It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas on TV


By Rick Bentley

Tribune News Service


There are numerous big decisions to be made during the holidays, from gift selections to menu creations. You are on your own with those issues, but we can offer some help when it comes to selecting television programming. This year’s lineup of shows include traditional offerings like “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and “It’s a Wonderful Life,” but also will feature a new take on an old favorite with a live presentation of “A Christmas Story” on Fox.

Ever since the 1983 film based on the novel by Jean Shepherd showed us all the dangers of owning a Red Ryder BB gun, it has aired in reruns every Christmas. “A Christmas Story Live!,” scheduled to be broadcast at 7 p.m. EST Dec. 17, is inspired by the film and the Tony-winning Broadway production.

Executive producer Marc Platt made the leap from making musical films (“La La Land”) and musicals on Broadway (“Wicked”) to his first taste of live television with “Grease: Live.” He’s certain “A Christmas Story” has been so popular because it broke the mold for traditional holiday productions.

“For years our Christmas movies were sentimental, and they were sort of cozy and warm, and here came this movie that wasn’t that. It was subversive and funny and sort of recognizable that all the family experiences each one of us have,” Platt says. “We could relate to it. And so in taking it from the stage to the live television event, we’re going to first and foremost deliver the humor and the comedy of the movie as it’s represented on stage.

“‘A Christmas Story’’s going to be a Christmas family event. We will wink with the audience. We will play tricks with you on how we accomplish it. And you will always know that you are in a film, because it will be very cinematic. But we’ll always pull back and go, oh, my gosh. This is actually happening live before our eyes.”

The live version of “A Christmas Story” is just one offering on the holiday viewing menu. It’s impossible to list them all but here are a few. All times are EST unless noted:

“Coming Home for Christmas,” 8 p.m. Nov. 18, Hallmark Channel: House manager finds love during one last holiday event. Danica McKellar stars.

“A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving,” 8 p.m. Nov. 22, ABC: The Peanuts gang celebrates their own version of the holiday.

“The Thanksgiving Day Parade on CBS,” 9 a.m. Nov. 23, CBS: Kevin Frazier and Keltie Knight host the telecast of the 91st annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade live from New York.

“Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade,” 9 a.m. Nov. 23, NBC: Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie and Al Roker host the broadcast. Telemundo will simulcast the parade in Spanish, with the event hosted by Carlos Ponce, Jessica Carrillo and Karim Mendiburu.

“Frosty the Showman,” 8 p.m. Nov. 24, CBS: Frosty’s silk hat full of magic has turned him into a musical Christmas legend.

“Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” 8 p.m. Nov. 24, ABC: The 1970 Rankin-Bass Productions animated tale features Fred Astaire narrating the tale of Kris Kringle (Mickey Rooney).

“The Christmas Train,” 8 p.m. Nov. 25, Hallmark Channel: Journalist goes on a cross-country train ride at Christmas. Dermot Mulroney stars.

“CMA Country Christmas,” 8 p.m. Nov. 27, ABC: Reba McEntire hosts the eighth annual event from Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry House.

“Angry Angel,” 9 p.m. Nov. 27, Freeform: A young woman (Brenda Song) has been turned into an angel but is stuck on Earth.

“A Very Pentatonix Christmas,” 10 p.m. Nov. 27, NBC: Jennifer Hudson and Jay Leno are the special guests.

“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” 8 p.m. Nov. 28, CBS: Burl Ives narrates the animated tale based on the popular song of the same name by Johnny Marks.

“Christmas in Rockefeller Center,” 8 p.m. Nov. 29, NBC: The evening includes performances by Brett Eldridge, Jennifer Nettles, Leslie Odom Jr., Pentatonix, Gwen Stefani and The Tenors.

“A Charlie Brown Christmas,” 8 p.m. Nov. 30, ABC: The digitally remastered 1965 special shows Charlie Brown complaining about the materialism he sees everywhere during the Christmas season.

