Tune in Tonight: HBO revisits notorious 1989 Boston murder

Christmas comes early for true-crime buffs. A tale blending several aspects of the genre, the three-part series “Murder in Boston: Roots, Rampage & Reckoning” (9 p.m., HBO) marries the narrative style of the extended podcast with footage captured more than a generation ago during the infancy of nonfiction “reality TV.”

As with many such efforts, “Murder” kicks off with a 911 call. On the night of Oct. 23, 1989, Chuck Stuart called Boston police to report that he and his very pregnant wife, Carol, were just leaving a birthing class when they were both shot by an assailant that he identified as an African-American male.

This led to an intense manhunt and a media maelstrom that became even more intense after Carol died and her unborn child was delivered prematurely and died shortly after.

By coincidence, the crew of CBS’s reality series “Rescue 911” were riding with Boston EMTs and captured both Stuarts being taken from the scene of the shooting.

It’s hard to “spoil” a news story some 34 years old. “Murder” puts the accent on how the police and the media jumped to easy conclusions after a seemingly grieving white husband accused “some Black guy” of shooting his pregnant wife in the head.

— The holidays invade even the most unassuming corners of the TV dial. Back in the day, a variety series like “The Voice” might spin off its own Christmas Special. Instead, we get “Blake Shelton’s Holiday Bartacular Featuring Ice-T” (10 p.m., NBC, TV-PG).

Folks looking for new episodes of “The Irrational” will have to wait. NBC has aired all the episodes produced before the Hollywood strikes.

This engaging new procedural starring Jesse L. Martin as a psychologist is rare for being somewhat grounded in reality. In one episode, the crash of a domestic airliner is discussed as being rather rare — because it is. There hasn’t been a fatality on a domestic U.S. carrier since 2009. In contrast, CBS procedurals depict once-in-a-lifetime terror events (bombings, snipers, assassinations, etc.) as everyday occurrences.

— December is National Adoption Month. CBS has celebrated adoption every year for decades with its “Home for the Holidays” special, this year airing Dec. 23.

“Stories From the Stage” (9:30 p.m., World) presents the special episode “Finding Families,” which puts the spotlight on adoption. We hear from a mother who uses social media to help her adopted child reach out to her birth mother; another story comes from a grown man who was smuggled as an infant over the border with Mexico. A gay man relates how his relationship with his own mother changed when he became an adoptive father.

“Stories from the Stage” can also be streamed at PBS.org.


— On “The Price Is Right at Night” (8 p.m., CBS, TV-PG), host Drew Carey will throw holiday theme nights over the course of December. Tonight: office Christmas party.

— “The Voice” (8 p.m., NBC, TV-PG) presents the first live performances by the top 12 contenders.

— The Cincinnati Bengals go on the road against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Monday Night Football action (8 p.m., ABC, ESPN).

— Two troubled souls return to their small town and find solace helping with holiday festivities in the 2023 romance “The Santa Summit” (8 p.m., Hallmark, TV-G).

— Parker becomes a victim of identity theft on “NCIS” (10 p.m., CBS, r, TV-14).

— A popular British historian explores the distant roots of some of our holiday traditions on “Lucy Worsley’s 12 Days of Tudor Christmas” (10 p.m., PBS, r, TV-G, check local listings).


In his very first feature film, Vincente Minelli directs an all-Black cast in the 1943 MGM musical adaptation of the hit 1940 Broadway play “Cabin in the Sky” (8 p.m., TCM, TV-G). A bizarre combination of medieval morality play, minstrel show and Hollywood razzle-dazzle that suggests the influence of “The Wizard of Oz,” it stars Eddie “Rochester” Anderson as a hapless gambler caught between the Devil’s temptress (Lena Horne) and his loving wife (Ethel Waters). Both Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong have brief cameos in the film, cited by the Library of Congress for preservation as “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.” Horne also stars in the musical “Stormy Weather” (10 p.m., TCM, TV-G), also released in 1943.


Gordon Ramsay visits a troubled restaurant on “Kitchen Nightmares” (8 p.m., Fox, r, TV-14) … “Special Forces: World’s Toughest Test” (9 p.m., Fox, r, TV-14).


Jimmy Fallon welcomes Dua Lipa, Benny Safdie and Brad Paisley on “The Tonight Show” (11:35 p.m., NBC) … Michael Shannon & Jason Narducy and Rachel Bloom visit “Late Night With Seth Meyers” (12:35 a.m., NBC).