License to gripe: James Bond absent from Christmas TV

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If you were looking for James Bond on television, it was a blue Christmas.

A marathon of Agent 007's movie adventures has been a tradition of the holiday as far back as when TBS had the rights to the pictures. Spike TV followed suit in subsequent years after it acquired the series -- as much of it as could be televised at that point, anyway -- and more recently, the films have been shuffled around the NBC Universal cable networks (with maddening trims of scenes and dialogue).

This Christmas went Bond-less, though, and it's likely the secret agent's devotees felt the pinch. Syfy had a couple of days of 007 at Thanksgiving, but that never has meant a lack of him at Christmas. Until now.

The past year seemingly has had more Bond telecasts than ever. The premium networks Encore and Epix also have gotten in on the action. But Epix apparently is the one place to find any Bond on TV before the holiday period ends, with a couple of showings of Daniel Craig's recent "Skyfall" slated for New Year's Day. Most true Bond fans probably can solve the problem by reaching for their DVDs or Blu-rays of the movies, especially given last year's best-selling "Bond 50" set, but that isn't really the point.

With as much Bond as there's been on the home screen this year -- Pierce Brosnan's "Die Another Day" also having been shown bountifully across the Showtime and Movie Channel platforms -- it just seems odd there would be such a dearth at a time when the films are the most expected.

If it's any consolation, Bond's native England has faced the same problem this week, but at least there's a solid reason in that case. The rights to the series are in the process of being transferred from Sky Movies back to the ITV network, where they'll have a big relaunch (with "Skyfall" included) in 2014.

The French have it better in terms of Bond this holiday season. Eight of the capers are being broadcast by France 3, reaching back to Sean Connery's 007 debut in "Dr. No" and continuing through Roger Moore's "Octopussy" -- even with George Lazenby's sole Bond round, "On Her Majesty's Secret Service," on the menu.
 
Here's hoping some network and MI6, or MGM, can reach an accord again for U.S. viewers at this time next year. Christmas always will be Christmas ... but given our druthers, we'd rather have ours shaken, not stirred.
Photo/Video credit: MGM, Sony Pictures