New animation has been scarce in the annual holiday TV harvest for the past few years, but this season there’s a few fresh goodies. That furry crew from the days of cold launch things Thursday night with “Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas” (8 p.m., Fox).
There’s always some trouble with this snow-business herd, and Manny the mammoth gets his tusks full of it when Sid wrecks his favorite decoration – the scraggly Christmas boulder. Then Manny’s teen daughter wanders off to find Santa and he must go in pursuit.
By the end, they have set up the origins of Christmas trees, Santa’s elves, the naughty-and-nice list and flying reindeer.
Ray Romano, who voices Manny, says the story is a bit far-fetched, but so was the pairing of mammoths and dinosaurs, who missed each other in real life by many millions of years.
As for his personal favorite in the world of Christmas cartoons, it’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”
“That was when I think of my childhood and I think of Christmas and watching an animated film. There weren’t many then. I’m talking about in the ’60s now. It’s ‘Charlie Brown Christmas,’ and the tree and Linus.”
He’s also a fan of the “The Grinch That Stole Christmas,” which is my No. 1, but he finds the Peanuts gang delights eternally.
“It’s very nostalgic for me to see it and it’s still on now. It still holds up. My kids watched it when they were at that age and pretty soon my grandkids are going to watch it. Oh God, I’m old.”
CBS delivers two new shows Friday. “Hoops Yoyo Ruin Christmas” (8 p.m.) is the story of the bumbling pair from Hallmark greeting card fame who wind up as unintentional stowaways aboard the sleigh and get sideways in the time-travel physics Santa uses to make his deadline.
They get it straightened out in time for the next feature, “The Elf on the Shelf: An Elf’s Story” (8:30 p.m.). This one has a familiar message about the meaning of the holiday delivered through the adventure of elf Chippey, who is dispatched to teach a little boy what the season is all about.
Best of Friday night’s offerings is probably “Jingle All the Way” (8 p.m., Hallmark Channel), with its engaging soft-focus animation. It’s the story of a homeless Husky pup trying to adopt a family, while dodging the dog-catcher’s net.
It’s time to set your DVRs. Here’s the highlights of the holidays:
“A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” (8 p.m., ABC): Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving feast is imperiled by the caterers, Snoopy and Woodstock, who make toast and popcorn as the main dish. With a bonus cartoon, “This Is America, Charlie Brown: The Mayflower Voyagers.”
“Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas” (8 p.m., Fox): Christmas quest amid the glaciers.
“Happiness Is A Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown” (8:30 p.m., Fox): Peanuts gang tries to break Linus of the blanket habit.
“Radio City Holiday” (9 p.m., HGTV): Designer Thom Filicia transforms Radio City Music Hall’s Grand Lobby and Grand Lounge into a holiday wonderland.
“Holiday Inc.” (10 p.m., HGTV): Behind the scenes at decorating major New York landmarks including Macy’s and Time Warner Center.
“Jingle All the Way” (8 p.m., Hallmark Channel): Sweet story of Jingle, a Husky pup, struggling to get a boy to adopt him at Christmas.
“Hoops Yoyo Ruin Christmas” (8 p.m., CBS): Pink kitty Hoops and green bunny Yoyo become accidental stowaways on Santa’s sleigh.
“Cool Tools: Holiday Blowout 2011″ (8 p.m., DIY): Gifts for tool junkies.
“The Elf on the Shelf: An Elf’s Story” (8:30 p.m., CBS): Based on the children’s book, elf Chippey is sent to help a boy find the magic of Christmas.
“Debbie Macomber’s Trading Christmas” (8 p.m., Hallmark Channel): A widow flies to Boston to surprise her daughter at Christmas, only to find she’s flown off with a new boyfriend. But mom finds a romance of her own over the holiday.
“Holiday Block Party” (8 p.m., HGTV): Designers Antonio Ballatore, Meg Caswell and Tracey Porter team up with homeowners to decorate.
“Holiday Engagement” (8 p.m., Hallmark Channel): Dumped by her fiance and afraid of disappointing her overbearing mother, a woman hires an actor to pretend to be her boyfriend over the holidays. Stars Bonnie Somerville, Shelley Long, Jason Bridges and Haylie Duff.
“Desperately Seeking Santa” (8 p.m., ABC Family): Mall executive falls for Santa.
“Challenge: Christmas Classics” (8 p.m., Food Network): Cake designers bake with holiday themes.
“Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (8 p.m., ABC): Dr. Seuss’s classic children’s book narrated by Boris Karloff.
“Shrek the Halls” (8:30 p.m., ABC): Everyone tries to cheer up a grumpy Shrek at the holiday.
