This glorious Larry Fritz illustration graced the cover of TV Guide for the week of December 24, 1955--exactly 54 years ago today. Back when signals were pulled in from all over on rooftop antennas--for free. Apparently they still work.
Off to Cloverdale to start my shopping. While you are wrapping gifts tonight by the Yule log on the "Fireplace Channel" (available 24 hours on Rogers cable 175 in Toronto), here are some holiday TV highlights elsewhere tonight and tomorrow. Merry viewing:
It’s a Wonderful Life (Dec. 24, 8 p.m., CTV and NBC). Every time this 1946 Frank Capra classic plays on Christmas Eve, an angel gets her wings. Jimmy Stewart felt this was his finest performance.
Miracle on 34th Street (Dec. 24, 8 p.m., CBC). Department stores could use a miracle today, but not in 1947 when young Natalie Wood stole every scene from ultimate store Santa Edmund Gwenn.
A Christmas Story (Dec. 24, 8 p.m., TBS). TBS plans a 24-hour marathon of Bob Clark’s 1983 classic about a boy and his quest for a B.B. Gun.
Christmas in July (Dec. 24, 9:45 p.m., TCM). Not really a Christmas movie, but if your age looking for something different in black-and-white, try this 1940 Dick Powell winner about a radio jingle jackpot. From director Preston Sturgess.
A Christmas Carol (Dec. 24, 11:30 p.m., CTV). A true timeless classic, with Alastar Sim still the best Scrooge in this British, black and white, 1951 retelling of the Dickens’ novel. NOTE TO CBC: Stop showing that crappy, colourized version of this great film every year, you are wrecking Christmas! For those who find the 1951 version “too new,” TCM has the 1938 version of A Christmas Carol Dec. 25 at 9 a.m.
Fred Claus (Dec. 24, 10:45 p.m., TMN). The story of Santa’s younger brother, starring Vince Vaughn and Paul Giamatti. Christmas in the Clouds, starring Graham Greene and Wes Studi.
A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All (Dec. 24, 6 p.m., Comedy Network). The fake newsman shares eggnog with pals Jon Stewart, Elvis Costello, Feist and Willie Nelson.
The Jon Dore Television Program "Jon's Christmas" (Dec. 24, 7:30 p.m. Comedy Network). Jon blames Santa when he doesn't get what he wants for Christmas.
Christmas with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir (Dec. 24, 9 p.m., PBS) featuring Brian Stokes Mitchell and Edward Hermann. Christmas at St. Olaf (Dec. 24, 10 p.m., PBS).
Corner Gas (Dec. 24, 7 p.m., CTV). The “Merry Gasmas” episode finds Lacey battling to get home to Toronto for the holidays.
My Name is Earl "White Lie Christmas” (Dec. 24, 8 p.m., Comedy Network)
South Park "Woodland Critter Christmas (Dec. 24, 9:30 p.m., Comedy Network)
Blackadder Christmas (Dec. 25, 4 p.m., BBC Canada);
Faith Hill: Joy To The World: A Soundstage Special Event (Dec. 24, 8 p.m., PBS). Like the first one, except more special.
Midnight Mass (Dec. 24, midnight, Vision TV). Pope Benedict XVI celebrates Christmas Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica with special guests Faith Hill and Beyonce (kidding—they were booked).
Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer (All day long on YTV starting at 6 a.m.). After 45 years, with that jerky stop-motion animation, you’d think Rudolph would be banished to the island of misfit toys. But the low tech charm is part of this hour-long special’s enduring appeal. Narrator Burl Ives leads an outstanding vocal cast, which including Canadians Larry Mann as Yukon Cornelius, Paul Soles as Hermey the Elf and Carl Banas as the Elf foreman.
Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade (Dec. 25, 10 a.m., ABC). Like being there, only less crowded.
Christmas in Connecticut (Dec. 25, 12:15 p.m., TCM). Barbara Stanwyck cooks up a screwball Christmas in this 1945 black and white gem.
White Christmas (Dec. 25,, all day starting at 9 a.m., AMC; 4 p.m., CBC) This 1954 Technicolor romp is a fading favourite for those who still cling to Bing. Search instead for the 1938 original, Holiday Inn, with Fred Astaire joining der Bingle in glorious black and white.
Arthur’s Perfect Christmas (Dec. 25, 4 p.m., TVO). Arthur discovers perfection is hard to come by as he prepares for Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa.
Queen’s Message (Dec. 25, noon, CBC). Queen Elizabeth II’s annual shout out to the Commonwealth.
Ernest Saves Christmas (Dec. 25, 9 p.m., Family Channel). Enterprising Ernest P. Worrell (the late Jim Varney) stands in for St. Nick.
The Family Man (Dec. 25, 9 p.m., MPIX) finds Nicolas Cage trying to get home for the holidays until he realizes he had to sell off all his homes!
‘Til Death (Dec. 25, 8 p.m. Fox): shades of “Bad Santa” when Kenny lands a job as a mall St. Nick.
Father Ted “A Christmassy Ted” (Dec. 25, 8 p.m., Vision TV)
Trailer Park Boys “Christmas Special” (Dec. 25, 9 p.m., Showcase). What's Christmas without a lot of beer and swearing? Ho-ho-ho!