view from the couch

by kellie abrahamson
tv talk
Right after Thanksgiving, it happens- the Christmas season begins. Gone are the pumpkins and pilgrims, replaced overnight by trees decorated in twinkling lights and halls are decked in boughs of holly. For some the transition from fall foliage to winter wonderland can be a jolt. I am one of those people. It takes me a while to get in the Christmas spirit, and that’s no fun for all the fa-la-la-loonies in my family. Because I don’t want to be a bummer, this year I’m getting fully immersed in holiday cheer early. I’ll be incorporating some of the best Christmas movies ever made into my television repertoire. Here’s a handful of holiday DVDs I’ll be watching this month.

Gremlins (1984, Rated PG-13) What better way to transition into the happiest season of all than with a movie about a crew of mischievous reptilian critters rampaging in the snowy streets of a picturesque town? Gremlins has been one of my favorites for as long as I can remember and the holiday setting makes it ideal for watching on a sleepy December night.
A Christmas Story (1983, Rated PG) My family and I have made A Christmas Story one of our holiday traditions. We watch it at least a dozen times between the first of December and Christmas morning. Little Ralphie’s quest for a red Rider BB Gun never, ever gets old.
Elf (2003, Rated PG) A modern-day classic, Will Ferrell is hilarious as Buddy the Elf, a human who was raised in the North Pole and only knows toy-making, meals consisting of sugary treats and vehicles powered by Christmas spirit.
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989, Rated PG-13) Clark Griswold’s constantly under-minded efforts to have a “good, old-fashioned family Christmas” always put me in a good mood. It’s the ultimate holiday schadenfreude flick.
It’s A Wonderful Life (1946, Not Rated) When all else fails, there’s always It’s a Wonderful Life. One of the greatest movies ever made, Frank Capra’s holiday staple is a heartwarming tale that will almost always turn a Scrooge into a carol-singing, Santa hat-wearing Christmas nut.

what’s hot in december
PREMIERES Want to see washed up “celebrities” go through withdrawal symptoms? Look no further than VH1’s Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew which returns on December 1st. • A cappella groups from all over the US will compete for a chance at stardom on the second season of NBC’s The Sing-Off (December 6). As lame as this show sounds, I might check out a couple of episodes if only to see judge Ben Folds is more a “Simon” or a “Paula.” • TNT’s Emmy nominated series Men of a Certain Age is back for its second season on December 6th. • Finally, the only game show worth watching, Minute to Win It, is back beginning December 7th on NBC. Beware: you will become addicted to this show if you tune in.

FINALES Three of my favorite shows are wrapping up their seasons this month: Boardwalk Empire (HBO) and The Walking Dead (AMC) end on December 5th and Dexter (Showtime) finishes on December 12th. It bums me out that my Sundays won’t include these terrific shows anymore but because they’ve all been picked up for new seasons it’s hard to be too devastated. See you all next year! • Fox isn’t being as kind to The Good Guys. The buddy cop comedy series has yet to be officially renewed for season two which is sad because it’s a really great show. The season finale is on December 10th. Here’s hoping the ratings are good enough to justify more episodes. • USA becomes a bit more barren this month with the season finales of Burn Notice (December 16) and Psych (December 22). Both shows just returned last month so it feels like we’re saying goodbye a bit too soon. • Off-kilter comedy It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia wraps up its sixth season on December 16th but don’t worry, we’ll see the gang again next year. • Finally on December 27th Fox will air what’s likely to be the final episode of Mitchell Hurwitz’s latest series Running Wilde. While not as genius as Arrested Development, the show was pretty darn hysterical at times. It’s sad to that Fox is, once again, not allowing decent sitcoms a chance to find an audience.

SPECIALS For the third year we’ll be treated to an entertaining show as this year’s Grammy nominees are announced courtesy of The Grammy Nominations Concert Live!- Countdown to Music’s Biggest Night (CBS) on December 1st. Thus far performers include Justin Bieber, B.o.B, Miranda Lambert and Katy Perry with LL Cool J serving as host. • On December 6th an actual awards show will take place on Fox: The American Country Awards. • Barbara Walters takes over ABC on December 9th with two specials: Oprah, the Next Chapter and Barbara Walters Presents the 10 Most Fascinating People of 2010. Optional drinking game: take a shot every time she makes someone cry. • Looking to add some holiday cheer to your television routine? Check out these fine Christmas specials: Christmas Cupid (ABC Family original telefilm- December 12), Mariah Carey: Merry Christmas to You (ABC- December 13), Christmas in Washington 2010 (TNT- December 17), The 12th Annual a Home for the Holidays (CBS- December 22). • Last but not least, if you plan to ring in the New Year in the comfort of your own home, you have a couple of options: NBC’s New Year’s Eve with Carson Daly (NBC), New Year’s Eve Live! (Fox), Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest (ABC), Anderson Cooper 360: New Year’s Eve (CNN).

dvd releases
Inception (PG-13)
Shrek Forever After (PG)
Restrepo (R)

Despicable Me (PG)
The A-Team (PG-13)
The Town (R)
Nanny McPhee Returns (PG)
The Other Guys (PG-13)
Legend of the Guardians- Owls of Ga’hoole (PG)

Salt (PG-13)
Easy A (PG-13)
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (PG-13)
Step Up 3 (PG-13)
Devil (PG-13)

Resident Evil: Afterlife (R)
The American (R)
Twelve (R)
Legendary (PG-13)