“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” (8 p.m., CBS, Channel 3): Burl Ives narrates the story of the oddball reindeer.
“Christmas in Rockefeller Center” (8 p.m., NBC): Features Michael Buble, Tony Bennett, Justin Bieber, Cee Lo Green, Faith Hill, Carole King, Katharine McPhee, Javier Colon and The Radio City Rockettes.
“Mickey’s Christmas Carol” (6 p.m., ABC Family): Mickey plays Bob Cratchit, Uncle Scrooge plays Ebenezer.
“Winnie the Pooh and Christmas Too” (6:30 p.m., ABC Family): Pooh and Piglet rush to get Christopher Robin’s letter to Santa.
“The Santa Clause” (7 p.m., ABC Family): Tim Allen stars as a single dad drafted into Santahood.
“Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” (8 p.m., ABC): In this 1970 Rankin-Bass animation, Fred Astaire narrates the story of Kris Kringle (voiced by Mickey Rooney) who overcomes the evil Burgermeister to become Santa.
“CMA Country Christmas” (9 p.m., ABC): Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland hosts special that features music from Lauren Alaina, Amy Grant, Faith Hill, Little Big Town, Martina McBride, Scotty McCreery, Brad Paisley, Kellie Pickler, Rascal Flatts, Darius Rucker, Brian Setzer, Sugarland and Keith Urban. Vince Gill sings with Miss Piggy.
“How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (8 p.m., ABC Family): Jim Carey’s live-action adaption.
“It’s a Wonderful Life” (8 p.m., NBC): Guardian angel shows a suicidal man, played by Jimmy Stewart, why life matters in this 1946 classic.
“A Princess for Christmas” (8 p.m., Hallmark Channel): A woman winds up in a European castle with her orphaned niece and nephew for the holidays. Stars Sir Roger Moore, Katie McGrath.
“The Nightmare Before Christmas” (Midnight, ABC Family): Jack Skellington, Halloweentown’s Pumpkin King, becomes fascinated with something called “Christmas.”
“Heart of Christmas” (7 p.m., GMC): Based on the story of an Illinois town that had an early Christmas for a boy battling leukemia.
“Rudolph’s Shiny New Year” (6 p.m., ABC Family): Rudolph must find the runaway Baby New Year.
“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Island of Misfit Toys” (7 p.m., ABC Family): Evil Toy Taker steals Santa’s toys.
“A Charlie Brown Christmas” (8 p.m., ABC): Peanuts gang and a scraggly tree celebrate the holiday.
“25 Most Heartwarming Holiday TV Moments” (8 p.m., TV Guide Channel): Memorable scenes from TV specials.
“Prep Landing: Naughty vs. Nice” (8:30 p.m., ABC): Naughty kid hacks into North Pole computer.
“The Polar Express” (8:30 p.m., ABC Family): Tom Hanks narrates the children’s classic story.
“‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” (6 p.m., ABC Family): Joel Grey narrates Clement Moore’s poem.
“A Michael Buble Christmas” (8 p.m., NBC): Michael Buble sings holiday songs.
“Home Alone 2″ (8:30 p.m., ABC Family): Lost child finds crooks are planning a toy store heist.
“A Very Pink Christmas” (6 p.m., ABC Family): Pink Panther gets in competition with Big Nose to sell trees.
“Tom and Jerry: A Nutcracker Tale” (8 p.m., ABC Family): Mouse family finds shelter on Christmas Eve.
“Jack Frost” (6 p.m., ABC Family): Jack Frost becomes human.
“Frosty’s Winter Wonderland” (7 p.m., ABC Family): Jack Frost tries to ruin Frosty’s wedding.
“Cranberry Christmas” (7:30 p.m., ABC Family): Mr. Whiskers fights Cyrus Grape for the local skating bog.
“Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” (8 p.m., ABC Family): Fred Astaire narrates the story of Kris Kringle, voiced by Mickey Rooney.
“Year Without a Santa Claus” (9 p.m., ABC Family): Santa says he won’t do it; Mrs. Claus steps in.
“A Miser Brothers’ Christmas” (10 p.m., ABC Family): Santa throws out his back, threatening Christmas.
“Frosty the Snowman” (8 p.m., CBS): Magic hat enlivens a snowman in tale narrated by Jimmy Durante.
“Frosty Returns” (8:30 p.m., CBS): And he’s back! Jonathan Winters narrates; John Goodman is voice of Frosty.
“Yes, Virginia” (9 p.m., CBS,): Famous editorial comes to life in animated special with voices of Neil Patrick Harris, Jennifer Love Hewitt and Alfred Molina.
