Stories & Features

Grab a comfy blanket and a hot chocolate: holiday TV 2021

Scene from the Marvel series Hawkeye, starring Hailee Steinfeld and Jeremy Renner.
The Marvel series Hawkeye, starring Hailee Steinfeld and Jeremy Renner, is streaming on Disney+. (Screenshot courtesy Disney+)

Rom-coms, kids favourites, new releases and sporting events for December

Getting together for the holidays is going to be a lot more like normal this year, and that means family and friends gathered to laugh (and maybe) cry over holiday favourites that push the emotion-o-meter to 11.

Netflix, in particular, is sweet on December. Here's a look at what looks to be the most fan-friendly on the holiday TV menu, plus a few offbeat picks. And don't miss out on our deep dive into newly-released movies and seasonal faves.

Did you know? Newer TVs tend to be a lot more energy efficient than older models. Four hours per day over a year adds up to $34 on a 42-inch plasma from 2010, compared to just over $8 for a 2020 model of a 42-inch Smart LCD TV. Always look for the ENERGY STAR® label.

Scene from the movie Love Hard
Newly-released rom-com Love Hard is another holiday movie with a big gap between critic's rating (50%) and audience rating (98%).

Love that cheese: critics don't understand

What do critics know, anyway? When it comes to holiday shows, there's often a huge gulf between what critics think and how the audience feels after spending 90 minutes or more with couples pursuing love, losing it, and having a few laughs along the way.

Love Hard
Where and when: Streaming on Netflix now
What it's about: Can you say catfished? Girl (Nina Dobrev) finds a personal online match and travels 3,000 miles to surprise him for Christmas.
Critics vs. fans: A 44% gap, with a 94% audience score vs. a 50% critics rating.

The Claus Family
Where and when: Streaming on Netflix
What it's about: Jules hates Christmas but discovers his father is Santa Claus. From Belgium, in Dutch.
Critics vs. fans: The jury's out. Not enough ratings yet on Rotten Tomatoes. Age-rated at 10-plus on commensensemedia.com.

The Princess Switch 3: Romancing the Star
Where and when: Streaming on Netflix
What it's about: One actress plays three roles, this time in the hunt for a stolen Christmas relic, in the third movie of this rom-com franchise.
Critics vs. fans: Not enough critics for a rating so far, but a 60% audience score.

The Princess Switch 3: Romancing the Star
Where and when: Streaming on Netflix
What it's about: One actress plays three roles, this time in the hunt for a stolen Christmas relic, in the third movie of this rom-com franchise.
Critics vs. fans: Not enough critics for a rating so far, but a 60% audience score.

Home Alone 2: Lost in New York
Where and when: Streaming now on Disney+, rental on AppleTV and Amazon Prime
Critics vs. fans: Critics gave it a rotten rating of 34% while the audience liked it to the tune of 61%.

Scene from the movie Shaun The Sheep: The Flight Before Christmas
Shaun The Sheep: The Flight Before Christmas, streams on Netflix starting Dec. 3.

New and streaming soon

Single All The Way
Where and when: Streaming on Netflix starting December 2
What it's about: Lgbtq+ rom-com centres on a perpetually single man's decision to get a friend to pretend they’re a couple during a family visit.

David and the Elves
Where and when: Streaming on Netflix starting December 6
What it's about: Polish film about a jaded overworked elf goes to the real world and befriends a young boy.

For Auld Lang Syne (Charlie Brown)
Where and when: New special streaming December 10 on AppleTV+
What it's about: The Peanuts gang are disappointed to learn that Charlie Brown’s grandmother can’t visit, leading Lucy to throw herself a New Year’s Eve party.

A California Christmas: City Lights
Where and when: Streaming on Netflix starting December 16
What it's about: Sequel to A California Christmas, this time following a couple (Callie and Joseph) a year after they fall in love (and now running a dairy farm and winery) as Joseph gets called back to the city.

Grumpy Christmas
Where and when: Streaming on Netflix starting December 24
What it's about: A family trip to the beach turns into a battle between a man and his aunt to control Christmas in this Mexican feature.

Boxing Day
Where and when: Streaming on Amazon Prime starting December 17
What it's about: New rom-com about a guy who brings his American girlfriend home to London to meet his British-Caribbean family over Christmas, and who bumps into his pop star ex-girlfriend.

Christmas is Cancelled
Where and when: Streaming on Amazon Prime starting December 17
What it's about: A woman's father starts dating her high school frenemy.

