With network, cable and streaming, the modern television landscape is a vast one. Here are some of the shows, specials and movies coming to TV this week, Dec. 18-24. Details and times are subject to change.
A CHRISTMAS CAROL (1938) 6:45 p.m. on TCM. There are 16 film and TV adaptations (and counting!) of Charles Dickens’s 1843 novella, but this is one of the first. Staring Reginald Owen as Ebenezer Scrooge, this film tells the story pretty much as we all know it: Scrooge hates Christmas and mistreats his employees, including Bob Cratchit (Gene Lockhart), until a series of ghostly visitors show him the error of his ways and a vision of the future.
HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS (2000) 8:20 p.m. on Freeform. This live-action version of Dr. Seuss’s 1957 children’s book might be the most popular, with Jim Carrey donning a full-body green fur suit and a strange accent. As the people of Whoville are preparing for their favorite holiday, Christmas, the Grinch comes down from his lair on Mount Crumpit with a plan to sabotage it all — until he comes face to face with the sweet and endearing Cindy Lou Who. And (spoiler!) by the end, the Grinch’s heart grows three sizes.
THE POLAR EXPRESS (2004) 10 p.m. on AMC. As a child, I was terrified of this movie’s premise: a train pulling up outside of my house to take me who-knows-where. But by the end, I was charmed by the Christmas spirit just like everyone else. The children ride the magical train to the North Pole so that the little skeptical protagonist, Billy, can be proved wrong — Santa Claus actually is real!
IHEARTRADIO JINGLE BALL 2023 8 p.m. on ABC. The 2023 Jingle Ball show has been touring the U.S. since the beginning of December, but if you’d rather cozy up on the couch to watch instead of filing into an arena, you’re in luck. This broadcast will feature performances by Olivia Rodrigo, Usher, Nicki Minaj, SZA, Niall Horan and many more. I’m most excited to see Sabrina Carpenter perform her Christmas version of “Nonsense.”
BARBIE (2023) 9 p.m. on HBO. After a blockbuster summer at the box office, Greta Gerwig’s film has finally landed on the small screen. The movie follows Barbie (Margot Robbie) as she leaves Barbie Land and has the unfortunate realization that, outside, misogyny is alive and well; Ken (Ryan Gosling) obviously thrives. “It’s amusing when Barbie points out a billboard filled with women, mistaking them for the Supreme Court because that’s what the court looks like in Barbie Land, just with more pink,” Manohla Dargis wrote in her review for The New York Times. “However politically sharp, the gag is an unpleasant reminder of all the profoundly unfunny ways in which this world, with its visible and invisible hands, tries to control women, putting them into little boxes,” she added. For that reason, I can’t help but tear up every time I hear the movie’s anthem by Billie Eilish: “What Was I Made For?”
DICK VAN DYKE 98 YEARS OF MAGIC 9 p.m. on CBS. Dick Van Dyke is celebrating his 98th birthday with a two-hour special featuring guests who include Zachary Levi and Rita Ora as well as archival footage from “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” “Mary Poppins” and “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.”
AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER (1957) 10 p.m. on TCM. Before there was “Sleepless in Seattle,” there was this classic: Nickie Ferrante (Cary Grant) and Terry McKay (Deborah Kerr) meet on a trans-Atlantic ocean liner and strike up a friendship and maybe something more — but since they are both with other people, they decide to set a time, six months off, to meet at the Empire State Building. But when the day comes Terry doesn’t show up.
EXTENDED FAMILY 8 p.m. on NBC. There’s a new sitcom in town, and this one focuses on the peaks and pits of managing family life after divorce. Abigail Spencer and Jon Cryer play Julia and Jim, a former couple who agree that the day they divorced was the best day of their lives, but they find that co-parenting with an ex can be complicated. Episodes will air weekly in January.
CHRISTMAS EVE MASS 11:30 p.m. on NBC. Pope Francis leads the traditional annual service from St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.