- The Washington Times - Monday, December 7, 2009

‘Tis the season to be jolly as visions of sugarplums, Christmas Eve spirits plus specials and music galore unfurl on TV during the next few weeks.

Headed your way:

Classic films

It’s a Wonderful Life (8 p.m. Saturday, NBC) — A guardian angel gives a despondent George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) the chance to see what the lives of others would have been like if he hadn’t been born. Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore also star. Directed by Frank Capra.

24 Hours of ‘A Christmas Story’ (8 p.m. Dec. 24 TBS) — Round-the-clock showings of the holiday favorite about young Ralphie’s (Peter Billingsley) preholiday attempts to get an official Red Ryder, carbine action, 200-shot range model air rifle from the big guy in the red suit in 1940s Indiana.

A Christmas Carol (noon Saturday, TCM) — Elderly miser Ebeneezer Scrooge learns the error of his ways when he’s visited by three ghosts on Christmas Eve. Reginald Owen, Gene Lockhart and Kathleen Lockhart star in this 1938 adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic.

Meet Me in St. Louis (1 a.m. Dec. 25, Turner Classic Movies) — The romantic tale of four sisters living in St. Louis at the time of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition World’s Fair in 1904 gets a boost from the great Judy Garland with her show-stopping performances of the holiday favorite “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and “The Trolley Song.”

Holiday Inn (9 a.m., Dec. 24, AMC) — Two entertainers (Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire) vie for the affections of a beautiful performer (Virginia Dale) at an inn that’s only open during the holidays. The Oscar-winning score by the legendary Irving Berlin includes the tune “White Christmas,” one of the best-selling singles of all time. From 1942.

White Christmas (11 a.m., Dec. 25, AMC) — The famous Irving Berlin holiday standard also figures prominently in this 1954 musical; again with Bing Crosby. This time, the Old Groaner teams with Danny Kaye as two former soldiers who perform at a New England inn owned by their former commanding officer. Love comes-a-calling when a sister act (Vera-Ellen and Rosemary Clooney) also show up to perform.

Movies

Christmas in Canaan (8 p.m., Saturday, Hallmark Channel) — When a schoolyard tussle erupts between two boys — one black, one white — in 1960s Canaan, Texas, a father and a grandmother devise a plan to bring the two together: They have to spend time together at each other’s house. Then they discover an injured puppy and nurse it back to health. Billy Ray Cyrus stars. Based on the book by Kenny Rogers and Donald Davenport.

Eight Crazy Nights (8 p.m., Dec. 14, MTV) — Adam Sandler’s 2002 animated comedy about Davey Stone, a 33-year-old party animal who finds himself in trouble with the law after his wild ways go too far. But, in keeping with the holiday spirit, the judge gives Davey one last chance at redemption: He must spend the holidays performing community service. Mr. Sandler, Rob Schneider, Kevin Nealon, Jon Lovitz and Tyra Banks are among the celebrity voices.

Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (1 p.m., Dec. 25, ABC Family) — Gene Wilder is the candymaker who makes the sweet treats in his mysterious factory in this 1971 film. Music buffs are sure to recognize the famous song from its Oscar-nominated soundtrack, “The Candy Man” — which became a No. 1 hit for Sammy Davis Jr. the following year.

Specials

Saturday Night Live Christmas (8 p.m. Dec. 17, NBC) — A program of holiday-themed sketches culled from the archives of the storied late-night show.

Christmas Unwrapped: The History of Christmas (8 p.m., Dec. 18, the History Channel) — Fascinating story of how the bawdy Roman Saturnalia, a weeklong festival of food and drink that culminated on Dec. 25, became the centerpiece of the Christian year.

Christmas at the White House: An Oprah Primetime Special (10 p.m., Sunday, ABC) — Media maven Oprah Winfrey visits the first family at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Kennedy Center Honors (Dec. 29, check local listings, CBS) — Singer-songwriter Bruce Springsteen; Oscar winner Robert De Niro; legendary jazz composer and pianist Dave Brubeck; comic and writer Mel Brooks; and opera star Grace Bumbry are this year’s honorees.

Music

Michael McDonald: This Christmas: A Soundstage Special Event (9 p.m. Wednesday, PBS) — The former Doobie Brothers frontman sprinkles some of his signature hits into a holiday set.

Jennifer Hudson: I’ll be Home for Christmas (8 p.m. Saturday 2, ABC) — The Oscar- and Grammy-winning season-three “American Idol” finalist returns to her Chicago home. Canadian crooner Michael Buble also performs.

Home for the Holidays (8 p.m. Dec. 23, CBS) — A tribute to adoption hosted by country star Faith Hill, an adoptee. Also performing: Carrie Underwood, Shakira, Reba McEntire and Mary J. Blige.

Dance

Dance in America: San Francisco Ballet’s ‘Nutcracker’ (8 p.m. Dec. 17, WNET) The sparkling Tchaikovsky score sets the pace as sugarplum fairies — plus dancing snowflakes, flowers and mice — spring to life in this holiday favorite based on the tale by E.T.A. Hoffmann.

Children’s fare

Wordgirl — (Premieres Thursday on PBS Kids Go!; check local listings) — In a new episode titled “Oh, Holiday Cheese,” Dr. Two Brains uses his cheese-swiping ray to ruin the holiday spirit of young Becky Botsford and her family.

Dinosaur Train (Premieres Dec. 14, PBSKids, check local listings) — Buddy and his Pteranodon family ride the Dinosaur Train to the North Pole, and the youngsters get to play in the snow and slide on a frozen pond for the first time.

For all ages

A Charlie Brown Christmas (8 p.m. Tuesday, ABC) — The first (and best!) animated Peanuts special has Charlie Brown pondering the true meaning of Christmas. The jazzy score by composer Vince Guaraldi still blazes brightly nearly half a century after the show’s premiere.

Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Cartoon Network) — Animated version of the children’s story about a grumpy hermit who attempts to steal Christmas from the Whos of Whoville. Boris Karloff narrates; Thurl Ravenscroft (known best as the voice of Tony the Tiger) performs “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.”

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