What to Watch: 12/20/2015

A bright Chritmas story, a dark tale of marriage, and some classy homes…

NAVANI’S PICK:
Christmas Land [Hallmark, 8p]
I haven’t reached my small-town-appeal-wins-over-the-big-city Christmas movie quota yet so thus here we are. Grab your hot cocoa and watch as a woman set on getting rid of the Christmas tree farm she inherited has a change of heart once she goes there and spends some time with the townies.

KATHERINE’S PICK:
The Affair [Showtime, 10 p]
The season two finale includes a “startling admission!” Watch out, Noah.

JASON’S PICK:
Great Houses with Julian Fellowes [PBS, 8p]
A fellow who knows a thing or two about writing for great houses has been giving a tv tour of hallowed homes. He wraps up with a three-centuries old Sussex spot, as the countdown to Downton’s final days ticks on.

WHAT TO WATCH: 12/19/2015

KATHERINE’S PICK:
Scrooged [AMC, 7p]
SCROOGED!

NAVANI’S PICK:
The Wiz Live! [NBC, 8pm]
For anyone who missed it the first time you get another chance to catch Queen Latifah, Mary J. Blige, David Alan Grier, Ne-Yo, Common and Elijah Kelley bring the land of Oz to life in this soulful musical.

JASON’S PICK:
Undercover Boss [CNBC, 9p]
Ultra-slow night, so a limo company owner driving his own hired cars is as fun as anything else on.

8 Alternative Christmas Films

Christmas is soon upon us, and we now find ourselves knee-deep in holiday specials. But if you find The Sound of MusicToy Story, and Harry Potter unfathomable (having a Christmas scene does not a Christmas movie make), ABC Family and Hallmark nauseating (hear, hear!), and the traditional fare boring (looking at you, Die Hard), I have a bevy of weird and alternative titles at the ready.

  • The Silent Partner (1978)
    Elliott Gould tries to stop a bank robbery planned by the mall’s Santa and played by Christopher Plummer. I present a clip below in my effort to make this one in a classic. (Amazon Video)
  • Reindeer Games (2000)
    Dennis Farina, Gary Sinise, Ben Affleck, Isaac Hayes, and Danny Trejo are among the cast in this explosion-filled film featuring a group of santas robbing a casino. (Amazon Video)
  • The Tower (2012)
    I’ll let IMDb handle this one succinctly:”A Christmas Eve party at a luxury residential building takes a horrific turn when a fire breaks out.” (Amazon Video)
  • Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010)
    In this Finnish film, the true Santa is excavated from his icy grave and proves to be less saintly than believed. (free on Amazon Video with a Tribeca Shortlist subscription)
  • Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1965)
    This science fiction comedy is a classic in its own right, thanks to Mystery Science Theater 3000. (Amazon Video, Hulu)
  • Santa Claus (“Santa Claus vs The Devil”) (1959)
    Rated with even less prestige than …the Martians, Santa fights the devil with the aid of the wizard Merlin. (Amazon Video, Internet Archive, and occasionally TCM)
  • Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)
    Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer star in this under-the-radar noirish comedy which has since inspired a quiet, cult following and fanfic. RDJ is a petty thief who unwittingly poses as an actor auditioning for a role and is paired with Kilmer’s private investigator as he investigates a possible suicide. (Amazon Video)
  • Santa Claus: The Movie (1985)
    The least weird of the bunch, except that it stars Dudley Moore as a kind, then scheming, then conciliatory elf. Nevertheless, my sisters were forced to watch this in the Crying Room of the theater, and never let me forget it, so I would be remiss to leave out my first film.

What to Watch: 12/18/2015

Billboard honors women in music, magic is found in that old felt hat, and Joel McHale ends his run as the fourth host of The Soup as the quirky reality highlight show wends to its inexplicable end (presumably so E! can katch up to yet more Kardashians).

NAVANI’S PICK:
Billboard Women in Music 2015 [Lifetime, 8pm]
This serves as the ultimate year-end top list honoring the most successful women in all facets of the music industry during a swanky New York City event complete with performances. This year’s honorees include:  Lady Gaga, Loretta Lynn, Brittany Howard, Selena Gomez, Lana Del Rey, Fifth Harmony, Demi Lovato and Kelsea Ballerini.

KATHERINE’S PICK:
Frosty the Snowman [ABC, 8p]
The animated classic is followed by Frosty Returns at 8:30.

JASON’S PICK:
The Soup [E!, 10p]
After two decades and four hosts (yes, I know technically they were two different shows, but let’s be real), The Soup ends its reign of terror over the dregs of reality. And James Van der Beek is there!

What to Watch: 12/17/2015

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The return of the conquering Idris, and a day of OFF leads our editors’ picks for this Thursday.

NAVANI’S CHOICE:
Luther [BBC, 9p]
Our favorite dysfunctional cop is back and in this season premiere we find him trying to try to live on the straight and narrow. After losing Ripley, Luther wants to live a nice, quiet normal life with his boo – one sans finding dead people bleeding through the ceiling and such. Seems like an easy enough plan until the streets of London start a calling again.

JASON’S PICK:
Luther [BBC, 9p]
Couldn’t agree more. Luther’s back and off the force in Season 4…so, now what?

KATHERINE’S PICK:
The Simpsons [FX, All Day]
This is the one night a week FX airs hours and hours of America’s First Family.

What to Watch: 12/16/2015

It’s rather slim pickings as we wend our way towards yuletide; however, what our editors do uncover lies more on the naughty side of Santa’s ledger. There’s a definite theme of bad people doing bad deeds. Well, see below.

JASON’S PICK:
American Horror Story: Hotel [FX, 10p]
In last week’s episode title she wanted revenge, and in this week’s she gets revenge — and whatever Gaga wants, Gaga gets, and given that it’s the holidays and a three-week pause, the payback will likely be colorful (mainly blood-red) and given the show, glamorously gory. AHS has been its usual ridiculous this fifth season, but still is one hell of a palate to gaze upon.

NAVANI’S PICK:
Bad Santa [MTV, 8p]
Holidays are not complete without watching this crude, unlikely Christmas classic that revolves around Billy Bob Thonton as a boozy con artist who steals from the stores he works as Santa in. Bonus points for the nostalgia of seeing Bernie Mac and John Ritter again.

KATHERINE’S PICK:
What Would You Do? [A&E, 11p]
Nothing restores my faith like people ganging up on a meanie harassing a woman at a bar.

What to Watch: 12/15/2015

While the Walking Dead continue to march ever onward on CNN, we recommend keeping your sanity with stories of a late salsa superstar, a legendary newscaster with a child’s eye, along with a challenge of what would you do when hatred, bigotry, antiquated notions rear their ugly head in public (no, not a second reference to the Republican debate)…

KATHERINE’S PICK:
Hello, I Must Be Going: 25 Years of Nick News with Linda Ellerbee [Nick, 8p]
Linda Ellerbee, the woman who taughts me the 5Ws, is retiring. Tonight’s Nick News finale is a look back at Ellerbee’s glorious 25 years in Nick News journalism.

NAVANI’S PICK:
Celia [Telemundo, 8pm]
While the Republican Presidential Debate puts the kabosh on most primetime programming it’s business as usual on Telelmundo, where the musical journey of Salsa superstar Celia Cruz continues now the midst of the Cuban revolution.

JASON’S PICK:
What Would You Do? [A&E, 11p]
John Quinones and crew travel to lands that are about a half century behind (apparently) as they test out reactions when an interracial couple is harassed and when a boy’s father teases him for buying a doll. While we’re certain YOU’D do the right thing, let’s see what the people at these actual locations do.