Hope you like 'Elf'! You can't escape Christmas on your television

  • If you don't like Buddy the Elf, you might not want to turn your TV on until January.

    If you don't like Buddy the Elf, you might not want to turn your TV on until January. Courtesy of New Line Cinema

 
 
Updated 12/5/2019 10:16 AM

Thanksgiving is behind us, so you know what that means. To quote The Tim Tracker (who in turn was quoting that song from Phineas and Ferb), "Christmas is starting now!"

It will be hard to avoid it when you turn on that cable box over the next few weeks, especially if you're an AMC fan. "The Walking Dead" won't be back until February, so the network is going all-in on all things Kriss Kringle with a slate of programming it's dubbing "Best Christmas Ever."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

What does that entail? Lots of chances to watch Will Ferrell's "Elf," certainly, including two in prime-time this Saturday night. If you prefer "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation," you can see that in prime time on Sunday, Dec. 1. (Or dozens of other times throughout the month of December, I'm sure.)

AMC's Christmas movie lineup also includes "The Polar Express," "Christmas with the Kranks" and "Planes, Trains and Automobiles." The network is rolling out some classic stop-motion specials of yesteryear as well this weekend, including "Nestor the Long-Eared Donkey," "The Year Without a Santa Claus" and "Rudolph's Shiny New Year."

See the full lineup online at amc.com/schedule.

"Shazam!" stars Zachary Levi in a Christmas-adjacent superhero story.
"Shazam!" stars Zachary Levi in a Christmas-adjacent superhero story. - Courtesy of Warner Bros.
Superhero holiday

The DC Comics comedy "Shazam!" premieres 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 30, on HBO with Zachary Levi as the title character. The grown-up, giant-muscled alter ego of teenager Billy Batson (Asher Angel) becomes a YouTube celebrity in this modern, offbeat reboot of a hero that first appeared in the pages of Whiz Comics in 1939.

Why is this relevant to this column? Because "Shazam!" is set at Christmastime, and its heartwarming story of a rebellious foster kid who finds family and courage in the face of evil makes it a better holiday fit than, say, "Die Hard" or any of Shane Black's yuletide shoot-'em-ups. (Seriously, look at that director's filmography -- he loves Christmas.)

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"Shazam!" also reminds me of another twisted Christmas movie, "Gremlins," with its PG-13 sense of humor and some seriously scary monsters. It's a great superhero movie for people who don't like superhero movies.

Nothing warms the heart like "It's a Wonderful Life," especially that part where George grabs Uncle Billy and says, "Where's that money, you silly, stupid old fool?!?"
Nothing warms the heart like "It's a Wonderful Life," especially that part where George grabs Uncle Billy and says, "Where's that money, you silly, stupid old fool?!?" -
And of course ...

... the holiday season isn't complete without Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life," which makes its annual return to NBC at 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 30. The tale of George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) getting a second chance at life thanks to an angel without wings (Henry Travers) is as funny and devastating as ever. Hot dog!

• Follow Sean on Twitter at @SeanStanglandDH.

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