Yes, Virginia, There is a Lot of Christmas Programming
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas everywhere you go and everywhere you look on television.
Now through Dec. 25, viewers will be deluged with more than 80 Christmas specials, endless repeats of such holiday films as “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Miracle on 34th Street” and yuletide-themed episodes of TV series.
Whew! That’s enough Christmas cheer to last an entire lifetime.
NBC has three new holiday movies in the offing: “Dreamer of Oz: The L. Frank Baum Story,” featuring John Ritter as the creator of Dorothy, Toto and Co.; “A Mom for Christmas,” with Olivia Newton-John as a mannequin who comes to life, and “Guess Who’s Coming for Christmas,” starring Beau Bridges as a stressed-out alien.
Dolly Parton is returning to her old Tennessee home for a musical holiday special on ABC and the animated and real New Kids on the Block host a musical yuletide celebration for the network. “All Creatures Great & Small” fans will have something to cheer about: A&E; is presenting a two-hour holiday episode Christmas Eve.
Bravo is airing two versions of the classic ballet “The Nutcracker,” and Showtime’s daredevil Super Dave will celebrate the holidays in his own unique way.
Plus a host of Christmas favorites also will be returning: “Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol,” “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”
Below is a guide to select holiday specials that will be airing on the commercial and cable networks, PBS and independent stations. (Some specials may be repeated later in the month.) For airings of holiday movies, please consult TV Times’ weekly movie guide.
“New Kids on the Block Christmas Special” (Friday at 9 p.m.) is an animated special with live-action highlights that finds the teeny-bopper heartthrobs learning the true meaning of Christmas from a boy with magical powers.
“Dolly Parton: Christmas at Home” (Dec. 21 at 9 p.m.) returns the country-Western singer/actress to her childhood home in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee for this yuletide special.
“Roots: The Gift”: (Dec. 24 at 9 p.m.) is a repeat of the 1988 holiday special. CBS
“I Love Lucy Christmas Special” ( Monday at 8:30 p.m.) is a repeat of the holiday-flavored “lost episode.”
“Disney Christmas on Ice” ( Dec. 21) celebrates the holiday with Disney characters and such ice-skating stars as Peggy Fleming and Scott Hamilton.
Also: “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” (Friday at 8 p.m.), “Frosty the Snowman” (Dec. 19 at 8 p.m.), “A Charlie Brown Christmas” (Dec. 19 at 8:30 p.m.), and “The Waltons’ Homecoming” (Dec. 25 at 11:30 a.m.). NBC
“The Dreamer of Oz: The L. Frank Baum Story” (Monday at 9 p.m.) stars John Ritter, Annette O’Toole and Rue McClanahan in a drama about the “The Wizard of Oz” author.
“Bob Hope Christmas” (Saturday at 10 p.m.) finds Hope in Bermuda with Dixie Carter, Joan Van Ark, Loni Anderson, the Associated Press All-American Football Team and the 1991 Rose Queen.
“A Mom for Christmas” (Dec. 17 at 9 p.m.) is Olivia Newton-John, going dramatic in a modern-day fairy tale about a department store mannequin who comes to life after a motherless little girl wishes she had a mother
“Christmas in Washington” (Dec. 19 at 10 p.m.). John Denver hosts this ninth annual holiday festival with Aretha Franklin, Reba McIntire and soprano Barbara Hendricks. The special benefits the Children’s Hospital.
“Guess Who’s Coming For Christmas” (Dec. 23 at 9 p.m.) stars Richard Mulligan and Beau Bridges in a comedy about the friendship that develops between a retiree and a stressed-out alien.
“Christmas Eve at St. Peters” (Dec. 24 at midnight). NBC News covers midnight mass at the Vatican.
Also: “Mickey’s Christmas Carol” (Dec. 17 at 8 p.m.); “Christmas Eve” with Loretta Young (Dec. 24). PBS
“Shining Time Station Holiday Special” (Dec. 21 at noon KCET). Harry the Engineer tells a holiday story and Mr. Conductor narrates two holiday tales.
“The King’s Singers at Wells” (Dec. 23 at 5:30 p.m. KCET) features the British singing group at Wells Cathedral.
“The 31st Annual Los Angeles County Holiday Program” (Dec. 24 at 9 a.m. KCET) is 12 hours of the annual concert at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.
