TV spreads holiday cheer with a blizzard of movies, specials

TV spreads holiday cheer with a blizzard of movies, specials

Deck the halls and warm up the DVR. A veritable blizzard of holiday-themed fare is about to blow into your television sets.

Yes, once again the broadcast networks and cable channels have pieced together a vast lineup of festive specials, movies and animated treats. Some are making their debut this season, but most are perennial favorites that continue to enchant us.

So we’ve made a list (and checked it twice) of prime time’s main holiday highlights. Keep in mind that many of these programs — especially those on cable — will receive multiple airings.

—The Holiday Hall of Fame

“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”: It’s a celebration of nonconformity as North Pole misfits rise and shine. (8 p.m. Nov. 30, CBS).

“Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas”: Quick, put Whoville on lockdown. The grouchy beast is on the prowl once again. (8 p.m., Nov. 30 & Dec. 23, ABC).

“Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town”: Mickey Rooney’s Kris Kringle knocks heads with the evil Burgermeister Meisterburger. (8 p.m. Dec. 2, ABC).

“A Charlie Brown Christmas”: Our round-headed hero bonds with a puny tree and learns the true meaning of Christmas. (8 p.m. Dec. 7 & 16, ABC).

“The Year Without a Santa Claus”: The big guy gets his feelings hurt and decides to go on strike. (9 p.m. Dec. 9, ABC Family).

“Frosty the Snowman”: It’s time to chill out with that “jolly, happy soul.” (8 p.m. Dec. 11; 8:30 p.m. Dec. 17, CBS).

—Gifts that keep giving

“Shrek the Halls”: America’s favorite ogre struggles to get into the Christmas spirit. (8:30 p.m. Nov. 30; 8 p.m. Dec. 9, ABC).

“Disney Prep & Landing”: A covert unit of elves readies homes for the big night. (8:30 p.m. Dec. 9, ABC).

“A Miser Brothers’ Christmas”: The 2008 sequel to 1974’s “The Year Without a Santa Claus.” (10 p.m., Dec. 9, ABC Family).

“Frosty Returns”: Apparently, there’s still some magic in that old silk hat. (8:30 p.m. Dec. 11; 9 p.m. Dec. 17, CBS).

“The Flight Before Christmas”: A young reindeer yearns to be an expert flyer just like his father. (9 p.m. Dec. 11, CBS).

“Yes, Virginia”: A curious, letter-writing girl questions the existence of Santa Claus. (8 p.m. Dec. 17, CBS).

—Big-screen evergreens

“The Santa Claus”: Tim Allen dons the red suit and fluffy beard. (7 & 9 p.m., Dec. 2, ABC Family).

“The Polar Express”: All aboard for a magical train ride to the North Pole. (6 & 8:30 p.m. Dec. 3, ABC Family).

“The Nightmare Before Christmas”: Jack Skellington brings some ghoulish delight to the holiday. (11 p.m. Dec. 4, ABC Family).

“Miracle on 34th Street”: A department store Santa restores our faith in humanity. (8:30 p.m. Dec. 8, ABC Family).

“A Christmas Carol”: Reginald Owen plays the miserable miser in this 1938 version of the Dickens classic. (8 p.m. Dec. 10, TCM).

“It’s a Wonderful Life”: Every time you watch this Capra classic, an angel gets its wings. (8 p.m. Dec. 11 & 24, NBC).

“Meet Me in St. Louis”: Judy Garland has herself a merry little Christmas in this 1944 musical. (8 p.m. Dec. 11, TCM).

“White Christmas”: Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye work to make your days merry and bright. (Marathon starts at 8 p.m. Dec. 11, AMC).

“Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas”: The inferior, live-action Jim Carrey version. (8:30 p.m. Dec. 23, ABC)

“A Christmas Story”: We triple-dog dare you to watch this nostalgic keepsake over and over and over. (Marathon starts at 8 p.m. Dec. 24, TBS).

“Scrooged”: Bill Murray goes for the laughs in a modern twist on the flinty grouch. (Marathon starts 10 a.m. Dec. 25, AMC).

—Freshly wrapped TV movies

“The Santa Suit”: A greedy toy tycoon (Kevin Sorbo) learns a lesson in humility from the jolly old elf. (8 p.m. Dec. 2, Hallmark Channel).

“Farewell Mr. Kringle”: A cynical, Christmas-hating journalist (Christine Taylor) is sent by her editor (Vivica A. Fox) to the charming town of Mistletoe. (8 p.m. Dec. 4, Hallmark Channel).

“A Very School Gyrls Holla-Day”: The girls find themselves locked in the mall after it closes and try to stop a pair of unlikely thieves on Christmas. (9 p.m. Dec. 4, Nickelodeon).

“On Strike for Christmas”: Daphne Zuniga stars as a fed-up mom who tires of toiling around the holidays. (8 p.m. Dec. 5, Lifetime Movie Network ).

“The Santa Incident”: After Santa’s sleigh is downed by a heat-seeking missile, a family nurses him back to health. (8 p.m. Dec. 7, Hallmark Channel).

“An Old-Fashioned Christmas”: Jacqueline Bisset stars in this saga based on a short story by Louisa May Alcott. (8 p.m. Dec. 11, Hallmark Channel).

“Christmas Cupid”: It’s Dickens with a twist as a high-powered Hollywood publicist (Christina Milian) meets the ghosts of boyfriends past, present and future. (8 p.m. Dec. 12, ABC Family).

—Traditions, music and more

“The Real Story of Christmas”: Documentary special explores origins of holiday rituals. (9 p.m. Nov. 29, History).

“CMA Country Christmas”: Country music superstars, including Brad Paisley, LeAnn Rimes, Rascal Flatts and Sugarland, ring in the holidays. (9:30 p.m., Nov. 29, ABC).

“Christmas in Rockefeller Center”: Watch them light up the big tree in the Big Apple. (8 p.m. Nov. 30, NBC).

“Big Time Christmas”: The “Big Time Rush” gang, along with Miranda Cosgrove and Snoop Dogg, debut original holiday tunes. (8 p.m. Dec. 4, Nickelodeon).

“Penguins of Madagascar: The All-Nighter Before Christmas”: The zoo-dwellers discover the truth behind Santa’s magic in this new animated special. (7 p.m. Dec. 12,Nickelodeon).

“Mariah Carey: Merry Christmas to You”: The pop princess performs songs from her new holiday album. (9 p.m. Dec. 13, ABC).

“Christmas in Washington”: Mariah Carey, Miranda Cosgrove, Maxwell, Annie Lennox and others light up the capital. (8 p.m. Dec. 17, TNT).

“12th Annual A Home for the Holidays”: Celebrities share inspirational stories about adoption. (8 p.m. Dec. 22, CBS).


Chuck Barney: [email protected]


(c) 2010, Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek, Calif.).

Visit the Contra Costa Times on the Web at

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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TV spreads holiday cheer with a blizzard of movies, specials