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TV Wasteland: Christmas Blues

Syfy turns 20, and holiday movies dominate.

By Rob Vaux     December 10, 2012

It’s a brand new week, as Christmas movies take center stage and a certain cable station with whom we have a perennial love-hate relationship turns 20. Let’s take a look.
 

Monday

Syfy 20th Anniversary Special (Syfy, 9:00 PM EDT)
The once and former Sci-Fi Channel celebrates two decades of name changes, crappy CGI and baffling programming choices. Oh all right, they also produced Farscape, Stargate SG-1, BSG, Warehouse 13 and tons of other great shows (the cast and crew of whom come back to reminisce).
 
Miracle on 34th Street (AMC, 8:00 PM EDT and 10:15 PM EDT)
If you need something to get you in the holiday spirit, AMC offers a true classic about a department-store Santa (Edmund Gwenn) who may actually be the real thing. It repeats on Tuesday and Thursday at the same times.
 
The Adjustment Bureau (Cinemax, 6:35 PM EDT)
This glorified Twilight Zone episode – about an up-and-coming politician (Matt Damon) separated from the woman of his dreams by a group of weird guys in hats – shouldn’t work half as well as it does. Go figure.
 
Hop (Cinemax, 8:20 PM EDT)
Because nothing says “Christmas” more than a shitty Easter movie.
 
Jumper (FMC , 8:00 PM EDT and 10:00 PM EDT)
This little turkey had “basic cable staple” written all over it from the get-go.
 
In Time (HBO, 7:00 PM EDT)
How did Justin Timberlake become so legitimately cool?
 
WarGames (Sundance, 7:00 PM EDT)
Matthew Broderick and Ally Sheedy take us back to the glorious days of the 1980s, when you could start World War III with a TRS-80.
 
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (Syfy, 6:00 PM EDT)
Harrison Ford dusts off the fedora for a fourth time, as Indy thwarts Communist agents in the paranoia-laden 1950s.
 
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (Starz, 6:35 PM EDT)
Who knew a theme park ride could make such a terrific movie?
 
Die Hard (HBO, 10:00 PM EDT)
Now this is a Christmas move.
 

Tuesday

Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town (ABC, 8:00 PM EDT)
Another of Rankin-Bass’s classic stop-motion Christmas specials uncovers the history of Santa Claus, as he and his elfin buddies deliver toys over the objections of cranky grown-up Burgermeister Meisterburger.
 
Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa (The CW, 9:00 PM EDT)
Kermit and the gang accidentally divert three letters destined for the North Pole, then try to correct them mistake in their usual chaos-laden manner.
 
Green Lantern (Cinemax, 10:00 PM EDT)
Is there anything more depressing than a Part One franchise killer?
 
Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (HBO, 8:00 PM EDT)
Dear Jules Verne: we’re sorry we didn’t fight harder to keep this from getting made.
 
Cowboys and Aliens (HBO, 10:30 PM EDT)
Daniel Craig, you really let us down here. I wonder if there’s another movie out there to make us forgive you…
 
Casino Royale (BBC America, 8:00 PM EDT)
That will do nicely. It repeats on Wednesday at 6:00 PM EDT.
 
Quantum of Solace (Syfy, 9:00 PM EDT)
Not quite as good as Casino Royale, but what are you gonna do?
 
Underworld: Awakening (Starz, 9:00 PM EDT)
It’s hard not to pick on a movie called "Awakening" that can put you to sleep so easily.
 
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Starz, 10:30 PM EDT)
Again with the Daniel Craig! Is it his birthday or something?
 
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (Syfy, 6:30 PM EDT)
The crew of the Enterprise lets their hair down for a fun-filled romp in 20th century San Francisco. Leonard Nimoy directed.
 
Also, TCM has a double-feature of classic westerns: The Magnificent Seven at 8:00 PM EDT and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly at 10:15 PM EDT. 
 

Wednesday

Arrow (The CW, 8:00 PM EDT)
It’s a Very Queen Christmas as Oliver throws a part to brighten up the household. What are the odds that Deathstroke will come down the chimney dressed as Santa and kill everyone?
 
American Horror Story: Asylum (FX, 10:00 PM EDT)
Lana discovers something that could get Kit off the hook.
 
X-Men: First Class (Cinemax, 9:00 PM EDT)
The sequel is getting more exciting by the minute, but this entry’s pretty damn good too.
 
