The Christmas season is upon us once again. It's time for snow, sleighbells, caroling, shopping - and television specials.
Yes, television specials. Most of us have fond memories of Christmases past, full of "Frosty the Snowman," "A Charlie Brown Christmas," "Miracle on 34th Street" and "It's a Wonderful Life."The good news is, all those shows and lots of other favorites are back again this year.
As a matter of fact, you've got half a dozen chances between now and Christmas Day to see "It's a Wonderful Life" and there are nine variations of "A Christmas Carol" - and dozens more if you've got cable. (Unfortunately, we don't have room here to list all the holiday specials on cable stations.)
One special that will be missing this year is "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer." CBS switched the date of the longtime favorite at the 11th hour, and Channel 5 had already scheduled a three-hour movie for that night. But, never fear, the shiny-nosed one will undoubtedly be back next year. (And it's also out on video.)
Our local stations are just chock full of animated specials, parades, ice skating, dramas and all the holiday music shows you could possibly ask for.
Not to mention movies like "Christmas in Connecticut," "The Nativity" and "A Christmas Story." (And you'll be happy to note that KSTU has restored the snowsuit scene to "A Christmas Story" this year.)
In addition to all the old favorites, the networks have a few new shows in store for us this year. Among those entries are:
- A Very Retail Christmas (Saturday, Dec. 8, 7:30 p.m., Ch. 2): Ed O'Neil ("Married . . . With Children") and Christopher Hewitt ("Mr. Belvedere") and a bunch of puppets from Alf's creator star in the tale of an evil toymaker who's working to put Santa Claus out of business.
- Dreamer of Oz (Sunday, Dec. 10, 8 p.m., Ch. 2): It's not exactly a Christmas special but certainly carries the right spirit. John Ritter stars as L. Frank Baum and Annette O'Toole as his supportive wife in this biographical story of the creator of "The Wizard of Oz."
- Barbara Mandrell's Christmas: A Family Reunion (Tuesday, Dec. 11, 7 p.m., Ch. 5): Mandrell and her sisters and their families all gather for an hour of singing, dancing and comedy - all in the holiday spirit.
- New Kids on the Block Christmas Special (Friday, Dec. 14, 8 p.m., Ch. 4): In this animated half hour with live-action highlights, the Kids are headed for Christmas at home when they're interrupted by Albert, an 8-year-old with magical powers. They end up helping him produce a miracle to help the poor in New York's Spanish Harlem.
- A Mom for Christmas (Monday, Dec. 17, 8 p.m., Ch. 2): Olivia Newton-John (in her first TV movie) stars as a department store mannequin who comes to life and fulfills a little girl's wish for a mother.
- Dolly Parton (Friday, Dec. 21, 8 p.m., Ch. 4): Dolly goes home to the Smokey Mountains for a "down-home" Christmas featuring her friends and family. Lots of singing and country fixin's.
- Guess Who's Coming for Christmas (Sunday, Dec. 23, 8 p.m., Ch. 2): Richard Mulligan stars as a small-town eccentric who befriends an extra-terrestrial (Beau Bridges) in this light-hearted tale.
- Disney's Christmas on Ice (Monday, Dec. 24, 7 p.m., Ch. 5): All your favorite Disney characters - from Mickey Mouse to Donald Duck to the Little Mermaid - take to the ice for a holiday festival.