All I watch for Christmas: When to see Grinch, Frosty, more holiday TV
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A great Christmas song can lead to a great Christmas TV special, and the latest ditty to take the leap is Mariah Carey’s modern classic “All I Want for Christmas Is You.” The singer herself narrates the animated story of her younger self determined to prove she deserves a puppy under the tree. It’s available for streaming on Amazon Prime, on demand and on Blu-ray and DVD.
Meanwhile, on broadcast and cable, TV’s old Christmas favorites are joined by a few new specials this year:
FRIDAY, NOV. 24
“Frosty the Snowman” (7 p.m., WBBM-Channel 2): A magician’s hat brings the button-nosed fella to life. Followed by the sequel “Frosty Returns” at 7:30.
“How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (7 p.m., WMAQ-Channel 5): Animated classic about a mean one trying to ruin Whoville’s holiday.
“Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town” (7 p.m., WLS-Channel 7) The Meisterburger Burgermeister’s ban on toys converts a young do-gooder into Santa.
SATURDAY, NOV. 25
“Robbie the Reindeer: Hooves of Fire” (7 p.m., WBBM-Channel 2) Rudolph’s son might not get in shape soon enough to join Santa’s team. Followed by the sequel “Legend of the Lost Tribe” at 7:30.
SUNDAY, NOV. 26
“Switched for Christmas” (7 p.m., Hallmark) In one of 21 new Hallmark holiday movies this season, Candace Cameron Bure plays estranged identical twins who swap lives.
MONDAY, NOV. 27
“CMA Country Christmas” (7 p.m., WLS-Channel 7) Reba McEntire hosts a celebration featuring performances by Luke Bryan, Kelsea Ballerini and Lady Antebellum.
“A Very Pentatonix Christmas” (9 p.m., WMAQ-Channel 5) The a cappella group headlines a special featuring guests Jay Leno, Jennifer Hudson and Darci Lynne Farmer.
TUESDAY, NOV. 28
“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” (7 p.m., WBBM-Channel 2): Rudy wants to fit in, Yukon wants to find gold and Hermey wants to be a dentist.
WEDNESDAY, NOV. 29
“Christmas in Rockefeller Center” (7 p.m., WMAQ-Channel 5) Helping light the New York tree are Brett Eldredge, Leslie Odom Jr. and Gwen Stefani.
THURSDAY, NOV. 30
“A Charlie Brown Christmas” (7 p.m., WLS-Channel 7): Overwhelmed by the season’s greed, the blockhead takes charge of a holiday pageant.
FRIDAY, DEC. 1
“Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” (7 p.m., WPWR-Channel 50): A boy must find his missing granny on Christmas Eve.
SATURDAY, DEC. 2
“The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival” (4 p.m., WLS-Channel 7) Highlights from the Nov. 18 parade illuminating Michigan Avenue.
SUNDAY, DEC. 3
“Nutcracker: The Motion Picture” (3 p.m., WGN-Channel 9) An adaptation of Tchaikovsky’s classic holiday ballet based on a production by the Pacific Northwest Ballet.
MONDAY, DEC. 4
“National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” (7:50 p.m., Freeform) Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) and family play host to a flock of relatives.
TUESDAY, DEC. 5
“Polar Express” (7:55 p.m., Freeform) A boy is invited along on a rail journey to the North Pole.
WEDNESDAY, DEC. 6
“Elf” (7:50 p.m., Freeform): A man brought up at Santa’s workshop (Will Ferrell) searches for his identity in New York.
THURSDAY, DEC. 7
“Shrek the Halls” (7 p.m., WLS-Channel 7): For his kids’ sake, the ogre pretends to love Christmas.
FRIDAY, DEC. 8
“Scrooge” (7 p.m., WGN-Channel 9) Dean Richards hosts a “Family Classics” presentation of the 1951 Dickens adaptation starring Alastair Sim.
