TV

Holiday TV specials on the way

At this time every year, TV programmers serve up shiny, new holiday-themed fare, only to have viewers discard most of it like crumpled wads of gift wrap. When it comes to seasonal fare, the stuff that's new rarely generates the same interest as the tried-and-true.

"It's tough to break through the crowd," says Matt MacDonald, a producer for "Yes, Virginia," which debuts Dec. 11 on CBS. "A lot of specials in recent years have failed to stick around. Everyone seems to love the classics from the 1960s."

"Yes, Virginia," featuring the voice talents of Neil Patrick Harris, Jennifer Love Hewitt and Alfred Molina, is one of this season's "rookies" trying to seize some attention. It's a computer-animated offering that revisits the late-1800s tale of little Virginia O'Hanlon, who wonders if Santa Claus really exists. She eventually writes a letter to the New York Sun newspaper, which responds with an editorial that has become part of Christmas lore.

Here's a rundown of some of television's prime-time holiday highlights. Take note that many of the cable programs will receive multiple airings.

Holiday Hall of Fame

* "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas," 7 p.m. Dec. 23, ABC.

* "A Charlie Brown Christmas," 7 p.m. today, Dec. 8 and 24, ABC.

* "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," 7 p.m. Wednesday and Dec. 12, CBS.

* "The Year Without a Santa Claus," 7 p.m. Dec. 8, ABC Family.

* "Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town," 7 p.m. Dec. 7, ABC.

* "Frosty the Snowman," 7 p.m. Dec. 18, CBS.

New for the kids

* "Disney's Prep & Landing," 7 p.m. today and Dec. 16, ABC.

* "Yes, Virginia," 7 p.m. Dec. 11, CBS.

Big-screen evergreens

* "A Christmas Carol," 1938 version, 7 p.m. Thursday, TCM.

* "The Polar Express," 7:30 p.m. Thursday, ABC Family.

* "White Christmas," 7 p.m. Saturday, AMC.

* "It's A Wonderful Life," 7 p.m. Dec. 12 and 24, NBC.

* "A Christmas Story," 24-hour marathon showings begin 7 p.m. Dec. 24, TBS.

Gifts that keep giving

* "Mickey's Christmas Carol," 6 p.m. Dec. 8, ABC Family.

* "A Muppets Christmas: Letters To Santa," 7 p.m. Dec. 11, NBC.

* "The Flight Before Christmas," 8 p.m. Dec. 12, CBS.

* "Frosty Returns," 7:30 p.m. Dec. 18, CBS.

Freshly wrapped flicks

* "Debbie Macomber's Mrs. Miracle": Doris Roberts plays a heaven-sent housekeeper who gives a fractured family an unforgettable holiday, 7 p.m. Dec. 5, Hallmark.

* "12 Men of Christmas:" Kristin Chenoweth plays a PR exec who raises temperatures in a Montana town with a hunk-filled calendar, 8 p.m. Saturday, Lifetime.

* "Christmas in Canaan:" Billy Ray Cyrus stars in tale about two boys who form an unlikely friendship in the 1960s, 7 p.m. Dec. 12, Hallmark.

* "The Christmas Hope:" A social worker (Madeleine Stowe) bends the rules and takes in an orphaned child, 7 p.m. Dec. 12, Hallmark.

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