Come, all ye TV faithful
Deck the DVR with boughs of folly, nostalgia, bizarre takes on festivities
Ah, the holidays! That special time of year when the networks break out TV chestnuts and deliver them like presents to our flat-panel televisions, iPads, computers and phones.
With hundreds of cable channels and broadcast networks to choose from, your DVR's hard drive could spin hot enough to roast those chestnuts.
There truly is something for everybody, whether you're nostalgic for the old black-and white holiday classics and the Peanuts specials of your youth or are looking for something new. Music fans, foodies, live action and animation fans are all covered with a snowy blanket (and paradoxically warm glow) of televised holiday cheer.
Many of these programs air multiple times; we've noted the first airing after publication. Here's where to catch your favorites. (Check TV listings before you tune in or set your DVR, as air times are subject to change.)
New and notable
"Jingle All the Way."6:30 p.m. Friday, Hallmark.
Not to be confused with the 1996 Schwarzenegger film, this is an adorable animated tale of boy-meets-dog at a Christmas tree farm.
"A Very Pink Christmas."5 p.m. Dec. 7. ABC Family.
The Pink Panther, homeless and hungry, gets into all kinds of trouble on a Christmas quest for food.
"Disney Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice."6:30 p.m. Dec. 21. ABC Family.
Let's hope there's more of a plot in this threequel than in the 2009 original.
"I'm cute! I'm cuuuuuuuute!"
"I want an official Red Ryder, carbine action, 200 shot range model air rifle!"
"I never thought it was such a bad little tree. It's not bad at all, really. Maybe it just needs a little love."
"Every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings."
There are some holiday programs that you've seen so many times you can quote the dialogue right along with the characters. Still, it's just not Christmas unless you see them again. From Rudolph to Charlie Brown, George Bailey to Cousin Eddie, Ralphie to the Grinch, here are your next chances to catch these classics.
"Elf." 7 p.m. today. USA.
"Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas."7 p.m. Monday. ABC.
"Scrooged."7 p.m. Monday. TBS.
"Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer."7 p.m. Tuesday. CBS.
"It's a Wonderful Life." 7 p.m. Dec. 3. NBC.
"A Charlie Brown Christmas." 7 p.m. Dec. 5. ABC.
"National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation."8 p.m. Dec. 7. ABC Family.
"The Year Without a Santa Claus."8 p.m. Dec. 8. ABC Family.
"Frosty the Snowman."7 p.m. Dec. 9. CBS.
"A Christmas Story."8 p.m. Dec. 6. TCM. A marathon of the film begins at 7p.m. Dec. 24 on TBS.
Are you looking for a "Transformers" Christmas special in which Bumblebee learns the true meaning of giving? Sorry — there's nothing on this year's list as bizarre as 1978's "Star Wars Holiday Special." (Although, isn't it about time for George Lucas to digitally enhance and reissue it?)
The word "Pandora" in the ice show's title raised our hopes for a cheesy "Avatar" skating spectacular with a lot of blue, full-body makeup; instead we get David Archuleta, Brian Boitano and Mannheim Steamroller. It looks like we'll have to settle for these generally more tasteful celebrations.
"Pandora Unforgettable Holiday Moments on Ice."3 p.m. Sunday. NBC.
"L.A. Holiday Celebration 2010."8 p.m. Dec. 13. PBS.
"Live from Lincoln Center: George Balanchine's The Nutcracker."7 p.m. Dec. 14. PBS
"Disney Christmas Parade."11 a.m. Dec. 25. ABC.
Nothing says Christmas like a smooth crooner, a good ol' boy (or gal), or a full-throated choir belting out traditional holiday favorites. Fortunately, there's no shortage of musical holiday specials.
"Christmas In Rockefeller Center 2011."7 p.m. Wednesday. NBC.
"CMA Country Christmas." 8 p.m. Thursday. ABC.
"A Michael Bublé Christmas."7 p.m. Dec. 6. NBC.
"Christmas with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir with David Archuleta and Michael York."7 p.m. Dec. 13. PBS
"Christmas at St. Olaf."8 p.m. Dec. 20. PBS.
"Christmas at Belmont 2011."7 p.m. Dec. 22. PBS.
Turner Classic Movies has the monopoly on old-timey holiday classics. Check www.tcm.com for the dates and times when films like "Going My Way," "Miracle on 34th Street"and "The Bishop's Wife"will air.
Umm, did Anthony Bourdain stuff his Thanksgiving turkey with mushrooms and tie the legs together with hemp? No words I could dream up would be more compelling and disturbing than the Travel Channel's own press blurb for "Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations Holiday Special"(7 p.m. Dec. 12.):
"This year, on Christmas, Tony finds himself sequestered in a surreal version of the Ace Hotel in his hometown of NYC — alone and bereft; he wonders how he ended up here. The episode's style and visual cues are a mix of ‘Barton Fink' and ‘A Christmas Story,' with a little David Lynch thrown in. During this hallucinatory stay at the Magical Ace Hotel, special effects bring the hallways, lobbies, stairwells and textures to life ... Tony's daydreams become animated stories of bizarre Christmas traditions."
Runner-up: "The Polar Express." 5:30 p.m. Dec. 6. ABC Family. Those creepy elves; those soulless, glassy eyes ... shudder.
"Shalom Sesame — Chanukah: The Missing Menorah."Noon Dec. 19. PBS
This tuneful holiday tale featuring Grover centers on a fevered pre-sunset hunt for a missing menorah.
Christmas is one of the few times of the year when the TV movie genre sparks back to life. There are way too many of these to list. If this is your thing (most of the movies involve romance, shenanigans to find romance, and pets) check out these links:
"Cookies and Cocktails."7 p.m. Dec. 4. Cooking Channel.
I always suspected these holiday events were just an excuse to get hammered on sangria — now I've got proof. Cooking Channel's Kelsey Nixon helps swimsuit model Chrissy Teigen host a festive cookie swap.
"Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives: A North Pole Christmas."8 p.m. Dec. 10. Food Network.
Host Guy Fieri heads to North Pole, Alaska, for Christmas delicacies. And indelicacies — was it really necessary to include "reindeer hoagies"? We wish we were joking. Read about more Food Network holiday specials at www.foodnetwork.com.
"Lidia Celebrates America: Holiday Tables and Traditions."7 p.m. Dec. 20. PBS
Celebrity chef, author and restaurateur Lidia Bastianich (who's scheduled to be in Austin to sign books at the downtown Whole Foods on Wednesday evening) celebrates Italian, Mexican American, Chinese and Jewish American holiday culture through food. Get more info on the network's holiday programming at www.cookingchanneltv.com.