SATURDAY, DEC. 9
“It’s a Wonderful Life” (7 p.m., USA) An angel-to-be shows a small-town dad (James Stewart) how much he has mattered.
SUNDAY, DEC. 10
“The Greatest Story Ever Told” (1 p.m., WGN-Channel 9) A grand-scale telling of the life of Jesus (Max von Sydow), from the Nativity to the Resurrection.
MONDAY, DEC. 11
“The Year Without a Santa Claus” (1:40 p.m., Freeform) The Miser brothers and Saint Nick’s exhaustion imperil the holiday.
TUESDAY, DEC. 12
“Gwen Stefani’s You Make It Feel Like Christmas” (9 p.m., WMAQ-Channel 5) The No Doubt singer is joined by Blake Shelton, Chelsea Handler, Seth MacFarlane and Ne-Yo.
WEDNESDAY, DEC. 13
“A Christmas Carol” (8 p.m., TNT) Patrick Stewart plays Scrooge in this 1999 adaptation of the Dickens classic.
THURSDAY, DEC. 14
“Taraja’s White Hot Holidays” (7 p.m., WFLD-Channel 32) “Empire” star Taraji P. Henson welcomes performers including Chaka Khan, Fergie, Salt-N-Pepa and the Ying Yang Twins.
“Showtime at the Apollo: Christmas” (8 p.m., WFLD-Channel 32) Steve Harvey hosts a night of holiday music from artists including Snoop Dogg, Boyz II Men, Fifth Harmony and DMX.
FRIDAY, DEC. 15
“A Holiday Affair” (9 p.m., TCM) A widowed single mom (Janet Leigh) is wooed by a stiff suitor as well as a handsome rogue (Robert Mitchum).
SATURDAY, DEC. 16
“Miracle on 34th Street” (7 p.m., AMC) The classic about a man (Edmund Gwenn) claiming to be the real Santa marks its 70th anniversary.
SUNDAY, DEC. 17
“A Christmas Story Live!” (6 p.m., WFLD-Channel 32) Maya Rudolph and Matthew Broderick star in a live musical about Ralphie’s quest for a BB gun.
MONDAY, DEC. 18
“A Christmas Carol” (9:30 p.m., AMC) Spirits introduce Scrooge (George C. Scott) to the joys of the season in this 1984 rendition.
TUESDAY, DEC. 19
“A Home for the Holidays” (7 p.m., WBBM-Channel 2) Musical performance by top artists highlight this look at successful adoptions.
WEDNESDAY, DEC. 20
“Scrooged” (7 and 9 p.m., AMC) A cynical TV executive (Bill Murray) visits his past, present and future.
THURSDAY, DEC. 21
“Wheaton College Christmas Festival” (8 p.m., WTTW-Channel 11) The school’s Concert Choir, Men’s Glee Club, Percussion Ensemble, Symphonic Band and Women’s Chorale tell the Nativity story in song.
FRIDAY, DEC. 22
“I Love Lucy Christmas Special” (7 p.m., WBBM-Channel 2) In colorized episodes, Lucy and Ricky reminisce at the holidays and disagree about how much to spend at a fashionable boutique.
SATURDAY, DEC. 23
“White Christmas” (9:15 a.m., AMC) A song-and-dance team (Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye) help the owner of a Vermont inn.
“Bozo, Gar & Ray” (1 p.m., WGN-Channel 9): With the stop-motion classics “Hardrock, Coco and Joe,” “Suzy Snowflake” and “Frosty the Snowman.”
“It’s a Wonderful Life” (7 p.m., WMAQ-Channel 5) See Dec. 9.
“A Christmas Story” (7 p.m., TNT) Will the Red Ryder BB gun really shoot Ralphie’s eye out? (Repeats for 24 hours.)
“Christmas Midnight Mass” (midnight, WGN-Channel 9) Live coverage of Catholic mass at Holy Name Cathedral.