THE BEST TV TO BINGE ON THIS CHRISTMAS
For decades, TV networks have used Christmas as a dumping ground. Viewers would scan program guides in a desperate attempt to find something — anything — worth a look.
The networks treated viewers with disdain, but no more. In 2015, everyone seems to have upped their game. There is a feast of tempting treats across the free-to-air channels as well as Foxtel and the streaming services.
Here is my pick of the best Christmas fare.
CHRISTMAS EVE A CHRISTMAS CAROL CHANNEL 7, NOON
Charles Dickens’ timeless Christmas tale about the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge gets a 2009 computer-animated motion-capture update from Robert Zemeckis ( Back to
the Future). Voiced by an all-star cast of Jim Carrey, Colin Firth, Gary Oldman, Robin Wright, and Bob Hoskins.
FROZEN CHANNEL 7, 7PM
Fall under the spell of Anna, Princess of Arendelle, voiced by Kristen Bell, in this hit Disney animated feature. Be prepared for the fact that you and the kids will be singing Let it Go for the remainder of the festive season.
FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL CHANNEL 7, 9.15PM
This British comedy is one of those movies you can watch 100 times and still find plenty of laughs. Bumbling Brit Charles (Hugh Grant) is smitten by Yank Carrie (Andie MacDowell). The pair keeps meeting at major life events.
CAROLS BY CANDLELIGHT CHANNEL 9, 8PM
Pull out the glow sticks. Aussie superstar Delta Goodrem heads the list of performers at Vision Australia’s 78th Carols by Candlelight. Lisa Wilkinson and David Campbell host with family favourites including Anthony Callea, Tim Campbell, Marina Prior and this year’s winner of The
Voice, Ellie Drennan.
MRS DOUBTFIRE CHANNEL 10, 8PM
The death of Robin Williams only makes the screening of this iconic family favourite even more affecting. Divorced Daniel Hillard (Williams) misses his children Lydia, Chris and Natalie so much that he dresses in drag to become exwife Miranda’s (Sally Field) new nanny.
GREMLINS GO! 7.30PM
This Steven Spielbergproduced horror comedy is the perfect Christmas antidote. When Billy Peltzer (Zach Galligan) receives a small furry mogwai as a gift, he is told never to get it wet. A spilt glass of water starts the mayhem.
CHRISTMAS DAY THE GOOD DINOSAUR PIXAR SPECIAL CHANNEL 7, 7AM
This behind-the-scenes look at Pixar’s latest animated movie,
The Good Dinosaur, is guaranteed to keep the kids occupied while you knock down a quick breakfast coffee to face a frantic day.
ROYAL VARIETY PERFORMANCE 2015 ABC, 7.30PM
Prince Harry is at London’s Royal Albert Hall to watch an all-star line-up of talent including Elton John, Kylie Minogue, One Direction, Ricky Martin, Little Mix, The Corrs, Brandon Flowers, Josh Groban, and Kacey Musgraves. You want more? There is also the cast of Mary Poppins and Cirque Du Soleil.
SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE CHANNEL 7, 8.30PM
Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan are a winning combination in this romantic comedy-drama from Nora Ephron (the writer of
When Harry Met Sally).
Reporter Annie Reed (Ryan) tracks down widower Sam Baldwin (Hanks) after his son Jonah (Ross Malinger) calls a talk-radio show to help his dad find romance.
JAMIE’S FESTIVE FEAST CHANNEL 10, 7PM
In Britain it is winter so Jamie Oliver’s Yuletide festive feast includes oozy cheesy pasta, Bloody Mary beef, breakfast waffles, hot chocolate, tacos, pork kebabs, and Keralan fish curry. Not quite your average Christmas fare.
A MOODY CHRISTMAS COMEDY CHANNEL, 5PM
Six back-to-back episodes of this very funny cult Aussie comedy that follows the romantic travails of Dan Murphy (Ian Meadows), dumped by his girlfriend just as he is returning home for Christmas.
CHRISTMAS IN VIENNA 2015 FOXTEL ARTS, 9PM
All right, it’s time for a bit of culture. Soloists Angelika Kirchschlager, Valentina Nafornita, Piotr Beczala, and Artur Rucinski, and the ORF Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Erwin Ortner, bring you a program of classical greats from Vienna’s Konzerthaus.
