The holidays are a welcome gift for overworked PopWatchers. Now is the time to catch up on all those movies the critics have already crowned Oscar contenders, or marathon a TV show on Blu-ray before the new season kicks in — Downton Abbey season 3 starts Jan. 6! — or simply track down a show you’ve been reading great things about. In the theater, Quentin Tarantino’s bloody Django Unchained, starring Leonardo DiCaprio as a sadistic villain, promises to be a jolly good time when it premieres on Christmas Day. Let’s put him on the Naughty list.
Check out what else is stuffed in this week’s PopWatch stocking.
SUNDAY, Dec. 23
Meet the Press, NBC, check local listings
In his defiant press conference on Friday, National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre blamed the media for last week’s school massacre in Newtown, Conn., and suggested that American schools should have armed guards. Since he didn’t answer any questions, his sitdown with David Gregory on Sunday morning’s most hallowed political talkshow takes on even greater interest and will most certainly set the political agenda for the week ahead.
MONDAY, Dec. 24
A Christmas Story marathon, TBS, 8 p.m.
I triple-dog-dare you not to get sucked into watching at least one of TBS’s 12 back-to-back airings of this traditional favorite.
TUESDAY, Dec. 25
Django Unchained and Les Misèrables open in theaters
Forgive me for stereotyping the target audiences for both of these much-anticipated Christmas Day movies, but I’m greatly looking forward to seeing the two crowds mixing together in the theater ticket line. Black-jeaned Tarantino cinephiles rubbing elbows with people uncontrollably humming “I Dreamed a Dream.” Anne Hathaway and Samuel L. Jackson have already raised the stakes of the rivalry with their very funny “sad off.”
WEDNESDAY, Dec. 26
The 35th Annual Kennedy Center Honors, CBS, 9 p.m.
David Letterman, Dustin Hoffman, and Led Zeppelin were honored back on Dec. 2, along with blues legend Buddy Guy and ballerina Natalia Makarova, and the ceremony finally airs — edited for time — on Wednesday. Tune in to catch Jimmy Kimmel compare Letterman to Justin Bieber, and himself to… Selena Gomez.
THURSDAY, Dec. 27
The Mindy Project holiday mini-marathon, Fox, 8 p.m.
The holidays are all about catching up with old friends, but let’s not forget to open our arms to some new friends, too. Mindy Kaling actually fits into both categories, and Fox is bunching four re-runs of her new show together on Thursday night as a sort of get-to-know-you date. No commitment for New Year’s. Just give it a chance.
FRIDAY, Dec. 28
Promised Land in theaters
Matt Damon and John Krasinski headline an all-star cast in this Springsteen-ian story about a small Pennsylvania town targeted for fracking — that is, the hydraulic, chemical-enhanced extraction of natural gas. Yes, it’s an environmental drama, but Aaron Sorkin promises you can handle it.
SATURDAY, Dec. 29
Doctor Who Christmas special, BBC America, 9 p.m.
True, this much anticipated holiday special premieres on Christmas night, but Saturday is the perfect time to catch up with it if you were too busy with Django or Jean Valjean on Tuesday. Beware the Snowmen!
SUNDAY, Dec. 30
NFL football: Dallas at Washington, FOX, 1 p.m.
A playoff berth could be on the line when these bitter NFC East rivals square off in D.C., for the last game of the regular season. The Redskins are counting on their splendid rookie quarterback, Robert Griffin III, to bounce back from a late-season injury, and Cowboys fans have to wince when they remember Tony Romo’s track record in the big games. The Skins dealt the ‘Boys a 38-31 loss on Thanksgiving Day, but both teams have been hot ever since, conjuring up the glory days of the rivalry, when Tom Landry still ruled the landscape. (As for including football on this schedule, don’t complain to the Planner: between the NFL playoffs and college football bowl season, you’re in for plenty of pigskin.)