Every month, the duo that puts together GBH's programming schedule offers up insights into the best of broadcast in the coming weeks. Read on to see what Ron Bachman, Senior Director of Programming, and Devin Karambelas, Programming Manager, have to offer this month — and then go set your DVR.

Christmas with the Tabernacle Choir Featuring Kelli O’Hara and Richard Thomas

Monday, December 14 at 9pm on GBH 2

This 17th annual holiday special features Tony Award winner and Emmy and Grammy nominee Kelli O’Hara, Emmy Award-winning television, film and stage actor Richard Thomas, and the Emmy Award-winning Tabernacle Choir. That’s a lot of award-winners to cram into Temple Square along with Orchestra at Temple Square and Bells at Temple Square, but assuming they all fit, you can expect an Americana-themed program that exudes all of the warmth and peace the season can bring. (Also, if you can’t hear Richard Thomas’s name without thinking “Good night, John-Boy,” you are clearly younger than me.) —Ron

Watch the official preview:

Handel’s Messiah for Our Time

Sunday, December 20 at 7p on GBH 2
Since 1854, audiences have gathered in Boston's Symphony Hall to ring in the holidays with the Handel and Haydn Society’s special performances of Handel’s Messiah, not even skipping a beat during the pandemic of 1918. As COVID-19 shuttered venues across the country, this year’s performance seemed doomed — until the H+H Society and GBH found a way to innovate on delivery. What has emerged is a one-hour special that is truly of the moment: using robotic cameras, special recording techniques and uniquely designed performance masks, the show goes on. Handel’s Messiah for Our Time is sure to be one of the most unforgettable performances in the tradition’s 166-year-old history. —Devin

Watch a performace from the 2019 Handel and Hayden Society's Messiah at Symphony Hall:

City Hall

Tuesday, December 22 at 8pm on GBH 2
Boston’s city services get their close-up in Fred Wiseman’s latest epic. In sweeping detail, Wiseman presents a portrait of local government and the multitude of ways it intersects with citizens’ lives. As the most visible face of Boston’s City Hall, Mayor Marty J. Walsh is a recurrent figure in the film who proves to be both accountable — he is seen frequently reckoning with the city’s failures — and aspirational. Never before have I wanted to be a fly on the wall during a mayoral strategy session, but Wiseman manages to find extraordinary drama in the quotidian. City Hall clocks in at four-and-a-half hours (Wiseman rarely errs on the side of brevity), but the length here feels warranted. As one critic glowingly wrote, America would be a better place if everyone watched this film. —Devin

Watch the trailer:

Call the Midwife Holiday Special (2020)

Friday, December 25 at 9pm on GBH 2
It is December 1965. Everyone at Nonnatus House is looking forward to traditional celebrations with all the trimmings, but nothing goes quite according to plan. Sister Monica Joan is rushed to the hospital, and Trixie is incensed to receive a subscription to a Marriage Bureau as a Christmas gift. Meanwhile, a surprise reunion for Shelagh involves her in a deeply moving birth, and the Circus arrives in Poplar, bringing new friendships, experiences and an exciting adventure for Nurse Crane. That’s more than enough drama for one Christmas, but at least they didn’t have to deal with a pandemic! —Ron

Creator Heidi Thomas discusses the setting for the 2020 holiday special:

Vernon Jordan: Make It Plain

Monday, December 28 at 10pm on GBH 2
From acclaimed filmmaker Dawn Porter (John Lewis: Good Trouble) comes this new film exploring the remarkable journey of Vernon Jordan Jr., from modest origins to national renown as a distinguished, pioneering attorney, businessman and civil rights leader and as an influential powerbroker and counselor to American presidents from LBJ to Barack Obama. Jordan, now 85, paved the way for people of color in the realms of business, law and politics. Among the notables interviewed in the film are President Bill Clinton, to whom Jordan is a friend and adviser, and scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr., who describes Jordan as “the Rosa Parks of Wall Street.” An important film in this time of national racial reckoning. —Ron

Watch a clip from the episode: