The Doctor will regenerate on Christmas Day in Doctor Who's annual holiday special, and the fans aren't the only sad pandas losing Eleven. Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman) will be the first companion since Billie Piper's Rose to have to get used to a new Time Lord face. (Friendly reminder that the Tenth Doctor dies alone. Happy holidays!) When Christopher Eccleston morphs into David Tennant in the first modern series finale, she is, to put it mildly, skeptical. Even when he proves to her that he is "the same man, always," she isn't sure he'd still want her along. But Clara's got an advantage. Perhaps she won't be as blindsided as her blond predecessor.Don't forget that in "The Name of the Doctor", Clara jumps into the Doctor's timestream to save him from The Great Intelligence. Over, and over, and over again. In all of his incarnations. We know that Oswin the souffle baker and Clara the governess don't have any memory of this, but at least modern-day Clara has some understanding of the regeneration concept.And then there was the 50th Anniversary special, where Clara comes face-to-face with three Doctors at once. She's pretty cool with the whole thing, though clearly Eleven is the Doctor she considers to be hers. She treats the War Doctor (John Hurt) like a friendly uncle and Ten like a particularly flirty friend visiting from out of town. Coleman and Matt Smith have settled in to their chemistry as believable best friends. Whatever Time Lord physiology knowledge Clara has up on her fellow companions, she is still losing someone.
On the other hand, we can't wait to see how the interplay between Clara and our new Doctor, Peter Capaldi develops. The reason that Doctor Who is still going 50 years strong is that it continually, by its very nature, reinvents itself. Clara, like the rest of us, will just have to roll with the punches.
James Wolpert may have finished fourth place on The Voice this season, but it wasn't his first time at the reality singing competition rodeo. He also went pretty far in the 2008 franchise spin-off series, High School Musical: Get in the Picture, where teenage contestants competed for the grand prize of singing a song over the closing credits of High School Musical 3: Senior Year.
Without a doubt, the best parts of the only season of this inevitable show were the elaborate, themed performance pieces on which the hopefuls were judged. Check out James and his fellow finalists doing a medley of TV theme songs as department store mannequins come to life. Why not?
Dear Oscar Producers, Disney, and Anyone Else Who Has a Say in This:
We know that "Let It Go" is a shoo-in for a Best Song nomination. And that it will probably win. Co-Composer Robert Lopez will complete his EGOT, and Disney animation will again rule that category, just like it did in the '90s.
Please, please have Idina Menzel sing it on the telecast.
We know the kids love Demi Lovato, who sings the single version over Frozen's end credits. And as a (now former) X-Factor judge, she's more recognizable to a wide audience than Tony Award winner Idina. But we don't care, because Menzel is Queen Elsa. It's her interpretation of the song that took our breath away in theaters. And she will wear a fabulous dress and sing the crap out of it on the Oscar stage.
Thank you for your consideration.
New Line Cinema via Everett Collection
The mid-aughts comedy Just Friends has become a staple on Comedy Central's holiday schedule. Still, it's never reached the level of respect it deserves as a reliable Christmas classic. Most of its marketing may have centered around former Sexiest Man Alive Ryan Reynolds donning a fatsuit, but I promise, that's not the end of its appeal.
Reynolds plays Chris Brander, a former fat kid who escaped New Jersey for LA, lost a few hundred pounds, and reinvented himself as a skinny and suave record exec. ("This town's full of losers and I'm pullin' out to win!") While flying to Paris with unhinged pop star Samantha James (Anna Faris, brilliant), the plane makes an emergency landing in his hometown. Chris is back at the same bar, sleeping in his same room, and crushing on the same girl -- his former best friend Jamie (Amy Smart) -- who still makes him feel totally awkward. Also, it's Christmas!
Just Friends fills the first and foremost criteria for a holiday classic: it passes the rewatch test. Clever lines like "You're Chris Brander. You're Hollywood, you date models. He's Jersey, he skis in his jeans." just improve over time. Faris commits to the part of a Britney Spears-style pop tart who's careening towards the eventual breakdown with total relish. Reynolds could always play a convincing loser, even with those looks. And his mom is the mom from What About Bob?, so what else is there to know? ("Be yourself! Be yourself!")
Plus, anyone who has ever felt desperately uncool can identify with Chris's instant regression. We never truly leave high school, so we better just get comfortable there and make it our own.
One joy of having children is having the opportunity to force-feed them the entertainment that you grew up with. And, in that way, the offspring of '80s babies are lucky. It was the decade for the family Christmas special. Every beloved character got one. Here are four that you simply must dredge up on YouTube and pass along to the next generation
A Garfield Christmas (1987)
While Garfield's usual grumpiness is a true comfort to those of us who have difficulty tolerating the Odies of the world, a holiday special demands he soften up a bit. Garfield, Jon, and Odie trek out to Jon's family farm where Garfield bros out with Jon's feisty grandma and Odie constructs his frenemy the best present ever: the ultimate backscratcher. Adults should keep tissues handy for the unexpectedly poignant discovery of a pack of love letters from Grandma's deceased husband.
