A Charlie Brown Christmas: ABC

Our daily guide to holiday TV shows, including the Dixie Chicks' special, ''Saturday Night Live'''s Christmas show, holiday bloopers, and ''Rudolph''

December 09, 2002 at 05:00 AM EST

Image credit: An Evening with the Dixie Chicks: Ron Wolston


December 9

The best holiday TV shows on Monday, December 9

Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer (Cartoon Network, 8-9 p.m.)
There ain’t nothing like a movie based on a three-minute song. Grammy’s enemy isn’t a deer, but rather developers who want to take over her general store.

The Christmas Orange (ABC Family, 8:30-9 p.m.)
An animated newbie about a 6-year-old who sues Santa Claus. Kelsey Grammer gives voice, as does Charles Durning.

Tuesday December 10
The Flintstones Christmas Carol (Cartoon Network, 6-7:30 p.m.)
Close your eyes and conjure up Fred Flintstone. Now think of Yogi Bear. They have, like, the same voice, no? Anyhoo, in this oldie, hapless Fred gets all stressed out over his role in the Bedrock production of ”A Christmas Carol.”

An Evening With the Dixie Chicks (NBC, 8-9 p.m.)
At a time when cheesy seasonal tunes dominate the radio, an hour of live bluegrassy pop could save you from a holiday meltdown. Take that, Mannheim Steamroller!

8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter (ABC, 8-8:30 p.m.)
John Ritter’s Mr. Hennessy channels ”National Lampoon’s”’ Clark Griswold: He wants his house to have the most Xmas lights on the block.

Life With Bonnie (ABC, 9-9:30 p.m.)
A few weeks back, Bonnie Hunt fired her show’s writing staff. So it’s art most likely NOT imitating life when Hunt’s talk-show-host character invites the whole production staff to Christmas dinner in tonight’s episode.

One Christmas (Hallmark Channel, 9-11 p.m.)
Once upon a time in 1994, lowbrow TV took on highbrow fiction: Henry Winkler stars as a rough-and-tumble dad spending time with his son in this movie, based on the story by Truman Capote. Bonus: Katharine Hepburn appears.


December 11

The best holiday TV shows on Wednesday, December 11

A Celebration of Christmas With Jose Carreras, Natalie Cole, and Placido Domingo (Bravo, 8-10 p.m.)
Sing along to holiday classics if you want. But for the sake of your family, you might just lip-synch, as the diverse and talented lineup is backed by the Vienna Symphony Orchestra.

Dawson’s Creek (The WB, 8-9 p.m.)
Dude, it could be your last yuletide experience at Dawson’s house. Joey fights with her boyfriend, and a crazy blonde (Busy Phillips) goes all Scrooge and almost destroys the holiday.

Ed (NBC, 8-9 p.m.)
Timothy Busfield Alert, part 1: The always welcome Busfield comes home to Stuckeyville to spend Christmas with his brother Ed.

George Lopez (ABC, 8:30-9 p.m.)
The last time we saw Sonia Braga she was pleasing Samantha on ”Sex and the City.” She plays George’s mother-in-law in tonight’s Christmas episode. That’s quite the acting range.

The Christmas Gift (Lifetime, 9-11 p.m.)
This ’99 Rocky Mountains movie starring the late John Denver pulls so many heartstrings that even the network describes it as ”sentimental.”

A Diva’s Christmas Carol (VH1, 9-11 p.m.)
‘Twas two years past when Vanessa Williams and Kathy Griffin costarred in this musical tale. Duran Duran’s John Taylor plays the Ghost of Christmas Present — hey, he can haunt our holidays anytime.

The West Wing (NBC, 9-11 p.m.)
Timothy Busfield Alert, part 2: President Bartlet is verklemmt when his dad, his daughter’s French boyfriend, and a reporter disguised as Santa arrive for Christmas (said reporter played by none other than ”thirtysomething” alum Busfield).


December 12

The best holiday TV shows on Thursday, December 12

Friends (NBC, 8-8:30 p.m.)
What’s a newlywed in Oklahoma to do at Christmastime? Well, knowing Chandler, it’s sure to be something neurotic…and amusing.

