Here’s what’s up in the world of TV for Thursday, December 25. All times are Eastern.
Doctor Who (BBC America, 9 p.m.): Doctor Who’s rather somber season finale featured several major deaths and saw the Doctor and his companion part ways for good. Naturally it’s up to Santa to fix all that. Nick Frost slips into the boots of jolly Old Saint Nick to lend his comedic chops to a darker take on the character (who may or may not turn out to be an evil robot or something). Plus Clara reunites with the Doctor, and an alien (potentially the one from Alien) haunts the North Pole. “Last Christmas” is being billed as funny, scary, and heartbreaking, which are coincidentally the words Alasdair Wilkins uses to describe Christmas every year.
Call The Midwife (PBS, 8 p.m.): Considering Christmas is technically a birthday party, it makes a certain amount of sense that Call The Midwife is airing a new episode tonight. This specials centers not on the birth of Jesus Christ, but on Nonnatus House in the swinging ’60s. Groovy.
Black Mirror (DirecTV, 9:30 p.m.): Jon Hamm joins this sci-fi anthology series for its Christmas special. The Huffington Post already declared it, “the darkest thing you’ll watch this Christmas,” which was the perfect way to entice Zack Handlen into watching and reviewing it for us.
Vicious (PBS, 9:30 p.m.): Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi return as a snippy couple living out their golden years in this excellent multi-camera sitcom. This time around, the duo host a Christmas party only to see it devolve into a game of truth or dare. Brandon Nowalk recommends avoiding both truths and dares around the holidays.
How The Grinch Stole Christmas (ABC, 8 p.m.): This 1966 animated special retells Dr. Seuss’ Christmas classic with the help of some whiz-bang songs. It’s far superior to Jim Carrey’s 2000 feature film, which we wouldn’t touch with a 39-and-a-half-foot pole.
12 Men Of Christmas (Lifetime, 8 p.m.): Human Christmas bauble Kristin Chenoweth plays a headstrong New York City publicist who winds up arranging a half-naked calendar featuring the men of a search and rescue team in Montana. It should be noted that 12 Men Of Christmas is one of the more logically-plotted Lifetime Christmas originals.
Elf: Buddy’s Musical Christmas (NBC, 9 p.m.): Jim Parsons voices Buddy in this stop-motion animation retelling of Elf, which features songs from the Broadway musical adaptation. Erik Adams found the special charming but slight, which makes it the perfect thing to watch in your post-dinner, wine-filled haze.
Diners, Drive-Ins And Dives (Food Network, 9 p.m.): Guy Fieri’s hair celebrates “hometown heroes” in one of the only non-Christmas themed new episodes to air tonight.
Christmas Icetastrophe (SyFy, 9 p.m.): For those who want something a little bleaker to balance out all that holly jolly joy, SyFy’s holiday-themed offering packs in all the disaster movie tropes when an asteroid hits a small town on Christmas.
A Christmas Story Marathon (TBS/TNT, all day): Pull up two screens and watch twice as many all-day marathons of A Christmas Story.
Little Women (TCM, 4 p.m.): Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without this 1933 adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s beloved book.
Elf (ABC Family, 7 p.m.): For those who prefer their Elf with a live-action Will Ferrell rather than an animated Jim Parsons, ABC Family is the place to be.
Home Alone (ABC Family, 9 p.m.): Then stick around ABC Family for this story of parental neglect and suburban crime.
Bad Santa (MTV, 10 p.m.): Here’s some holiday fare that’s a little more (wait for it) naughty. For those on the dark side, consider alternating between Bad Santa and the second half of SyFy’s Christmas Icetastrophe.
Football has long been the sport of choice for the Thanksgiving holiday, and basketball is now trying to stake claim in the Yuletide season. Jump on the bandwagon with any of these high profile games:
NBA Basketball: Wizards at Knicks (ESPN, 12 p.m.)
NBA Basketball: Cavaliers at Heat (ABC, 5 p.m.)
NBA Basketball: Lakers at Bulls (TNT, 8 p.m.)
College Basketball: Diamond Head Classic (ESPN, 8:30 p.m.)
TV Club Editor/Muppet expert Erik Adams branches into the world of film as he sings the praises of The Muppet Christmas Carol for our 12 Days Of Non-Denominational Winter Holidays. Light the lamp, not the rat!
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!