9-10 p.m.): ``Mystery!'' begins a new series in which a nursery rhyme takes on an ominous meaning. Listings are in Eastern Time; other zones may vary. Please check listings for all PBS programs, since local option often results in differing days and times.

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