Is there such a thing as too much Christmas? We may find out this year, with more channels than ever competing to offer the most Christmas programming, airing the first movie around Halloween and counting down to an avalanche of cookies and trees and Santa.
In addition to the Hallmark Channel, ABC Family and Lifetime, three traditional purveyors of Christmas fare, UP (the renamed Gospel Music Channel) and ION (available in St. Louis on DirecTV, Dish and U-verse) also have slates of original movies this holiday season.
So much Christmas programming is running on so many channels, in fact, that listing it all is impossible. I’ve broken my annual holiday guide down by “must-see” films, movies that are new this season and new specials. In Friday’s Go! Magazine, you’ll find the list of Christmas favorites, from the Grinch to Charlie Brown, plus more classic movies — including the many versions of “A Christmas Carol.”
Bear in mind that some programs get many repeats, and not all show times will be listed. Check the channels’ own websites and the links at the end of this column for full schedules.
OUR TOP 10 MUST-SEE MOVIES
“The Bishop’s Wife” • 1 p.m. Dec. 15 and 12:15 a.m. Dec. 25 on TCM.
“Christmas in Connecticut” • 7:30 p.m. Thursday on Hallmark Movie Channel; 1 p.m. Dec. 22 and 7 p.m. Dec. 24 on TCM.
“A Christmas Story” • (marathon), 7 p.m. Dec. 24 on TBS.
“Elf” • 5:20 and 8:20 p.m. Thursday on Encore; 9:35 a.m. and 6:20 p.m. Nov. 30 on Starz. (The contemporary Christmas favorite airs only on these premium channels this year, so you may need to get the DVD.)
“Holiday Affair” • 8 p.m. Wednesday, 3 p.m. Thursday and 8 a.m. Dec. 25 on Hallmark Movie Channel; 11:15 a.m. Dec. 15 and 7 p.m. Dec. 17 on TCM.
“It’s a Wonderful Life” • 7 p.m. Dec. 14 and 24 on NBC.
“Miracle on 34th Street” (1949) • After years in the public domain, the Natalie Wood classic is nowhere to be found this season, although the 1994 remake is on the HBO tier. But the original can be found On Demand or on DVD.
“Meet Me in St. Louis” • 7 p.m. Dec. 23 and 8:15 a.m. Dec. 24 on TCM.
“National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” • 9 p.m. Dec. 3 on ABC Family.
“Remember the Night” • 8:45 p.m. Dec. 17 on TCM.
NEW MOVIES THIS SEASON
“Catch a Christmas Star” • 12:30 p.m. Dec. 25 on Hallmark. Shannon Elizabeth is a mega-watt pop star who reunites with her first love (Steve Byers), thanks to his two cute kids.
“Christmas in Conway” • 8 p.m. Dec. 1 on ABC. In a Hallmark Hall of Fame tearjerker, a man (Andy Garcia) decides to build a full-size Ferris wheel in his backyard as a Christmas gift to his wife (Mary-Louise Parker), who is dying of cancer. Mandy Moore is the wife’s hospice nurse.
“Christmas in the City” • 7 and 11 p.m. Dec. 7 on Lifetime. A single mom (Ashley Williams) takes a job in a big-city toy department, but a consultant (Ashanti) ruins the spirit of Christmas for the whole store.
“Christmas on the Bayou” • 7 and 11 p.m. Dec. 14 on Lifetime. Hilarie Burton is a workaholic New Yorker who takes her young son home to the bayou for Christmas with her mother (Markie Post) in a romance with Tyler Hilton as her old boyfriend. Randy Travis also stars, with Ed Asner as Papa Noel.
“The Christmas Ornament” • 9 p.m. Wednesday, 5 p.m. Dec. 1 and 8 p.m. Dec. 25 on Hallmark. Kellie Martin is a new widow with a passion for baking Christmas cookies and Cameron Matheson is a tree-lot owner in a romance with Jewel Staite as the best friend.
“The Christmas Spirit” • 7 p.m. Dec. 1 on Hallmark. Nicollette Sheridan must save her small town from a greedy real estate developer even though she’s in a coma in a drama with Bart Johnson and Olympia Dukakis.
“Dear Secret Santa” •7 and 11 p.m. Dec. 1 on Lifetime. Tatyana Ali gets a surprise from a secret admirer in a fantasy with Lamorne Morris, Jordin Sparks, Bill Cobbs, Della Reese and Ernie Hudson.
“Finding Christmas” • 7 p.m. Dec. 15 on Hallmark. Two men swap houses at Christmas and find love, but is it just a holiday fling? The romance stars Tricia Helfer, JT Hodges, Mark Lutz and Cristina Rosato.
“Fir Crazy” • 7 p.m. Thursday and 1 p.m. Saturday on Hallmark. A marketing executive (Sarah Lancaster) finds herself unemployed at Christmas and winds up selling Christmas trees — and attracted to a customer (Eric Johnson). Colin Mochrie plays her boss.
“Guess Who’s Coming to Christmas” • 6 p.m. Dec. 8 on UP. A rock star tries to repair his tarnished image by granting a fan’s “Dear Santa” Christmas wish in a musical dramedy with Drew Lachey, MacKenzie Porter and Matt Ward, with original music and a duet between Lachey and Porter.
“Hats Off to Christmas” • 7 p.m. Dec. 14 on Hallmark. Haylie Duff is the assistant manager of a Santa hat factory, who’s passed over for the top job and asked to train the boss’ son, Nick (Antonio Cupo).
