Top Picks: 'Bob Dylan and the Band Basement Tapes Complete,' Lifetime's 'The Red Tent' and 'The Women of the Bible,' and more

'Bing Crosby Rediscovered' on PBS's 'American Masters' looks beyond the crooner's holiday songs, NBC's 'Peter Pan Live!' stars actors Allison Williams and Christopher Walken as well as Broadway vets like Christian Borle and Kelli O'Hara, and more top picks.

PBS
Elliot Landy
Woodstock, NY 1967
NBC

Dylan underground

Few recordings have been so eagerly awaited as Bob Dylan and The Band Basement Tapes Complete with its 139 songs recorded in a crowded basement near Woodstock, N.Y., in 1967. A new Sony six-disc box set features every usable scrap of material, including full takes, stops and starts, and jokey throwaways. It’s a thrill to hear these songs taking shape and vicariously experience the joy of musicmaking by a playful and energized Dylan and his cohorts, soon to become The Band. 

Women of the Bible

Lifetime offers outstanding faith-based holiday programming with its two-part miniseries The Red Tent, inspired by the bestselling novel by Anita Diamant, which premières Dec. 7-8. Minnie Driver and Debra Winger are part of an illustrious cast bringing the biblical tale of Dinah, Joseph’s sister, to life. The event is introduced by the two-hour documentary The Women of the Bible from Roma Downey and Mark Burnett Dec. 2. 

Christmas crooner

Few singers endear Christmas music to listeners the way Bing Crosby does. But Bing Crosby Rediscovered on “American Masters” offers a serious look at the life of the performer beyond the holidays by revisiting his popular movie performances and many hit songs. The documentary includes interviews with Crosby’s family as well as such figures as Tony Bennett. It premières on PBS Dec. 2 at 8 p.m. Check local listings for rebroadcasts. 

Unnaturally cool

If you could look at tribal rhythms and South Seas sounds in a fun-house mirror, you’d get an idea of how the mind of composer Harry Partch (1901-74) worked. He designed and built an orchestra of unusual instruments that uses a 43-note octave. Harry Partch: Plectra and Percussion Dances, recorded by Partch, the ensemble devoted to performing Henry Partch’s music, might sound out of tune, but once you yield to the composer’s vision it’s a really cool listening experience. 

A trip to Never Never Land

Building on last year’s “The Sound of Music Live!” NBC offers another live musical performance with Peter Pan Live! Dec. 4 at 8 p.m. ET. Allison Williams (HBO’s “Girls”) stars as Peter Pan, and Christopher Walken is villainous Captain Hook. Minnie Driver and Broadway veterans Christian Borle and Kelli O’Hara fill out the supporting cast. Gather the family for what’s sure to be an unforgettable trip to Never Never Land.

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