Olive, the Other Reindeer (Cartoon Network, 8-9:30 p.m.)
It looks like a kids’ movie — animated, with Drew Barrymore and Joe Pantoliano giving voice. It sounds like a kids’ movie — a li’l girl dog wants to play with reindeer. But it was coproduced by Matt Groening of ”The Simpsons” fame, so adults shouldn’t be bored.

The Santa Trap (Pax, 8-10 p.m.)
The stuff that weird dreams after watching too many TV movies are made of: Santa Dick Van Patten yuks it up alongside Shelley Long and Robert Hayes as stereotypically grouchy yet redeemable parents.

Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (HBO Family, 8:30-10:45 p.m.)
See Macaulay Culkin — before he was a divorcé wearing Strokes T-shirts and dating a girl from ”That ’70s Show” — as the lovable rich kid who takes on Daniel Stern and Joe Pesci in the Big Apple.

‘Tis the Season to Be Smurfy (Cartoon Network, 8:30-9 p.m.)
When is it NOT the season to be Smurfy, is our question. In this special, the tiny blue folk save a poor family from Christmas woes.

Will & Grace (NBC, 9-9:30 p.m.)
In ”All About Christmas Eve,” Grace is all about keeping Will from hard drinking with Jack and Karen. And we’re all about more screen time for Jack and Karen.

The Best Commercials You’ve Never Seen (And Some You Have), the Holiday Edition (ABC, 9-10 p.m.)
Or, the longest title ever that neglects to mention the fact that this special is hosted by the ”Whassup” guys. Well, good for them.


December 13

The best holiday TV shows on Friday, December 13

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (CBS, 8-9 p.m.)
Folks first fell for this Burl Ives narrated classic in 1964, which makes it the longest-running holiday special in history. Somehow we doubt ”The Santa Trap” will usurp it.

Scooby-Doo Christmas (The WB, 8:30-9 p.m.)
Actors like Peter Scolari and Jim Belushi give voice as the gang find themselves in a town terrorized by Freddie Prinze Jr. and Sarah Michelle Gellar. Oops. Town is terrorized by a headless snowman — somehow, a little less scary.

Reba (The WB, 9-9:30 p.m.)
Every mom’s worst nightmare — being alone at the holidays — might come true for Reba tonight. But we have a feeling that Reba will bake her way through and come out on top, thanks to a wise old homeless man. Okay, so we read the press release. So what?

Robbie the Reindeer (CBS, 9-10 p.m.)
A revamped British cartoon featuring the voices of Ben Stiller and Hugh Grant. Grant, not surprisingly, plays the jerk, and he’s holding a grudge against Stiller’s good guy.

Saturday December 14
Frosty the Snowman (CBS, 8-8:30 p.m.)
You know, the one about the guy with the corncob pipe and the button nose. Apparently, his eyes were made of coal. The animated 1969 classic.

A Very Brady Christmas (UPN, 8-10 p.m.)
See, this network is good for something. Florence Henderson and most of her brood came back, older yet shinier, for this delightfully schmaltzy ’88 reunion.

Jack Frost (TBS, 8-10 p.m.)
Shortly before Michael Keaton disappeared from the pop-culture radar, he was reincarnated as a snowman in this ’95 safe yet surreal family movie. Coincidence or fate? You be the judge.

Frosty Returns (CBS, 8:30-9 p.m.)
And now he’s back! In this ’95 ‘toon, John Goodman voices Frosty and Jonathan Winters makes like Jimmy Durante and provides narration.

Frosty’s Winter Wonderland (ABC, Family 8:30-9 p.m.)
It’s Frosty’s lucky night — Shelley Winters chortles and sings as the voice of everyone’s favorite snowman’s snow lady.

Holiday at Pops (A&E, 9-11 p.m.)
File under things to tell your great aunt when she calls to send yuletide greetings: Conductor Keith Lockhart leads a host of musicians, including Take Six, in a rousing performance of Christmas classics in this ’00 event.


December 15

The best holiday TV shows on Sunday, December 15

America’s Greatest Christmas Decorations (NBC, 7-8 p.m.)
Take a couch trip across the country and see how folks in Vegas and Graceland trim their trees, houses, yards, etc. We recommend popping some Dramamine and donning sunglasses.

Small Town Christmas (HGTV, 8-9 p.m.)
A more down-home tour of our nation’s less glitzy yet equally ostentatious houses.

