‘Mary Berry’s Highland Christmas’ Due on PBS, PBS.org, PBS App Dec. 18

The holiday special “Mary Berry’s Highland Christmas” is headed to PBS (9-10 p.m. EST), PBS.org and the PBS app Dec. 18.

In her latest holiday special, Dame Mary Berry travels to her mother’s homeland, Scotland. Inspired by her own family holidays, Mary cooks up an array of dishes, joined by three friends: former world number one tennis player and U.S. Open champion Andy Murray; BAFTA Award-winning comedian, writer and “Love Island” narrator Iain Stirling; and singer/songwriter Emeli Sandé. They share stories, memories and indulgent Christmas dishes.

“I’ve always been incredibly proud of my Scottish heritage, so where better to get cozy and cook for the holidays than in the Scottish Highlands,” Dame Mary said in a statement.

The new special finds Mary preparing favorite holiday dishes, many of which are inspired by her family’s roots in Scotland. On the menu is a Christmas Cranachan Pavlova Wreath, combining the traditional Scottish dessert made from oats, fruit and cream with a pavlova twist. And during a visit to tennis legend Andy Murray’s hotel in Dunblane, Mary, Andy and his grandmother cook up the classic breakfast dish Kedgeree. 

Mary shares her festive Smoked Salmon and Guacamole canape recipe, followed by a Fennel and Onion Tarte Tatin. Iain Stirling attempts to herd some reindeer while Mary rustles up an indulgent Christmas fondue.

Mary shares her iconic Highland Beef Pie, made with Aberdeen Angus beef and pickled walnuts, and then it’s off to a traditional Scottish celebration known as a ceilidh, where she makes her classic mulled wine for the revelers. Aberdeenshire-raised singer Emeli Sandé pops in to help Mary make her classic Bûche du Noël before surprising her with some visitors — a choir of carolers performing outside the cottage in the snow. 

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Dame Mary Berry is the author of more than 70 books, including the bestselling Mary Berry Cooks, Mary Berry’s Absolute Favorites, Mary Berry At Home and Mary Berry’s Baking Bible. She was the judge on the BBC’s “The Great British Bake Off” (which aired for five seasons on PBS as “The Great British Baking Show”). Following her training at the Cordon Bleu in Paris, Mary began her career as a magazine cookery editor before publishing her first cookbook in 1966. In 2009, Mary was awarded the highly coveted Guild of Food Writers Lifetime Achievement Award and in 2012 she was made a CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

Animated ‘Urkel Saves Santa: The Movie!’ Available Digitally Nov. 21

The animated holiday musical Urkel Saves Santa: The Movie!, from executive producer Wyatt Cenac, Warner Bros. Animation, and Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment,  will debut digitally Nov. 21.

Starring Steve Urkel, the breakout character from the series “Family Matters,” Urkel Saves Santa: The Movie! features the voices of Jaleel White (as Steve Urkel), Nicole Byer (“Nailed It”), Roy Wood Jr. (“The Daily Show”) and Kym Whitley (“The Bay”). 

In the film, the holiday season is here, and brilliant but accident-prone super genius Steve Urkel has only one mission: to make the holidays the best they can be for everyone. However, things are off to a not so merry start after he ruins a celebration at his local shopping mall and humiliates the department store Santa. Hoping to make things right, Steve invents a device that helps people spread holiday cheer but it only manages to make things worse. Using his big brain, it’s up to Steve to help the city rediscover the holiday spirit.

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Fandango, Rotten Tomatoes and Vudu Marketing for the Holidays

Fandango and its Rotten Tomatoes and Vudu sites are marketing for the holidays.

Rotten Tomatoes has created curated watchlists, such as 60 Best Thanksgiving Movies (including Planes, Trains and Automobiles and A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving) and 100 Best Christmas Movies of All Time (including Home Alone and Love Actually).

Meanwhile parent company and movie ticketing site Fandango and Vudu, Fandango’s transactional VOD service, are offering holiday-themed gift cards for titles in theaters and at home.

Vudu is also featuring deals on titles and collections of holiday favorites across Thanksgiving and Christmas as well as round-ups of Hallmark and Lifetime holiday movies.

Rotten Tomatoes’ 2023 Holiday Movie Preview also offers a breakdown of what it considers the best flicks that November and December have to offer, including The Marvels, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, and Wonka, which were named the top three most-anticipated wide releases of the holiday season, respectively, per Fandango’s 2023 Most Anticipated Holiday Movie Survey.

Rotten Tomatoes is also listing Rotten Christmas Movies We Love, the Best International Christmas Movies and Modern Christmas Classics to Add to Your Holiday Movie List.

