If you’re a countdown enthusiast, you’re probably a fan of ABC Family. If your soft spot is for holiday movies, however, you may or may not love the channel. Most of the basic cable-receiving world has heard of the network’s 25 Days of Christmas. It’s an annual event, after all. In case you haven’t heard of it and can’t guess from the name, ABC Family counts down to Christmas for 25 days, featuring ho-ho-holiday movies every day.

Great, right? Actually, it kind of depends on the night that you tune in. Sure, there are holiday classics and modern favorites, but hardcore holiday folks tend to criticize the network for some of its….less traditional choices. I’ve scoured the entire almost-month of programming and using absolutely no scientific method, have analyzed ABC Fam’s offerings. The programming can be divided into three basic categories: The Good, the Questionable and the Omitted.


The Good
The real strength of ABC Family’s 25 Days lineup is in its classic specials. This is the destination for anyone looking to relive the glories of claymation Christmases past. We’re talking Rudolph; we’re talking The Year Without a Santa Claus – real Christmas classics. Of course, if old school isn’t your style, you can still find happiness here. This year’s lineup includes a lot of modern favorites to please the college-aged and under crowd too (The Santa Clause, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York and The Polar Express jump out with a quick scan of the schedule). Unfortunately, entries into both of these categories are gems, not the undisputed norm.

The Questionable
It would be unfair to completely trash the 25 Days of Christmas lineup, but it would also be unfair to scoff at those who do.

See, there are actually two kinds of questionable programming on the ABC Family schedule, the first and less egregious of these being the bad Christmas movies. Like so many cable networks, ABC Family is prone to producing original movies. Like so many made-for-cable movies, these aren’t exactly Oscar-material. The gripe with these is understandable, but a little nitpicky – they’re trying to fill 25 days of programming, after all.

The second questionable holiday programming practice ABC Family engages in is both better and worse all at once. Let me explain by examples: Included in the Christmas countdown are movies like the Harry Potter franchise, Finding Nemo, Up and Beauty and the Beast. Do you see what I mean? These are great family movies – much better in quality than any of the made-for-TV fare. Still, a holiday zealot might (and many have) argue that they aren’t exactly well-placed in a Christmas countdown.

The Omitted
I don’t really mind the Pixar-fest, but what can I say – I’m a sucker for quality. The more disconcerting thing, for me, is the odd omission of a whole slew of classics. There’s no It’s a Wonderful Life, no A Christmas Story (though the 24-hour marathon might be a little much to compete with), no Miracle on 34th Street and the only version of A Christmas Carol in the lineup stars Mickey Mouse. Even stranger is the presence of only parts of holiday series. Home Alone 2 makes it on the air, but not Home Alone; The Santa Clause and the horrible third installment The Escape Clause are both present, but not the merely-mediocre sequel The Santa Clause 2. I realize that at least some of this has to be attributed to the game of licensing musical chairs, the ill-effects of which anyone with a Netflix Instant account has probably felt, but I can’t help but be a little put off by it, all logic aside.