Christmas in Washington (TNT, 8-9 p.m.)
It’s the 21st annual concert, so see how the nation’s First House dresses up for the occasion. We’re betting you won’t find a flashing Santa head here. But you will find Alison Krauss and Union Station, the Brian Setzer Orchestra, Brooks and Dunn, Lee Ann Womack, Dr. John, Yolanda Adams, and others serenading the President and First Lady with holiday classics.

Emeril’s Happy Happy Holidays (Food Network, 8-9 p.m.)
Sure, this special is two years outdated, but we all need to be reminded how to make goose-fat-roasted potatoes while listening to the Harlem Boys Choir.

The Man Who Saved Christmas (CBS, 9-11 p.m.)
Jason Alexander takes a break from KFC ads to star as toymaker A.C. Gilbert in this appealing new biopic. In spite of his conservative father (Ed Asner), Gilbert stuck to his dreams and invented the Erector Toy Set. Then, World War I broke out, which proved an even more formidable obstacle than Asner in period-piece garb.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (NBC, 9-11 p.m.)
Chevy Chase’s ’89 outing as Clark Griswold was way before his gig hosting a legendarily bad talk show, but you’re always thinking about it while you watch him, aren’t you?


December 16

The best holiday TV shows on Monday, December 16

The Greatest Christmas Moments of All Time (Fox, 9-10 p.m.)
On ”Fastlane,” Tiffani Thiessen dallies with heroin and guns. Tonight, she turns on the all-American charm to host this montage of Xmas scenes both sweet and scandalous from TV and movies.

Yule Tunes (Cartoon Network, 9:30-10 p.m.)
It’s your only chance to play like you’re still in footed jammies and believe in Santa while you sing along to ”Night Before Christmas,” ”Seasons Greetings,” and ”Bugs Bunny’s Christmas Carol.” At least we assume it’s your only chance — but, really, what you do in the privacy of your own home is your business.

Vegas Christmas (Travel Channel, 10-11 p.m.)
Another special on bright lights in Sin City. Two-to-one odds it’s gaudy.

Tuesday December 17
The Irish Tenor Trio: A Classic Irish Christmas (Bravo, 8-9 p.m.)
Now here’s an excuse to spike the cider: Three operatics belt out carols we know and Celtic melodies we don’t against the great green hills of their homeland.

Saturday Night Live Christmas 2002 (NBC, 8-9 p.m.)
Ho ho ha! Supercool newsies Jimmy Fallon and Tina Fey host this look back at sketches past. We hope Hanukkah Harry and his sack o’ socks are included.

Frasier (NBC, 9-9:30 p.m.)
Roz tries to get it on with a guy in a Santa suit. Or perhaps that description is an outtake from the ”SNL” special.

Scrooged (Encore, 9:35-11 p.m.)
Bill Murray grumps his way through Christmas until Carol Kane beats some sense into him as the Ghost of Christmas Present. Folks, this movie is just plain funny.


December 18

The best holiday TV shows on Wednesday, December 18

The Christmas Path (ABC Family, 9-11 p.m.)
In this ’99 Emmy winner, jolly St. Nick sends an angel to help a boy grieving over his father’s death. Dee Wallace Stone stars as the mom, who, understandably needs a little help herself.

A Season for Miracles (Hallmark Channel, 9-11 p.m.)
Patty Duke and Kathy Baker together at last! Foster care gets a bad rap in this PMS-inducing story of an aunt who steps up to the plate when her sister can’t care for her own kids.

Thursday December 19
The Smurfs Christmas Special (Cartoon Network, 8-9 p.m.)
Let’s see. Gargamel? Check. His mean-spirited cat? Check. Random use of the word ”smurf” in conversation? Check. Yes, this appears to be an authentic ”Smurfs” special.

Jingle All the Way (ABC, 8-11 p.m.)
Arnold Schwarzenegger battles for a toy (but gives up on his action career) in this fam-tastic holiday romp.

Friday December 20
The Andy Griffith Show (TV Land, 7:30-8 p.m.)
The one where Andy and Barney give a Christmas party in jail. Ah, sweet Mayberry! To have been a criminal within your town limits.

