The holiday season, which is mostly to say the
So make yourself an eggnog, the way you like it — for me, this means not making myself an eggnog — and settle down by this warm and crackling fire made of words, while I guide you, selectively, through a forest of holiday specials, not counting holly-decked, tinsel-strewn, special episodes of, like, every series on TV, from
The day itself is traditionally celebrated by the watching of television, especially if your relatives had a color TV and you didn't and "Jason and the Argonauts" was on and you didn't want to talk to anyone anyway. This year brings such holiday-friendly, family-binding events as "The National Dog Show" (NBC), now with the Portuguese Podengo Pequeno, Rat Terrier and Chinook; HBO's "Sport in America: Our Defining Stories"; and "Listening Is an Act of Love: A StoryCorps Special," in which oral histories get animated. There will be "Punkin Chunkin" on the
In practice, however, Thanksgiving now falls about halfway through the holiday programming season, thanks mostly to the Hallmark and Lifetime channels, which go head to head in a race to see how many new Christmasy TV movies they can mount each year, beginning in early November. (Hallmark boasts 1,200 hours of holiday programming this year, which almost constitutes a cry for help.) The quality of these works ranges from the merely completed to the better-than-expected, but they are just what many people crave at this time of the rolling year.
There are literally too many to mention here (check http://www.hallmarkchannel.com or http://www.mylifetime.com for titles and times), but certain themes recur: that small towns are better than the city, that running some quirky small business is better than being a corporate executive, and that you are more liable to find true love with that guy or girl you used to know in high school (back in your small town), who is probably running some quirky small business, than with that successful jerk you're dating when the movie begins. It's the Rom-Com Meaning of Christmas.
Also in that ballpark are "Guess Who's Coming to Christmas" (Dec. 8 on Up), with Drew Lachey as a big-city rock star in, you know, a small town; "Holidaze" (
Music, of course, is very much part of the season, though perhaps not quite the thing it was when variety still was king and you might find David Bowie dropping in on Bing Crosby in a fake English manor for a chorus of "The Little Drummer Boy." Nevertheless, this year brings specials headlined by Kelly Clarkson (the intriguingly titled "Kelly Clarkson's Cautionary Christmas Music Tale," NBC, Dec. 11), Michael Bublé (NBC, Dec. 18), Celine Dion (
Personally, I am excited for "Christmas With the Aquabats!" (the Hub, Dec. 21), featuring the ska-punk superheroes in a save-Christmas story, with
Finally, I alert you to the "I Love Lucy Christmas Special" (CBS, Dec. 20), which colorizes two episodes from 1956: "Christmas Episode," basically a clip show, and the deathless "Lucy's Italian Movie" (the one with the grapes) — and stitches them together. I don't hold much stock in colorizing, the electronically rechanneled for stereo of black and white film, but when Lucy's on TV, there's nothing better on.