Also available is a party game Rotten Tomatoes: The Card Game.

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‘Merry Little Batman’ Headed to Prime Video Dec. 8

Merry Little Batman will be available to stream on Prime Video beginning Dec. 8.
 
The animated family action comedy follows young Damian Wayne, who finds himself alone in Wayne Manor on Christmas Eve. He must transform into “Little Batman” in order to defend his home and Gotham City from the crooks and supervillains intent on destroying the holidays.
 
Produced by Warner Bros. Animation and based on characters from DC, Merry Little Batman features the voices of Yonas Kibreab, Luke Wilson, James Cromwell and David Hornsby, and is directed by Mike Roth (“Regular Show”) from a screenplay by Morgan Evans (“Teen Titans Go!”) and Jase Ricci (Batman: The Doom That Came to Gotham). Roth also serves as executive producer, alongside Sam Register (“Looney Tunes” cartoons).

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Voice recordings and writing concluded prior to the SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes, according to a Prime press release.

Holiday Comedy ‘Dashing Through the Snow’ Headed to Disney+ Nov. 17

The original family holiday comedy Dashing Through the Snow, starring Lil Rel Howery, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges and Teyonah Parris, will debut Nov. 17 exclusively on Disney+.

Dashing Through the Snow is about a social worker for the Atlanta police department and the Christmas Eve journey with his estranged daughter that helps him to remember the joy and magic of the yuletide season. 

Eddie Garrick (Bridges) is a good-hearted man who has turned his back on Christmas due to a traumatic childhood experience. At the request of his wife Allison Garrick (Parris), from whom he is separated, Eddie takes his 9-year-old daughter Charlotte (Madison Skye Validum) to work with him on Christmas Eve, where they meet a mysterious man in a red suit named Nick (Howery). Eddie, who is a social worker, thinks the man is delusional and needs professional help, but when he evokes the wrath of a local politician (Oscar Nuñez), he and his daughter are taken on a magical adventure that just might restore his faith in Christmas.

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Dashing Through the Snow also stars Mary Lynn Rajskub, Ravi V. Patel, Gina Brillon, Kevin Connolly, and Zulay Henao.

Warner Bowing Holiday Titles for Digital Purchase

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment is releasing a collection of holiday titles for digital purchase Dec. 13.

A Christmas Story Christmas follows Ralphie from the classic A Christmas Story, who is all grown up. In this sequel to the annual holiday favorite, he must deal with Christmas and all that comes with it, this time as a dad. Peter Billingsley returns to the role he played as a child. The film also stars Erinn Hayes, Scott Schwartz, R.D. Robb, Zack Ward and Julie Hagerty.

In Holiday Harmony, singer/songwriter Gail lands an opportunity to compete for a once-in-a-lifetime shot at the big time, and heads cross country — getting only as far as Harmony Springs, Okla., when her ride, her budget and all her hopes are stalled. With just two weeks to get to the iHeartRadio Christmas Eve performance of her dreams, she takes the advice of local Jack-of-all-trades Jeremy and takes on a group of misfit kids hoping to perform in a Christmas Eve Gala of their own. Gail and Jeremy grow close, but if she’s going to fulfill her lifelong dream, she may have to leave him and the town she’s grown to love behind. The film stars Annelise Cepero, Jeremy Sumpter and Brooke Shields.

In A Christmas Mystery, 100 years ago, a strip of Santa’s magical jingle bells was discovered by a young boy in Shelter Bay, Ore., bringing about a century of prosperity and peace for the small town. Now, just days before Christmas, the bells — the lifeblood of the town — are missing, and it’s up to a group of intrepid kids to solve the case, find the bells and restore the Christmas magic to Shelter Bay and its citizens. The film stars Violet McGraw, Santino Bernard, Lauren Lindsay Donzis, Leonardo Cecchi, Eddie Cibrian, Oscar Nuñez, Christoph Sanders, Drew Powell and Beau Bridges.

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A Hollywood Christmas follows Jessica, a young up-and-coming filmmaker in Hollywood who has made a name for herself directing Christmas movies. But when handsome network executive Christopher shows up threatening to halt production on her latest movie, Jessica’s assistant Reena points out the irony: Jessica isn’t just trying to save her Christmas movie, she’s actually living in one. Jessica must now juggle all the classic tropes — her actors falling in and out of love, a wayward elf dog, and her own stirring romantic feelings for her perceived nemesis — in order to get her movie and her life to their happy endings. The film stars Jessica Van, Josh Swickard, Anissa Borrego, Riley Dandy, Zak Steiner, Tom Williamson and Missi Pyle.

