Christmas shows -- all the time, everywhere


You can't really celebrate Christmas without a scorecard and a master list. There are holiday shows everywhere, all the time.

I sent papers a list that starts Saturday (Nov. 27) and goes on through Christmas. It's packed ... and still incomplete.

And occasionally, it includes shows that are quite splendid. "November Christmas" -- Sunday (Nov. 28) on CBS -- is beautifully crafted and richly emotional. It ranks near the top of any list, in the general turf of "Grinch" and "A Charlie Brown Christmas." It's soon followed by a thoroughly entertaining "CMA County Christmas" on Monday; two days later, ABC Family starts its "25 Days of Christmas," which helped spark this surge.

Anyway, here's the list. Please look it over and also keep an eye on the daily columns:

 

Music and dance

– “CMA Country Christmas.”
Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland hosts a splendid mixture of uptempo tunes and strong ballads. The line-up includes Brad Paisley, Martina McBride, Darius Rucker,
LeAnn Rimes and members of Rascal Flatts and Little Big Town.
(9:30-11 p.m., Nov. 29, ABC)

-- "Royal Opera House: The Nutcracker." This launches a five-day string of "Nutcracker" performances, with viewers then choosing their favorite. These will repeat Dec. 19-23, then rerun in an all-day, Christmas Day marathon.

– “Christmas in Washington.”
Ellen Degeneres hosts Mariah Carey, Annie Lennox, Andrea Bocelli,
Maxwell, Miranda Cosgrove (“iCarly”) and Matthew Morrison
(“Glee”). (8 p.m., Dec. 17, TNT)

– Also, several new PBS concerts
(check local listings): “L.A. Holiday Celebration” (9 p.m., Dec.
8); “Christmas at Concordia: Journey to Bethlehem” (9 p.m., Dec.
13); “A Renaissance Christmas” (10 p.m., Dec. 13); and “Christmas
With the Mormon Tabernacle Choir” with Natalie Cole (8 p.m., Dec.
15). Also, the San Francisco Ballet's “Nutcracker” reruns at 9
p.m., Dec. 12.

Animated (the two giants)

– “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”
Dr. Seuss' great story joined animation from Chuck Jones, of Road
Runner fame, to create a masterpiece. (8 p.m., Nov. 30 and Dec. 9,
ABC; also, on the Cartoon Network at 8 p.m., Dec. 9; 5:30 p.m., Dec.
12; 7:30 p.m., Dec. 13; 5:30 p.m., Dec. 15; 7:30 p.m., Dec. 18; 7
p.m., Dec. 20; and 4:30 p.m., Dec. 22)

– “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”
Skillfully mixing humor, heart and a jazzy little score, this ranks
alongside “Grinch” as two of the great moments in TV history. (8
p.m., Dec. 7 and 16, ABC).

Animated (the rest)

– “Merry Madagascar” and “Kung
Fu Panda Holiday Special.” Using the characters from hit movies,
Dreamworks created these TV specials. (8-9 p.m., Nov. 27, NBC)

– “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”
has been around for 46 years. (8-9 p.m., Nov. 30, CBS)

– “Shrek the Halls.” In a so-so
tale, Shrek is clueless on how to plan for Christmas. The first
airing follows “Grinch,” the second leads into “Prep &
Landing,” a quick-paced cartoon about the elves who prepare Santa's
stops. (8:30 p.m., Nov. 30; 8 p.m. Dec. 9, ABC)

– “Santa Claus is Comin' to Town.”
It's the show's 40th anniversary. (8-9 p.m., Dec. 2, ABC;
also, ABC Family, 8 p.m., Dec. 9; 7 p.m., Dec. 10; 5 p.m., Dec.
18-19; 9 p.m., Dec. 24; 8 a.m., Dec. 25)

– “Mickey's Christmas Special.”
Classic cartoons are assembled. (7 p.m., Dec. 7, ABC Family; also,
10:30 p.m., Dec. 17; 5 p.m., Dec. 24)

– “Frosty the Snowman” has been
around for 41 years, with a zippy song and an OK story. Its first
airing this year (8 p.m., Dec. 11, CBS) pairs it with a shabby
sequel, “Frosty Returns.” Then (8:30 p.m.,, Dec. 17) it follows
“Yes, Virginia,” which debuted last season.

