What is it about Christmas that brings out a collective hankering for country music and heartland culture? Look what’s airing on the broadcast nets in primetime Christmas night: CMA Country Christmas on ABC, American Country Countdown’s Top 10 Stories of 2015 on Fox, a rebroadcast of Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors on NBC, and The Andy Griffith Christmas Special on CBS.
More traditional Christmas programming happens on Christmas Eve, including A Charlie Brown Christmas on ABC and It’s a Wonderful Life on NBC. ABC Family, for its part, airs Elf.
While Thanksgiving is a day for the NFL, the NBA has Christmas mostly to itself in the sports world. ESPN starts things off at high noon, with the New Orleans Pelicans versus the Miami Heat, followed by a double header on ABC—Chicago Bulls versus Oklahoma City Thunder, then Cleveland Cavaliers versus the Golden State Warriors. It’s back to ESPN for the primetime San Antonio Spurs vs. Houston Rockets, then the battle of Los Angeles—Lakers versus Clippers.
The NFL does have Christmas Eve and Boxing Day matchups, with San Diego Chargers against the Oakland Raiders Dec. 24, and Washington Redskins-Philadelphia Eagles on Dec. 26—both on NFL Network. ESPN has a pair of college football bowl games Christmas Eve, and a half dozen more on Dec. 26.
If those aren’t your sports, and you happen to live in the Kansas City market, Fox Sports Kansas City will air a marathon of K.C. Royals regular season and World Series games, as well as their championship parade, all day Christmas Day. Hey, those scrappy Royals earned it.
Homer For the Holidays
Remember, the holiday season is a marathon, not a sprint. With that in mind, AMC has “Christmas with The Duke”—a John Wayne marathon starting 9 a.m. Christmas morning. (A few days later, it’s a Walking Dead marathon running Dec. 29 through Jan. 2.)
On FXX—which launched with a 12-day Simpsons marathon in 2013—it’s back to Bart and the bunch. The cable net starts the Simpsons fun Dec. 21 at 6 p.m. with six hours of Christmas-themed episodes, with blocks of Christmas Simpsons until midnight Christmas Day. (Yes, “Mr. Plow” is among them.)
The diginet GetTV, meanwhile, starts 30 hours of vintage Yuletide specials, such as The Christmas Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour from 1973, at midnight Christmas Eve.
It’s not all Christmas cheer. Syfy has all 156 Twilight Zone episodes Dec. 30 through Jan. 3, while Starz runs a prime block of Ash vs. Evil Dead Dec. 28-Jan. 2. Science Channel has a MythBusters marathon starting Dec. 23. Discovery has an Alaska: The Bush People marathon on Christmas Eve and a batch of Gold Rush on Christmas Day.
Fragile—It Must be Italian!
Of course one of the best known Christmas marathon traditions involves 24 hours of A Christmas Story, starting 8 p.m. on Christmas Eve. The tradition started on sister TNT in 1997 and moved to TBS in 2004. In case you missed it the last 18 years, Ralphie wants a BB gun, but nearly all of rural Indiana is convinced he’ll shoot his eye out. Mercifully, the nervous nellies do not include his father, and Ralphie's Christmas Day eye injury is a relatively minor one.
Here in New York, we have the Yule log in the fireplace on WPIX 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Christmas Day, just like they had when I was a kid. But unlike the Yules of yore, it’s in HD.