Survey: Watching Holiday Movies Ranks Higher Than Decorating Tree as Holiday Tradition

Americans rank watching holiday movies (72%) over decorating the tree (66%) and baking cookies (55%) as one of their favorite holiday traditions, according to a new survey.

In a survey of 2,000 Americans commissioned by free global streaming media platform Plex and OnePoll, more than half (52%) of respondents said they believe the holidays would feel “incomplete” without their favorite movies, and the same amount say watching holiday movies helps them bond with their family. 

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The survey also found that four in 10 Americans (39%) binge-watch movies during the holiday season,  more than any other time of year; 63% of respondents said the holidays are stressful, but the nostalgia of holiday movies and content is comforting, and makes them feel joyful (56%); 34% would download and/or subscribe to a new streaming service that has their favorite holiday movie; and 29% create a cozy ambiance during the holiday season by streaming virtual fireplace settings, such as the Yule Log.

Other findings include:

Top Three Holiday Movies

It’s a Wonderful Life (43%)
A Charlie Brown Christmas (42%)
Home Alone (42%)

Top Three Non-Traditional Holiday Movies

Die Hard (25%)
Frozen (23%)
The Sound of Music (21%)

Top Three Holiday Movie Characters

Kevin Mcallister — Home Alone (30%)
The Grinch (29%)
Clark Griswold  — National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (26%) 

Top Holiday TV Specials + Episodes

Best holiday-themed TV special: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (60%)
Most popular holiday-themed TV episode: “Friends” episode “The One With the Holiday Armadillo” (19%)

PBS Kids Prime Video Channel Adds Holiday Carousel

The PBS KIDS Prime Video Channel has added a new “Holiday Movies” carousel.

The subscription rate for the PBS KIDS Prime Video Channel is $4.99 per month with an Amazon Prime or Prime Video subscription.

Holiday-themed content, designed for children ages 2-8, includes Wild Kratts: A Creature Christmas, PBS Kids: Felices Fiestas!, PBS Kids: Celebrate Hanukkah and PBS Kids: Happy Holidays.

The PBS Kids Prime Video Channel offers more than 3,000 episodes of educational and entertaining shows and shorts for kids ages 2-8.

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Warner Offers Up Four Holiday Classics on 4K Ultra HD

Four classic  holiday family films — National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, A Christmas Story, Elf and The Polar Express — are available now on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack and digital from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

The combo packs will include a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc with each feature film in 4K with HDR, a Blu-ray disc with the feature films and pre-existing special features, and a digital version of the feature films.

In National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989), as the holidays approach, Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) wants to have a perfect family Christmas. He pesters his wife Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo) and children as he tries to make sure everything is in line, including the tree and house decorations. Things go awry quickly when cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid) and his family show up unplanned and start living in their camper on the Griswold property. Even worse, Clark’s employers renege on the holiday bonus he needs. The screenplay is by John Hughes and based on characters by Hughes.

A Christmas Story (1983) is set in a 1940s-era Midwestern town and told from the viewpoint of a 7-year-old boy who only wants one thing for Christmas — a Red Ryder BB gun. The episodic tale chronicles not only his schemes to convince his mother and father to buy him one, but also offers a warmly nostalgic look into 1940s middle-class American life. The long-awaited follow-up to A Christmas Story, A Christmas Story Christmas will debut on HBO Max Nov. 17. In the sequel, Ralphie is all grown up and must deal with Christmas and all that comes with it as a dad. Peter Billingsley returns to the role.

Elf (2003) tells the tale of a young orphan child who mistakenly crawls into Santa’s bag of gifts on Christmas Eve and is transported back to the North Pole and raised as an elf. Years later Buddy learns he is not really an elf and goes on a journey to New York City to find his true identity. The film is directed by Jon Favreau and stars Will Ferrell, James Caan, Zooey Deschanel, Mary Steenburgen, Edward Asner and Bob Newhart.

In The Polar Express (2004), when a doubting young boy takes an extraordinary train ride to the North Pole, he embarks on a journey of self-discovery that shows him that the wonder of life never fades for those who believe. Directed by Robert Zemeckis, the animated film is based on the classic Caldecott award-winning children’s book written by Chris Van Allsburg. It features the voices of Tom Hanks, Daryl Sabara, Nona Gaye, Jimmy Bennett, and Eddie Deezen.

Discovery+ Unveils November Streaming Lineup

Warner Bros. Discovery’s subscription streaming service Discovery+ has announced its November lineup. 

Inside the Holiday Central Hub starting Nov. 11, viewers will discover four new scripted features with appearances by Food Network and HGTV stars Ben and Erin Napier, Bobby Flay, Duff Goldman and Hilary Farr.

