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Marathon of movies, specials eases holiday blues

It’s no secret that this Christmas will be one of the toughest in years — you probably realized that the first time you wrapped a present in your Lehman Brothers stock certificates — but TV is here to help.

If your holiday budget doesn’t include the “Guitar Hero World Tour” band kit, sit the little ones down for a marathon of holiday movies and specials so they can learn the joy that can be found in a misfit toy or that the greatest gift in the world is an official Red Ryder carbine action 200-shot range model air rifle.

If things look especially bleak this year, have them watch the many animated specials where Christmas seems doomed — just be sure to change the channel before some adorable little moppets save the day.

Or, if you’re simply single, broke and depressed, there’s every guy’s favorite annual holiday celebration: “The Victoria Secret Fashion Show” (10 p.m. Wednesday, KLAS-TV, Channel 8). It’s been a tough year. You deserve it.

Here’s a look at some of the other highlights of the Christmas TV season:

NEW THIS YEAR

“Christmas in Wonderland” — Patrick Swayze and Carmen Electra star in this tale of a desperate family, a mysterious bag of cash and a pair of bumbling crooks; 8 and 10 p.m. Dec. 20, 11 a.m. Dec. 24 (ABC Family).

“Cranberry Christmas” — Barry Manilow provides the music for this animated story, which finds the residents of Cranberryport fighting to reclaim their ice skating spot; 7:30 p.m. Dec. 8, 12:30 p.m. Dec. 13 (ABC Family).

“Little Spirit: Christmas in New York” — The likes of Danny DeVito and Lucy Liu lend their voices to this animated tale featuring music by “Spring Awakening” composer Duncan Sheik; 8 p.m. Dec. 10 (KVBC-TV, Channel 3).

“A Miser Brothers’ Christmas” — Snow Miser and Heat Miser are back in this animated spinoff of “The Year Without a Santa Claus”; 8 p.m. Dec. 13, 7 p.m. Dec. 19, 12 p.m. Dec. 21, 7 p.m. Dec. 24 (ABC Family).

“A Muppet Christmas: Letters to Santa” — Kermit and the gang must deliver missing mail to the North Pole, with the help of Uma Thurman, Petra Nemcova, Steve Schirripa and others; 8 p.m. Dec. 17 (Channel 3).

ANIMATED SPECIALS

“A Charlie Brown Christmas” — 8 p.m. Dec. 8, 8 p.m. Dec. 16 (KTNV-TV, Channel 13)

“Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas” — 8:30 p.m. Monday (Channel 13)

“Frosty Returns” — 8:30 p.m. Dec. 12 (Channel 8)

“Frosty the Snowman” — 8 p.m. Dec. 12 (Channel 8)

“Frosty’s Winter Wonderland” — 7 p.m. Friday, 7 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Dec. 13, 3 p.m. Dec. 24 (ABC Family)

“A Garfield Christmas” — 7 p.m. Dec. 9, 12 p.m. Dec. 13 (ABC Family)

“I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown” — 8 p.m. Dec. 15 (Channel 13)

“Jack Frost” — 10 p.m. Dec. 10, 1 p.m. Dec. 13, 7 a.m. Dec. 14 (ABC Family)

“The Little Drummer Boy” — 9 a.m. Dec. 13 (ABC Family)

“The Little Drummer Boy Book II” — 9:30 a.m. Dec. 13 (ABC Family)

“Mickey’s Christmas Carol” — 7 p.m. Dec. 10, 7 p.m. Dec. 16 (ABC Family)

“Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey” — 11:30 a.m. Dec. 13 (ABC Family)

“Olive the Other Reindeer” — 8 p.m. Dec. 9 (KVMY-TV, Channel 21)

“Rudolph & Frosty’s Christmas in July” — 2 p.m. Dec. 13, 1 p.m. Dec. 24 (ABC Family)

“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” — 8 p.m. Wednesday (Channel 8)

“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Island of Misfit Toys” — 9 p.m. Dec. 11, 7 p.m. Dec. 15, 8:30 a.m. Dec. 21 (ABC Family)

“Rudolph’s Shiny New Year” — 9 p.m. Dec. 10, 7 p.m. Dec. 11, 5 p.m. Dec. 13, 7:30 a.m. Dec. 21, 4 p.m. Dec. 24 (ABC Family)

“Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town” — 8 p.m. Dec. 10, 6 p.m. Dec. 13, 10 a.m. Dec. 21, 5 p.m. Dec. 24 (ABC Family)

“Shrek the Halls” — 8 p.m. Monday, 8 p.m. Dec. 22 (Channel 13)

“‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” — 7 p.m. Dec. 8, 10:30 p.m. Dec. 11, 4 p.m. Dec. 13, 7 a.m. Dec. 21, 3:30 p.m. Dec. 24 (ABC Family)

“Winnie the Pooh and Christmas Too” — 7:30 p.m. Dec. 10, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 16 (ABC Family)

“The Year Without a Santa Claus” — 8 p.m. Dec. 11, 7 p.m. Dec. 13, 11 a.m. Dec. 21, 6 p.m. Dec. 24 (ABC Family)

MOVIES

“A Christmas Story” — 8 and 10 p.m. Wednesday (TNT); 24-hour marathon begins at 8 p.m. Dec. 24 (TBS)

“Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas” — 8 and 10:30 p.m. Monday, 8 and 10:30 p.m. Dec. 18, 8 p.m. Dec. 24 (ABC Family); 8 p.m. Friday (Channel 13)

“Elf” — 8 p.m. Dec. 20 (Channel 8)

“Eloise at Christmastime” — 8:30 p.m. Dec. 7 (ABC Family)

“The Family Man” — 5 p.m. Dec. 20, 3 p.m. Dec. 25 (ABC Family)

“Home Alone” — 8 p.m. Dec. 10 (Channel 21)

“It’s a Wonderful Life” — 8 p.m. Dec. 13, 8 p.m. Dec. 24 (Channel 3)

“Jingle All the Way” — 8 p.m. Dec. 8, 3 p.m. Dec. 20 (ABC Family)

“The Nightmare Before Christmas” — 2:30 a.m. Dec. 23 (TBS)

“The Polar Express” — 6 and 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, 6 and 8:30 p.m. Dec. 22 (ABC Family)

“The Santa Clause” — 10 p.m. Thursday (TBS)

“The Santa Clause 2” — 8 p.m. Dec. 14 (Channel 13); 8 and 10 p.m. Dec. 19 (ABC Family)

“A Very Brady Christmas” — 9 p.m. Dec. 20 (ABC Family)

“White Christmas” — 6 and 9 p.m. Dec. 23, 12 p.m. Dec. 25 (ABC Family)

Christopher Lawrence’s Life on the Couch column appears on Sundays. E-mail him at clawrence@reviewjournal.com.

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