Shaun The Sheep: The Flight Before Christmas
Where and when: Streaming on Netflix starting December 3
What it's about: Shaun's hunt for a bigger stocking hits a snag, so the whole gang heads out on an adventure.

Scene from the Danish film Elves
Teen protagonists drive the plot in the Danish film Elves, which is not your typical feelgood seasonal fare. (Photo courtesy Netflix).

Sweet & savoury seasonal picks

Dash & Lily
Where and when: Netflix 8-episode series now streaming on Netflix
What it's about: A mismatched pair of young New Yorkers who trade dares, dreams and desires in a notebook they pass back and forth.

Great British Baking Show: Holidays Season 4
Where and when: Streaming on now CBC Gem
What it's about: Paul and Mary make Christmas classics, including stolen, a gingerbread house and streusel.

Duck the Halls: A Mickey Mouse Christmas Special
Where and when: Streaming now on Disney+
What it's about: Instead of going South with his family and other duck friends, Donald stays behind with Mickey to spend his first ever Christmas. What happens when the cold makes Donald sick?

Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas
Where and when: Steaming now on Disney+
What's it about: Sid is on the naughty list while Manny lets slip that he may not believe in the man himself.

Elves
Where and when: Steaming now on Netflix
What's it about: Danish suspense/fantasy series about a family on vacation that discovers an ancient menace stalking their island getaway.

Christmas Again
Where and when: Rental on AppleTV
What it's about: 2014 movie about a Christmas tree salesman who falls on hard times, and needs some help. A hidden gem with 100% Rotten Tomatoes critic rating, and a 71% user rating.

Kids stuff and other favourites

A Charlie Brown Christmas
Where and when: Streaming now on AppleTV+
What it's about: Charlie sets out to restore the true spirit of Christmas.

Charlie's Colorforms City: Snowy Stories
Where and when: Streaming now on Netflix.
What it's about: Beloved series for the 3-plus crowd takes a winter theme.

Elf
Where and when: Streaming now on Crave, rental on AppleTV and Amazon Prime.
What it's about: Buddy the oversized elf visits New York City in a modern classic.

Home Alone
Where and when: Streaming on Disney+
What it's about: Where's Kevin? Not with his family.

Disney Holiday Magic Quest
Where and when: Streaming now on Disney+
What it's all about: "ZOMBIES 2" stars compete in a holiday adventure through Magic Kingdom Park.

Non-holiday faves, new releases

The Book of Boba Fett
Where and when: Streaming weekly starting December 31 on Disney+
What it's about: Boba Fett and Fennec Shand attempt to make a name for themselves in the galaxy's underworld by taking over the territory once controlled by Jabba the Hutt.

Hawkeye
Where and when: Streaming weekly starting November 24 on Disney+
What it's about: Continues the story of Clint Barton from Avenger: Endgame, after he loses his wife and children in the snap and takes on the persona of murderous vigilante Ronin.

Wheel of Time
Where and when: Streaming weekly on Amazon Prime.
What it's about: Epic series based on Robert Jordan's fantasy novels features an impressive cast and visuals, and is getting good critical response and even stronger audience reviews.

The Hand of God
Where and when: Streaming December 15 on Netflix.
What it's about: A young teenager's eccentric family and vibrant life in 1980s Naples are suddenly upended by the electrifying arrival of soccer legend Maradona.

Sports on TV and streaming

Champions League Soccer
Where and when: Streaming December 7-8 on DAZN
What it's about: A handful of Canadians are in action in European club soccer's biggest event as group stage match-ups feature the likes of Alphonso Davies (Bayern Munich vs. Barcelona, December 8), Jonathan David (Lille vs. Wolfsburg, December 8), Atiba Hutchinson and Cyle Larin (Besitkas vs. Dortmund, December 7).

National Football League, Week 16
Where and when: Network TV and streaming
What it's about: A full holiday-season schedule from December 23 to 27, including the Colts vs. Cardinals and Browns vs. Packers on Christmas Day.

NBA holiday schedule
Where and when: Network TV and streaming
What it's about: Five games on Christmas day (including the Warriors vs. Suns and Nets vs. Lakers) plus eight games on Boxing Day.

World Junior Hockey Championship
Where and when: On TSN starting December 26
What it's about: Canada is out to avenge their 2021 final loss to the U.S., on home ice in Edmonton and Red Deer.