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Sean Daly, Michelle Stark and Sharon Kennedy Wynne

Five of the best Christmas specials you've probably never seen

There are plenty of must-see (and see again) holiday specials, but what about those never-seen gems? We've compiled some of our favorite holiday shows you've likely never heard of that you should put on your DVR right now, or more likely, reserve on Netflix.

Click here for the full list.

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Here's the trailer for Sunday's midseason finale of 'The Walking Dead'

AMC and the folks on The Walking Dead are promising that "some will fall" during Sunday's midseason brouhaha between Rick & Co. and the Governor & Co. The last time the One Eyed Gov went after the prison, the bloodshed and brouhaha were minimal, a total letdown. Showrunner Scott Gimple and the writers have had a topsy-turvy one-step-forward season, but despite their creative indecision, they must know they need to doink someone. You can't keep having wars without casualties. That said, I have a feeling that Hershel's going down. Whenever a character represents goodness and hope -- well, they usually bite the dust. Dale, Sophia, that nice hippie couple a couple weeks ago. With Hershel 86'd, the show can follow that dark, doomy path that Gimple and his cohorts so want to go down. Besides, if they jettison Michonne or Daryl, this season's already dipping ratings are going to nosedive.

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Holiday TV specials: When to watch 'Grinch’, 'It’s a Wonderful Life’, 'Charlie Brown’ and more

The Grinch in all his grinchiness.

ABC

The Grinch in all his grinchiness.

When can you see the Grinch? How about A Charlie Brown Christmas? We've got you covered. Click here for the list of holiday TV specials, including everything from It's a Wonderful Life to Frosty the Snowman to National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.

CBS already aired Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer on Tuesday, before any of us were ready, so keep this list handy so you don’t miss the rest of your holiday favorites. Plus, there are three new specials to work into the rotation for when Frosty’s hat is looking a bit worn. As always, be sure to check your local listings for channels and schedule changes. List runs this weekend through Christmas.

 

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Look for Tarpon Springs native Bertie Higgins on the Hallmark Channel

Every time a bell rings during the holiday season, it seems a yesteryear star takes wing on TV.

On Sunday it’s '70s recording star, scrappy filmmaker and Tarpon Springs native Bertie Higgins (Key Largo), whose latest movie Christmas in Hollywood will be featured during that town’s holiday parade, televised live on the Hallmark Channel.

No release date has been set for the reported $4 million production, although a spokeswoman said television deals are being negotiated.

According to a news release, Christmas in Hollywood is the story of a young boy (Chinese recording “sensation” Jiang Zi Long) discovering the “true spirit of Christmas” with the help of Black Bart the pirate (Higgins) and Erik the elf (Darren Dowler, current lead singer of Paul Revere and the Raiders). The retro radio casting doesn’t end there; we also spotted John Ford Coley in the cast. But no England Dan.

Higgins and Dowler co-directed Christmas in Hollywood, and are listed among its four screenwriters. Higgins' most recent release under his Cayo Largo Productions banner was 2011’s The Colombian Connection, starring Tom Sizemore, that premiered in Palm Harbor under the title Through the Eye. …

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'Agents of SHIELD' ratings level off, proving writers are figuring it out

For a minute there, this show was going to become another languid, talky procedural. Now it's actually good.

ABC

For a minute there, this show was going to become another languid, talky procedural. Now it's actually good.

We're nine episodes into ABC's favored fall child Agents of SHIELD, and the network has some good news: The show's ratings freefall seems to have finally stopped. It looks like having Melinda May hooking up with Grant Ward really did the trick.

The show posted a 2.5 percent rating in the 18 to 49 demo on Tuesday, which means it actually ticked upward from the previous week's 2.4, Entertainment Weekly says. That's saying a lot, since it had been steadily dropping since premiering at an unreal 4.7. This week it even fended off an assault by the annual showing of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer on CBS, which won the night with a 3.0.

