Highlights: December 18-24

Masterpiece Classic at 8 p.m. Sunday presents part one of Oscar-winning writer Julian Fellowes‘ “Downtown Abbey,” a depiction of the lives of the noble Crawley family and the staff who serve them, set at their Edwardian country house in 1912.

American Masters at 9 p.m. Monday presents Charles & Ray Eames: The Architect & The Painter, the story of America’s most important and influential designers whose work helped shape the second half of the 20th century and remains culturally vital and commercially popular today.

Lidia Celebrates America at 7 p.m. Tuesday features four very different holiday tables and traditions: an Italian Christmas Eve with actors Mo Rocca and Stanley Tucci; a Mexican-American Christmas with four generations of the Cortez family in San Antonio; a Chinese New Year celebration with the Fong-Torres family in San Francisco; and a Jewish-American Passover in New York.

Live from Lincoln Center returns to the New York City Ballet for “George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker” at 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Nature at 7 p.m. Wednesday presents “Christmas in Yellowstone,” an exploration of the great winter world of Yellowstone through images of the spectacular landscape and wildlife.

Nova at 8 p.m. Wednesday takes viewers on a journey from the Galapagos Islands to the Arctic and from the Cambrian explosion of animal forms half a billion years ago to the research labs of today. Here scientists are finally beginning to crack nature’s biggest secrets at the genetic level. And, as Nova shows, the results are confirming the brilliance of Darwin’s insights while exposing clues to life’s breathtaking diversity.

Singer/composer/bass prodigy Esperanza Spalding performs on Austin City Limits at 10 p.m. Wednesday and Friday with a mix of jazz, soul and Brazilian pop. Contemporary torch singer Madeleine Peyroux follows in support of her album “Bare Bones“.

Civil right activist Julian Bond discusses his career on Overheard with Evan Smith at 7 p.m. Thursday.

Company of Voices: Conspirare in Concert at 8 p.m. Thursday is a one-hour concert featuring Austin-based choral ensemble Conspirare as they seamlessly blend contemporary work with the classics, taking the audience on a journey of innovative sound, vibrant images and thought-provoking ideas.

Independent Lens at 9 p.m. Thursday presents “The Woodmans,” a portrait of one family’s fall and redemption in the often brutal world of art.

David Archuleta and Michael York join the Mormon Tabernacle Choir for a Christmas concert in Salt Lake City on Christmas With The Mormon Tabernacle Choir at 8 p.m. Friday.

“Christmas at St. Olaf’“ at 9 p.m. Friday features one of the nation’s most highly acclaimed annual musical celebration and marks the 100th anniversary of the annual Christmas Festival from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota.

Austin City Limits at 7 p.m. Saturday presents a classic Tom Waits performance from 1979.

My Family holiday episodes back-to-back from 9 to midnight.