Already? Yes, I’m afraid so: Christmas Eve is less than a week away. So how will you spend your evening? Sitting before a crackling yule log, surrounded by your loving family, sipping hot cider and listening to the pleasant sounds of carolers as they stroll the snow-covered avenues outside? Or postprandially entrenched on the couch, watching antiquated Christmas specials, waiting for your sugarplum-addled kids to fall asleep so that Santa can get his groove on? ... Cause if it’s the latter, we’ve got you covered.
The bread and butter of Christmas is TV specials. Most networks have steadily burned off their supply over the last 30 days or so. But there are still a few in the offing on Christmas Eve. The 1962 animated special Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol (KWBQ-19 7pm) holds up surprisingly well as an adaptation of Charles Dickens’ holiday classic. That’s followed by “Merry Madagascar” (KWBQ-19 8:30pm), a spin-off of the popular Madagascar films. Unlike “Mr. Magoo,” it might not be on TV 50-odd years from now, but it’s got some laughs. CBS travels into the past as well, delivering the “I Love Lucy Christmas Special” (KRQE-13 7pm). It’s a digitally colorized 1956 episode in which the Mertz family helps the Ricardos decorate their Christmas tree. To round out the hour, they throw in that episode where Lucy works on a conveyor belt at the candy factory. It has nothing to do with Christmas, but everybody loves it. You could also check out “Jeff Dunham’s Very Special Christmas Special” (Comedy Central 7pm). But I wouldn’t recommend it. Ventriloquism is harmful to your health.
Marathons are a fine way to pass the time until Santa comes without having to change the channel. On Dec. 24 Cartoon Network offers up a generic block of Christmas-themed episodes of everything from “Teen Titans Go!” to “Uncle Grandpa” to “Adventure Time.” Nickelodeon does the same with episodes of “Full House,” “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and “Friends.” Animal Planet amps it up, though, with its “Too Cute: Merry Cuteness Marathon” (Animal Planet 5pm to 1am), featuring eight hours’ worth of puppy and kitty videos. Ignoring random stuff like Syfy’s “Wizard Wars” marathon and National Geographic’s “The Legend of Mick Dodge” marathon, we arrive at the most appropriate marathon of the evening, the “Toy Hunter Marathon” (Travel Channel 7pm to 1am), which will lull even the most overgrown of kids to sleep with six hours’ worth of toyetic memories.
Moviewise, you’ve got plenty to choose from. Firstly, NBC has got a lock on the 1946 holiday juggernaut It’s a Wonderful Life (KOB-4 7pm). There are certainly worse ways to spend your Christmas Eve than watching Jimmy Stewart contemplate suicide. You could, for example, catch The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause (WGN 6:15pm) or Christmas with the Kranks (Lifetime 6pm). But if you’re spending your Christmas Eve watching a Tim Allen movie, you really need to reevaluate your life. A better choice would be to go with the 1945 comedy-romance Christmas in Connecticut (TCM 8pm),starring Barbara Stanwyck and Dennis Morgan. If you prefer something a bit more modern, watch the Will Ferrell favorite Elf (ABC Family 7pm). Or you could always turn on “24 Hours of A Christmas Story” (TBS/TNT 6pm). This annual, one-day marathon of the nostalgic, 1983 film is as big an annual tradition as buying a carton of eggnog, only drinking half and then throwing the clogged-up carton out sometime after New Year’s.