Small town suffers more than its share of tragedies

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By Kevin McDonough

Most local chambers of commerce would love to have a TV series set in their small town. But not with the title "Village of the Damned" (10 p.m., ID, TV-14). This five-part docuseries chronicles a number of tragedies that earned the New York town of Dryden its dark reputation.

According to those interviewed in "Damned," some once considered Dryden the inspiration for Frank Capra's Bedford Falls in "It's a Wonderful Life." But others contend that the town has been cursed.

Over the course of five episodes, "Damned" will examine true crimes, including the cold-blooded execution of an entire family; the murder of a beloved football coach; the deaths of two young cheerleaders and other grim events. "Damned" focuses on how so many tragedies in a relatively small population can breed a climate of fear and even superstition.

That makes sense in a nonfiction series, but such logic is always dispensed with scripted dramas set in small towns. People die in every episode of "Midsomer Murders" and similar series. And the residents muddle through until the next body drops.

• As if to prove we are all stranded on the Island of Misfit Toys, CBS continues its annual tradition of airing the 1964 holiday special "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" (8 p.m., TV-G) and "The Victoria's Secret Fashion Show" (10 p.m., TV-14) on the same night.

This year, for the first time, the holiday festival of under-dressed supermodels prancing in skimpy unmentionables takes place in Shanghai.

"The Drunk History Christmas Special" (10 p.m., Comedy Central, TV-14) recalls holiday anecdotes involving George Washington, Charles Dickens and Theodore Roosevelt, acted out by performers pretending to be inebriated and uttering bleeped-out profanity. As with spiked eggnog, a little goes a long way.

• The new series "Survival in the Skies" (9 p.m., Smithsonian) looks at the technology that has allowed fliers and astronauts to survive under punishing conditions. First up: the evolution of the space suit, from the primitive suits that nearly killed early cosmonauts, to the reusable "personal habitats" worn on the International Space Station.

• The 2017 documentary "The US Festival 1982: The US Generation" (10 p.m., AXS) captures a concert organized by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak featuring performances by Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, The Police, Fleetwood Mac, Carlos Santana, The B-52s, The Cars, and Johnny and Joey Ramone, among others.

TV on DVD

TV-themed DVDs available today include "The Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life."

TONIGHT'S OTHER HIGHLIGHTS

• Eliminations unfold on "The Voice" (8 p.m., NBC, TV-PG).

• The DC crossover continues on "The Flash" (8 p.m., CW, TV-14) and "DC's Legends of Tomorrow" (9 p.m., CW, TV-14).

• Jack takes Randall on a college tour on "This Is Us" (9 p.m., NBC, TV-14).

• An expectant mother needs TLC on "Chicago Med" (10 p.m., NBC, TV-14).

• A filmmaker spans the globe in search of psychoactive substances on "Hamilton's Pharmacopeia" (10 p.m., Viceland, TV-14), now in its second season.

CULT CHOICE

A wealthy young man (Beau Bridges) gets more than he bargained for when he buys a tenement house in the inner city in the 1970 comedy "The Landlord" (10 p.m., TCM), co-starring Pearl Bailey, Diana Sands, Louis Gossett Jr. and Lee Grant. The first feature film directed by Hal Ashby.

SERIES NOTES

Organized crime in a hospital on "Lethal Weapon" (8 p.m., Fox, TV-14) * Axl has changed on "The Middle" (8 p.m., ABC, r, TV-14) * A gentle nudge on "Fresh Off the Boat" (8:30 p.m., ABC, r, TV-PG) * Hidden treasure on "NCIS" (9 p.m., CBS, r, TV-14) * Hot or not on "The Mick" (9 p.m., Fox, TV-14) * Ruby worries Dre on "blackish" (9 p.m., ABC, r, TV-14) * Underground at a fan fiction convention on "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" (9:30 p.m., Fox, TV-14) * A publicity stunt exceeds expectations on "The Mayor" (9:30 p.m., ABC, r, TV-PG) * Affection and deception on "Kevin (Probably) Saves the World" (10 p.m., ABC, r, TV-14).

LATE NIGHT

Greta Gerwig is booked on "The Daily Show With Trevor Noah" (11 p.m., Comedy Central) * Justin Verlander, Jay Pharoah and Langhorne Slim appear on "Conan" (11 p.m., TBS) * John Mulaney and Jason Segel are booked on "The Late Show With Stephen Colbert" (11:35 p.m., CBS, r) * Jimmy Fallon welcomes Daisy Ridley, Jim Belushi and Liam Gallagher on "The Tonight Show" (11:35 p.m., NBC) * Saoirse Ronan, Rachel Brosnahan, Michelle Wolf and Will Dorsey Jr. visit "Late Night With Seth Meyers" (12:35 a.m., NBC) * Luke Evans, Usher, Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie appear on "The Late Late Show With James Corden" (12:35 a.m., CBS).

© 2017, United Feature Syndicate