Originally created 11/25/03

Hi again, Frosty, Rudolph: Holiday fare warm, familiar



LOS ANGELES -- It will be another ho-ho-humdrum holiday television season, just as it should be.

Reruns draw praise, not complaints, at this time of year. Give us Clarence the angel. Again. Give us Frosty the Snowman. Again. Give us Bing crooning "White Christmas" - or explain why not.

Warm, fuzzy and familiar is the way we like our holiday programming, and networks and cable channels aim to please.

There is fresh fare for adventurous types, including movies and music specials. Could a new classic be among them?

The highlights (all times EST):

ANIMATION:

- "Frosty the Snowman," 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 28, CBS. Jimmy Durante narrates the tale of the heroic snowman pursued by evil Professor Hinkle on a North Pole rescue mission. Followed at 8:30 by "Frosty Returns," with John Goodman as Frosty and narrated by Jonathan Winters.

- "A Charlie Brown Christmas," 8 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 2, ABC. Charlie Brown returns to uncover the meaning of Christmas with help from Linus in this evergreen 1965 Peanuts special.

- Rankin Bass marathons, 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 6, to 1 a.m., and 3 p.m. to midnight Sunday, Dec. 21, ABC Family. "The Little Drummer Boy" and "Frosty's Winter Wonderland" are included in this Rankin Bass Productions gift bag.

- "Nuttiest Nutcracker," 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 9, ABC Family. In a twist on the nutcracker fable, heroic vegetables must save the star atop the Christmas tree from a real rat. Voices by James Belushi, Phyllis Diller and Cheech Marin.

- "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," 8 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 9, CBS. One memorable song and a socially challenged reindeer add up to a classic special narrated by Burl Ives.

- "I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown!" 8 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 9, ABC. A new hourlong show from the same team that produced and animated other classic "Peanuts" specials.

- "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer," 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 11, WB. The goofy tale about young Jake Spankenheimer's quest to find his missing grandmother and prove that Santa is real.

- "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 18, WB. Boris Karloff provided the narration and the Grinch's voice in this 1966 adaptation of Dr. Seuss' tale about beleaguered Whoville.

- "A Scooby Doo Christmas," 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 18, WB. The Scooby gang discovers Christmas is amiss in Winter Hollow, where strangers are unwelcome and a ghostly snowman destroys homes and good cheer.

- "Robbie the Reindeer: Hooves of Fire," 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 20, CBS. Ben Stiller, Hugh Grant, Britney Spears and Jerry Stiller are among the voices in the tale of an ambitious reindeer. "Robbie the Reindeer: Legend of the Lost Tribe" follows at 8:30 p.m.

- "Christmas Carol: The Movie," 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 24, ABC Family. Nicolas Cage is the voice of Jacob Marley and Kate Winslet is Belle in this version of the classic Charles Dickens' tale.

MOVIES:

- "Eloise at Christmastime," 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 22, ABC. Julie Andrews returns as the surrogate mom and Sofia Vassilieva as precocious Eloise in the second ABC film based on Kay Thompson's saucy books.

- "Miracle on 34th Street," 2 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 27, NBC. Kris Kringle moonlights at Macy's and then has to prove in court he isn't one reindeer short of a sleigh ride. Edmund Gwenn and Natalie Wood star.

- "Stealing Christmas," 8 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 30, USA Network. Tony Danza and Lea Thompson star in the tale of a burglar on the run who is mistaken for a rent-a-Santa in a small town. Scheming and romance ensue.

- "Finding John Christmas," 9 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 30, CBS. Valerie Bertinelli and Peter Falk star in a drama about the mysterious disappearance of a heroic firefighter.

- "Comfort and Joy," 8 p.m. Monday, Dec. 1, Lifetime. An ambitious woman (Nancy McKeon) is knocked out on Christmas Eve and wakes up to find she's acquired a husband and children. Steven Eckholdt, Dixie Carter co-star.

- "It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie," 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 6, NBC. Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy share personal space with Whoopi Goldberg and Joan Cusack in a cameo-filled homage to holiday films.

- "The Wizard of Oz," 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 7, WB. The holiday connection may be tenuous, but who can complain about hearing Judy Garland sing about the rainbow one more time?

