It's that special holiday time, that holiday special time. Every Christmas adds at least a few new films or cartoons to the canon, most of which, like Santa's own reindeer and sleigh, will fly off the radar. Many are not worth seeing anyway, and of those that are, few will ever be called timeless (though given all the many hours of cable there are to fill, most will be back). But here are two worth at least a look.
"A Miser Brothers' Christmas" (ABC Family, 8 tonight) features the breakout stars of the 1974 Rankin/Bass puppet-animation special "The Year Without a Santa Claus," whose classic status is undisputed among people who were small then. The story -- Santa laid up with a bad back, brothers Heat Miser and Snow Miser enlisted to replace him, an attempted coup by the North Wind -- offers nothing as memorable as an Island of Misfit Toys, and the new songs do not beg to be remembered, but it's more or less in the Rankin/Bass style. (Not everything they touched turned to gold anyway.)
Canadian stop-motion specialists Cuppa Coffee, working with or for Warner Bros. Animation, have done an estimable job evoking the look and feel of the original, if not quite its particular ragtag magic. Mickey Rooney, 88, manfully reprises his Santa Claus, though the return of George S. Irving (the narrator of "Underdog") as Heat Miser is equally exciting.