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Holiday Arts Preview

10 TV specials for the holidays, including Ralphie, Dolly, the Waltons, and more

From left: Marcelle LeBlanc, Tatum Sue Matthews, Billy Davis Jr., and Marilyn McCoo in "A Waltons Thanksgiving" on The CW Nov. 20.Chris Reel

A CHRISTMAS STORY CHRISTMAS Ralphie is back, and he’s played once again by Peter Billingsley. This sequel to the 1983 holiday classic “A Christmas Story” finds him returning home to Indiana with his wife and children and trying to give his kids a magical Christmas. Zack Ward, Scott Schwartz, Ian Petrella, and R.D. Robb return, and newcomers Julie Hagerty (taking over as Ralphie’s mom) and Erinn Hayes join them. HBO Max, Nov. 17

SPIRITED Ryan Reynolds and Will Ferrell star in this modernized musical adaptation of Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol.” Reynolds plays the Scrooge character, Clint Briggs, who manages to turn the tables on the ghost (Ferrell) and gets him to reexamine himself. Octavia Spencer and Sunita Mani also star, Tracy Morgan puts in a voice appearance, and Judi Dench and Jimmy Fallon appear as themselves. Apple TV+, Nov. 18


SANTA BOOTCAMP Between Netflix, Hallmark, and Lifetime, there will be countless holiday movies coming at us this season. This one jumped out because it stars the great Rita Moreno, and because it sounds particularly kitschy. Moreno plays a drill sergeant at the titular course, who helps an event planner find the spirit of Christmas. It’s directed by Melissa Joan Hart. Lifetime, Nov. 19

A WALTONS THANKSGIVING The CW had success in 2021 with “The Waltons: Homecoming,” so the network is bringing the Depression-era family back for another movie. Bellamy Young and Teddy Sears return as Olivia and John Sr., and Logan Shroyer returns as John Boy. The original John Boy, Richard Thomas, narrates the story, which is bound to provide some warmth, kindness, and hope. The CW, Nov. 20

THE CHRISTMAS CLAPBACK Robin Givens directs this movie about three sisters who usually battle each other for a chance to win a Christmas cooking competition. But this year, a social media influencer enters the competition, and the sisters must decide whether to work together or fall divided. Nadine Ellis, Porscha Coleman, and Kara Royster star. BET+, Nov. 24


THE GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY HOLIDAY SPECIAL Chris Pratt, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Sean Gunn, Michael Rooker, Zoe Saldana, and others reprise their roles from the MCU movies for this 40-minute presentation. The story finds the Guardians heading to Earth to pick up a very special Christmas present, specifically actor Kevin Bacon (who appears as himself). Disney+, Nov. 25

DOLLY PARTON’S MOUNTAIN MAGIC CHRISTMAS Parton stars as herself in this meta movie, rushing around trying to put together a holiday special. In the process, she reflects on her past and gets back in touch with what really matters in life. Tom Everett Scott and Ana Gasteyer costar, and Willie Nelson, Miley Cyrus, and Jimmy Fallon are musical guest stars. NBC, Dec. 1

SCROOGE: A CHRISTMAS CAROL Yup, it’s another Dickens adaptation, this time an animated musical. The voice cast includes Olivia Colman as the Ghost of Christmas Past, Luke Evans as Ebenezer Scrooge, and Jonathan Pryce as Jacob Marley. According to director Stephen Donnelly, “There are more than enough psychedelic, time-traveling and musical surprises to keep those familiar with the story on the edge of their seats.” Netflix, Dec. 2

Megan Hilty performs in "O Holy Night: Christmas with The Tabernacle Choir."Courtesy of © 2022 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

O HOLY NIGHT: CHRISTMAS WITH THE TABERNACLE CHOIR Megan Hilty and Neal McDonough join the Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra for an Irish-inspired edition of the annual celebration. There will be plenty of holiday songs, Christmas carols, and traditional Irish musical numbers. GBH 2, Dec. 13


HOMEWARD BOUND: A GRAMMY SALUTE TO THE SONGS OF PAUL SIMON The tribute event to Simon took place in April in Los Angeles, and CBS is bringing it to the air between Christmas and New Year’s. The concert features Simon’s songs performed by a long and impressive list of musicians, including Brandi Carlile, Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, Stevie Wonder, Dave Matthews, Brad Paisley, and Billy Porter. CBS, Dec. 28

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Matthew Gilbert can be reached at Follow him @MatthewGilbert.