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October 13, 2015

Christmas TV Specials 2011: When They're On, and What Channel

by Denette Wilford, posted Dec 7th 2011 12:45PM
We've made a list, checked it more than twice and there are definitely movies and specials that are naughty and nice -- in other words, classic holiday fare for anyone and everyone.

The holiday season has come rather rapidly, and in case you missed some of your favourites, don't sweat it. In typical TV form, they'll repeat, and sometimes on the same network (we're looking at you 'Frosty,' 'Shrek,' 'Charlie' and 'Rudolph').

It's the time of year when loved ones get together to eat, drink and be merry, but television gets into the spirit of things by airing specials, movies and variety shows. There are the classics that have been airing for decades ('It's a Wonderful Life,' 'Miracle on 34th Street'), and some other modern treats that have received a yuletide spin ('Elf,' 'Kung Fu Panda,' 'The Elf on the Shelf') but whatever you fancy, here are the gems you should definitely be watching this month.

'A Charlie Brown Christmas' (Dec. 15 at 8PM ET, ABC)
It has the typical Peanuts premise, where Charlie Brown is teased for screwing something up (in this case, he buys a spindly Christmas tree as decoration for the school play) and there's an important message at the end. Predictable, but still perfection. There's also 'I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown!,' which airs a week later (on Dec. 22 at 9PM ET, ABC) and centres on supporting player Rerun, who is desperate for a pet like Snoopy. Hey, at least Rerun gets a chance to shine.

'A Christmas Story' (Dec. 22 at 8PM ET, CBC)
This one's only been around since 1983 but it is arguably one of the most beloved movies, holiday-themed or not. Nine-year-old Ralphie (Peter Billingsley) only wants one thing for Christmas: a Red Ryder Carbine-Action 200-Shot Range Model Air Rifle with a compass in the stock and a sundial (a.k.a. "this thing that tells time"). What person hasn't schemed to convince his or her parents to get a seemingly unattainable gift, particularly one that will "shoot your eye out?"

'Santa Claus is Comin' to Town' (Dec. 12 at 8PM ET, CTV)
Baby Claus is left on the doorstep of Burgermeister Meisterburger, who orders the baby to be taken to the orphanage. It's sounds like a depressing tale -- it takes place in Sombertown, for Christmas' sake -- but with Fred Astaire as the narrator and Mickey Rooney as Kris Kringle, you can't go wrong. A wind blows away the baby, the baby is found and taken in by the toy-making Kringles, and they name the baby Kris. See? Happily ever after.

'Frosty the Snowman' (Dec. 9 and Dec. 17 at 8PM ET, CBS)
The premise may sound like something from Wes Craven's resumé (a snowman becomes the proud owner of a magic hat that brings him to life, but it all goes to H-E-double hockey sticks when an evil professor locks him in a greenhouse so he melts), but the title song is so catchy, you can't miss this classic.

'Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer' (Dec. 10 at 8PM ET, CBS and Dec. 11 at 8PM ET, CBC)
The stop-motion classic never gets old. Just ask one of the 12 million viewers who already caught Santa's glowing guide earlier this month (more people watched 'Rudolph' than the 'Victoria's Secret' special). The longest-running Christmas special, based on the 1939 song about a reindeer with a beaming honker and his misfit friends, is a must-see -- no matter how many times you've watched it.

'Mickey's Christmas Carol' (Dec. 18 at 7PM ET, CBC)
The Dickens masterpiece has been redone every which way, from Muppets and Smurfs to Flintstones and a 3D Jim Carrey, but aside from the 1951 version (see below), nobody did it better than Mickey Mouse and his pals. The animated retelling will always be a classic for generations to come and is must-see, whether it's to see your favorites from Magic Kingdom or other beloved characters who don't normally get a lot of play.

'National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation' (Dec. 18 at 8PM ET, CBC)
Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) is ready for a good, old-fashioned Christmas and wants everyone to share the same holiday spirit. His obsession with making everything perfect naturally doesn't go as planned and everything goes awry in typical, Lampoon form. Clark is the poster dude for all that is sweet and ineffectual in the Hollywood husband, yet the Griswolds still manage to get past the chaos and ridiculousness, and have a wonderful-ish holiday.

'The Santa Clause' (Dec. 19 at 8PM ET, CBC)
Tim Allen may be back with a successful sitcom, but in case you don't watch 'Last Man Standing,' 'The Santa Clause' is the perfect vehicle to remember that the guy is actually funny. The 1994 movie, which centres on an average Joe having to fill in for Santa, has the kind of old-fashioned holiday spirit that's missing from many modern Christmas flicks.

'Shrek the Halls' (Dec. 23 at 8PM ET, ABC)
The ogre-ific holiday special takes a typical 'Shrek' premise -- misunderstanding. Fiona guilts a Scrooge-like Shrek into celebrating Christmas, Donkey misinterprets Fiona's "family Christmas" dream and invites a whole cast of fairy tale creatures into the swamp. Shrek loses his cool, throws his friends out on Christmas Eve, then eventually learns the true meaning of the season. Been there, done that, but it's got that feel-good premise wrapped up in something shiny and new.

'A Christmas Carol' (Dec. 23 at 9 p.m. ET, CTV/Dec. 24 at 8PM ET, CTV2)
The Alistair Sim version -- which follows miserly Ebenezer Scrooge as he learns the error of his ways through the intervention of the ghost of his former partner and three spirits -- is probably the best of the Charles Dickens literary classic, and is surprisingly less dark than the Jim Carrey update.

'Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas' (Dec. 25 at 8PM ET, ABC)
The 1966 special is still a sight to behold, thanks to the simplicity of the Seussian sets. The Grinch and his "two sizes too small" heart is enveloped in meanness, and wants to drown out the happy sounds of Whoville by stealing Christmas. Just when the meanie thinks his evil plan has worked, the sweet sounds of the Whos echo across the valley (not The Who, just to be clear). The Grinch soon understands the true meaning of Christmas, his heart grows three sizes, and he takes part in the holiday feast. A true classic.

The Origins of Charlie Brown

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