– “The Flight Before Christmas.”
A young reindeer and his squirrel friend search for his father, who
may be a member of Santa's Flying Forces. (9 p.m., Dec. 11, CBS)

– “I Want a Dog for Christmas,
Charlie Brown.” This was created in 2003, based on Charles Schulz's
comic strips. When Snoopy isn't available, Rerun turns to Spike. (8-9
p.m., Dec. 14 and 18, ABC)

– Also: ABC Family loads up on
cartoons, most related to Christmas. They're 6-8 p.m., Dec. 1; 6-7
p.m., Dec. 2; 6-8:30, Dec. 6; 6-8:30 p.m., Dec. 8; 6-11 p.m., Dec. 9,
6-8 p.m., Dec. 10; 6-7 p.m., Dec. 13; 6-8 p.m., Dec. 14; 6-8:30 p.m.,
Dec. 15; 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Dec. 18; 4-6 p.m., Dec. 19; 6-8 p.m., Dec.
20; 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., Dec. 24; and 7-10 a.m., Dec. 25.

New TV movies (the best)

– “November Christmas.” Here is
“Hallmark Hall of Fame” at its best – intelligently written and
richly crafted. With his daughter fighting cancer, a dad (John
Corbett) wants to move the holidays ahead; soon, townspeople
(including Sam Elliott) are helping. Director Robert Harmon gives
this the same soft-spoken eloquence he gives to all the Jesse Stone
movies. (9-11 p.m., Nov. 30, CBS)

– “Christmas Cupid.” Three years
ago, singer-actress Christina Milian made “Snowglobe,” one of the
best Christmas movies; now she has another winner. When a Lindsay
Lohan type (zestfully played by Ashley Benson) chokes on a martini
olive, she returns as a ghost to re-direct her self-centered
publicist. (8 and 10 p.m., Dec. 12, ABC Family; also, 7 p.m., Dec.
13; 2 p.m., Dec.21)

– “Call Me Mrs. Miracle.” Doris
Roberts returns as Mrs. Merkle, a benevolent (and rather magical)
soul who inserts herself in strangers' lives. Jewel Staite is
excellent as a well-meaning flounderer. Slickly directed by Michael
Scott, this overcomes any flaws and predictability. (8 and 10 p.m.,
Nov. 27, Hallmark Channel; reruns at 8 p.m., Nov. 28 and Dec. 3)

New TV movies (not so good)

– “The Night Before the Night
Before Christmas.” Santa embarks a day early, causing his magic to
malfunction. He crashes on a roof in Milwaukee and loses his memory.
(2 p.m. Nov. 27, Hallmark)

– “On Strike For Christmas.” With
a mountain of Christmas tasks – all ignored by her husband and sons
– a mom (Daphne Zuniga) goes on strike. It takes almost half the
movie, alas, to get to the fun part. (8 p.m. ET and 5 p.m. PT. Dec.
5, Lifetime Movie Network; reruns at midnight)

– “An Old-Fashioned Christmas.”
There are touches of class, with Jacqueline Bisset, Irish settings
and characters from Louisa May Alcott. Still, this often seems stiff
and lifeless. (8 p.m., Dec. 11, Hallmark)

More coming

– “The Dog Who Saved Christmas
Vacation.” This sequel again has Dean Cain as a hapless thief and
Mario Lopez voicing the thoughts of a heroic mutt. Paris Hilton is
typecast as the thoughts of a pampered poodle. (8 and 10 p.m., Nov.
28, ABC Family; also, 7 a.m., Dec.4.

– The Hallmark Channel has many more
films, each debuting at 8 p.m. They include Kevin Sorbo in “The
Santa Suit” (Dec. 2), Christine Taylor in “Farewell, Mr. Kringle”
(Dec. 4), Ione Skye in “The Santa Incident” (Dec. 9), Fionnula
Flanagan in “Three Wise Women” (Dec. 14), Marla Sokoloff in “Gift
of the Magi” (Dec. 16) and Daniel Stern and Matt Frewer in “Battle
of the Bulbs” (Dec. 18).

