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Top 5: Holiday specials on TV for Christmas week

Remote control? Check!

Cell phones on vibrate? Check!

Musty old Santa hats for each family member? Aww, do we really gotta? Yes!

It's the week of Christmas, so practically every night there's a sleighful of holiday programming on TV. Starting tonight and flying straight through until after the last morsel of roast beast is consumed on Christmas night, there is hardly an hour without some tribute to St. Nick on the tube. And that's not even counting the marathon of A Christmas Story starting Christmas Eve on TBS.

But don't worry, we narrowed our wish list down to just five shows you can't miss this holiday season.

1. A Christmas Carol (8 tonight, AMC) For those who have not seen the 1951 Alastair Sim version, then this 1984 version starring George C. Scott will have to do. The late Scott knew how to scowl (you saw him in Patton, right?) so Ebenezer Scrooge comes across as even more mean than usual. But Tiny Tim — and those three ghosts — turn him around.

2. The Nightmare Before Christmas (8 p.m. Tuesday, Disney Channel) Really, would you ever want Tim Burton to tell your kid a bedtime story? I mean, come on, a shrunken head as a Christmas gift? You might as well get ready for the kids to be in your bed for the next 15 years.

3. The Polar Express (10 p.m. Wednesday, ABC Family) Admit it: The motion capture process used to film this 2004 runaway train hit (and this year's A Christmas Carol ) is a little creepy. But the story of a boy who boards a magical train that ends up at the North Pole is much loved. And with Tom Hanks in so many roles, you might think that he drank some of Eddie Murphy's eggnog.

4. It's a Wonderful Life (8 p.m. Christmas Eve, NBC) "Mary, don't you know me?" George Bailey wails as he fights to get his life back after Clarence teaches him a lesson he'll never forget. Of course, what we fail to remember is that those scenes are only about 20-30 minutes of the movie (stretched out by commercials). So much more happens before he considers suicide. One thing: Can we smack Uncle Billy upside the head? Really, it's all his fault.

5. Phineas and Ferb Christmas Vacation (2:45 p.m. Christmas Day, Disney Channel) After seeing all the classics, try a new one. This show about stepbrothers who torment their older sister by building crazy contraptions that their parents never see is a hoot. For Christmas, they want to do something special for Santa. But they nearly don't get the chance when everyone in their town of Danville is on the naughty list. Well, the brothers are naughty but in a good way.

Top 5: Holiday specials on TV for Christmas week 12/21/09 [Last modified: Monday, December 21, 2009 8:31am]
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