Mickey's Christmas Carol (1983)
Your family could do worse than this Academy Award-nominated short, which was also the first theatrical Mickey Mouse cartoon produced in 30 years. Mickey plays Bob Cratchit, of course, and Scrooge McDuck, since he co-opted his whole game anyway, is his miserly boss. All well and good, but casting Daisy Duck as Bob's fiance Isabella seems a little uncool. What would Donald think?
A Muppet Family Christmas (1987)
Jim Henson himself cameos in this Muppet adventure, which is just as essential as any other. A childhood without Muppets shouldn't be allowed, so don't even try it.
He-Man & She-Ra: A Christmas Special (1985)
Christmas comes to Eternia via two suitably diverse Earth kids, Miguel and Alisha. And the attempt to shoe-horn a Christian holiday into a alien world of god-like princes and flying unicorns is so '80s that it hurts. Even Skeletor can't escape the Christmas spirit, though he's relieved that he still gets to be a bad guy for the rest of the year.
Size doesn't matter. The grandest gesture isn't always the best one. Blah, blah, blah. It's Christmas and it's time to pull out all the stops. For better or for worse. Usually worse.
The Office — "A Benihana Christmas"
In the comedy's third season Christmas episode, Michael loses his casual girlfriend Carol when he takes gift giving just a little too far. An all-expenses trip to Sandals Jamaica? Fine. Photoshopping himself into a picture of Carol, her kids, and her ex-husband and sending it out as a Christmas card? Questionable. In Jim's words: "But then again, Michael's a bold guy. Is 'bold' the right word?"
The West Wing — "In Excelsis Deo"
Not so much a grand gesture as a tremendous show of compassion, Toby uses the President's name to arrange for the funeral of a homeless Korean war veteran who froze to death on the mall. So affecting that we'll almost forgive Aaron Sorkin for never telling us what Josh wrote to Donna in The Art and Artistry of Alpine Skiing. Almost.
Cheers — "Where There's a Will"
A dying man amends his will on a bar napkin, leaving $100,000 to the gang at Cheers. Sounds like the perfect opportunity to bicker and fight and ultimately learn the true meaning of Christmas.
Parks and Recreation — "Citizen Knope"
After getting dumped by her campaign managers, Leslie is feeling useless and deflated. Though that doesn't stop her from gifting her colleagues with things they never knew they always wanted: for Donna, a leopard print robe that says "You can get it." For Andy, a certified platinum MouseRat CD. And for April, an original painting of her having decapitated the Black Eyed Peas. ("It's a Christmas miracle.") They get Leslie back by presenting her with a lovingly crafted gingerbread house and pledging their own support of her now grassroots campaign.
The Big Bang Theory — "The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis"
No one could be more literal about the one-to-one exchange of holiday gifts than Sheldon. When he learns that Penny has a gift for him, he struggles to find something precisely equal in value to give her. But it's priceless — a napkin used and signed by Leonard Nimoy. He has no choice but to give her something just as rare: a Sheldon Cooper hug.
Ah, the holidays. A time for family togetherness, the warm embrace of friends, and crippling awkwardness.
With nearly every artist who has access to a microphone and some jingle bells deciding to put out a Christmas album, the sheer glut of holiday music makes it inevitable that we'll have some clunkers. Or, if they're not complete clunkers, that they'll leave us scratching our heads over a lyric or two. Here are ten of our most favorite awkward holiday songs.
*N Sync — "Under My Tree"
"Bring along the mistletoeKeep the music nice and lowI'll show you how good it could be.I wish that Santa could be here to seeIt's beautiful under my tree"
No word yet on whether or not Santa likes to watch.
Michael Bublé — "Santa Baby"
Bublé must have run out of Christmas standards to cover, because his version of the slinky Eartha Kitt classic is just confusing. This song is about flirting with Santa. Take that away and it's just a grown man begging for presents. "Santa buddy?" No.
Dolly Parton — "Hard Candy Christmas"
Awkward mostly because it's just so depressing, The hookers' tale of woe from The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas is actually a pretty fantastic song. But we wouldn't recommend it for your party playlist.
Olivia Newton John and John Travolta — "I Think You Might Like It"
Danny and Sandy reunited to bring us a cheese-covered holiday duet album, and this one's the kicker. Olivia and John sing about "doing a little dance," "making love all night" and then watching It's a Wonderful Life and crying. And then someone's drunk mother makes an appearance? It's thoroughly unexplainable.
Lady Gaga featuring Space Cowboy — "Christmas Tree"
What is it with pop stars singing about getting it on under Christmas trees? Do people do this? Aren't there pine needles jabbing into you? Where do you put the presents?
