Holiday TV list, check it twice

Mira Sorvino stars as the title character of

Mira Sorvino stars as the title character of Lifetime's "Finding Mrs. Claus." (Credit: Lifetime)

Hurry! You've already missed the TV premieres of a dozen new Christmas / Hanukkah movies! And a fresh prime-time holiday episode! Not to mention "It's a SpongeBob Christmas!," another new animated seasonal special, three perennial faves, and, and ...

Trying to catch all this seasonal TV can leave anyone breathless.

But the true yule essentials are yet to air this holiday season, and we're here to tell you when.

Keeping track is crucial. Gone are the days of '90s sitcom jokes on "Married ... With Children" and "Roseanne" about TV's seemingly nightly screenings of public-domain Christmas flicks "A Christmas Carol" and "It's a Wonderful Life."

You're not alone if you've somehow managed to miss their TV airings over the past few years. With rights holders having re-established jurisdiction over the once free-for-all offerings (thanks to underlying rights for music, restoration and other angles), these perennials' ubiquity has diminished. They're now true tube events, being run each year just once (Alastair Sim's beloved 1951 British filming of "A Christmas Carol" on AMC) or twice (James Stewart's guardian angel in "It's a Wonderful Life" on NBC).

So a highlights alert like this one has become a must for Christmas TV freaks. (Do I need to add, "like me"?) Planning your viewing, or at least your DVR settings, is worth doing to avoid that sinking feeling of finding that "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" has already run. Even with DVDs at our disposal, lots of folks still like sitting down to watch holiday faves at the same time, sharing that seasonal sentiment with others around the country.

Failing that, the growth of streaming video allows the option of sharing in a more staggered way. Check out your own online options -- Netflix now streams classic specials ("Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol") and movies ("White Christmas"), while Hulu is stocked with vintage Christmas episodes you can't find elsewhere ("Hill Street Blues," "Picket Fences," "Cagney & Lacey," "Lassie").

Other tube-centric sites get festive, too. TheWB.com shows holidays from "The Jetsons" to late-night spoofer "MADtv" to "The O.C." (Chrismukkah!) Many TV network websites are offering both vintage Christmas favorites (NBC.com's "Magnum, P.I.," CBS.com's "The Brady Bunch") and recent airings.

ABCFamily.com should be streaming last Monday's new holiday hour of "The Secret Life of the American Teenager." And those already-aired Christmas / Hanukkah movie debuts from Hallmark and Lifetime will again pop up on those channels throughout the festive season.

Holiday TV never dies. It just repeats away.

New holiday programs

MUSIC

Great Performances: Rod Stewart: Merry Christmas Baby (Monday, 8 p.m., PBS/13) Michael Buble, Mary J. Blige, CeeLo Green

Christmas in Rockefeller Center (Wednesday, 8 p.m., NBC/4) Live tree-lighting with Stewart, Green, Mariah Carey

Blake Shelton's Not-So-Family Christmas (Dec. 3, NBC/4) Kelly Clarkson, Miranda Lambert, Reba McEntire

Michael Buble: Home for the Holidays (Dec. 10, NBC/4) Stewart, Shelton, Carly Rae Jepsen

CMA Country Christmas (Dec. 20, ABC/7) Lady Antebellum, Dierks Bentley, Colbie Caillat, Katherine Jenkins, John Legend

Christmas in Washington (Dec. 21, TNT) Annual concert

MOVIES

Home Alone: The Holiday Heist (Sunday night, 8, ABC Family) New sequel with Ed Asner, Malcolm McDowell

Hitched for the Holidays (Sunday night, 8, Hallmark) Hanukkah/Christmas with Joey Lawrence, Marilu Henner

Finding Mrs. Claus (Dec. 2, Lifetime) Mira Sorvino

12 Disasters of Christmas (Dec. 8, Syfy) Mayan predictions

The Mistle-Tones (Dec. 9, ABC Family) Tia Mowry, Tori Spelling

Christmas With Holly (Dec. 9, ABC/7) Hallmark Hall of Fame movie

Merry In-Laws (Dec. 16, Lifetime) Shelley Long, George Wendt

ANIMATION

Shrek the Halls (Nov. 27, 8 p.m., ABC);

It's a SpongeBob Christmas! (Dec. 6, Nickelodeon) -- Cable gets cartoon that just debuted on CBS.

DreamWorks' Dragons: Gift of the Night Fury (Dec. 17, Fox/5) Faith, love, friendship half-hour

Annual favorites

MOVIES

It's a Wonderful Life (Saturday, 8 p.m., also Dec. 24, NBC / 4)

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (Dec. 3, 24, 25, ABC Family)

Miracle on 34th Street (Dec. 9-13, AMC) -- 1947 original

White Christmas (Dec. 14- 16 on AMC)

A Christmas Carol (Dec. 16, TCM) -- Alastair Sim 1951 classic

A Christmas Carol (Dec. 16- 18, AMC) -- George C. Scott 1984 TV movie

The Santa Clause (Dec. 22, 24, ABC Family) -- Tim Allen in all three films

A Christmas Story (Dec. 24, TBS)

ANIMATED SPECIALS

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Tuesday, 8 p.m., also Dec. 25, ABC / 7)

A Charlie Brown Christmas (Wednesday, 8 p.m., also Dec. 18, ABC / 7)

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (Dec. 4, CBS / 2)

Prep & Landing specials (Dec. 9, ABC / 7)

Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town (Dec. 11, ABC / 7)

Rankin-Bass animation marathon (Dec. 15, ABC Family)

I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown (Dec. 20, ABC / 7)

Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol (Dec. 22, NBC / 4)

OTHER SPECIALS

SNL Christmas (Wednesday, 9-11 p.m., NBC / 4)

A Fairly Odd Christmas (Friday, 8 p.m., Nickelodeon) New live-action hour with Drake Bell, Daniella Monet

A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa (Dec. 11, CW / 11)

Yule Log (Dec. 25, 9 a.m.- 1 p.m., WPIX/11; 5-9 a.m., Antenna TV) -- Fireplace and holiday songs, first aired in 1966

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