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Holiday Specials Galore

Music, Movies And Drama On Television Screens

November 22, 2005

By ROGER CATLIN, Courant TV Critic


When families gather around the hearth, it's more and more likely to include a big flat-screen HDTV. It's perfect for the ever-expanding number of annual Christmas specials. The first this season was broadcast Sunday, unapologetically, days before Thanksgiving.


That's right: Our attempt at restraint means we're already late for the season's listing of special holiday programming.


Here's what's still in store:


New Movies


"Silver Bells" - Anne Heche and Tate Donovan star in a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie about a Christmas tree salesman in Chelsea. CBS, Sunday, 9 p.m.


"Felicity: An American Girl Adventure" - The second in a series of films based on the American Girls Collection of dolls and books follows a horse-loving Colonial girl whose fondest dream is to attend the Christmas Eve ball in Virginia. The WB, Nov. 29, 8 p.m.


"The Engagement Ring" - Patricia Heaton stars in a holiday romance set in wine country, with Vincent Spano and Tony Lo Bianco. TNT, Monday, 8 p.m.


"Have No Fear: The Life of Pope John Paul II" - OK, it may not be about Christmas, but it certainly involves Christ. And there are all those colorful red costumes. ABC, Dec. 1, 8 p.m.


"Chasing Christmas" - Tom Arnold is central humbug in another modern reworking of "A Christmas Carol," with Leslie Jordan and Andrea Roth. ABC Family, Dec. 4, 8 p.m.


"Christmas in Boston" - Lifetime friends Marla Sokoloff and Patrick Adams tentatively take their relationship to the next level in Massachusetts during the holidays. ABC Family, Dec. 14, 8 p.m.


"Once Upon a Mattress" - Carol Burnett and Tracey Ullman star in the remake of the musical based on "The Princess and the Pea." Zooey Deschanel, Michael Boatman and Tom Smothers round out the cast. Kathleen Marshall choreographs and directs. ABC, Dec. 18, 7 p.m.


"The Christmas Blessing" - Neil Patrick Harris, Angus T. Jones and Rebecca Gayheart are enlisted in this sequel to the 2002 TV movie, "The Christmas Shoes," whose star, Rob Lowe, makes a cameo return. CBS, Dec. 18, 9 p.m.


Returning Movies


"Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas" - The 2000 feature version starring Jim Carrey, unfortunately, and not the1966 short with Boris Karloff. ABC, Dec. 10, 8:30 p.m.


"The Sound of Music" - The hills are alive. ABC, Dec. 17, 8 p.m.


"Finding John Christmas" - Valerie Bertinelli and Peter Falk are in the TV film. CBS, Dec. 25, 9 p.m.


"A Christmas Story" - he classic runs round the clock in the annual 24-hour marathon. Watch it all, and you'll put your eye out. TBS, Dec. 24, 8 p.m.


New Specials


"Denis Leary's Merry F#%$in' Christmas" - The unjolly comedian puts the X back in Xmas, according to ads for this holiday comedy special. Comedy Central. Sunday, 10 p.m.


"Great Things About the Holidays" - A four-part countdown of favorite holiday moments, from Cabbage Patch Doll to Chrismukah. Bravo, Dec. 1-4, 9 p.m.


"The Happy Elf" - Harry Connick Jr. lends his voice to Eubie the Elf, bringing cheer to Bluesville in a new computer-animated special. NBC, Dec. 2, 8 p.m.


"A Very Barry Christmas" - New stop-motion animated special about Barry Buckley's scheme to meet Santa. ABC Family, Dec. 3, 9 p.m.


"Dear Santa" - Finally, a reality TV special tied to the holiday. In this one, producers work with the U.S. Postal Service to respond to wishes written in actual letters to the North Pole. Fox, Dec. 9, 8 p.m.


Returning Specials


"Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" - Back to the Island of Misfit Toys in network TV's oldest returning special, with Burl Ives singing. CBS, Nov. 30, 8 p.m.


"A Charlie Brown Christmas" - The first Peanuts special from 1965 marks its 40th anniversary, spindly tree and all. ABC, Dec. 6, 8 p.m.


"Frosty the Snowman" - Another Rankin-Bass classic with Jimmy Durante as narrator. CBS, Dec. 17, 8 p.m.


"Frosty Returns" - Jonathan Winters narrated the sequel to the above; John Goodman portrayed the snowman. CBS, Dec. 17, 8:30 p.m.


"Robbie the Reindeer: Hooves of Fire" and "Robbie the Reindeer: Legend of the Lost Tribe" - The Americanization of the British stop-action animated special featured the voices of Ben Stiller and Britney Spears, among others. CBS, Dec. 17, 9 p.m.


Music Specials


"The 2005 Billboard Music Awards" - The awards show from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas is not specifically tied to the holidays, but the commercials sure will be. Fox, Dec. 6, 8 p.m.


"Elton John: The Red Piano" - The pop star gives his Las Vegas show in Caesars Palace. NBC, Dec. 14, 8 p.m.


"L.A. Holiday Celebration 2005" - Includes dance and music from many backgrounds including African, Asian, European, Middle Eastern and Latino. Elayne Boosler hosts. PBS, Dec. 15, 10 p.m.


"The 7th Annual A Home for the Holidays" - Sheryl Crow, Toni Braxton, Yolanda Adams and the Goo Goo Dolls are among the artists performing in the annual special about adoption, hosted by Jamie Lee Curtis. CBS, Dec. 21, 8 p.m.


"Renée Fleming: Sacred Songs and Carols" - The opera singer performs at Mainz Cathedral in Germany backed by a full orchestra and boys' choir on "Great Performances." PBS, Dec. 21, 8 p.m.


"The 28th Annual Kennedy Center Honors" - Tony Bennett, Julie Harris, Robert Redford and Tina Turner are among the honorees for the event hosted by Caroline Kennedy and packaged for the holiday week. CBS, Dec. 27, 9 p.m.

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