“Eloise at Christmastime,” 7:30 a.m. Dec. 1, Freeform: Eloise (Sofia Vassilieva) is warned not to interfere as the Plaza Hotel prepares for a romantic Christmas Eve wedding.

“Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas,” 2 p.m. Dec. 1, Freeform: Jack Skellington becomes obsessed with bringing Christmas under his control.

“National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” 7:05 p.m. Dec. 1, Freeform: The Griswold family looks to have the most fun-filled old-fashioned family Christmas ever.

“Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” 9:10 p.m. Dec. 2, Freeform: Jim Carrey stars as the title character who tries to ruin Christmas for all the Whos of Whoville.

“The Polar Express,” 11:50 p.m. Dec. 2, Freeform: Tom Hanks and director Robert Zemeckis reunite for the tale of a young boy and the magical train he boards to the North Pole.

“The Great Christmas Light Fight,” 8 p.m. Dec. 4, ABC: This is the fifth season of the competition show that looks at the most spectacular and over-the-top Christmas displays in America.

“Shrek the Halls,” 8 p.m. Dec. 7, ABC: Shrek doesn’t have the holiday spirit, but for the sake of Fiona and the kids, he tries to get into the spirit of things as only an ogre can.

“Ready Jet Go!: Holidays in Boxwood Terrace,” Dec. 11 (check local listings for time), PBS: Jet is excited when his idea for the annual Boxwood Terrace Christmas Pageant is accepted.

“Disney Prep & Landing,” 8:30 p.m. Dec. 14, ABC: An elf named Wayne is upset when he doesn’t receive an expected promotion to be the Director of Naughty List Intelligence.

“I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown,” 8 p.m. Dec. 16, ABC: Rerun, the younger brother of Linus and Lucy, gets Snoopy to invite his canine brother, Spike, for a visit.

“Christmas with the Kranks,” 11:55 p.m. Dec. 16, Freeform: A decision to skip Christmas changes when a couple’s daughter decides at the last minute to come home for the holiday. Tim Allen stars.

“The Sound of Music,” 7 p.m. Dec. 17, ABC: The Oscar-winning classic features the songs “Edelweiss,” “My Favorite Things” and “Climb Every Mountain.” Julie Andrews stars.

“Decorating Disney: Holiday Magic,” 8 p.m. Dec. 18, Freeform: An inside look at how holiday magic is created throughout Disney Destinations.

“Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer,” 7 a.m. Dec. 21, Freeform: Holiday special loosely based on the hit song.

“Peppa Pig: Father Christmas,” 12:30 p.m. Dec. 22, Nickelodeon: Peppa and the rest of her playgroup are very excited to put on a big Christmas time show.

“I Love Lucy Christmas Special,” 8 p.m. Dec. 22, CBS: The new one-hour special features two back-to-back colorized episodes of the classic series: “The Christmas Episode” and “The Fashion Show.”

“The Dick Van Dyke Show – Now in Living Color!,” 9 p.m. Dec. 22, CBS: The two newly colorized back-to-back episodes were selected by series creator Carl Reiner. They include “My Blonde-Haired Brunette” and “October Eve.”

“Christmas Getaway,” 8 p.m. Dec. 23, Hallmark Channel: Travel writer finds herself double booked for the holidays.

“A Christmas Story,” midnight Dec. 24, TCM: The holiday film will run continuously until 8 p.m. Dec. 25.

“It’s a Wonderful Life,” 8 p.m. Dec. 24, NBC: The 1946 Frank Capra film stars Jimmy Stewart.

“Disney Parks Magical Christmas Celebration,” 10 a.m. Dec. 25, ABC: Hosts Julianne Hough and Nick Lachey take viewers on ride down Main Street, U.S.A. and beyond.

“Happy New Year, Charlie Brown,” 8 p.m. Dec. 26, ABC: The Peanuts gang is ringing in 1986 and Marcie and Peppermint Patty are throwing a big New Year’s Eve bash.


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