EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

November 20, 2013

Merry Viewing!

By Diane Werts
Newsday

---- — A “Dexter” Christmas?

Why not? The serial killer of serial killers in sunny Miami celebrated the season several times during his just-ended Showtime run.

Also making merry: the crazy cartoon kids of “South Park.” Want a ghoul yule? Try “The X-Files” or “The Twilight Zone.” Sci-fi Santas? “Doctor Who” and “Warehouse 13.”

Christmas can be found where you least (and most) expect it.

While it’s true that TV has learned to play multiculti with its winter holidays — Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, winter solstice — it’s still mostly Christmas that TV takes note of at year’s end. That can mean the traditional religious observance, secular culture come-togetherness, or the commercial modernity of consumerist gift-giving.

Christmas TV seems to embrace everyone, every show, every genre, every decade or century setting.

This year’s holiday TV slate brings back Rudolph and Charlie Brown. We get seasonal music and merriment from artists new (Lady Gaga) and old (The Muppets), sometimes simultaneously. Sentiment-drenched TV movies premiere, and venerable standbys make their annual reappearance (Alastair Sim’s Scrooge, Jimmy Stewart’s George Bailey). All kinds of episodes celebrate all sorts of ways — a fantasy-football Hanukkah, a duck-call Christmas, a newly colorized Lucy and Ricky Ricardo.

And that’s just on this season’s linear television channels. Turn to cable on-demand, DVD or online video, and you’ve got hundreds of celebratory options, anytime you want to watch. The highlights provided here are just the tip of the iceberg in this connected age, when it seems almost anything ever made might be accessible somehow.

Check your cable / satellite services, too, along with Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and other program providers. This is just a sampling of the holiday viewing available.

FESTIVE CHANNELS

* Hallmark Channel Countdown to Christmas: Round-the-clock through Dec. 31, with a dozen holiday movie premieres (hallmarkchannel.com).

* Hallmark Movie Channel The Most Wonderful Movies of Christmas: Through Dec. 25, includes the channel’s first original movie and “Christmas classic Thursdays” (hallmarkmoviechannel.com).

* Lifetime It’s a Wonderful Lifetime: Ongoing, with six new TV movie premieres (mylifetime.com/movies).

* ABC Family Countdown to 25 Days of Christmas: Wednesday, Nov. 30, 25 Days of Christmas; Dec. 1-25 holiday animation, episodes, TV movies and feature films (abcfamily.com/25days).

* Disney Channel Fa-la-la-lidays: Starts Nov. 29, holiday films, episodes, cartoons for kids and family (disneychannel.com)

THE CLASSICS (by film)

* “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” Nov. 26 at 8 p.m., CBS

* “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!,” Nov. 29 at 8 p.m.; Dec. 24 at 8 p.m., ABC.

* “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” Dec. 2 at 8 p.m., ABC.

* “It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946, James Stewart), Dec. 14, 8 p.m.; Dec. 24, 8 p.m., NBC,

* “A Christmas Carol” (1951, Alastair Sim): Dec. 19, 10 p.m., Turner Classic Movies.

ANIMATION (by date)

* Nov. 29: “Hoops & Yoyo Ruin Christmas” and “The Elf on the Shelf,” 8-9 p.m., CBS; “Shrek the Halls,” 8:30 p.m., ABC

* Dec. 6: “Yes, Virginia” and “Frosty the Snowman,” CBS

* Dec. 9: “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town,” ABC

* Dec. 16: “Prep & Landing,” ABC

* Dec. 21: Rankin-Bass marathon, ABC Family

* Dec. 25: “Kung Fu Panda Holiday” and “Merry Madagascar,” CW

MUSIC (by date)

* Nov. 28: “Lady Gaga & the Muppets Holiday Spectacular” (Elton John, RuPaul), 9:30-11 p.m., ABC

* Dec. 2: “CMA Country Christmas,” ABC

* Dec. 4: “Christmas in Rockefeller Center,” NBC

* Dec. 11: “Kelly Clarkson Christmas Special,” NBC

* Dec. 18: “iHeartRadio Jingle Ball” (Miley Cyrus, Pitbull, Fall Out Boy), CW/11; “Michael Bublé Christmas Special,” NBC

* Dec. 20: “Christmas in Washington,” TNT

NEW EPISODES (by date)

* Nov. 23: “Life With La Toya,” 8 p.m., OWN.

* Nov. 25: “Hart of Dixie” (Hanukkah), 8 p.m., CW.

* Dec. 9-23: “The Great Christmas Light Fight,” ABC.

* Dec. 11: “Melissa & Joey” and “Baby Daddy,” ABC Family.

* Dec. 11: “Duck Dynasty,” A&E.

ENCORE EPISODES

* Dec. 4: “Saturday Night Live” Christmas, NBC.

* Dec. 20: “I Love Lucy” colorized, CBS.

* Dec. 24: “Father Knows Best” kicks off two days of various round-the-clock vintage holiday episodes, Antenna TV (plus the Yule Log on Antenna TV).

* Dec. 25: “The Twilight Zone,” Syfy.

NEW MOVIES (by date)

* Nov. 23: Chyler Leigh, Naomi Judd in “Winter Wonderland,” 8 p.m., Hallmark; Shiri Appleby in “Kristin’s Christmas Past,” 8 p.m., Lifetime.

* Nov. 25: James Brolin in “Christmas With Tucker,” 8 p.m., Hallmark Movie Channel.

* Nov. 26: WWE star The Miz in “Christmas Bounty,” 7 p.m., ABC Family.

* Nov. 30: Tatyana Ali, Jordin Sparks in “Dear Secret Santa,” 8 p.m., Lifetime.

* Dec. 1: Andy Garcia, Mary Louise Parker in “Christmas in Conway,” ABC; Nicolette Sheridan in “The Christmas Spirit,” Hallmark.

Dec. 7: Sean Astin in “Santa Switch,” Hallmark; Ashley Williams, Ashanti in “Christmas in the City,” Lifetime.

* Dec. 8: Jennie Garth, Cameron Mathison in “Holidaze,” ABC Family.

VINTAGE MOVIES

December on Turner Classic Movies Dec. 8 includes “Scrooge” (1970); other holiday films most nights Dec. 15-24.

* Dec. 3: “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” ABC Family.

* Dec. 16: Tim Allen’s three “Santa Clause” films, ABC Family, also Dec. 21, 22, 24, 25.

* Dec. 24: “A Christmas Story” for 24 hours, TBS.

* Dec. 24: “Elf” for 24 hours, Starz.

* Dec. 24: “Bad Santa” for 24 hours, Starz Comedy.