Kennedy Center Honors State Department

Front row from left, 2017 Kennedy Center Honorees Carmen de Lavallade, Norman Lear, and Gloria Estefan, back row from left, LL Cool J, and Lionel Richie celebrate following the State Department dinner for the Kennedy Center Honors in Washington. 

KEVIN WOLF, ASSOCIATED PRESS

Ah, the holidays. The kids are out of school, the presents are wrapped and under the tree, and we’ve got the whole week – or two – between now and the end of the year to do nothing but bask in television’s warm glowing warming glow.

Don’t we? Right?

Right?

Riiight.

For those of you lucky enough to have some time before and/or after Christmas with nothing to do and nowhere to go – and the endless parade of bowl games isn’t your cup of tea – we’ve got you covered. There are plenty of marathons to partake, so plunk down in front of the TV and while away the hours while dinner grows cold on the table, shoppers brave picking up that last-minute gift – then returning it and hitting the after-Christmas sales – at the stores, and life generally passes without a notice or a care.

And why not start with something a little anti-holiday, something a bit macabre? SHO2, one of the Showtime family of channels, is starting a full-series “Dexter” marathon, with one season a day, at the (depending on your perspective) ungodly/civilized hour of 7 a.m. Friday.

Relive all the grisly details of the Miami Metro Police Department’s ace blood spatter expert, Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall), as he leads his double life as a killer of killers. He has a code: He only kills those who deserve it: child murderers, habitual sexual offenders, serial killers … those who have gotten away with crimes unsuitable for Dexter’s sensibilities.

Each season follows the twisty existence of a lawman evading the law as he tracks notorious suspects – the Ice Truck Killer, the Bay Harbor Butcher (SPOILER ALERT: It’s him!), the Skinner, the Trinity Killer, the Doomsday Killers, the Brain Surgeon – so he can get to them before the police can, all the while evading growing suspicion of his own extracurricular activities. The “Dexter” marathons start at 7 a.m. Friday and continue, with 10 episodes each day (typically finishing by 6 p.m.), for eight successive days, wrapping up with season eight on Dec. 29, all on SHO2.

The next marathon doesn’t last quite as long – it’s only six days – but it covers vastly more ground. Starting with season one, episode one, HBO2 revs up “Game of Thrones,” Tuesday at the more civilized hour of 11 a.m. Again, each day brings another event-filled season with the exception of seasons six and seven, which will run in succession on Dec. 31, beginning at (yipes!) 5 a.m. And this is why DVRs were invented.

Re-experience – or witness for the first time (and it should go without saying, but SPOILERS ALERT!) – the death of Ned Stark and the birth of Arya the Assassin, the death of Khal Drogo and the birth of dragons, the grisly Red Wedding and the brutal Battle of the Bastards, and so, so many more deaths and battles and alliances and schemes and power plays, all leading up to the eighth and final season to air … well, let’s just say sometime in the future. Catch up now, if you can, or kick yourself for not being able to participate in workplace conversations when the show returns.

If holiday fare is more your style, the traditional 24-hour marathon of “A Christmas Story” gets started at 7 p.m. Sunday on TBS and TNT. Tune in for the triple-dog dare, stay for the leg lamp, the bunny suit, and the Red Ryder BB gun.

And FXX, home to five days of six-hour blocks of “The Simpsons” a week, triples down on the Christmas-themed episodes starting at 5 p.m. Friday, and continuing Sunday with a shortened block of four hours, starting at 3 p.m. and leading into the Christmas-themed movie “The Night Before,” starring, among others, Seth Rogen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Lizzy Caplan, and Mindy Kaling, at 7 p.m. Then on Monday, the marathon goes back to six hours and, while each block shows some of the same episodes, there are a few changes: Monday’s offerings begin at the very beginning, with the very first episode of the series, “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire,” wherein we learn how Santa’s Little Helper found his home. It starts at 5 p.m. on FXX.

Color me … colorized: Friday CBS airs its annual “I Love Lucy Christmas Special,” featuring the show’s “Christmas Episode” and, new this year, “The Fashion Show,” which has Lucy spending way too much money to participate in a fancy salon’s fashion show, both in full color. The special airs at 7 p.m. It’s followed by “The Dick Van Dyke Show – Now in Living Color!,” which features two episodes chosen by creator Carl Reiner that showcase the talents of the late Mary Tyler Moore. The episodes include “My Blonde-Haired Brunette,” where Laura (Moore) dyes her brown locks fair when she fears the romance between her and Rob (Van Dyke) is fading; and “October Eve,” which features some artistic license when a painter (Reiner) makes a risqué painting of a fully clothed Laura. Both episodes, in full color, air at 8 p.m. on Ch. 3.

A classic returns, but first …: “How Murray Saved Christmas,” the story of a cranky deli owner (Murray, voiced by Jerry Stiller) who is forced to fill in for Santa, airs at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, followed by the annual airing of the Frank Capra classic “It’s a Wonderful Life,” starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed, at 7 p.m., both on Ch. 15.

The new year starts Tuesday: Once Christmas is out of the way, it’s time for “Happy New Year, Charlie Brown!” Instead of joining the festivities, Charlie Brown decides he’s going to settle in with “War and Peace,” but plans always seem to change. The special, airing at 7 p.m., is followed at 8 p.m. by “Rudolph’s Shiny New Year,” in which Rudolph, Santa, and the rest of the crew are tasked by Father Time to find the missing Baby New Year. Both specials air on Ch. 27.

Most honored guests: “The 40th Annual Kennedy Center Honors,” celebrating the achievements of hip-hop artist and actor LL Cool J, singer-songwriter Lionel Richie, singer-songwriter Gloria Estefan, choreographer and dancer Carmen de Lavallade, and TV writer and producer Norman Lear, will be broadcast at 8 p.m. Tuesday on Ch. 3. The president and his wife, typically guests of honor at this annual fundraiser, did not attend.

In case you missed them: The following specials aired earlier in the month, but in case you missed them, here they come again. Both the “I Love Lucy Christmas Special” and “The Dick Van Dyke Show – Now in Living Color!” will air Sunday at 7 and 8 p.m., respectively, on Ch. 3; the animated “Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas” airs again Monday at 7 p.m. on Ch. 15; the Christmas-themed “Showtime at the Apollo” airs at 7 p.m. Monday on Ch. 47; and “The Carol Burnett 50th Anniversary Special” will be rebroadcast at 7 p.m. Wednesday on Ch. 3.

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