Televisualist: IT'S CHRISTMAS
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Televisualist: IT’S CHRISTMAS

Each week, Torontoist examines the upcoming TV listings and makes note of programs that are entertaining, informative, and of quality. Or, alternately, none of those. The result: Televisualist.

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One day we’ll stop using Brett Lamb’s Christmas fireplace image, but today is not that day!


Monday

Given this column has mocked W’s endless lineup of terrible made-for-TV Christmas movies in recent weeks (and deservedly so, because those movies are all terrible), you would be forgiven if you thought that A Gift Wrapped Christmas was on it. The movie centres on a personal shopper (a thing only in Hollywood because most people can’t afford them, not even reasonably rich people, because paying something to buy things for you is a service reserved for the truly wasteful) who tries to get one of her clients to spend time with his kid at Christmas and maybe she falls in love with her client? But anyway, this isn’t a movie on W! It’s on Global instead! THE VIRUS IS SPREADING.

And amazingly, W airs an actual good Christmas movie tonight, The Holiday, the 2006 movie where Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz have a Christmas house-swap and then fall in love with Jack Black and Jude Law, respectively. It’s not exactly one of the Christmas classics—really, it’s not much more, plotwise, than most of the terrible made-for-TV Christmas movies we mock so regularly here. But it’s a competent romantic comedy that remembers to have actual jokes and serves as a remarkable reminder that most (not all, but most) movie stars are such because they are much more charismatic and talented than the people made-for-TV movies can afford to employ. (9 p.m.)

If you just don’t want Christmas content at all, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is on, and if all you’ve seen of this movie is one of those GIFs where Jane Russell stares appreciatively at muscular men, do yourself a solid and watch the whole movie, because it’s really quite fun.


Tuesday

CHCH has the utterly bizarre Jack Frost tonight: this family comedy, where Michael Keaton plays a man who dies in a car accident but then returns as a talking snowman, so he can spend time with his son again, is amazingly creepy and soulless even before you consider the fact that Kelly Preston is the female lead, which makes it so much worse. But seriously, it’s a movie about a dead guy who becomes a talking snowman, and the movie thinks it’s a hilarious family comedy instead of terrifyingly dead inside. It’s almost a must-watch because it’s just that inexplicable. (8 p.m.)


Wednesday

Surprisingly under most people’s radar went Arthur Christmas, the Aardman-produced kids’ animated film, which creates a surprisingly detailed mythology about the history of all the men to bear the name/title of Santa and which combines a Christmassy story about the need for Santa to live up to the legend, along with a down-to-earth one about sons and fathers and the way that relationship can be both healing and harmful simultaneously. And since it’s an Aardman flick, it has lots and lots of good gags, too. (YTV, 7 p.m.)

Jeff Dunham’s Very Special Christmas Special—you know what, just … don’t. Okay? Do that for yourself. It can be your Christmas present to yourself. If you already gave yourself a Christmas present, be extra-generous this year. (Comedy Network, 8 p.m.)


Thursday

The CBC’s annual showing of Merry Christmas Mr. Bean is, as always, a lovely treat, especially as Rowan Atkinson gets older and becomes less able to do this sort of physical comedy. Man, that’s depressing. Just skip to Mr. Bean cooking Christmas dinner already! (9:30 p.m.)


Friday

As always, Rogers 10 has the televised fireplace log. (10 a.m.)

The Queen’s Christmas Message is scheduled to last seven minutes this year, which is down from eight minutes last year. At this rate the Queen’s message will just be “Cheerio!” and a swig of gin in 2022. (Noon, CBC)

Most of this year’s NBA Christmas Day games are likely going to be one-sided affairs, but the one everybody will want to see is last year’s Finals rematch between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Golden State is, of course, well on their way to being one of the truly great teams in NBA history as they are currently a truly ridiculous 26 and 1, but Cleveland was the only team last season that even made a dent in the Warriors during the playoffs, and now they have a healthy Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love back to rejoin LeBron James (and their record of 18-7 is not shabby in the slightest for a team where everybody agrees they’re still figuring out how to play with all of their talent). Expect a basketball slobberknocker here. (Sportsnet, 5 p.m.)

It’s the Doctor Who Christmas special! Yay! Oh wait, it has River Song in it! Boo! (9 p.m.)

Speaking of Doctor Who, the BBC now usually does one to two other Christmas specials for their other most popular shows: past years have featured Christmas episodes of Downton Abbey, Top Gear, and The Great British Bake-Off. This year’s featured entry is Call The Midwife, which seems relatively simple to holiday-theme. (PBS, 9 p.m.)


The Weekend

Haven concludes after five seasons of being that one show on SyFy where there was a small town where people had weird abilities but it wasn’t Eureka. (Showcase, 8 p.m. Sunday)

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