For some cable networks, the season for holiday programming began weeks ago (I'm looking at you, Hallmark Channel!), but for others it begins in earnest today.
Tonight at 9:30 CBS debuts "It's a SpongeBob Christmas!," a new stop-motion animated special based on the hit Nickelodeon series.
After the show's usual opening theme song -- with some Christmasy additions -- the show shifts from traditional animation into the stop-motion style of animation used in other Christmas classics such as "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer."
SpongeBob sings about his joy for the holidays, and Santa in particular, while neighbor Patrick sets a trap to capture Santa using a Christmas cookie. Meanwhile, Plankton tries to turn all the Bikini Bottom residents into jerks by manufacturing a jerktonium-laced fruitcake.
The special includes the 2009 song "Don't be a Jerk (It's Christmas)," and actor John Goodman gives voice to Santa Claus. (If 9:30 seems like a too late air time given the show's built-in audience of children, never fear: The special makes its Nickelodeon debut at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 9.)
Fox re-airs "Happiness Is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown" (8-9 tonight, WPGH), a "Peanuts" special about the gang helping Linus break the habit of his childhood security blanket.
Hallmark channel re-airs last year's terrific holiday special "Jingle All the Way" at 7:30 tonight preceded and followed by a new sequel, "Jingle and Bell's Christmas Star" (7 and 8 p.m.). Jingle the Husky pup and his human caretaker, Andrew, get new friends when Sofia and her family move to Pineville from Palm City. Sofia has a Husky pup, too, named Bell.
While Jingle howls with delight over his new friend, Bell, Sofia misses her hometown but eventually gets over her disappointment with the help of new friend Andrew.
Not every new TV show for the holiday weekend is holiday-themed.
Tonight at 9, truTV debuts "Killer Karaoke," hosted by "Jackass" star Steve-O. Contestants must sing a hit song while enduring physical challenges such as singing while being dunked in a tank of snakes and alligators. Much screaming ensues.
For the hipsters, IFC brings back "Whisker Wars" (10 tonight), which chronicles Americans who compete in competitive beard growing. This season, competitors work to position themselves to win at the German National Championship.
Viewers seeking more of a warm, fuzzy feel will find it in "Unlikely Animal Friends" (8-10 tonight and Saturday night, National Geographic Channel), about unexpected animal pairs, including a rhino and sheep and a dog who hangs out with a donkey. Altogether now, "Awwwwww!"
A version of this story first appeared in Tuned In Journal blog at post-gazette.com/tv. TV writer Rob Owen: email@example.com or 412-263-2582. Follow RobOwenTV on Twitter or Facebook.