Tonight's TV Hot List: Monday, Dec. 21, 2009 - Featured


* The Closer (9/8c TNT)


The crime drama closes a three-show winter arc - and, by extension, its fifth season - with an episode that vaunts the return of head-butting Capt. Raydor (Mary McDonnell). Raydor reaches out to Major Crimes and top cop Brenda Leigh Johnson to help on a nerve-jangling internal investigation. It's a delicate matter swirling around the alleged spousal abuse of a female officer - but there is more to the case than meets the eye. Juxtaposing all this prime crime, as always, are domestic developments, as Fritz grows weary of Brenda's neglect.


* The Sing-Off (8/7c NBC)


After surviving three rounds of performances, the final three groups await their fate as the winner of the competition is announced. The group that triumphs receives $100,000 and a recording contract. But crowning the winner isn't the only excitement in store for the evening. Shawn Stockman takes a break from judging to take the stage with Boyz II Men, while Bobby McFerrin, Natasha Bedingfield and Smokey Robinson turn in their own a cappella performances.


* ABC World News with Diane Sawyer (6:30/5:30c ABC)


It might not have the social significance of Barbara Walters' ascent to ABC's anchor chair in 1976, but here Diane Sawyer is, anchoring a network evening newscast of her own - and joining Brian Williams and Katie Couric in a triumvirate that's now two-thirds female. It's by no means a pink-collar ghetto, but the fact that Sawyer is making her debut during one of the quietest weeks of the year speaks volumes about the changing landscape of TV news. Sawyer, who'll celebrate her 64th birthday tomorrow, has been at ABC since 1989.


* Monday Night Football (8:30/7:30c ESPN)


Without the luxury of flex scheduling enjoyed by their Sunday-night brethren on NBC, the MNF crew is left with a lackluster Giants-Redskins matchup as their penultimate game of the season. Sort of like getting stuck with that bag of rock salt in the office holiday gift exchange. Then again, these franchises have been on each other's naughty list since the '30s and should get into a competitive mood early as New York (7-6) tries to stay in playoff contention. Washington (4-9) may be inspired to give beleaguered coach Jim Zorn his first prime-time win (in six tries) before what promises to be an off-season of change in D.C.


* World Chocolate Championship (10/9c TLC)


We envy the judges who were tasked with tasting the out-of-this-world confections entered at this year's World Chocolate Masters, held at the Porte de Versailles in Paris. This mouthwatering special offers a behind-the-scenes peek at the elite culinary event, which finds 19 of the world's best chocolate artisans creating their most impressive sweets as they compete for the coveted title of World Chocolate Master and, not to mention, a very sweet grand prize of 25,000 euros.


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