“Snow” (7:30 a.m., ABC Family): Tom Cavanagh plays Santa’s son, taking over the business.
“Snow 2: Brain Freeze” (9:30 a.m., ABC Family): Santa’s son forgets who he is just before Christmas.
“Jack Frost” (4 p.m., ABC Family): Michael Keaton plays a man too busy for his son who dies and is reincarnated as a snowman.
“Annie Claus Is Coming to Town” (8 p.m., Hallmark Channel): Santa’s daughter takes off for Los Angeles at Christmas to find romance and befriends a struggling toyshop owner. Stars Vivica A. Fox, Vicki Lawrence.
“Flight Before Christmas” (9 p.m., CBS): Animated story of flying reindeer tryouts.
“Snow Globe” (Noon, ABC Family): Snow globe transports girl to an idyllic Christmas.
“Santa Baby” (2 p.m., ABC Family): Jenny McCarthy plays a driven executive whose father is Santa.
“Holiday in Handcuffs” (6 p.m., ABC Family): Melissa Joan Hart and Mario Lopez in tale of a woman who kidnaps a man for Christmas so she’ll have a boyfriend to show her parents.
“Chuckmas” (8 p.m., Cooking Channel): Chef Chuck Hughes hosts Christmas dinner for his family of amateur critics.
“White House Christmas” (8 p.m., HGTV): Designer Genevieve Gorder examines the mansion’s holiday decor.
“12 Dates of Christmas” (8 p.m., ABC Family): Amy Smart and Mark-Paul Gosselaar in the story of a woman who relives a Christmas Eve date, “Groundhog Day” style.
“A Flintstone Christmas: (6 p.m., ABC Family): Fred steps in as Santa.
“Hollywood Christmas Parade” (6 p.m., Hallmark Channel): Marie Osmond hosts the Southern California parade, which includes the Wells Fargo stagecoach.
“Kung Fu Panda Holiday Special” (6:30 p.m., ABC Family): Po faces a conflict as host of the Winter Feast.
“The Christmas Pageant” (8 p.m., Hallmark Channel): Hot-tempered Broadway director gets fired, winds up running a small town Christmas pageant. Stars Melissa Gilbert.
“Christmas with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir with David Archuleta and Michael York” (8 p.m., PBS): Holiday favorites including “Silent Night” and “Joy to the World.”
“George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker” (8 p.m., PBS): New York City Ballet live from Lincoln Center.
“A Chipmunk Christmas” (6 p.m., ABC Family): Alvin gives his harmonica to a sick boy.
“Miracle on 34th Street” (8 p.m., AMC): A court must decide if a Macy’s Santa is the real deal.
“Mickey’s Christmas Special” (6 p.m., ABC Family): Disney holiday tales.
“Christmas in Washington” (8 p.m., TNT): Hosted by Conan O’Brien, a concert featuring Justin Bieber, Cee Lo Green, Jennifer Hudson, Victoria Justice and The Band Perry.
“Christmas Returns to Canaan” (8 p.m., Hallmark Channel): In this sequel to 2009′s “Christmas in Canaan,” a father falls for his son’s doctor. Stars Billy Ray Cyrus.
“Story of Santa Claus” (9 p.m., CBS): Musical special featuring voices of Edward Asner, Betty White and Tim Curry.
“Christmas Magic” (8 p.m., Hallmark Channel): A rookie angel helps a struggling restaurateur.
“Phineas and Ferb Christmas Vacation” (6 p.m., ABC Family Channel): Phineas and Ferb build a rest stop for Santa.
“SNL: A Very Gilly Christmas” (9 p.m., NBC): Holiday sketches from “Saturday Night Live” including Alec Baldwin, Steve Martin, Kristen Wiig, Justin Timberlake and Andy Samberg.
“Deck the Halls” (9 p.m., TNT): Mary Higgins Clark holiday mystery story brings detectives together at the holiday.
“A Home for the Holidays” (8 p.m., CBS): Musical performances and adoption stories.
“All Out American Christmas” (1 p.m., HGTV): Survey of lavishly decorated neighborhoods across the country including Invershiel Court in Mint Hill.
“Olive, the Other Reindeer” (8 p.m., CW): A dog steps in when a reindeer is hurt.
“Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” (9 p.m., CW): A child sets out to find his missing grandmother and show that Santa exists.
“A Christmas Story” (8 p.m., TBS): 24-hour marathon of the Jean Shepherd story about Ralphie and the Red Ryder BB gun.
“Mass at St. Peter’s” (11:30 p.m., NBC, Channel 36): Christmas Eve mass from Rome.
Mark Washburn: email@example.com