Taken (FX, 8:00 PM EDT)
Lots of naughty little boys get a gun barrel in the face, courtesy of Santa’s hitman, Liam Neeson.
 
Finding Nemo (Starz, 9:00 PM EDT)
Once upon a time, Pixar could literally do no wrong.
 
Also, a number of channels are featuring 12.12.12, a benefit concert for victims of Hurricane Sandy. Tune in and donate a few bucks if you’re of a mind.
 
 

Thursday

The Big Bang Theory (CBS, 8:00 PM EDT)
It’s a new episode, it has a Christmas theme… and that’s all we got.
 
 Burn Notice (USA, 10:00 PM EDT)
Michael gets stuck in a warehouse that turns into a death trap when he can’t find a way out.
 
Last Resort (ABC, 8:00 PM EDT)
The Chinese show up, with a deal for Chaplin if he’s willing to take it.
 
Elementary (CBS, 10:00 PM EDT)
Thieves bust into a supposedly un-bust-in-able vault, and Holmes is on the case.
 
The Vampire Diaries (The CW, 8:00 PM EDT)
Jeremy gets a handle on his internal shit at the Gilbert Lake House, while the town celebrates the holidays.
 
Beauty and the Beast (The CW, 9:00 PM EDT)
Cat’s dad is getting married and she needs to scare up a date for the wedding. I’m guessing Vincent is off the list.
 
Star Trek (FMC, 8:00 PM EDT)
We hit the reboot button in glorious fashion with J.J. Abrams’ awesome reimagining of the venerable franchise.
 
Star Trek: The Next Generation Marathon (Syfy, 10:00 AM EDT)
Syfy beams up with Jean-Luc Picard and the crew all day. There’s some good stuff in there, so check it out if you’re of a mind.
 
Escape from L.A. (IFC, 8:00 PM EST)
Less a movie than an unnecessary victory lap, this sequel still finds some agreeable moments. And who doesn’t love Snake Plissken?
 
DeepStar Six (IFC, 10:15 PM EDT)
Oh boy. They’re ramping this turkey up for an extended run on IFC…
 
Red (Showtime, 7:30 PM EDT)
Old people still kick ass. Or so Bruce Willis and his surprisingly scary companions maintain.
 

Friday

Fringe (Fox, 9:00 PM EDT)
Walter turns to illicit drugs to help him remember a way to stop the Observers. On this show, that actually makes sense.
 
Haven (Syfy, 10:00 PM EDT)
A series of mysterious murders plague Haven’s high school, where both Nathan and Duke attended.
 
Batman Returns (BBC America, 9:00 PM EDT)
Believe it or not, this is a Christmas movie.
 
Chronicle (Cinemax, 10:00 PM EDT)
This is why teenagers with superpowers is a really bad idea.
 
Disney’s A Christmas Carol (Disney, 8:00 PM EDT)
Robert Zemeckis’s stop-motion version of the venerable tale loses a lot of charm, but makes up for it in novelty value.
 
Surrogates (FMC, 8:00 PM EDT and 10:00 PM EDT)
Bruce Willis stars in a science fiction thriller about a world where everyone is a shut-in and relies on robotic duplicates of themselves to function. It sounds cooler than it is.
 
Your Highness (HBO, 10:00 PM EDT)
Stoner fantasy epic + slumming Oscar winner = total crap.
 
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (TNT, 8:00 PM EDT)
You can use the first part of Peter Jackson’s epic trilogy to assuage your disappointment in The Hobbit.
 

Saturday

Transformers (ABC, 8:00 PM EDT)
A Michael Bay movie? For the holidays? Okay…
 
Elf (CBS, 8:00 PM EDT)
Will Ferrell stars as a human man raised by elves in another of a rapidly evolving series of holiday classics.
 
Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (Cartoon, 7:00 PM EDT)
The high point of Robert Zemeckis’s career comes with a live-action animated mash-up, in which hard-boiled detective Bob Hoskins teams up with cartoon star Roger Rabbit to solve a mysterious murder.
 
X-Men Origins: Wolverine (FX, 6:00 PM EDT)
It’s not fantastic, but it is very loyal and respectful towards the characters. That goes a long way in my book.
 
The Dead (Syfy, 6:30 PM EDT)
An Air Force lieutenant crash lands in an African country where the dead are returning to life, then joins forces with a local to try and survive.
 
