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posted: 12/2/2017 7:00 AM

Christmas movies, seasonal specials help TV deliver the holiday goods

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  • Singer Gwen Stefani stars in "Gwen Stefani's You Make It Feel Like Christmas," airing Dec. 12 on NBC.

    Singer Gwen Stefani stars in "Gwen Stefani's You Make It Feel Like Christmas," airing Dec. 12 on NBC.
    Courtesy of NBC

 
By Lynn Elber
Associated Press

Welcome back, Donner and Blitzen! And thanks for bringing along Gwen Stefani, Taraji P. Henson and "A Christmas Story Live!" to a holiday TV lineup that mixes the familiar and the fresh.

Settle in to wrap gifts, slurp nog and choose among these highlights:

Movies

• "Christmas at Holly Lodge," 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 3, Hallmark. There are sparks between lodge owner Sophie (Alison Sweeney) and Evan (Jordan Bridges), who's been sent by a developer to check out the property. Will love and the lodge prevail?

• "Instrument of War," 6:30 p.m. Dec. 10 and 23, BYUtv (DirecTV and DISH Network). Inspired by the real-life World War II story of American bomber pilot Clair Cline who, held in a Nazi POW camp, painstakingly crafts a violin to lift his spirits and bring music to his fellow prisoners. Jack Ashton stars.

• "Love Actually," Netflix, Dec. 14. Richard Curtis' witty, romantic cream puff weaves together stories featuring, among many, Hugh Grant, Bill Nighy, Keira Knightley and the late, great Alan Rickman. Add the hit tune "All I Want for Christmas is You" and, of course, happy endings.

• "It's a Wonderful Life," 7 p.m. Dec. 24, NBC. Watch it for the 100th time or the first and try to resist the sentimental pull of the 1946 Frank Capra fable about a self-doubting man (Jimmy Stewart) who gets perspective from a dotty but caring angel.

Stocking stuffers

• "The Carol Burnett 50th Anniversary Special," 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 3, CBS. TV's great funny lady gets a deserved two hours to celebrate "The Carol Burnett Show" milestone, joined by cast members Vicki Lawrence and Lyle Waggoner and admirers including Jim Carrey and Bernadette Peters.

• "Lidia Celebrates America: Homegrown Heroes," 9 p.m. Dec. 15, PBS. Chef Lidia Bastianich travels to West Virginia and Kentucky to honor veterans who are making productive new lives.

• "A Home for the Holidays," 7 p.m. Dec. 19, CBS. Music stars including Josh Groban, Kelly Clarkson and Kacey Musgraves align to bring attention to the issue of adoption with inspirational stories and songs.

CBS airs back-to-back colorized Christmas episodes in the "I Love Lucy Christmas Special" Dec. 22.
CBS airs back-to-back colorized Christmas episodes in the "I Love Lucy Christmas Special" Dec. 22. - Courtesy of CBS

• "I Love Lucy Christmas Special," 7 p.m. Dec. 22, CBS. Irrepressible redhead Lucy (Lucille Ball) shines even brighter in two colorized episodes of the classic sitcom.

Tunes

• "Gwen Stefani's You Make It Feel Like Christmas," 8 p.m. Dec. 12, NBC. The singer-songwriter mixes music, sketches and friends including duet partner Blake Shelton, Chelsea Handler, Ken Jeong, Seth MacFarlane and Ne-Yo.

• "Taraji's White Hot Holidays," 7 p.m., "Showtime at the Apollo: Christmas," 8 p.m. Dec. 14, Fox. This double bill opens with Taraji P. Henson offering classic holiday tunes with help from Chaka Khan, Faith Evans, Leslie Odom Jr. and others. In "Showtime," artists including Snoop Dogg and Boyz II Men perform their Christmas favorites at the famed New York City theater.

• "Christmas with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir featuring Rolando Villazon," Dec. 15, PBS (check local listings for time). Tenor Villazon joins the choir for a "cross-cultural, Latin-themed" celebration.

Chris Diamantopoulos, Maya Rudolph, Andy Walken and Tyler Wladis star in Fox's "A Christmas Story Live!," airing Dec. 17.
Chris Diamantopoulos, Maya Rudolph, Andy Walken and Tyler Wladis star in Fox's "A Christmas Story Live!," airing Dec. 17. - Courtesy of Fox

• "A Christmas Story Live!" 6 p.m. Dec. 17, Fox. Writer Jean Shepherd's priceless anecdotes came first, followed by the 1983 big-screen movie comedy and a Broadway musical. Now it's TV's turn to share Ralphie's (Andy Walken) memorable holiday, inspired by the stage version.

Animation

• "Peppa Pig," 8:30 a.m. Dec. 8, Nickelodeon. Peppa and the gang put on a big holiday show and Father Christmas drops by.

• "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," 7 p.m. Dec. 9, CBS. Rudolph and his glowing nose rescue Christmas in this 1964 song-inspired tale. It's paired with "Frosty the Snowman," which follows at 7:30 p.m.

ReRun teams up with Snoopy in "I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown!" The animated special airs Dec. 15 on ABC.
ReRun teams up with Snoopy in "I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown!" The animated special airs Dec. 15 on ABC. - Courtesy of ABC

• "I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown!" 7 p.m. Dec. 16, ABC. ReRun, little brother to Lucy and Linus, gets caught up in "Peanuts" holiday mischief with Snoopy and his brother Spike.

• "How Murray Saved Christmas," 6:30 p.m. Dec. 24, NBC. Music and animation are joined with the voices of Jerry Stiller, Sean Hayes, Dennis Haysbert and others in the story of a cranky deli owner who fills in for Santa.

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