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Contributors

ALEX STRACHAN

MIKE HUGHES

KIM AKASS

MONIQUE NAZARETH

ROGER CATLIN

GARY EDGERTON

TOM BRINKMOELLER

GERALD JORDAN

NOEL HOLSTON

 
 
 
 
 
Christmas TV? Here's Where to Find New Shows and Your Old Favorites
December 10, 2020  | By Mike Hughes
 


Carrie Underwood's new Christmas special is the ultimate in sleek simplicity.

It has no gimmicks, no guests (except briefly). It has no distractions and, as it's streaming, no commercials. It simply has a great voice, warmly caressing each song.

It also reminds us of something else: Even in this crowded, cluttered season, some TV moments are really worth watching – or re-watching.

I'll list some others (and their air dates) in a minute, but first, let's look at three: There's Underwood's concert on HBO Max; this year's Christmas With the Tabernacle Choir concert, with Kelli O'Hara, which debuts Dec. 14 on PBS (check local listings); and last year's Tabernacle Choir concert (with Kristen Chenoweth), rerunning Dec. 10 on BYUTV, via cable or streaming.

The similarities are striking: Each singer grew up in Oklahoma – Underwood on a farm, O'Hara on a ranch, Chenoweth in suburbia. Each wanted to sing O Holy Night; Chenoweth and Underwood did, O'Hara couldn't, because the Tabernacle concerts avoid repeating from year-to-year.

But then there's the key difference: Tabernacle concerts are recorded a year in advance, so, despite our current situation, we get to enjoy the immense size – a 100-piece orchestra, a 360-voice choir, and a 20,000-person audience.

By comparison, Underwood offered a social-distance concert – no audience with neatly distanced musicians and back-up singers. That adds to the sleek quality of the show.

This is a singer who has never shied away from religious themes. Two of her past hits – "Jesus Take the Wheel" and "Something In the Water" – fit perfectly alongside the standards.

Beautifully shot, the special has Underwood in some grand gowns as well as in a Fleetwood Mac concert shirt when she does "Little Drummer Boy" with her 5-year-old son (top). Her mother also appears briefly (showing a teen Underwood singing "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree"), and John Legend, who is the only other guest, for a duet of a gorgeous song he co-wrote.

Beyond that, this hour is purely Carrie, a Christmastime gem. While I'm up to it, let me list a few holiday shows this year that are definitely worth catching.

ANIMATION??

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966) is a perfect blend of Dr. Seuss' story, Chuck Jones' animation and, one booming song. It airs Dec. 13 on TBS at 8 p.m. ET, at 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. ET, Dec. 18, and 8 p.m. ET, Dec. 19 on TNT.

A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) was perfectly crafted, simply because there was no time to mess it up. Facing a tight deadline, neither CBS nor the sponsor second-guessed its unusual approach. This year, it streams on Apple TV. Non-subscribers can find it online, Dec. 11-13. Also, PBS Kids (and some PBS stations) will air it at 7:30 p.m. ET, Dec. 13 (check local listings).

And we'll add one obscure one: The hour-long version of How Murray Saved Christmas (2014) is filled with wonderfully witty songs. The best time to catch it is 9 a.m. ET Dec. 17 on AMC. The channel will also air it across the December calendar; check their website for more information.

MOVIES??

A Christmas Story (1983) alternates between warmth and dark humor. You can catch it on TNT at 8 and 10 p.m. ET, Dec. 21. Then both TBS and TNT continue the tradition of running the film as a 24-hour marathon, airing it every two hours, beginning at 8 p.m. ET on TBS and 9 p.m. ET on TNT.

A Christmas Carol exists in many forms, but one of the best is the Patrick Stewart version (1999). It's at 8 and 10 p.m. ET, Dec. 17 on TNT.

It's a Wonderful Life (1946) airs at 8 p.m. ET, Dec. 11 and 9 a.m. ET, Dec. 12 on the USA Network (but also is available for streaming on the network's website) and, of course, has its annual Christmas Eve showing at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.

Enjoy!

 
 
 
 
 
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