Dead Season (Syfy, 9:00 PM EDT)
Syfy’s zombie night continue with another pair of survivors who arrive on a tropical island, only to discover that the inhabitants are pretty scary on their own.
 

Sunday

Dexter (Showtime, 9:00 PM EDT)
The season finale finds Dexter on the verge of being exposed.  I wouldn’t put it past this show to go ahead and out him, just to fuck with us.
 
A Christmas Carol (AMC, 8:00 PM EDT and 10:30 PM EDT)
George C. Scott absolutely rocks the house as Ebenezer Scrooge in one of the best versions of the story ever made.
 
Friday the 13th: A New Beginning and Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (IFC, 7:00 PM EDT and 9:00 PM EDT)
IFC schedules the absolute dregs of the Friday the 13th franchise. Fairly warned thee be says I.
 
Alien Resurrection (Cinemax, 6:45 PM EDT)
The franchise came to a screeching halt right here, despite the fact that it’s not a bad movie at all.
 
Fantastic Four (FMC, 8:00 PM EDT and 10:00 PM EDT)
Chris Evans got another shot at the Marvel Universe and made the most of it. Good on him. Still doesn’t make this one any good.
 
Underworld: Rise of the Lycans (Syfy, 7:00 PM EDT)
The best Underworld movie doesn’t even involve Kate Beckinsale… odd since she’s usually the best thing about all the other movies.
 
Blade II (Syfy, 9:00 PM EDT)
Guillermo del Toro directed. Just sayin’
 
Angel Heart (Sundance, 10:15 PM EDT)
It wouldn’t be Christmas without a blood-soaked sex scene featuring Mickey Rourke.

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

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hanso 12/10/2012 2:00:56 PM

 I would like to recommend a book to anyone that is into TV.  It's called "The Revolution Was Televised" by Alan Sepinwall who writes for Hitfix.

The book has a chapter for The Sopranos, The Wire, Oz, Deadwood, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Battlestar Galactica, 24, The Shield, Lost, Mad Men and Breaking Bad.  I may be leaving out a few more.  Basically it talks about how these TV shows were changing the game.  Good stuff.

Wiseguy 12/10/2012 2:10:15 PM

Uh-oh it sounds like Rob saw The Hobbit and didn't like it. My anticipation for this wasn't as great as LOTR and some of the reviews really tempered it even more. I think that's a good thing, at least for me

Wiseguy 12/10/2012 2:18:44 PM

Sounds like an interestring read hanso but my tv cheated on me so I'm not into her as much now.

HitFix is one of my go-to sites so glad Sepinwall wrote something well received
 

hanso 12/10/2012 2:36:38 PM

Yeah, Hitfix is cool and I like reading Sepinwall's TV recaps.  Checkout the book if you get a chance, its a collection of essays.  Not that expensive if you got a kindle or a kindle app.  I think I paid $7 or $8 and the print version was like $10 more.  I'm not a big reader but I thought it was entertaining and learned a few fun facts.  Like for example, if they had done a 6th season of the Wire it would've involved Latinos, and the role of McNulty got turned down by John C. Reily.

Wiseguy 12/10/2012 3:01:24 PM

Yeah you know I never thought about it but yeah where the hispanics at in Baltimore.

I think I would've liked JC Reilly. For some reason I never liked Dominic West and may have been the reason I disliked his character on the show

SarcasticCaveman 12/10/2012 3:27:53 PM

 Ugh...why did they have to show the colorized version of "Miracle on 34th St." - colorization is WAY worse than coverted 3-D!

SarcasticCaveman 12/10/2012 3:32:36 PM

 I also find it humorous that Rob is forecasting disappointment for a movie that hasn't even come out yet while not mentioning the extreme stinkiness from that Crystal Skull turd.

hanso 12/10/2012 3:53:24 PM

 Rob has probably seen the movie or read the reviews so far, which make it seem like a disappointment i would guess just from seeing the RT score.

SarcasticCaveman 12/10/2012 7:26:43 PM

 I'm still unsure how RT can have a fair score of anything that hasn't been seen by the masses yet...

karas1 12/11/2012 7:34:51 AM

I watched the Syfy special last night and enjoyed it very much.  I've watched every program that they covered.  I think there was one program that they mentioned in passing which I wasn't familliar with.

And I miss most of the shows that they talked about.  A lot.

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