Fat Albert Christmas Special (NBC, 8-8:30 p.m.)
May this man never, ever go on the Atkins Diet. Bill Cosby gives voice to the leader of the junkyard, who must find a way to save the clubhouse from demolition-hungry corporate types.

A Home for the Holidays (CBS, 8-9 p.m.)
‘Tis the season to be charitable: Celebrities including Faith Hill, Martin Sheen, and Sela Ward sing the praises of adoption and encourage viewers to broaden their definition of family in this consciousness-raising special.

Providence (NBC, 8-10 p.m.)
NBC prez Jeff Zucker is considering renewing this canceled show. So the drama here is really: Is this the drama’s series finale? Well, that was the plan. So Syd’s got a big showstopping holiday wedding planned with that guy from ”Father of the Bride.”


December 21

The best holiday TV shows on Saturday, December 21

A Freezerburnt Christmas (NBC, 8:30-9 p.m.)
Those ”SNL” peeps just can’t get a day off. In tonight’s new animated special, they give voice to a bunch of pals who help their hapless friend Freezerburn stave off an evil toy magnate.

Santa?s Funniest Moments Part 2 (PAX, 7-8 p.m.)
Ex-”Growing Pains” star Kirk Cameron found God, so it makes sense that he found his way to PAX and hosts this look at clean-cut holiday bloopers.

Sunday December 22
I Love Lucy Christmas (TV Land, 7:30-8 p.m.)
Go back in time with Lucy, Ricky, Fred, and Ethel as they trim the tree in a time before Gary Coleman was available for stunt casting.

Holidays Unwrapped (Food Network, 9-9:30 p.m.)
Ever wonder who fields the calls to that Butterball hotline? Find out that info as well as the story behind candy canes. Then drive your relatives crazy by bragging about your new expertise.

A Bing Crosby Christmas: Like the Ones We Used to Know (Bravo, 9-10 p.m.)
Dreaming of a white Christmas will be even easier if you catch Mr. Crosby and friends in this retrospective.


December 23

The best holiday TV shows on Monday, December 23

A Christmas Carol (TNT, 8-10 p.m.)
It’s almost the night before Christmas, so why not indulge in this tale, which features Patrick Stewart channeling Dickensian Scrooginess. In a more traditional way than Bill Murray does, you understand.

The Preacher’s Wife (ABC Family, 8-10 p.m.)
Bobby Brown might need a little holiday cheer right about now. Maybe he should watch his wife Whitney Houston sing gospel and get a visit from an angel in the form of Denzel Washington. Okay, maybe Bobby shouldn’t watch that part.

Tuesday December 24
It’s a Wonderful Life (NBC, 8-10 p.m.)
Every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings — and NBC gets great ratings. It wouldn’t be Christmas Eve without Zuzu’s petals and the timeless charm of Bedford Falls.

The Nutcracker From the Royal Ballet (PBS, 8-10 p.m.)
How to keep your teenagers awake and peppy so they’ll behave at midnight mass? Well, a classic ballet may not be the best idea.


December 25

The best holiday TV shows on Wednesday, December 25

Yule Log (Hallmark Channel, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.)
A little less tacky than a fake fireplace but with just as much atmosphere. 480 minutes of burning logs in a fireplace with seasonal music.

Walt Disney World Christmas Parade (ABC, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.)
Regis Philbin + Kelly Ripa + Mickey Mouse + Orlando = couldn’t pay us to sit through the whole damn overwrought thing.

Holiday Celebration on Ice With Charlotte Church (NBC, 4-6 p.m.)
The folks at Rockefeller Center won’t let you forget that they got that rink on hand, especially at this time of the year, when they let people take to the ice as the Welsh wonder girl wails.

The Greatest Story Ever Told (TCM, 4:30-7:30 p.m.)
The minute you start complaining that you didn’t get the Palm Pilot you wanted for Christmas, tune in to see Charlton Heston in the story of Jesus’ life and remember what it’s all about.

Holiday Affair (Lifetime, 8-10 p.m.)
A single mom (Cynthia Gibb) must choose between her boring boyfriend (Tom Irwin) and a dashing department store salesman (David James Elliot). And for two hours, she acts like it’s a really tough call. This writer has seen it like 80 times and, I swear, it only gets better.

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