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Must-See Holiday TV DVDs: 2009

The clock is ticking down to Christmas, and the big snowstorm in the Northeast last weekend seriously cut into your holiday shopping time? Whether you’re looking for last-minute gifts (pair several of these together for a great DIY box set) or just some good stuff to watch while curling up on a warm couch, here’s a list of more than 30 awesome Christmas-themed TV series and specials on DVD …

CARTOONS
The Original Christmas Classics (Classic Media)
Details: It’s a box set full of holiday fun, including three beloved TV specials: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman and Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town. Great songs, great characters and heartwarming storylines made these three perennial favorites and they’re collected here together with four more sweet specials: The Little Drummer Boy, Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol, Cricket on the Hearth and Frosty Returns.
Bonus Features: The box set includes a bonus CD with “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” by Burl Ives, “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” by Bobby Rydell, “Holly Jolly Christmas” by Burl Ives, “Let It Snow” by Chicago, “Winter Wonderland” by Jewel, “Merry Christmas, Baby” by Otis Redding, and, a tune that’s on my all-time top 10 Christmas songs list, “Silver & Gold” by Burl Ives, from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

A Charlie Brown Christmas on Blu-ray (Warner Home Video)
Details: Hands down, my most favorite holiday special of all time, and I know I’m not the only member of that club. And the only thing that could possibly have Charlie Brown Christmas better? A crisp Blu-ray DVD transfer.
Bonus Features: A making-of featurette, a digital copy of the special and a bonus ‘toon, It’s Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas on Blu-ray (Warner Home Video)
Details: He’s still as cuddly as a cactus, as charming as an eel, a nasty, wasty skunk whose soul is full of gunk, but now he’s all those things on Blu-ray.
Bonus Features: Audio commentary by the special’s voice artists, the Dr. Seuss and the Grinch: From Whoville to Hollywood featurette, an interview with the special’s musical composers, a featurette on the special, hosted by the late Phil Hartman, and a Who’s Who in Whoville gallery.

The Year Without a Santa Claus (Warner)
Details: Santa may be the guy in the title, but when you think about this Christmas special, isn’t it really all about Heat and Snow, the Miser brothers?
Bonus Features: Featurettes on stop-motion animation and profiles of holiday classic filmmakers Arthur Rankin Jr. and Jules Bass.

AND THE REST …
A Miser Brothers Christmas (Warner)

Curious George: A Very Monkey Christmas (Universal Home Entertainment)

Elmo’s Christmas Countdown (Sesame Street)

Elmo Saves Christmas (Sesame Street)

Thomas & Friends: Holiday Express (Lyons/Hit Entertainment)

COMEDY
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: It’s a Very Sunny Christmas (Fox)
Details: As The Gang celebrates, sorta, Christmas, flashbacks provide us with insight into how and why they became, uh, the way they are. Plus, Danny DeVito gets way naked.
Bonus Features: A Sunny sing-along, a making-of featurette and deleted scenes with Young Mac and Young Charlie.

A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All (Comedy Central)
Details: Funny guy Stephen Colbert gives his own best review, calling the special “the greatest newsman-hosted holiday special since A Walter Cronkite Tet Offensive.
Bonus Features: Alternate endings, a books-roasting-on-an-open-fire Yule log and a live-action Colbert advent calendar.

Saturday Night Live – Christmas (Lionsgate)
Details: It lacks more recent classics like “Dick in a Box,” but the DVD does include Eddie Murphy‘s Mr. Robinson’s Christmas, Adam Sandler‘s original “Hanukkah Song” performance, Alec Baldwin‘s Schweddy Balls and Ana Gasteyer‘s Martha Stewart Topless Christmas Special.

Merry Sitcom! Christmas Classics from TV’s Golden Age (Shout! Factory)
Details: Holiday-themed eps from sitcoms like Father Knows Best, The Donna Reed Show, McHale’s Navy, Bewitched, That Girl and The Flying Nun.

TV Sets: Holiday Treats (Paramount)
Details: Christmas episodes of I Love Lucy, The Honeymooners, The Brady Bunch, Taxi, Family Ties, Frazier, Wings and The Andy Griffith Show make up a DVD that any true TV sitcom fan will love.

Holiday TV Comedy Collection (Universal Home Entertainment)
Details: Awesome: Christmas episodes of The Office, 30 Rock, House, Monk and Psych.

AND THE REST …
Holiday TV Classics (Mill Creek Entertainment)

Johnny Carson Celebrates Christmas (Respond)

Christmas with SCTV (Shout! Factory)

FAMILY CLASSICS
A Christmas Story on Blu-ray (Warner Home Video)
Details: The leg lamp, Flick’s tongue on the flagpole, Ralphie’s Red Ryder … they’re all a part of this goofy, but charming family holiday tale that just gets better each time you watch it.
TV Screener Tidbit: It’s a must-own for your holiday DVD collection (especially on Blu-ray), but you can also catch A Christmas Story on its annual 24-marathon loop on TBS, beginning at 8PM ET on Dec. 24.

