Television networks love the holidays. They know exactly what to show: seasonally appropriate specials and craploads of reruns. That’s exactly what you’ve got to look forward to this Christmas Day. Sure, you can always throw that loop of the burning Yule log up on the old widescreen as background while you open presents, drink your egg nog and ignore your relatives. Or you can pick up your remote and celebrate a full Idiot Box Christmas.
Start bright and early with“Disney Parks Unforgettable Christmas Celebration” (KOAT-7 9am). This 32nd annual Christmas Day parade features parade floats and loads of corporate branding. Plus, the occasional musical performances by Jason Derulo, Ariana Grande, Seal, Reba McEntire and the cast of Descendants (a made-for-TV Disney movie you may or may not have watched).
Of course, if you’re looking to start your day with something a little less secular, check out “Solemn Mass of Christmas Day” (EWTN-24 10am) from the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. That sounds ... well, solemn. It’s right there in the title.
Kids already bored with their new Christmas toys by lunchtime might be in the mood to watch “Nickelodeon’s Ho Ho Holiday Special” (Nickelodeon 12pm). When Nickelodeon celebrities discover that a holiday party is actually an evil trap, they are forced to struggle through holiday-themed obstacles and challenges. At least that’s what the official synopsis claims. Brec Bassinger, Mace Coronel, Sean Ryan Fox, Aidan Gallagher, Lizzy Greene, Jack Griffo, Buddy Handleson, Kira Kosarin and Maya Le Clark (all actual Nickelodeon “celebrities” I can assure you) star.
Lifetime and Hallmark have spent the last couple of months battling it out to see who can produce the greatest number of Santa-based rom-coms. (Hallmark won handily this year.) Both networks will spend all of Christmas day re-airing seasonal made-for-TV movies from the last decade or so. Pick any one you like; they’re all pretty much the same. Drink every time Candace Cameron Bure or Dean Cain show up.
PBS gets you in a festive mood later on in the evening by airing “Christmas With the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Featuring Santino Fontana and the Sesame Street Muppets” (KNME-5 4pm). I had no idea the Muppets were Mormon ... but it kinda makes sense.
If the idea of Elmo and choral music turns you stomach a bit, you can check out “The Andy Griffith Show Christmas Special” (KRQE-13 7pm) instead. Having successfully colorized several “I Love Lucy” episodes for the holiday, CBS tries its luck at recycling some 50-year-old “Andy Griffith” episodes. Let’s check the synopsis to see what sort of shenanigans are happening in Mayberry this holiday: “Andy switches store-bought pickles for Aunt Bee’s.” Wow. That is straight-up gangsta, Sheriff Andy.
PBS’ nostalgic look back at life in an Anglican nursing convent rings in Christmas 1960 with “Call the Midwife: Christmas Special” (KNME-5 9pm). It’s based on the memoirs of postwar midwife Jennifer Worth and is perfectly appropriate for Anglophiles of a certain age.
For my money, though, the best UK-based Christmas tradition is watching “Doctor Who” (BBC America 7pm). This year’s Christmas special is titled “The Husbands of River Song”—which means The Doctor’s time traveling “wife” (Alex Kingston) is back for more crazy, romantic action.