“Holiday Road Trip” • 8 p.m. Dec. 1 on ION. Employees of a pet supply company take a prize dog on a social media tour just before Christmas in a comedy with Ashley Scott, Patrick Muldoon and Uggie (the dog from “The Artist”).
“Let It Snow”•7 p.m. Nov. 30, 7 p.m. Dec. 5 and 9 p.m. Dec. 17 on Hallmark. A chilly executive (Candace Cameron Bure) trying to please her even chillier father (Alan Thicke) sets out to close a family-owned ski resort, but she’s swept off her feet by Christmas traditions, and the handsome son (Jesse Hutch) of the family.
“My Santa” • 8 p.m. Friday on ION. A single mother (Samaire Armstrong) finds her faith in Christmas restored by a mall Santa with ties to the real deal in a romance with Matthew Lawrence, Julie Brown, Jim O’Heir and Paul Dooley.
“The Santa Switch” • 7 p.m. Dec. 7 on Hallmark. Santa (Donovan Scott) leaves an unemployed dad (Ethan Erickson) in charge at the North Pole in a fantasy with Sean Astin as the head elf.
“Silver Bells” • 6 p.m. Dec. 1 on UP. Bruce Boxleitner is a competitive dad whose drive for the win is changed when he’s sentenced to community service with the Salvation Army.
“A Snow Globe Christmas” • 9 p.m. Dec. 14 on Lifetime. A cynical TV exec (Alicia Witt) knocks herself out with a snow globe and winds up in a perfect town, married (to Donald Faison) with two kids. The fantasy also stars Christina Milian and Trevor Donovan.
“Window Wonderland” • 5 p.m. Wednesday and 7 p.m. Dec. 16 on Hallmark. New York department store clerks Sloan and Jake (Chyler Lee and Paul Campbell) compete to win the top window-decorating job in a romantic charmer with Naomi Judd as her mother and Cameron Matheson as the man who’s wrong for Sloan.
“CMA Country Christmas” • 8 p.m. Dec. 3 on ABC. Jennifer Nettles returns as host of the annual special, featuring performers including Trace Adkins, Mary J. Blige, Luke Bryan, Sheryl Crow, Lucy Hale, Hunter Hayes, Lady Antebellum, Kellie Pickler and Rascal Flatts, plus Charlie Brown, Lucy and Linus.
“Christmas in Rockefeller Center” • 7 p.m. Dec. 4 on NBC. Performers at the tree-lighting include Mary J. Blige, Toni Braxton, Mariah Carey, Kelly Clarkson, Goo Goo Dolls, Ariana Grande and Jewel.
“The Sound of Music ” • 7 p.m. Dec. 5 on NBC. Carrie Underwood is Maria, with Steven Moyer (“True Blood”) as Capt. Von Trapp, in a live production of the 1959 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, which differs from the more familiar Julie Andrews-Christopher Plummer movie. Audra McDonald, Laura Benanti and Christian Borle also star.
“The Great Christmas Light Fight” • 8 p.m. Dec. 9 on ABC. For something a little different, ABC stages a five-episode competition in which 20 families try to outdo one another in decorating their homes and yards. A total of $250,000 in prize money will be handed out.
“Michael Buble’s Third Annual Christmas Special” • 9 p.m. Dec. 18 on NBC. Buble is joined by Mariah Carey. Mary J. Blige and Cookie Monster on songs including “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” and “Let It Snow.”
“I Love Lucy 1950s Christmas Special” • 7 p.m. Dec. 20 on CBS. The rarely seen “Lucy” Christmas episode, from 1956, has been colorized and paired with the “Lucy’s Italian Movie” episode, in which Lucille Ball stomps grapes.
“Christmas in Washington” • 7 and 10 p.m. Dec. 20 and 1 a.m. Dec. 21 on TNT. The Christmas concert, in its 30th year, benefits the Children’s National Medical Center.
“Silent Night” • 2 p.m. Dec. 22 on PBS. An opera (sung in five languages, with English subtitles) tells the true story of the World War I Christmas Eve truce by French, German and Scottish soldiers. The opera, based on the movie “Joyeux Noel,” was commissioned by the Minnesota Opera and won a 2012 Pulitzer Prize for composer Kevin Puts.
“Matthew Morrison: A Classic Christmas Live From the Bushnell” • 10 p.m. Dec. 23 on PBS. The “Glee” star performs Christmas songs and standards, from “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” and “O Holy Night” to “The Lady Is a Tramp.”
“Christmas With the Mormon Tabernacle Choir” • 8 p.m. Dec. 24 on PBS. Tenor Alfie Boe (“Les Miserables”) and others perform holiday favorites from the LDS Conference Center. Also on hand: Tom Brokaw.
“Christmas at Belmont 2013” • 10 p.m. Dec. 24 on PBS. Mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves is host of the annual production of traditional carols, classical works and seasonal favorites, from Nashville.
“Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade” • 9 a.m. Dec. 25 on ABC. Parades are taped at Disneyland in California and Disney World in Florida.
“Call the Midwife Holiday Special” • 6:30 p.m. Dec. 29 on PBS. At Christmas 1958, the nuns and nurses of Nonnatus House celebrate a wedding, flee an unexploded bomb and battle polio in a special that bridges the gap before the new season begins in March.