Key Points:

Now before we all go getting wrapped up in the commercial nature of Christmas, let us take a moment to reflect on something meaningful: Christmas television.

Do TV programmers go on holiday before or after Christmas? You can use that rhetorical question as the prize in your cracker. Now let us bow our heads and look at the line-up leading up to Jesus' big day (I've got him a Tickle Me Elmo).

Lots of movies, of course, many with snow. If you feel like taking that theme one step further there's a riveting doco on Christmas Eve called Pine or Pohutakawa (TV One, 5pm). "We're not really 'Dreaming of a White Christmas!" says the promo.

Wanna bet? Heaps of us are planning on going away at this time of year. Me no afford so me dream. So why the documentaries about crashing planes? In the past two weeks I have watched, mesmerised, a blow-by-blow account of a 737 having its ceiling ripped off over Hawaii in 1988. Thanks Prime. Then on Monday it was an equally morbid doco on TV One about the Ethiopian airliner that crashed into the sea after it was hijacked and ran out of fuel. In 1996. I find flying scary enough as it is with the lid on. So why screen them now? (And why the hell did I watch them?)

My theory is that the TV programmers have in-laws with a fear of flying but they're not convinced that will stop them from dropping in unannounced at Christmas. "Perhaps if I put on this freaky and very-lifelike-apart-from-the-bad-acting re-enactment of a plane crashing, they won't come up from Christchurch after all."

There's also, predictably, a large number of cooking shows on TV One: Nigella's Christmas Kitchen, Peta Mathias' A Taste of Christmas, Rick Stein's Food Heroes' Christmas. Guess they haven't heard of Foodrunner. And it probably explains all the diet shows (see X-Weighted, TV2, 7.30pm, Thursday week).

There are also some truly barmy pre-Christmas nibbles on offer. Prime has a Mythbusters Christmas Special of the northern hemisphere kind (think killer icicles and naked vs clothed snowmen). And how about the joy-crushing gem that is Target on Monday (TV3, 7.30pm), where they put a six-year-old actor and a hidden camera on Santa's knee to get the truth? Enough already, he's real!

Speaking of oldies, and this has nothing to do with Christmas, The West Wing is really starting to show its age. Jimmy Smits is finally the president-elect and he's about to deal with his first international crisis. But unlike the rest of us in late 2006, he doesn't laugh when he says "Kazakhstan".

Yep, on the big day, the idea is that most of us will be too busy trying on our new fluoro green g-strings to watch TV. We know it never pans out that way. You run out of things to say to the cousins you haven't seen since last Christmas. Your sister gives you something you're pretty sure you gave your sister last year. The turkey runs away so your mum insists on catching another one.

So, TV. Aside from what you'd expect to see on the box - and let's not forget Queenie's big-ups to the birthday boy at 6.50pm - TV One has Blackadder, Father Ted and a show about Vikings. TV2 has Muppets singing Christmas carols (no, Christmas in the Park was last week) followed by Pollyanna and Seabiscuit (the one about the racehorse).

TV3's Outrageous Fortune ends a cracker year with a two-hour Christmas special on Boxing Day. But the highlight is surely Triangle TV's Christmas marathon, featuring Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, one of the baddest movies of all time.