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Best bets: 'Hobbit' sweeps viewers back to Middle-Earth

It's here: The first of three films based on J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit" lands in theaters this week. If you're not interested in returning to Middle-Earth, there's a fun kids' movie on home video and an engrossing Beatles documentary on PBS.

TUESDAY: 'Ice Age: Continental Drift'
Pirates, wooly mammoths, and more, oh my. The fourth "Ice Age" movie is no "Toy Story," but it's still a fun romp for kids who love the prehistoric beasts. In this one, Manny the mammoth gets separated from his wife and daughter as the continents do their infamous crack-up. Thankfully, he's surrounded by pals, including Sid the sloth and Diego the saber-toothed tiger, as he tries to reunite with his family. Oh, and Scrat the saber-toothed squirrel is still hunting that acorn. (On home video Dec. 11.)

FRIDAY: 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey'
If you named your son Thorin, have a wedding-ring inscription done in Elvish, or flunked out of college because you spent so many hours hand-painting your D&D orc character, you've been looking forward to this one for a while now. Peter Jackson has returned to Middle-Earth with the first of three films from J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit." Three films made more sense with the "Lord of the Rings," which was a three-volume work anyway -- but breaking Bilbo Baggins' journey into three films means more hours to savor for fans, more money for the studios. In "Unexpected Journey," unassuming Hobbit Bilbo gets recruited for the journey of a lifetime and sets off on his hairy feet, with plenty of familiar characters (Gandalf, yay! Gollum, yuck!) to see him through. (Opens Dec. 14.)

FRIDAY: "Magical Mystery Tour Revisited'
Roll up, and that's an invitation! The Beatles' 1967 film, "Magical Mystery Tour," perplexed many of even the band's most devoted fans. Surviving Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr were among those who were interviewed for this look at the controversial and surreal film that many Beatlemaniacs have still never seen. After "Revisited" airs on "Great Performances," a fully restored version of the film itself will be shown. (Dec. 14, 9 p.m., PBS.)

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