Liza Minnelli and Alan Cumming — "Baby, It's Cold Outside"
Clearly, one of the more inspired versions of this predatory Christmas song. Halfway through, the parts flip and Liza is pursuing Alan. Still creepy, but at least it's equal opportunity creepy.
Weather Girls — "Dear Santa (Bring Me a Man This Christmas)"
We have no problem with the sentiment — get yours, girls — but really, it's just a slightly holiday-ed up version of "It's Raining Men."
Girls Aloud — "Not Tonight, Santa"
I have a headache. Why don't you go play your XBox?
Clarence Carter — "Back Door Santa"
Justin Bieber featuring Mariah Carey — "All I Want for Christmas Is You (Superfestive!)"
Oh, but this time it's superfestive? This is the real life version of Billy Mack's "Christmas Is All Around." A cash grab in musical form.
Paramount via Everett Collection
So the holiday season isn't over, but you've already exhausted your holiday entertainment library. What to do? First, watch Love Actually a second time. (Hugh Grant and the Pointer Sisters, guys.) Then turn to these regular old movies that just happen to host some of the best Christmas scenes in film. Finally, congratulate yourself for being so gosh darn resourceful.
The guys show up to a post-heist Christmas party with new coupes and gals draped in furs. Jimmy is not pleased. "Are you stupid or somethin'? What's the matter with you?" Sounds like the holidays to us.
The Cutting Edge
The deliciously '90s and saxophone-drenched New Year's Eve scene may be flashier, but we prefer this understated gift exchange between the figure skater and the hockey player. Kate, because she's insufferable, gives Doug an unwieldy copy of Great Expectations. Doug, because he's falling in love with her anyway, gives her his lucky jersey.
Featuring Christan Bale in novelty reindeer antlers; a pot-bellied pig named Snowball; and a very PC Reese Witherspoon telling everyone to have a "Merry X-Mas!"
The Plastics perform a sexy dance for their school's holiday show; Amy Poehler still manages to steal the scene.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Who wouldn't want to pull on a Weasley sweater and spend Christmas at Hogwarts? The Great Hall looks even more magical than usual and a festive John Williams score follows everyone around. Plus, Harry getting his very first presents from his new friends gets us every time.
Not a scene, perhaps, but we can't snub a cameo by Peter Jackson as a demented Father Christmas.
Life of Brian
Brian is just Brian, so this scene may not actually count as a Christmas one. But the Monty Python classic is one of the most hilarious movies of all time, so we actually may not care.
Lady and the Tramp
The Doctor Who Christmas special is an institution. The holiday isn't quite complete until you snap your family out of their food comas and drag them in front of the television to visit with the guy who really knows if you've been naughty or nice this year. This year's episode will be a rough one, as we'll say goodbye to Matt Smith, but we're sure he'll have a worthy send-off. How do the other modern Who specials stand against each other? We've ranked them for you.
8. "The Next Doctor" (2008)
Yes, Walking Dead fans, that is the Governor. It's really too bad he was stuck in this ho-hum Tenth Doctor adventure which we almost always skip during the Christmas Day marathon.
7. "The Doctor, The Widow, and the Wardrobe" (2011)
The Eleventh Doctor plays Father Christmas to a war widow who's trying to give her children one last happy holiday before she tells them their father is dead. "Because what's the point in them being happy now if they're going to be sad later. The answer is, of course, because they are going to be sad later." Merry Christmas, everybody!
6. "The Runaway Bride" (2006)
We get a preview of the fabulous fourth season when the Tenth Doctor meets certified queen Donna Noble on the day of her wedding. He saves her from marrying a slave to a giant alien spider; she sasses him at every opportunity.
5. "A Christmas Carol" (2010)
Eleven helps mean old scrooge Michael Gambon access his feelings — and accidentally gets engaged to Marilyn Monroe — while Rory and Amy are relegated to a subplot on a crashing ship. Some Time Lords have all the fun.
4. "Voyage of the Damned" (2007)
This is what a Doctor Who Christmas should be. Goofy, over-the-top, melodramatic, and packed with weird looking aliens, the ghost of Kylie Minogue, and finally — a guy named Alonso. And for bonus points, David Tennant wearing the hell out of a tux.
3. "The End of Time" (2009)
If you like a little angst with your eggnog, then we've got just the episode for you. It's the Tenth Doctor's farewell tour. And while it's not easy to watch, it's a tour-de-force in all aspects, especially his scenes with Wilf (Bernard Cribbins). Goodbye, Ten. We don't want you to go either.
2. "The Snowmen" (2012)
There's a TARDIS in the clouds, you guys. It's magical.
1. "The Christmas Invasion" (2005)
The 2013 special promises to be slicker than ever, but there's something so charming and comforting about "The Christmas Invasion" and its arts-and-crafts effects. (Remember the spinning tree?) And in his first full episode, Tennant endears himself instantly to a slew of skeptical fans who were assured that yes, this was still their Doctor.