In Designing Christmas, interior designer Stella (Jessica Szohr) and contractor Pablo (Marco Grazzini) have charmed millions as co-hosts of their popular home renovation show. Although Stella is planning her wedding with fiancé Jack (Mykee Selkin), a last-minute production change means that she and Pablo must work overtime to keep their hit show on schedule. Stella confides in her mentor Freddy (Hilary Farr) about her complicated feelings for Pablo that could jeopardize everything.

One Delicious Christmas explores the story of Abby Richmond (Vanessa Marano), who inherited the struggling Vermont culinary destination Haven Restaurant and Inn and needs to secure an investment from restaurant mogul Alexandra Grandfield (Kathy Maloney) to keep it running. After top food critic Tom Kingsley (Food Network’s Bobby Flay) offers his blunt review, Abby hires hot-shot chef Preston Weaver (Alex Mallari, Jr.) to shake up Haven’s beloved holiday menu. 

A Gingerbread Christmas finds Hazel Stanley (Tiya Sircar) spending the holidays with her father Ted (Sugith Varughese) in Chicago, where she discovers the family bakery is in decline. Hazel, who hopes to save the family business by winning $100,000 in a gingerbread house competition led by food celebrity Mark Clemmons (Food Network’s Duff Goldman), finds unexpected romance with local contractor James Meadows (Marc Bendavid), who is helping to restore the bakery.

A Christmas Open House stars Katie Stevens as Melissa Norwood, an ambitious Atlanta property stager, who joins forces with her old high school crush David Phelps (Victor Rasuk) to sell her newly married mom’s home in their small Georgia hometown with some additional help from artists Henry and Sarah Wright (HGTV’s Ben and Erin Napier). As the tensions of the Christmas deadline grow, so does a romance between Melissa and David, but their diverging goals could be a deal breaker for their new relationship. 

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Due Nov. 1 on the streaming service is Mary McCartney Serves It Up, in which photographer and food writer Mary McCartney invites her celebrity friends to cook and chat in her kitchen in London. Mary serves up fast, delicious and comforting vegetarian family favorites in under 20 minutes or less. 

Nov. 3 comes Tut’s Lost City Revealed. It follows archaeologists who have discovered a 3,000-year-old “lost golden city” in Egypt — the “largest” ever found there and the most important find since the tomb of Tutankhamun. The city, called “The Rise of Aten” was unearthed by a team of archeologists led by Zahi Hawass under the sand on the western bank of Luxor, about 300 miles south of Cairo. 

Due Nov. 7 is “Inside the Heist.” It reveals the wilder-than-fiction ways real criminals pulled off the most audacious and lucrative heists in recent history. Each of these iconic crimes took months, sometimes years, to plan and prepare, and required unique skills and bespoke techniques which had to be rehearsed and honed until they were absolutely perfect. 

Nov. 13 comes The Dog Games: World Pup 2022, featuring five amateur canine coaches and their pups who aim to score a hat trick in three categories — tricks, freestyle moves and agility — to win a cash prize for their chosen animal charity. Soccer star Cobi Jones subs in as guest judge.

Streaming starting Nov. 19 is Vardy vs Rooney: The Wagatha Trial, which goes inside the story of the trial. Rebekah Vardy, wife of England International soccer striker Jamie Vardy, sued Coleen Rooney, wife of retired England Captain Wayne Rooney, for libel. Coleen had claimed Rebekah was responsible for the leaking of private stories. In an investigation worthy of Agatha Christie, she’d planted fake stories which only Rebekah’s account could see. Her infamous social media post “It’s …… Rebekah Vardy’s account” went viral. There was mass trolling of Rebekah, including death threats. With exclusive insights from her legal team, Rebekah speaks out about becoming public enemy number one and denies the allegations.

Due Nov. 27 is “Written in the Stars,” a new reality/dating series that puts contestants’ love lives in the hands of the world’s top astrologers. In this social experiment, 12 single strangers, all desperate to find love and each representing one of the 12 signs of the zodiac, arrive at a mysterious villa in Greece to find they have been matched with someone in the group. Globally renowned astrologers Colin Bedell, Michelle Knight and Francesca Oddie match the contestants using just their birth charts and work tirelessly to help them get to know each other and ultimately fall in love. 

Finally, streaming starting Nov. 30 is the CNN Original Series”Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy,” in which Academy Award nominee and Emmy Award-winning actor Stanley Tucci indulges his passion for Italian cooking as he explores the stories and people behind the world’s most popular cuisine. Tucci, who is Italian on both sides, brings us on his journey to the bustling food markets and hidden trattorias of the Italian peninsula to discover the secrets and delights of its cooking, region by region. Across four episodes, audiences have a front row seat to experience Liguria, Puglia, Sardinia and Calabria.