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5 Best Bets on TV This Week: ‘How to Survive a Plague’ on PBS, ‘Community’ Returns and More

5 Best Bets on TV This Week: 'How to Survive a Plague' on PBS, 'Community' Returns and More

Sure, Sunday tends to be overcrowded with high-end TV (like “Downton Abbey,” returning to PBS this week), but what to watch the rest of the time? Every Monday, we bring you five noteworthy highlights from the other six days of the week.

“In Memoriam”
Monday, December 30th at 8pm on TCM

Turner Classic Movies’ year-end “In Memoriam” tribute is a salute to those who passed who weren’t already honored during the year. The night begins with the 1941 Deanna Durbin musical “It Started with Eve” at 8pm, followed by Annette Funicello’s 1964 “Bikini Beach” at 9:45pm. Eileen Brennan stars in Neil Simon’s 1978 “The Cheap Detective” at 11:30pm, while Jonathan Winters plays a pair of brothers in 1965 black comedy “The Loved One” at 1:15am. Karen Black received an Oscar nomination for her performance in 1970’s “Five Easy Pieces” at 3:30am, while Julie Harris is terrific in 1955’s “East of Eden” at 5:15am. And the evening ends with John Kerr reprising his Broadway role in the 1956 film version of Robert Anderson’s play “Tea and Sympathy” at 7:15am.

“Independent Lens”: “How to Survive a Plague”
Monday, December 30th at 10pm on PBS

Director David France’s Oscar-nominated documentary about the early years of the AIDS epidemic and how activist groups ACT UP and TAG fought to bring attention and urgency to the development of medications to combat the disease come to PBS this week courtesy of “Independent Lens.” Check out Indiewire’s interview with France and producers Howard Gertler and Peter Staley from last year.

Community”: Season Premiere
Thursday, January 2nd at 8pm on NBC

The long, strange trip of “Community” continues with the start of the meta-sitcom’s fifth season this week, with creator and showrunner Dan Harmon returning after much behind the scenes drama and being fired for a year. The series had a distinctively New Coke feel last season, and Harmon seems determined to return things to their idiosyncratic old ways — the season premiere, which guest stars Rob Corddry, is entitled “Repilot.” It’ll be followed by a second new episode at 8:30, “Introduction to Teaching,” with Jeff (Joel McHale) settling into a new position at Greendale.

“Elementary”: “The Diabolical Kind”
Thursday, January 2nd at 10pm on CBS

While Benedict Cumberbatch’s fellow modern day Holmes series “Sherlock” gets the lion’s share of attention, CBS’ “Elementary” has been quietly coming into its own as a character study of the former addict Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) and his sober companion-turned-partner Dr. Joan Watson (Lucy Liu). The winter premiere features the return of Moriarty, Holmes nemesis, who like Watson is gender flipped and played by “Game of Thrones” star Natalie Dormer.

Wanda Sykes Presents Herlarious: Part One
Saturday, January 4th at 10pm on OWN

Wanda Sykes’ series of comedy specials on OWN continues with the first of two new stand-up and sketch comedy hours featuring guests Wayne Brady, Kristin Chenoweth, Cheryl Hines, Jeff Probst, Sheryl Underwood, Lance Reddick, Camryn Manheim, Tichina Arnold and Jackée Harry.

Also worth a look: For your New Year’s programming needs — Ryan Seacrest will be presiding over the Times Square celebrations on ABC starting at 10pm, Carson Daly will be hosting at NBC, Mario Lopez is at Fox and CBS is opting for a Letterman rerun. Over at CNN, Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin will be overseeing festivities. And if you’re feeling morbid, you can ring in the new year with the undead — AMC will be running its New Year’s Eve “The Walking Dead” marathon again starting at 9pm on the 31st and continuing through the 2nd.

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