Musical ‘Matilda,’ ‘Witcher’ Origins, ‘Midwife’ Holiday Special, Christmas Meltdown for ‘George & Tammy’

Goodies from the Christmas weekend TV gift bag include a film version of Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical and an animated quest on Apple TV+ involving a boy, a mole, a fox and a horse. Fantasy fans are treated to a dark feast with The Witcher: Blood Origin. PBS airs the traditional Call the Midwife holiday episode. For country legends George Jones and Tammy Wynette, Christmastime means another marital meltdown.

Emma Thompson and Alisha Weir in 'Roald Dahl's Matilda The Musical'
Netflix

Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical

Movie Premiere

SUNDAY: The children are revolting (a great play on words) in this spirited musical adaptation of the Roald Dahl story, and they have good reason. None more so than the gifted Matilda (Alisha Weir), a young girl whose rich imagination and sharp wits help sustain her from the indignities visited upon her by outrageously unfit parents (Stephen Graham and Andrea Riseborough) and her latest nemesis, the monstrous headmistress Miss Trunchbull (Emma Thompson in full ogre mode). Once you hear composer Tim Minchin’s lovely anthem “When I Grow Up,” it will stay with you longer than most Christmas carols.

Apple TV

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse

Movie Premiere

SUNDAY: Also adapted from a children’s book (by Charlie Mackesy), though far less savage in nature, this gorgeously animated film tells the story of a young boy seeking a place to call home and finding nurturing animal traveling companions along his quest. Newcomer Jude Coward Nicoll is The Boy, accompanied by impressive voice talent: The White Lotus’ Tom Hollander as The Mole, Luther’s Idris Elba as The Fox and Gabriel Byrne as The Horse.

Michelle Yeoh in 'The Witcher: Blood Origin'
Netflix

The Witcher: Blood Origin

Series Premiere

SUNDAY: Fantasy fans with a taste for mythologies will have plenty to chew on in a four-hour prequel to the hit demon-hunter series. Set 1,200 years earlier, Blood Origin reveals the events that led to the “conjunction of the spheres,” merging the planets of monsters, humans and elves into one. The cast includes Everything Everywhere All at Once star Michelle Yeoh, Minnie Driver and Laurence O’Fuarain in the tale of seven outcast warriors from the elven world uniting to stop a catastrophe.

Helen George, Francesca Fullilove, Megan Cusack, Leonie Elliot - 'Call The Midwife'
PBS

Call the Midwife Holiday Special

SUNDAY: Christmas wouldn’t feel complete without the annual holiday special from the long-running series about the British nurses and nuns tending to their East London clientele in the 1960s. The main event this year is a talent show organized to raise money for those involved in last season’s deadly train crash—including beloved Dr. Patrick Turner (Stephen McGann). On a personal note, it looks as if Trixie (Helen George) will soon be fielding a proposal from her widower beau Matthew (Olly Rix).

George & Tammy - Jessica Chastain as Tammy Wynette
Dana Hawley/Showtime

George & Tammy

SUNDAY: “I’m tryin’ to stay off the naughty list,” quips alcoholic country legend George Jones (Michael Shannon) as Christmas approaches for him and long-suffering wife Tammy Wynette (Jessica Chastain) in a harrowing episode of the miniseries biopic. Unfortunately, a grinch seems to have spiked his punch, and even when Tammy takes away all of his keys, George still manages to get into mischief, leading to an incident of domestic terror that leaves Tammy shaken and admitting, “All I can think is that you want to kill my love for you.”

Inside Weekend TV:

  • A Christmas ‘Carol’ (Saturday, starts at 6 am/ET, Decades): In a comedy marathon stretching to Monday morning at 6 am/ET, episodes of Carol Burnett and Friends air continuously, showcasing the best of a classic era of sketch comedy.
  • ’Twas the night before Christmas, and on Christmas Eve Saturday, movie lovers can take their pick of Frank Capra’s heartwarming It’s a Wonderful Life (8/7c, NBC), the slapstick comedy hit Home Alone (8/7c, ABC), the cult romcom Love Actually (9/8c, BBC America) and for 24 hours on the hour, starting at 8/7c on TBS and 9/8c on TNT, the family classic A Christmas Story. Turner Classic Movies devotes its prime-time hours to 1948’s The Bishop’s Wife (8/7c) with Cary Grant, Loretta Young and David Niven, followed by the 1938 version of A Christmas Carol (10/9c) starring Reginald Owen as Scrooge.
  • UPtv empties its stocking of original holiday movies with Saturday’s The Snowball Effect (7/6c), about rival meteorologists tracking a snowstorm in the town of Mistletoe, and Sunday’s Christmas in Wolf Creek (7/6c), in which a runaway reindeer could ruin the town’s Christmas play while bringing a struggling couple (Nola Martin, Tim Rozon) back together.
  • Betty White Christmas (Sunday, starts at 11 am/ET, BUZZR): Play games with the legendary Betty White all Christmas day long, with episodes of Password Plus, Tattletales, Family Feud and Match Game airing through 2 am/ET.
  • Amid a full day and night of NFL action on Christmas Sunday, the Denver Broncos-vs-L.A. Rams game (4:30 pm/ET) will be simulcast on CBS and on Nickelodeon, where a slime-filled telecast is tailored for a family audience.
  • 1923 (Sunday, streaming on Paramount+): The Yellowstone prequel’s second episode picks up with Jacob (Harrison Ford) and the Yellowstone cowboys working to save one of their own. (Did that climactic gunshot strike a younger Dutton?)
  • The L Word: Generation Q (10/9c, Showtime): In an episode described as “a love letter to theater geeks,” Alice (Leisha Hailey), Shane (Kate Moennig) and Sophie (Rosanny Zayas) examine their wrong turns on the path to finding a soulmate. Will major life shake-ups ensue?