Backstory: It's a wonderful lineup
Tired of 'A Christmas Carol'? Here are some 'new' holiday shows that are sure to warm hearts.
Awful holiday cartoons remade into worse live-action features. Christmas specials featuring "celebrities" of whom you were previously unaware. Jimmy Stewart round the clock – colorized and updated in HDTV.
Television in December is a wasteland flocked with snow. Creativity on the airwaves, scarce at the best of times, must decamp for the Caribbean until January. How else to explain the endless variations of "A Christmas Carol"? If Charles Dickens were alive today, and saw the misuse to which the world has put Scrooge and Tiny Tim, he'd ... well, he'd happily collect royalties. But the point is he wrote other holiday stories, too, like "The Chimes" and "The Cricket on the Hearth." Yet due to the shortsightedness of network suits, none of those have ever been made into beloved animated shows starring Mr. Magoo.
So, in the spirit of planning for years to come, production execs take note: Here are some holiday shows that are surefire winners:
The Year Jim Baker Saved Christmas (7 p.m., CSPAN-KIDS): Santa's first-ever North Pole elections backfire when insurgent elves seize power and declare a toy embargo. A wise old diplomat comes out of retirement to teach everyone the true meaning of multilateral diplomacy. Starring Jada Pinkett Smith as Condoleezza Rice and Kiefer Sutherland as Lee Hamilton.
Hedge Fund Holiday (8 p.m., CNBC): A workaholic Wall Street executive is stranded at a New England inn during a blizzard. Bored, he makes a bad trade on his BlackBerry and bankrupts his firm. Don't blink or you'll miss John Cleese's cameo as the ghost of Adam Smith.
ESPN'S X-Mas Games (various times, ESPN8): Reedy youths in knit caps compete in seasonal events terrifying to their generation, such as Sitting Up Straight, Talking to Your Cousin, and Keeping Hair Out of Your Eyes.
Catalog Shopping With the Stars (8 p.m., QVC): Guests team up with celebrities who can't find real work to search for the most useless holiday present. It'll be hard to top last year's winner – a fleece spork cover from Land's End.
A Charlie Brown Christmas: Episode IV, the Wrath of Lucy (11 p.m., Sci-Fi): The first of a promised 12-film cycle updating the classic characters, produced by Steven Spielberg's new animation shop. In this episode, Lucy, enraged by Linus's embrace of a vaguely defined spirituality, sends his blanket into exile on the planet Patooie. Meanwhile, Snoopy finds his Sopwith Camel no match for a Neprusian starfighter.
Rudolph the Red-Faced Agronomist (2 a.m., PBS): Based on the true story of an Iowa plant scientist who labored years to convert a grain silo into a illuminated candy cane, only to learn from his mother that he was Jewish. Followed by a roundtable discussion featuring director Harold Ramis and former Sen. George Allen (R) of Virginia.
Got ideas of your own? Send them along. The best entries will receive a plate of home-baked gingersnaps, with or without mention of Burl Ives.
• Peter Grier is a staff writer in Washington.