Friday TV: ‘Winter in Portlandia’ Special, The Beatles’ ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ Unearthed

One of my favorite comedies is the funny and wryly observed “Portlandia” in which Fred Armisen of “Saturday Night Live” gets to be creative and funny in a way that doesn’t often happen on the NBC show. Carrie Brownstein, once of the band Sleater Kinney keeps up with every one of his characters, showing a natural and inventive comic sense.

The new season actually starts next month, but they prime the pump with the new the special “Winter in Portlandia” (IFC, 10:30 p.m.).

It begins with the community fight to grab the few spots of sun in town; then it’s a pasta purge for the stuttering curly-haired character Peter who thinks he’s fat. The stockings are up for the holidays at the Women & Women Only bookstore where Bobby Monynihan visits (and not as Drunk Uncle).

There’s a motel known for its plentiful electrical outlets, and stew food truck that needs some business and a seasonal wish at a recording studio that draws Jack White, one of a number of other guest stars that include Jim Gaffigan and Matt Lucas of “Little Britain.” The overall effect is as sunny as a lamp fighting seasonal darkness disorder.

The legacy of the Beatles continues to evolve, more than a half century after their formation. Just the other night, Paul performed with Nirvana at a benefit where Ringo’s son backed The Who on drums.

But in 1967, the band got perhaps the first bad reviews of its career when it presented its Christmas present to viewers, a “Magical Mystery Tour” that seemed puzzling (unless a viewer was on the same drug). Audience sophistication (or tolerance for the weird) have grown in the ensuing years so that surrealism is more acceptable. Nobody can beat the music by now with at least one song thoroughly infused by George Harrison’s dabblings into the Indian music of Ravi Shankar (who died this week).

The work get its first U.S. network broadcast on public television. “The Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour” (PBS, 10 p.m., check local listings) is accompanied by the behind the scenes special, “Magical Mystery Tour Revisited” (PBS, 9 p.m., check local listings) that includes new interviews from surviving Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr as well as Terry Gilliam, Peter Fonda, Neil Innes and others. It includes rare outtakes from the film as well as archival interviews with John Lennon and George Harrison.

How have things changed in the intervening years? Tonight’s “Fringe” (Fox, 9 p.m.) revolves around Walter’s penchant for LSD.

Between the premiere of the strong, two-part spy caper last week and the conclusion of “Restless” (Sundance, 9 p.m.) tonight, Charlotte Rampling got a Golden Globe nomination for her work in it. Michelle Dockery, Hayley Atwell and Rufuss Sewell also star in the neatly twisting caper of two eras.

Beatrix Potter probably wouldn’t have approved the animated holiday turn of the new special “Peter Rabbit’s Christmas Tale” (Nickelodeon, 7 p.m.). It joins a wealth of other holiday specials tonight:  “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” (CBS, 8 p.m.), a replay of “Blake Shelton’s Not-So-Funny Christmas” (NBC, 8 p.m.), “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” (ABC Family, 8 p.m.), “Yes, Virginia” (CBS, 9 p.m.) and “The Elf on the Shelf: An Elf’s Story” (CBS, 9:30 p.m.).

Christmas episodes are slated for “Last Man Standing” (ABC, 8 p.m.) and “Malibu Contry” (ABC, 8:30 p.m.).

Full length holiday movies include “Disney’s the Christmas Carol” (Disney, 8 p.m.), “Prancer Returns” (The CW, 8 p.m.), “Eloise at Christmastime” (Hallmark, 8 p.m.), “Holly’s Holiday” (Lifetime, 8 p.m.),

And as if meant to conjure up wintery weather, there’s a double play of “White Christmas” (AMC, 7 and 9:45 p.m.).

Restaurants that Gordon Ramsay helped previously in Baltimore and Philadelphia are revisited on a new “Kitchen Nightmares” (Fox, 8 p.m.).

Peek inside homes once owned by Madonna, Frank Sinatra and Paris Hilton in “I Bought a Famous House” (HGTV, 8 p.m.). And look at the Christmas decorations of people like Haylie Duff, Tamara Tunie and Lisa Lampanelli in the special “Celebrity Holiday Homes” (HGTV, 9 p.m.).

A Memphis-based reward program for low-income students is explored on “Need to Know” (PBS, 8:30 p.m., check local listings).

President Obama and Michelle Obama are interviewed in the decorated White House on “20/20″ (ABC, 10 p.m.), and Barbara Walters will have to explain why they weren’t more fascinating than Honey Boo Boo and David Petraeus.

Kat Von D is a guest on “Fashion Police” (E, 10 p.m.). Or maybe she’s turning herself in.

“Gold Rush: Behind the Scenes” (Discovery, 10 p.m.) presumably takes a deeper look at the glory hole — and the armed robbery in the finale.

The monthlong Friday night salute to director Ernst Lubitsch continues with “Trouble in Paradise” (TCM, 8 p.m.), “Design for Living” (TCM, 9:30 p.m.), “One Hour With You” (TCM, 11:15 p.m.) and the silent “The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg” (TCM, 12:45 a.m.).

Later, a vampire film banned by the Catholic Film Board for 21 years, the 1973 “Lemora: A Child’s Tale of the Supernatural” (TCM, 2:45 a.m.), along with another 70s biter pic, “Count Iorga, Vampire” (4:15 a.m.).

NBA action includes Boston at Houston (ESPN, 8 p.m.) and Memphis at Denver (ESPN, 10:30 p.m.).

Daytime Talk
Kelly & Michael
: Ewan McGregor, Kerry Washington, Jackie Evancho. The View: Chris Tucker, Derek Hough. The Talk: Jerry Springer, Anne Burrell. Ellen DeGeneres: Hugh Jackman, Justin Bieber.

Late Talk
David Letterman
: Samuel L. Jackson, Carrie Brownstein, Fred Armisen, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit. Jay Leno: Bette Midler, Judd Apatow, Pentatonix. Jimmy Kimmel: Mel Brooks, Jake tapper, Jason Aldean (rerun). Jimmy Fallon: Christoph Waltz, Amy Sedaris, Martha Wainwright. Craig Ferguson: Bradley Cooper, Wolfgang Puck. Carson Daly: Danai Gurira, Phillippe Cousteau Jr., Titus Andronicus (rerun). Tavis Smiley: Mary Wilson. Chelsea Handler: Ross Mathews, Jen Kirkman, Kurt Braunohler, Dave Grohl (rerun).

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