GLEE: THE 3D CONCERT MOVIE ELEVEN, 9.30PM
The stars of first two seasons, including Lea Michele, Chris Colfer, Kevin McHale, Heather Morris, Amber Riley and, sadly, the late Cory Monteith, toured the USA in
Glee’s the summer of 2011. This fun concert special includes hits I’m a Slave 4 U, Raise Your Glass, Teenage Dream, and Lucky.
IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE FOX CLASSICS, 8.40PM
This gets my vote ( just over the 1947 Miracle on 34th Street) as the greatest Christmas movie of all time. Jimmy Stewart plays troubled dad George Bailey, who experiences a crisis of faith. Time for guardian angel Clarence Odbody (Henry Travers) to step in and show George the meaning of life.
MARY: THE MAKING OF A PRINCESS CHANNEL 10, 10PM
Many critics would start making jokes about Ten’s repeat of Mary: The Making of a
Princess being the perfect Christmas turkey but I’m not one of them. An unashamed melodrama, Ten’s telemovie is boosted by a winning performance by Emma Hamilton as Mary Donaldson. Worth a second look.
MODERN FAMILY CHANNEL 10, 6.30PM
Modern Family is famous for its
Halloween episodes but this Christmas episode is very funny too. Jay (Ed O’Neill) and Manny (Rico Rodriguez) struggle to chop a tree in the wild, Gloria (Sofia Vergara) is having mum troubles with Pilar (Elizabeth Pina), and, most amusingly, Haley (Sarah Hyland) and Alex’s (Ariel Winter) jobs at the mall go pear-shaped when Santa does a runner.
BOXING DAY CRICKET SECOND TEST — AUSTRALIA V WEST INDIES CHANNEL 9, 9.30AM
With the Windies out of form, the experts are predicting the Boxing Day Test will be a onesided affair. As long as it is the Aussies that are dominating, who cares, I say.
GIRLS FOXTEL BOX SETS, FROM 11.30AM
The first two seasons of Lena Dunham’s critically acclaimed comedy-drama about selfobsessed wannabe writer Hannah Helene Horvath is just the tonic after a packed Christmas Day.
THE SYDNEY TO HOBART YACHT RACE CHANNEL 7, 12.30PM
Is there a more memorable sight than seeing more than 100 yachts, plus a flotilla of onlooker boats, sailing down Sydney Harbour? Can any boat finally break the stranglehold of Wild
SISTER ACT CHANNEL 7, 7PM
The movie that made Whoopi Goldberg a star. After witnessing a murder, lounge singer Deloris Van Cartier (Goldberg) goes undercover at St Catherine’s convent.
DOCTOR WHO CHRISTMAS SPECIAL ABC, 7.30PM
The big news is that Professor River Song (Alex Kingston) is back. It’s Christmas Day in the future and the Tardis is parked on a snowy village street. Time for River Song to meet the Peter Capaldi incarnation of the Doctor. “The last time the Doctor saw her, she was a ghost. The first time he met her, she died. So how can he be seeing her again?” executive producer Steven Moffat teases.
STREAMING THE RIDICULOUS 6 NETFLIX
Every Christmas needs a turkey and this year it is Adam Sandler’s $83 million western spoof. Native American extras walked off the set during filming, citing racist stereotypes. Taylor Lautner, Nick Nolte, Julia Jones and Luke Wilson stayed and probably regretted it.
A VERY MURRAY CHRISTMAS NETFLIX
When you’re Bill Murray you can do whatever you want, so why not make an old-school Christmas special with mates including George Clooney, Miley Cyrus, Chris Rock, Amy Poehler, and Maya Rudolph.
SUMMER HEIGHTS HIGH, PRESTO
This classic Aussie comedy, from the multi-talented Chris Lilley, is made for a good binge. Stuck up private school exchange student J’amie King, drama teacher Mr G, and rebellious Jonah Takalua, all played by Lilley, create gold.
THE SLAP PRESTO
All hell breaks loose when Harry (Alex Dimitriades) slaps the child of another couple at an Aussie suburban barbecue get-together. One of the most highly acclaimed TV dramas of recent years also stars Melissa George and Jonathan LaPaglia.
KYLIE MINOGUE, ROYAL VARIETY PERFORMANCE 2015
THE GOOD DINOSAUR
A VERY MURRAY
CHRISTMAS JAMIE’S FESTIVE
CAROLS BY CANDLELIGHT
MARY: THE MAKING
OF A PRINCESS
A MOODY CHRISTMAS
SUMMER HEIGHTS HIGH