December 3, 2010 in Features

Holiday-themed must-sees are mostly perennial favorites

Chuck Barney Contra Costa Times

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

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.

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

The Holiday Hall of Fame

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

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

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

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

Gifts that keep giving

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

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

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

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

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

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

Big-screen evergreens

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

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

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

“A Christmas Carol”: Reginald Owen plays the miserable miser in this 1938 version of the Dickens classic. (Dec. 10, 5 p.m., TCM)

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

“Meet Me in St. Louis”: Judy Garland has herself a merry little Christmas in this 1944 musical. (Dec. 11, 5 p.m., TCM)

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

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

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

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

Freshly wrapped TV movies

“Farewell Mr. Kringle”: A cynical, Christmas-hating journalist (Christine Taylor) is sent by her editor (Vivica A. Fox) to the charming town of Mistletoe. (Saturday, 8 p.m., 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. (Saturday, 9 p.m., Nickelodeon)

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

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

“An Old-Fashioned Christmas”: Jacqueline Bisset stars in this saga based on a short story by Louisa May Alcott. (Dec. 11, 8 p.m., 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. (Dec. 12, 8 p.m., ABC Family)

Traditions, music and more

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

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

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

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

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

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