Christmas in TV land offers smiles

‘It’s a Wonderful Life,’ Grinch lead the pack

11/26/2012
BY MICHELLE STARK
TAMPA BAY TIMES
Charlie Brown and Linus appear in a scene from 1965's 'A Charlie Brown Christmas,' a television special based on the 'Peanuts' comic strip by Charles M. Schulz.
Charlie Brown and Linus appear in a scene from 1965's 'A Charlie Brown Christmas,' a television special based on the 'Peanuts' comic strip by Charles M. Schulz.

Now that Thanks­giv­ing is over, it’s just a sleigh ride into Christ­mas. The TV sched­ule is fill­ing up with snow­men and San­tas, some shows start­ing this week. (Though Hall­mark chan­nel gets the most spir­ited award for kick­ing off their hol­i­day pro­gram­ming way back on Nov. 9.) Here are five of our fa­vor­ites, but look be­low for plenty more stock­ing-stuffers. As al­ways, check your lo­cal list­ings for chan­nels and last-minute sched­ule changes.

1. It’s a Won­der­ful Life: Ah, the clas­sic of all clas­sics. Christ­mas Eve wouldn’t be com­plete with­out the 1946 Frank Ca­pra movie about George Bai­ley. Oh, quit com­plain­ing that it’s in black and white, or that it’s three hours long. We dare you not to be moved when Jimmy Stew­art runs through Bed­ford Falls, shout­ing about how he wants to live again. See it at 8 p.m. Dec. 1, and, of course, Dec. 24 on NBC.

2. Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christ­mas: We've puz­zled and puz­zled till our puz­zler was sore, but just can't ig­nore this Boris Kar­loff-nar­rated car­toon clas­sic from 1966. Thank­fully the green crea­ture whose heart is two sizes too small never gets old. It only runs 30 min­utes (didn't it seem so much lon­ger when you were a kid?), so hun­ker down with a plate of roast beast and just try not to sing along with the Whos (Fahoo fores / da­hoo dores / Wel­come Christ­mas!). ABC shows it at 8 p.m. Dec. 18 and Dec. 25. Or there's al­ways the fan­tas­ti­cal live-ac­tion movie star­ring Jim Car­rey, play­ing on ABC at 8:30 p.m. Dec. 25. It's also on ABC Fam­ily Dec. 2, 7, 17 and 23.

James Stewart, center, is reunited with his wife, Donna Reed, left, and children during the last scene of Frank Capra's 1946 classic, ‘It's A Wonderful Life.'
James Stewart, center, is reunited with his wife, Donna Reed, left, and children during the last scene of Frank Capra's 1946 classic, ‘It's A Wonderful Life.'

3. Mir­a­cle on 34th Street: The 1947 black-and-white orig­i­nal star­ring a young Natalie Wood will al­ways reign su­preme, but the 1994 ver­sion with Mara Wil­son (Ma­tilda) as the young girl is just as de­light­ful, thanks to Wil­son's gen­eral ador­able­ness and the cheesy rom-com an­tics be­tween Dy­lan McDer­mott and Eliz­a­beth Perkins. Catch the 1994 ver­sion on ABC Fam­ily at 12:30 p.m. Dec. 1, with re­peats on Dec. 2 and 18.

4. A Char­lie Brown Christ­mas: Of all the Char­lie Brown spe­cials in the world, this 1965 clas­sic is the Char­lie Brown­i­est. The jazzy mu­sic. The mem­o­ra­ble lines. The sim­ple mes­sage: “Isn't there any­one who knows what Christ­mas is all about?” No one else could make us con­sider the sad­dest tree on the lot be­cause, as Chuck says, “I think it needs me.” Watch it at 8 p.m. Wed­nes­day on ABC.

