Alibi V.13 No.52 • Dec 23-29, 2004 

Idiot Box

Remote Noël

Christmas Eve around the dial

Christmas Eve is typically a time to spend with friends and family. You drink some egg nog, sing some carols, play some Cranium, open some presents. Then again, maybe that's not your style. Maybe you're in prison. Maybe you're an orphan. Maybe you're just antisocial. Who am I to judge? Perhaps the best policy would be to lock your door and curl up in front of the warm, flickering glow of the television this holiday season.

Now, I'm not gonna sugarcoat it for you: Christmas Eve is not the most prime television watching time. Most network programming executives plug in the simplest thing they can find and take the rest of the week off. Exceptionally lazy stations pick one thing and run a marathon. American Movie Classics, for example, has a 24-hour loop of Miracle on 34th Street (AMC 4 a.m.) playing all day and night. Ted Turner's baby follows that up with its annual “24 Hours of A Christmas Story” (TBS 6 p.m.). Which is always worth at least one viewing. FX, on the other hand, doesn't even try, pressing the “repeat” button on Arnold Schwarzenegger's Jingle All the Way (FX 7 p.m.) and walking away until tomorrow night.

If you can't handle more than, say, 12 hours of Jingle All the Way, you might try getting your holiday cheer in more manageable bites. ABC Family has a couple classic Rankin/Bass stop-motion Christmas Specials to remind you of your unhappy childhood. “The Year Without a Santa Claus” (ABC Family 7 p.m.) from 1974 features Mickey Rooney voicing the crankiest Claus ever committed to celluloid. “Rudolph's Shiny New Year” (ABC Family 8 p.m.) from 1976 has “the most famous reindeer of all” saving the New Year. Good for him.

If you're planning on consuming too much egg nog to actually follow anything narrative, you can always check out the “Hollywood Christmas Parade” (WGN 6 p.m.), featuring loud bands, colorful floats and people in outrageous costumes (which, come to think of it, isn't all that different from a typical Friday night on Sunset Boulevard). There's also VH1 Classics, which will show “Christmas Videos” (VH1 Classics 4:30 p.m.) for the next four days. Make a game out of it. Knock back a shot every time you see Band Aid's “Do They Know It's Christmas?”

Discovery Channel unleashes a little holiday cheer for the gearhead crowd beginning with “Monster Garage” (Discovery 7 p.m.), in which the crew build a wheelie-popping Santa float (perfect for the above-mentioned Hollywood parade). “American Chopper” (Discovery 8 p.m.) features a hopped up, rubber-burning sleigh fit for Santa. “Monster House: Revisited” (Discovery 9 p.m.) takes us back to the Christmas-themed house to see what it's like living in a winter wonderland 24/7.

If you're still conscious, you might want to cap off your evening with a little repentance. Try catching the evening mass with “Christmas from the Cathedral of St. Matthew” (KOB-4 10:30 p.m.). Even if you don't experience the miracle of personal salvation, the pretty music of the chorus will lull you to sleep in your La-Z-Boy until tomorrow morning, at which point you can start this all over again.