“Christmas at Pops” (Sunday at 7:30 p.m. KCET). John Williams and the Boston Pops Orchestra celebrate with soprano Barbara Hendricks. Ed Asner and Allison Waggener read “Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus.”
“Live From Lincoln Center” (Dec. 19 at 8 p.m. KOCE, 8:30 p.m. KCET) is headlined by Irish flutist James Galway.
“Great Performances” (Dec. 21 at 9:30 p.m. KCET; Dec. 22 at 9 p.m. KOCE) offers “Beatrix Potter’s Tailor of Gloucester,” featuring Ian Holm.
Also: “A Christmas Special with Luciano Pavarotti” (Sunday at 8:50 p.m. KCET); “Christmas with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Shirley Verrett” (Sunday at 10 p.m. KCET); “Great Performances”: “Christmas with Flicka” (Sunday at 11:10 p.m. KCET); “Christmas at King’s” (Dec. 24 at 8 p.m. KOCE, 10 p.m. KCET); “Christmas Eve on Sesame St.” (Dec. 24 at 8 a.m. KCET). LOCAL
“Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus” (Dec. 16 at 3 p.m.).
“Christmas Everyday” (Dec. 16 at 3:30 p.m.).
“Christmas with the Stars” (Dec. 23 at 10 p.m.) with Fred Travalena, Helen Reddy and Doug McClure.
“Christmas Eve with KNBCS (Dec. 25 at 2 a.m.) is 3 1/2 hours of traditional carols.
“The Kid Who Loved Christmas” (Friday at 8 p.m. and Dec. 16 at 6 p.m.) stars the late Sammy Davis Jr.
“A Storyteller’s Holiday” (Dec. 23 and 25 at 9 a.m.) features storytellers Jackie Torrance, We Tell Stories and Robin Williamson.
Also: “A Child Called Jesus” (Dec. 17-18 at 8 p.m., Dec. 25 at 4 p.m.).
“Motown Merry Christmas”: Dec. 23 at midnight.
“It’s an L.A. Christmas with Mark Thompson” (Tuesday at 9 p.m.). KTTV’s weatherman hosts a special from the Glendale Galleria
“The Spirit of Christmas” (Dec. 24 at midnight, Dec. 25 at noon) is hosted by Tom Wopat and Patrick Macnee.
Also: “The Southgate Christmas Parade” (Dec. 25 at 10 a.m.).
“A Ceremony of Carols” (Dec. 18 at 6 and 10 p.m.) is performed by the Boys of Christ Church Cathedral Choir.
“The Vienna Boys Choir” (Dec. 18 at 6:30 and 10:30 p.m) performs such traditional Christmas carols as “Adeste Fideles” and “Silent Night.”
“Shari’s Christmas Concert” (Dec. 18 at 7 and 11 p.m., Dec. 23 at 10 a.m) stars Shari Lewis, Lamb Chop and Candada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra.
“Carols from Prague” (Dec. 23 at 5 and 9 p.m.). Millions of Eastern Europeans will be celebrating Christmas for the first time in 40 years.
“The All Creatures Great & Small Special” (Dec. 24 at 5 and 9 p.m.) has James Herriot’s Christmas spirit dampened when lethal anthrax breaks out amongst the animal population of his Yorkshire village.
“Hansel and Gretel” (Dec. 25 at 5 and 9 p.m.) is the English National Opera’s production of Engelbert Humperdinck’s classic fairy tale.
“The Royal Ballet in the Nutcrackee” (Wednesday at 6 and 11 p.m.) features Leslie Collier, Anthony Dowell, Julie Rose, Guy Niblett and the Royal Ballet dancing Tchaikovksy’s classic.
“Nureyev’s Nutcracker” (Dec. 17 at 6 and 9 p.m.) is Rudolph Nureyev’s version, performed by the Paris Opera Ballet.
“Carreras’ Silent Night” (Sunday at 9:30 p.m.) features Spanish tenor Jose Carreras in Austria singing carols.
“The Judy Garland Christmas Show” (Dec. 16 at 9 p.m.) first aired on CBS in 1963 and features Garland’s children, Liza Minnelli and Lorna and Joey Luft, and Mel Torme and Jack Jones.
