The Homecoming (CBS, 9-11 a.m.): Here it is again - the touching drama first aired in 1971, rebroadcast annually at Christmastime, and now one of the most rewarding of TV's holiday traditions. Though not written as a pilot, the award-winning script by Earl Hamner was so well-received by viewers that CBS turned it into a series - a wise decision, since it went on to become one of the medium's best-loved programs, ``The Waltons,'' 1972-1981.

Richard Thomas is John-Boy Walton, the oldest son in a rural family during the Depression of the early 1930s. He and his family await the return of his father. Thomas went on to play John-Boy in the series, as did Ellen Corby (Grandma Walton) and the Walton children. The role of the mother, memorably played here by Patricia Neal, was filled in the series by Michael Learned.

Bah! Humbug! (PBS, 8-9 p.m.): Charles Dickens used to give public readings from his novel ``A Christmas Carol,'' and a little bit of that tradition is captured in this Christmas format. James Earl Jones and Martin Sheen provide dramatic readings from the book in an unusual and elegant setting: the East Room of New York City's Pierpont Morgan Library, where the 151-year-old manuscript of the novel is kept.

Narrated by PBS ``Newshour's'' Robert MacNeil, the program also gives viewers a glimpse of the Dickens era, including the Victorian Christmas tradition, the customs of which may surprise some (presents and decorated trees were not common).

And just as Dickens, an accomplished amateur magician, used to do magic tricks for audiences, a ``conjurer'' in Victorian costume is shown performing some of the very same sleights of hand for today's viewers.

Please check local listings for these programs.

of 5 stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read 5 of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.