- "Picking Up and Dropping Off," 8 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 7, ABC Family. Scott Wolf is a divorced dad and Amanda Detmer is a recently separated mom destined for an airport meeting while chauffeuring their children.

- "Undercover Christmas," 9 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 7, CBS. An FBI agent assigned to protect a cocktail waitress brings her home to meet the soon-to-be-aghast folks. Jami Gertz, Shawn Christian and Tyne Daly star.

- "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation," 9 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 7, NBC. The third installment in the National Lampoon film series features the Griswolds (Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo) in holiday madness.

- "It's a Wonderful Life," 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 13, NBC. We know the drill - James Stewart, Donna Reed, Clarence and a life-changing epiphany - and love Frank Capra's 1946 classic because of that. It airs again 8 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 24.

- "Secret Santa," 9 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 14, NBC. Jennie Garth stars as a cynical journalist whose search for a philanthropist helps her learn the meaning of Christmas. Steven Eckholdt co-stars.

- "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation 2," 9 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 20, NBC. Randy Quaid is back as cousin Eddie in a new TV movie, this time wreaking havoc in the South Seas.

- "The Santa Clause," 9 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 20, ABC. Tim Allen and Wendy Crewson star in the tale of an ad executive who makes a sudden career change when Santa takes a rooftop tumble.

- "The Christmas Shoes," 9 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 21, CBS. A workaholic lawyer (Rob Lowe) learns the meaning of love, life and the holidays from a young boy. Kimberly Williams co-stars.

- "A Christmas Story," 6 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 24, TNT. The 1983 movie will repeat for 24 hours straight, allowing fans of this boy's-eyeview of Christmas and BB guns to shamefully overindulge.

- "Holiday Inn," 10 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 24, TCM. Bing Crosby dreams of a snow-covered Christmas and Fred Astaire dances. Enough said.

STOCKING STUFFERS:

"The Spike 52: Hottest Holiday Gifts," 9 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 23, Spike TV. Actress Aisha Tyler is the host of a survey of the best stuff to wrap, including toys, clothes, sports gear and electronics.

- "Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade," 9 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 27, NBC. The 77th version features performances by Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken and numbers from the Broadway musicals "Wicked" and "The Boy From Oz."

- "Harry for the Holidays," 10 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 27, NBC. Harry Connick Jr. gets in the spirit with help from Marc Anthony, Whoopi Goldberg and Nathan Lane in a program taped in New York.

- "Christmas in Rockefeller Center," 8 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 3, NBC. The tree's the star but it has a big supporting cast that includes Ashanti, Enrique Iglesias and the Brian Setzer Orchestra.

- "Holiday Ice Dreams," 9 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 4, A&E. Olympic gold medalist Ekaterina Gordeeva shows off the skills of her daughter, Daria, in a show that also includes Oksana Baiul and Paul Wylie.

- "Celine Dion: One Year - One Heart," 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 5, ABC Family. The singer relives a year that included three albums and a move to Las Vegas through interviews, songs and a glimpse of her holiday home life.

- "Barry Manilow Christmas: Live by Request," 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 5, A&E. Joined by a band, an orchestra and guests including Cyndi Lauper, Manilow takes song requests from viewers.

- "Holiday at Pops!" 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 12, A&E. Joan Lunden is the host of the annual concert with the Boston Pops, conducted by Keith Lockhart. Amy Grant and Vince Gill sing solo and together.

- "The White House Christmas 2003," 9 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 14, HGTV. An inside look with decorators, staffers and first lady Laura Bush at how the president's home is dressed up for the holidays.

- "Crazy for Christmas," 10 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 14, HGTV. Visit the Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School and a plant where wrapping paper is made in a celebration of holiday fanatics.

- "A Home for the Holidays," 8 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 23, CBS. Sheryl Crow, Mary J. Blige, Mya and Vince Gill are among the celebrities presenting inspirational stories about adoption.

- "Jesus: The Complete Story," 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 25, Discovery Channel. A three-part series relying on the latest scientific and historical research to relate the life of Jesus.

- "Christmas at Belmont," Thursday, Dec. 25, PBS (check local listings for time). The traditional concert from Nashville's Belmont University includes carols, classical pieces and lighter tunes. Brenda Lee is the host.