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Screens: TV the week of Dec. 24

Miracle_34_1 Miracle On 34th Street (noon Sunday, AMC) -- An 18-hour marathon of the 1947 film that introduced us to Natalie Wood, playing a cynical little girl enchanted by a department-store Santa Claus. Engrossing, funny and the embodiment of the hope we feel around Christmas. Words of wisdom: "Faith is believing when common sense tells you not to.''

It's A Wonderful Life (8 p.m. Sunday, NBC) -- An insanely rich fascist and a bumbling second-class angel fight for the soul of Jimmy Stewart in this film that was a flop when it released in 1946 and now practically defines the Christmas season. Words of wisdom: "Remember, no man is a failure who has friends.''

A Christmas Story (8 p.m. Sunday, TBS)-- For 24 consecutive hours, TBS screens this 1983
classic. Peter Billingsley contends with brutal bullies, officious teachers, indifferent parents, a cantankerous Santa Claus and even the infamous Tongue-Stuck-To-The-Lamppost Torture on a faithful voyage of discovery to the real meaning of Christmas: a Red Ryder BB gun. Words of wisdom: "You'll shoot your eye out!''

Holiday Fireplace (continuously, Comcast video-on-demand) -- If you've watched all those movies and still aren't convinced you have anything to be grateful for this Christmas, go to Comcast's video-on-demand menu, click on the Cutting Edge menu, click on the Mood Zones menu, and call up Holiday Fireplace. It's an endless-loop video of a crackling yule log, the kind they have up north where everybody's snowed in, frozen pipes are bursting in the walls and vile sinus-scourging viruses are running amok.

Walt Disney World Christmas Day Parade (9 a.m. Monday, ABC) -- Dammit, you kids, shut up! I
warned you that Chicken-Dance Elmo was sold out and Santa wouldn't bring you one! It could be worse! You could be eaten by that giant rodent with the white gloves! Now play with your new socks and shirts and count your blessings!


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Merry Christmas! With the surfeit of ridiculous Christmas shows and movies, I'd like to see you list the very worst you saw this holiday season.

For my money, rock bottom was a film called "Crazy for Christmas," starring Howard Hesseman as a loony billionaire being chaffeured around New York City by a single mother on Christmas.

Words fail.

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