She Says: Women in News (December 18; 9 to 10 p.m.; Channel 13) talks to the strong-minded likes of Helen Thomas, Nina Totenberg, Carole Simpson, Anna Quindlen, Geneva Overholser, and Judy Woodruff about their careers in journalism and whether a woman’s perspective changes the way a story is reported. The one story they agree on is Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas.
A Home for the Holidays With Mariah Carey (December 21; 8 to 9 p.m.; CBS) features songs by such pop performers as Carey, Destiny’s Child, Enrique Iglesias, and Mandy Moore, before and after inspirational snippets about families who have adopted children. The sweetest moment is a Charlotte Church-Josh Groban duet. And Mariah can be counted on to change her clothes. A lot.
Precious Cargo (December 23; 11:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.; Channel 13) picks up Operation Babylift 25 years after 2,700 mostly orphaned, many biracial children – some of them also disabled – were removed from Saigon and flown off to foster families in the United States, and follows several of these grown-up children back to Vietnam before a reunion in Washington. Every imaginable cultural complication is explored in brief, with the box-office bonus of a surprise love story.
Marlene Dietrich: Her Own Song (December 27; 8 to 9:30 p.m.; TCM) launches a month of Thursdays devoted to Dietrich movies with an affecting documentary directed by her grandson, J. David Riva. We follow her from Weimar Berlin and The Blue Angel to Hollywood and Jean Gabin and her eleven months of entertaining GIs on the various battlefields of World War II to Las Vegas and then Israel, where she sang “Where Have All the Flowers Gone” in German. Wonderful.
Tantalus: Behind the Mask (December 30; 9 to 11 p.m.; Channel 13) refights the Trojan War in Denver, Colorado, where the director, Sir Peter Hall, and the playwright, John Barton, ended 50 years of friendship and collaboration while mounting a two-day, ten-play exercise in epic theater complete, it seems, with a cast of thousands. We see bits of this astounding onstage performance between scenes of the backstage vituperations. By comparison, Iphigenia had it easy.