The deluge of holiday specials actually begins right after Thanksgiving, with CBS airing Nickelodeon's "It's a SpongeBob Christmas" (in advance of its DVD release) and Hallmark Channel trotting out "Jingle and Bell's Christmas Star" — a second half-hour tied to the Hallmark Cards product — both on Nov. 23.

SB_Xmas_8x12_PressArt_002It's hard to make much of a case for watching either, although if forced to pick one, go with SpongeBob, if only because the switch to stop-motion animation does such a nifty job of recalling the old Rankin & Bass specials of the past.

If only the story — or really, the absence of one, since they also have to squeeze in a number of songs — were anywhere near as good as the nostalgic look.

As for "Jingle and Bell's Christmas Star," I kept thinking of "Davey & Goliath," the Christian-based TV show of the 1960s. Built around a little boy named Andrew and his husky pup Jingle, the plot involves a new girl who moves to town and gets a lesson in Christmas spirit.

CharliebrownxmasIt's not bad, necessarily, for small kids, but it's so soft and predigested as to be the animated equivalent of empty calories. Plus, I like dogs, and this one got on my nerves.

Mostly, watching these new holiday specials only made me appreciate the perennials, like "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" and "A Charlie Brown Christmas," which will be airing next week on ABC. Some of the stuff they made in the '60s, in hindsight, was really built to last.

Still, in the spirit of the latter, maybe SpongeBob and Jingle aren't such bad little specials, after all. They just need a little love. And maybe a set of earplugs.

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