But forget all that technical ratings talk. The show itself really has gotten better. It started out with an A-Team with superheroes vibe, then sort of meandered around in comic book X-Files territory, but has lately really found its footing by creating some intrigue.The writers seem to have figured out your characters need to be more than comic book tropes to be engaging, so everyone has suddenly gotten a lot more complex.Full Story

Traveling music courtesy of 'Planes, Trains & Automobiles' (on CW44 tonight at 8!)

All together now: "Those aren't pillows!"

All together now: "Those aren't pillows!"

A few months ago, I had the chance to interview Steve Martin, who was coming to St. Pete with his banjo gang. I was instructed to keep the chat focused on music, but at the very end, I snuck in a quick thank-you for 1987's Planes, Trains & Automobiles, the Thanksgiving road movie written and directed by the late, great John Hughes and co-starring the equally missed John Candy. It was THE bonding flick for my father and me; we'd quote it constantly ("What do you think the temperature is?" "One.")

Martin was quick in his you're-welcome comments, talking about what a special shoot it was, and how he's glad the movie has become so special for so many. (He failed to mention if he ever tires of random people shouting "Those aren't pillows!" at him this time of year.) Anyway, in a just world, a world in which there really is a Dooby's Taxiola, Planes, Trains... would be just as revered, as essential, a holiday classic as the Peanuts cartoons and A Christmas Story. Tune in to CW44 tonight (Wednesday) at 8 p.m. to celebrate Del Griffith, shower-curtain ring division, once again.

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5 gift ideas for TV-loving couch potatoes

Since I love shopping in my jammies online instead of elbowing rabid Black Friday shoppers out of the way, DVDs and TV-themed gifts are a great solution. But what's new and cool this year? Have no fear, dear reader. We've got you covered. Put on something flannel and shop-surf with us because there's some goodies for Breaking Bad fans, comedy lovers and a Dr. Who twist on Yahtzee. …

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MSNBC fires Alec Baldwin, cancels talk show 'Up Late' after homophobic slurs

His show wasn't even two months old.

Getty Images

His show wasn't even two months old.

Alec Baldwin's latest temper tantrum has cost him his new MSNBC talk show, with the network announcing Tuesday they would be ending their relationship and canceling Up Late with Alec Baldwin. Maybe it's time for those anger management classes.

"We are jointly confirming that Up Late will not continue on MSNBC," the network and Baldwin rep Matthew Hiltzik said, according to NBC News. "This is a mutual parting and we wish Alec all the best," MSNBC said.Full Story

'The Hungry Games': Sesame Street's killer 'Catching Fire' spoof

If I were a superstar, and Vanity Fair asked me to take the Proust Questionnaire, and I had to answer who my hero was, I'd totally say: "Cookie Monster." That's a good life right there. Reliable paycheck, googly eyes, delish addiction -- plus the blue dude's comedic chops are top-notch. Just look at his awesome new 'Catching Fire' spoof. (Peeta is now a talking piece of pita bread! Love it!) Bless those smartaleck saints at Sesame Street for raising our kids right. And bless you Cookie for all that you do. You've earned those morsels, my friend. You've earned them.

 

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Sexy Sneak Peek: Glee's Jonathan Groff in new HBO dramedy 'Looking'

You might remember Jonathan Groff as the duplicitous, but dreamy, Jesse St. James on Glee, where the Broadway star was reunited with Spring Awakening pal Lea Michele. In January, the 28-year-old Lancaster, Pa., native will get his shot at a bigger, potentially breakout, TV role, starring in HBO dramedy Looking. The series, which launches Jan. 19, follows a wise-cracking crew of gay men seeking love and lust in modern-day San Francisco. Sad but true zinger: "Instagram filters have ruined everything and I can’t tell if this guy is hot or not." Here's the steamy trailer:

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VIDEO: Watch what Miley Cyrus did last night on the American Music Awards

Miley performs at the AMAs.

Getty Images

Miley performs at the AMAs.

So, Miley Cyrus performed on an awards show last night. And it was interesting. What'd you expect?