“A Child’s Christmas in Wales” (Tuesday at 8 p.m.) stars Denholm Elliott in Dylan Thomas’ classic poem.
“Christmas Under the Umbrella Tree” (Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.). The characters from “Under the Umbrella Tree” explore holiday traditions.
Also: “The Christmas Gift” starring John Denver (Thursday at 8 p.m.); “The Christmas Visitor” starring Dee Wallace Stone (Dec. 23 at 7 p.m.); “The Stingiest Man in Town” (Monday at 1 p.m.) “Yogi Bear’s All-Star Comedy Christmas Caper” (Saturday at 6:30 p.m.); “Rudolph’s Shiny New Year” (Dec. 18 at 8 p.m.); “A Family Circus Christmas” (Sunday at 2:35 p.m.); “Mickey’s Christmas Carol” (Dec. 22 at 7 p.m.).
“Clarence” (Tuesday at 8 p.m.). Whatever happened to the angel who saved James Stewart’s life in “It’s a Wonderful Life’?’ Robert Carradine stars.
“Madeline’s Christmas” (Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.) tells how Madeline and her friends can’t get home for Christmas when Paris is hit by a snowstorm.
“Pageant: A Christmas Spectacular” (Dec. 25 at 8 p.m.) features a 450-voice choir and orchestra and a cast of 600.
“The Young Messiah” (Saturday at 10 p.m.) is a contemporary presentation of Handel’s Messiah. HBO
“HBO’s Storybook Musicals” (Monday at 7 p.m.) offers “The Little Match Girl.” LIFETIME
“At Home with Martha Stewart-This Christmas” (Wednesday at 8 p.m.) shares the author’s favorite Noel ideas.
“A Christmas Tradition . . . Warner Bros.” (Monday at 5:30 and 8:30 p.m.) features Gary Morris and other Warner Bros. recording artists.
“Ricky Van Shelton Sings Christmas” (Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.).
“The Oak Ridge Boys’ Christmas” (Thursday at 5:30 and 8:30 p.m.).
“Nashville Now Christmas Card” (Dec. 24 at 6 and 9 p.m) is a 90-minute special featuring Barbara Mandrell, Gary Morris, the U.S. Air Force Band and the University of Tennessee Concert Choir.
“USO Celebrity Tour: Loretta Lynn Christmas” (Dec. 25 at 8 p.m.). NICKELODEON
“The Light Brigade” (Dec. 23 at 3 p.m.) is an animated tale about the friendship between two young boys in a depressed Candian town.
“The Box of Delights” (Dec. 30 at 2 p.m.) is a fantasy-adventure featuring live-action and animation.
“A Very Merry Cricket and Santa’s Magic Toy Bag” (Sunday at 2 p.m.) is two stories: one about a cat, a mouse and a cricket who learn the true meaning of Christmas; the other about Santa asking an elf in training to watch his magic toy bag.
“Tattertown” (Saturday at 8:30 p.m.), produced by animator Ralph Bakshi, is about a girl and her doll who live in a fantasy world populated by rejected objects.
“Nick at Nite’s Yule Log” (Dec. 25 at 8 p.m.) will be four hours of Christmas episodes of reruns shown on Nick. SHOWTIME
“A Broadway Christmas” (Monday at 7:30 p.m.) stars the London and Broadway casts of the hit musicals “Les Miserables,” “Cats,” “Aspects of Love” and “Miss Saigon” singing Christmas carols in a benefit for Save the Children.
“Super Dave” (Saturday at 10 p.m.) has daredevil Super Dave Osborne celebrating the holidays by taking a journey in a new anti-pollution Raft Ride. TNT
“How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (Sunday at 10 a.m. and Wednesday at 5 p.m.). The classic animated Dr. Seuss tale features Boris Karloff.
“New Visions Christmas Special” (Dec. 24 at 4 and 8 p.m.), is an in-studio musical performance and interview show. USA
Cartoon Specials: “Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol” (Thursday at 8 p.m.); “Scooby Doo-The Nutcracker Scoob” (Sunday at 11:30 a.m.); “Buttons and Rusty: Xmas Tree Train” (Thursday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 5 p.m., Dec. 16 at 11 a.m., Dec. 25 at 8:30 a.m.).