Best of the TV movie reruns

– “A Season for Miracles.” Taking
her niece and nephew on the lam, Carla Gugino finds a town where
lives can be remade. (6 p.m., Dec. 1; 4 p.m. Dec. 5, Hallmark).

– “Snow” and “Snow 2.”
Searching for his missing reindeer, Santa's son (Tom Cavanagh) meets
a sweet zookeeper (Ashley Williams). (9 and 11 a.m., Dec. 11; 2 and 4
p.m., Dec. 20, ABC Family)

– “Santa Baby” and “Santa Baby
2.” Now it's Santa's daughter (Jenny McCarthy), a slick executive
who helps her dad. Between movies, Santa changed from George Wendt to
Paul Sorvino, Luke went from Ivan Sergei to Dean McDermott. (2 and 4
p.m., Dec. 12, 8 and 10 a.m., Dec. 21, ABC Family)

Theatrical movies

There are plenty of them, but here are
a few highlights:

– “Elf.” An oversized elf (Will
Ferrell) heads into the real world, finding humor and warmth. (9
p.m., Nov. 27; 6 p.m., Dec. 5; 7 p.m. Dec. 7, USA)

– “Santa Clause,” the Tim Allen
comedy, is 7 and 9 p.m. Dec. 2 on ABC Family. The first two “Clause”
films run at 8 and 10 p.m., Dec. 10; all three are 5, 7 and 9 p.m.,
Dec. 11. Also, the third is at noon, Dec. 12, the first and third at
8 and 10 p.m., Dec. 22, the first at 6:30 p.m., Dec. 23.

– “Santa Clause 2 and 3” also air
as an ABC double feature, 7 and 9 p.m., Dec. 19; “Santa Clause 2”
reruns at 9 p.m., Dec. 24 on ABC, after “Phineas and Ferb's
Christmas Vacation.”

– “Fred Claus.” A good Santa
(Paul Giamatti) needs help from his bad brother (Vince Vaughn). The
result is moderately entertaining. (8 p.m., Dec. 10, TBS)

– “A Christmas Story.” This
1940's portrait mixes warmth and wit. (Every two hours for 24 hours,
starting 8 p.m., Dec. 24, TNT).

– “It's a Wonderful Life” has
been beloved since 1946. (8-11 p.m. Dec. 11 and 24, NBC)

– “Meet Me in St. Louis” is a
lovely, 1944 musical with Vincente Minnelli directing Judy Garland.
It's 8 p.m., Dec. 11, on Turner Classic Movies, after an interview
with their daughter, Liza Minnelli. Also at 2 a.m., Dec. 25, as part
of a marathon that starts with “The Bishop's Wife” (1947) at 8
p.m., Dec. 24.

– ABC Family also has some top
movies, unrelated to Christmas, led by “Wall-E,” two “Toy
Story” films and (Dec. 4-5) a Harry Potter marathon. See
www.abcfamily.go.com/specials/25-days-christmas.

Home-design specials

– “Celebrity Holiday Homes”
chooses three homes from opposite parts of the country – Sherri
Shepherd in Harlem, Trisha Yearwood in Nashville, Brooke Burke in
Malibu. The Shepherd project – reflecting Harlem's jazz age – is
gorgeous; the others are OK. (8 p.m., Dec. 4, HGTV)

– Other new HGTV specials include
specials by Genevieve Gorder (8 p.m., Nov. 27), Mike Holmes (9 p.m.
Dec. 5) and “Design Inc.” (8 p.m. Dec. 11).

– Also, Hallmark has “Martha
Stewart's Holiday Open House” (with Jennifer Garner and Claire
Danes) and “Mad Hungry for the Holidays” with (Lucina Scala
Quinn) at 8 and 9 p.m., Dec. 6

More

– “12 Nights at the Academy”
(Golf Channel) has nightly golf tips from the pros. It starts Nov. 29
with an overview at 7 p.m. and Greg Norman at 7:30; it continues
daily at 7 p.m., wrapping up with Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and
Arnold Palmer, Dec. 8-10.