5. Elf: If you don’t think this un­der­rated com­edy from 2003 is a new Christ­mas clas­sic, you are a cot­ton-headed ninny-mug­gins. Goofy Will Fer­rell, a young, blond Zooey Deschanel and an elfin Bob Newhart will spread Christ­mas cheer just about ev­ery day the first week of Decem­ber on ABC Fam­ily, start­ing at 8 p.m. Dec. 1. It's also on CBS at 8 p.m. Dec. 15.

 

And the best of the rest

■ SNL Christ­mas (NBC), 9 p.m. Wed­nes­day.

■ Christ­mas In Rocke­fel­ler Center 2012 (NBC), 8 p.m. Wed­nes­day.

■ The Christ­mas Heart (Hall­mark), 8 p.m. Dec. 2, 7, 12 and 25.

■ The Dog Who Saved Christ­mas (Hall­mark), 8 p.m. Dec. 4.

■ Na­tional Lam­poon's Christ­mas Va­ca­tion (ABC Fam­ily), 8 and 10 p.m. Dec. 3; 9 p.m. Dec. 12; 7 p.m. Dec. 13; 9 p.m. Dec. 20; 7 p.m. Dec. 21; 12 a.m. Dec. 24; 9 p.m. Dec. 25.

■ Ru­dolph's Shiny New Year (ABC Fam­ily), 5:30 p.m. Dec. 3; 4:30 p.m. Dec. 4; 7 a.m. Dec. 9; and 2 p.m. Dec. 22.

■ Ru­dolph the Red-Nosed Rein­deer and the Island of Mis­fit Toys (ABC Fam­ily), 6:30 p.m. Dec. 3; 12:30 p.m. Dec. 22; 7 a.m. Dec. 23.

■ Blake Shel­ton's Not-So-Fam­ily Christ­mas (NBC), 10 p.m. Dec. 3; 9 p.m. Dec. 14.

■ Ru­dolph the Red-Nosed Rein­deer (CBS), 8 p.m. Dec. 4.

■ The Polar Ex­press (ABC Fam­ily), 9 p.m. Dec. 5; 6 p.m. Dec. 6; 9 p.m. Dec. 13; 5 p.m. Dec. 14; 10 p.m. Dec. 18; 7 p.m. Dec. 19; 1 p.m. Dec. 24.

■ Home Alone (ABC Fam­ily), 7 p.m. Dec. 5; 9 p.m. Dec. 10.; 5 p.m. Dec. 11; 8 p.m. Dec. 18; 5 p.m. Dec. 19; 9 p.m. Dec. 24; 7 p.m. Dec. 25.

■ The Santa Clause (ABC Fam­ily), 7 p.m. Dec. 7; 4 p.m. Dec. 8; 7 p.m. Dec. 11; 5 p.m. Dec. 12; 9 p.m. Dec. 21; 6 p.m. Dec. 22; 3 p.m. Dec. 24; 11 a.m. Dec. 25.

■ Mi­chael Buble: Home for the Hol­i­days (NBC), 10 p.m. Dec. 10; 8 p.m. Dec. 21.

■ The Year With­out a Santa Claus (ABC Fam­ily), 8 p.m. Dec. 10; 11 p.m. Dec. 15; 1 p.m. Dec. 16; 4 p.m. Dec. 22.

■ Christ­mas in the White House (NBC), 8 p.m. Dec. 13; 9 p.m. Dec. 21.

■ Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town (ABC Fam­ily), 8 p.m. Dec. 14; 10 p.m. Dec. 15; 2 p.m. Dec. 16; 5 p.m. Dec. 22.

■ The Lit­tle Drum­mer Boy (ABC Fam­ily), 8 a.m. Dec. 15.

■ CMA Coun­try Christ­mas (ABC), 9 p.m. Dec. 20.

■ Mr. Ma­goo’s Christ­mas Carol (NBC), 8 p.m. Dec. 22.

■ A Christ­mas Story (TBS): 24-hour mar­a­thon start­ing 8 p.m. Dec. 24.

■ Dis­ney Christ­mas Pa­rade (ABC), noon Dec. 25.