It’s a Wonderful Life on Blu-ray (Paramount Home Entertainment)
Details: OK, so it’s not technically a TV show or special, but, like The Wizard of Oz, It’s a Wonderful Life has become, for most of us, something we look forward to watching on TV every year at Christmastime. To finally be able to watch the movie on a great Blu-ray transfer is reason to watch it yet again, with a whole new appreciation for how a relatively simple story – the movie wasn’t a huge hit in its original release and won no Oscars – has had such a huge impact on movie fans for decades.
Bonus Features: A making-of featurette.

Little House on the Prairie – Christmas (Lionsgate)
Details: The DVD includes two Little House holiday episodes: Christmas at Plum Creek and A Christmas They Never Forgot. The first one is the Little House take on The Gift of the Magi, as Laura trades her beloved horse Bunny for a brand new stove for Ma (‘fess up – this one makes you cry!). In A Christmas They Never Forgot, the Ingalls fam is snowed in at Christmas, and they take the opportunity to share stories of Christmases past, including Caroline’s tearjerker about the year she finally accepted her stepfather into her family.

The Homecoming: A Christmas Story (Paramount)
Details: It’s the 1971 TV movie that introduced us to the Walton family, including most of the cast that would go on to star in the series based on Earl Hamner‘s autobiographical writings about his fam. John Boy? Check. Grandma and Grandpa Walton? Check? Even the Baldwin sisters and Ike Godsey pop up in the story, as mom Olivia sends oldest son John Boy off to find his missing dad on Christmas Eve.

MUSIC
Chris Isaak Christmas (Koch Vision)
Details: No musician puts on a more fun show than Isaak and his band, and it’s truly a rockin’ show as Isaak and pals Michael Bublé, Brian McKnight and Stevie Nicks run through Christmas gems like “The Christmas Song,” “White Christmas,” “Blue Christmas,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” “Santa Bring My Baby Back,” “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and the Isaak holiday original “Christmas on TV.”

The Judy Garland Holiday Special (Classic World)
Details: The 1963 Christmas episode of Garland’s TV show includes guest appearances by her daughters Liza Minnelli and Lorna Luft, as well as her pal Mel Torme, and Garland closes the episode with an amazing performance of “Over the Rainbow.”
TV Screener Tidbit: Among the holiday tunes performed during the episode: “Deck the Halls,” “Jingle Bells”, “Silent Night,” “Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”

My Christmas (Philips)
Details: Andrea Bocelli, David Foster, Mary J. Blige, Natalie Cole and Reba McEntire perform beautiful versions of Christmas classics like “What Child Is This,” “Blue Christmas” and “The Christmas Song” in this live PBS concert, taped at the Kodak Theater in Los Angeles.

Ring Christmas Bells (Mormon Tabernacle Choir)
Details: Broadway star Brian Stokes Mitchell has the perfect voice to accompany the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in this annual concert event, and Gilmore Girls fans will be thrilled, and moved, by Edward Herrmann (a.k.a. Richard Gilmore) and his narration of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow‘s “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.”

AND THE REST …
Radio City Christmas Spectacular Starring The Rockettes (Time Life Entertainment)

Happy Holidays with Bing & Frank (Arts Alliance)

Brian Setzer – Christmas Extravaganza (Surfdog Records)

A VERY CHRISTMAS CAROL CHRISTMAS DVD LIST
A Christmas Carol (Turner Home Entertainment)
Details: Patrick “Capt. Piccard” Stewart is one of, if not the, best Ebenezer Scrooges ever in this 1999 made-for-TV TNT adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic.
TV Screener Tidbit: More great casting: The Wire‘s Dominic West as Scrooge’s nephew Fred.

Bah, Humduck! A Looney Tunes Christmas (Warner Home Video )
Details: Daffy Duck is the greedy manager of the Lucky Duck convenience store, and he’s denying his employees Christmas say vacation and discounts on toys for their kids. But when Bugs Bunny pops in for some last-minute shopping, he and the store’s employees – Porky Pig, Marvin the Martian, Yosemite Sam and Speedy Gonzales – plus the ghosts of Christmases Past, Present and Future team up to convince him his money-minded ways are bad.
TV Screener Tidbit: The ghosts: Past (Tweety and Granny), Present (Yosemite Sam) and Future (Tazmanian Devil).

A Flintstones Christmas Carol (Warner Home Video)
Details: Guess which Bedrockian is the Scrooge in this version? Yep, it’s Fred, who’s taking his role as Scrooge in the local theater production of A Christmas Carol a bit too seriously. In fact, he’s become so bitten by the acting bug that he forgets to buy his fam gifts for Christmas!
Bonus Features: The DVD includes “Christmas Flintstone,” an episode from the fifth season of The Flintstones series, in which Fred gets a job as a Macyrocks Santa and has to take over for the real Santa when he gets too sick to work on Christmas Eve.

AND THE REST …
Dora the Explorer: Dora’s Christmas Carol Adventure (Nickelodeon Home Entertainment)

Barbie in a Christmas Carol (Universal Home Entertainment)

Mickey’s Christmas Carol (Disney)

The Muppet Christmas Carol (Disney)

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