Miley showed up in barely any clothes, natch, to close out the American Music Awards on Sunday with her hit Wrecking Ball. The weird part? She performed with a giant  cat floating onscreen behind her. On a scale of Miley weirdness, we give it a 4 out of 10.

We do wish Miley would tone down the antics a bit because, even though she doesn't have the best voice, she always sounds pretty great on this song, and we thought she gave a typically good vocal performance last night. Watch the video below. (Plus, come on, Wrecking Ball is unbelievably catchy!)

You'll have a chance to see if Miley twerks with giant cat heads when she performs at this year's Jingle Ball on Dec. 18 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

 

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'The Walking Dead' S4 Ep7: Golf lessons with the Governor

Fore Play: The Governor works on his "slice" with Martinez

AMC

Fore Play: The Governor works on his "slice" with Martinez

"I should have taken some golf lessons." WHAM! And all was right with the world. Perhaps the Governor (aka One Eyed Bri aka Brian Heriot aka the worst golf coach ever) was in a "fugue state" a la Breaking Bad's Walter White last week, when The Walking Dead's most awesomely heinous villain was suddenly a decent chap, shuffling about seeking solace and redemption.

Because THIS week, after a few creepy "pumpkins" with his newfangled daughter Megan, the Gov shockingly returned to form -- and so did the No. 1 show on cable TV. Gadzooks, gorehounds. These have been woefully uneven days in the zombie apocalypse, but hoo boy, did Episode 7 deliver with chills and thrills (and underwater zombies, always a good sign). The Gov was rescued from a pit of undead awfulness by old lieutenant Martinez, who warily took his old boss into a new safehaven. Bad for you; good for us. …

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What to watch this week: Thanksgiving specials, 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas', 'The Voice'

ABC

This week for our top TV picks, it's all about Thaksgiving, especially the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Where else can you see the Big Apple Circus, Jimmy Fallon, Joan Jett, the cast of Sesame Street and host Matt Lauer's fledging beard in the same event? And don't forget about the Peanuts' Thanksgiving special and, yes, even the Grinch makes an appearance. Next Sunday is Dec. 1, after all.

Click here for the full list of what to watch this week.

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Could Bill Engvall win 'Dancing with the Stars'?

Bill Engvall and his partner Emma.

ABC

Bill Engvall and his partner Emma.

We knew something was off during this season of Dancing With the Stars when cancer patient Valerie Harper, a contestant right in this show’s emotional wheelhouse, was voted off way back in October during week four.
But we didn’t know that this would go on to be one of the weakest, most boring seasons this show has had.

So what’s the problem?

The biggest issue this season doesn’t seem to fall with the show, but with the voting audience. Lots of people who were actual good dancers left far too early. Major contenders Brant Daugherty and Elizabeth Berkley (who easily could have won the whole thing) were inexplicably voted off in recent eliminations. And you might not like Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi, but she did not deserve to leave the competition weeks before so-so dancer Leah Remini.

Sure, this show has never been a straight-up talent competition. A contestant needs a certain emotional connection with the show’s voters or tabloid fodder to advance. But the only reason we still watch DWTS is to see good dancers become great, and great dancers shimmy their way into the finale. …

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Miley Cyrus taking over eight hours of MTV

For Miley's 21st birthday MTV is handing her the keys to the channel on Saturday.

For Miley's 21st birthday MTV is handing her the keys to the channel on Saturday.

I'm a fervent Miley supporter (okay, maybe a little less tongue, girl) but even I think this is excessive: MTV is handing the network over to the entertainer for eight hours Saturday to celebrate her 21st birthday.

Miley and her new bleached eyebrows will host the festivities, natch, which start at noon with the debut of 21 Candles: Miley’s MTV Moments. The special will celebrate the 21 reasons why fans loves Miley, and feature celebrities and fans giving birthday shout-outs. Cyrus will appear throughout the special to reflect on her career and what’s to come in her 21st year.

Then MTV will re-air its Miley: The Movement documentary featuring new commentary from the birthday girl before she introduces and hosts two of her favorite MTV shows, Awkward and Snooki and JWOWW. Check out a clip from 21 Candles below.

 

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