Sunday, December 01, 2013

Deck The Halls with Holiday Specials

'Tis The Season 

December Brings Its Usual Plethora
Of Holiday Specials. Here Are
Some Gotta-See Attractions
To Mark On The Calendar

By Eric Kohanik 

Deck the halls! The yuletide season is approaching and, of course, that means December's TV schedules are filled with the usual torrent of holiday programming.

We've sifted through most of the merry mix to come up with some shining lights and gotta-see attractions to help make your season bright ...

A Pitchin' In Christmas 
Chef Lynn Crawford is inviting her extended family of Pitchin' In friends over for Christmas, and they're bringing some of her favourite ingredients, including heritage turkey, roast rack of Canadian lamb, and figs for her famous figgy pudding (Food Network Canada, Dec. 2) 

A Charlie Brown Christmas
The holiday season just wouldn't feel right without certain classics. Leading the pack: Charlie Brown's timeless quest to find the true meaning of Christmas and the help of his pal, Linus. (ABC, dec. 2 and YTV, Dec. 11)

CMA Country Christmas
Trace Adkins, Sheryl Crow, Kellie Pickler and a gaggle of other country stars gather in Nashville to share traditions, memories and songs in a two-hour concert showcase. (ABC, Dec. 2 and City, Dec. 7)

Gordon Ramsay's Christmas Cookalong Special 
When you think Gordon Ramsay, you might not think Christmas cheer, but the Hell's Kitchen chef is in the proper spirit for this special where he invites families to cook together to create a three-course festive feast. (Food Network Canada, Dec. 5) 

The Santa Claus Parade
If you missed the same-day telecast on Nov. 17, here's a couple of chances to catch Santa and the other attractions making their way down the streets of Toronto. (CTV, Dec. 7 and CTV Two, Dec. 8)

A Very Merry Mix-Up
Alicia Witt tops the cast of this fluffy new movie. She plays a young bride-to-be whose Christmas trip to meet her future in-laws becomes a comedy of errors. (CTV, Dec. 7)

The Great Christmas Light Fight
OK, why not have Christmas cheer duke things out with reality TV? This three-episode competition series has 20 families pimping out their homes to win big money. Fa-la-la-la-la. (ABC, Dec. 9, 16, 23)  

Dragons' Den Holiday Episode
How much more of a Scrooge could curmudgeonly money-bagman Kevin O'Leary possibly be? Wait and see. (CBC, Dec. 11)

Kelly Clarkson Christmas Special 
Pop star Kelly Clarkson will loosely base her yet-to-be-titled holiday special around Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol and its underlying message of learning the true meaning of Christmas. (NBC, Dec. 11) 

Miracle on 34th Street
Take your pick of the 1994 remake starring Richard Attenborough (Dec. 12) or the original 1947 version featuring Edmund Gwenn (Dec. 25). Either way, Kris Kringle wins everyone over in the end. (CBC)

It's A Wonderful Life
Jimmy Stewart's performance as downtrodden George Bailey is worth seeing again. And again. (NBC and CTV, Dec. 14, 24)

How The Grinch Stole Christmas
Get out the Roast Beast. The original animated rendition of the Dr. Seuss tale is a treat for young and old. (CBC, Dec. 16)

I Love Lucy Christmas Special
Everything old is new again. Really. CBS has taken a newly colourized version of the seldom-seen 1956 Christmas episode of I Love Lucy and merged it with a colourized rendition of the “Lucy's Italian Movie” episode. The colours are a nice visual bonus; the laughs are still as classic as ever. (CBS, Dec. 20)

Rita MacNeil's Christmas
The late Rita MacNeil's charm lives on in this feel-good special from 2000. John McDermott, Patti LaBelle, Natalie MacMaster and the Barra MacNeils round out the musical celebration. (CTV Two, Dec. 22)

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
Sometimes you just need some silly laughs. And there are plenty in the yuletide missteps of Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) and his family. (CBC, Dec. 22)

The famed 1951 film adaptation of A Christmas Carol showcases Alastair Sim in what is still the definitive portrayal of Ebenezer Scrooge. (CBC; Dec. 24)

Air Farce New Year's Eve Special
A longtime New Year's Eve tradition, this year-in-review romp by the Air Farce crew should have plenty of timely targets. (CBC, Dec. 31)

Gerry Dee New Year's Eve Special
Fans of CBC's Mr. D can catch comedian Gerry Dee yukking things up in preparation for the New Year. (CBC, Dec. 31)

New Year's Eve At Niagara Falls
Entertainment Tonight Canada hosts Cheryl Hickey and Rick Campanelli round up some of the music industry's hottest acts to ring in 2014 in this fifth annual coast-to-coast countdown from Niagara Falls, Ont. (Global, Dec. 31)

(First published in Channel Guide Magazine - December 2013.)