Eddie McClintock and Joanne Kelly Eddie McClintock and Joanne Kelly

If you're the type that tries to keep track of those perplexing stop-and-start cable schedules, you'll know December tis NOT the season for summer's sci-fi larks Eureka and Warehouse 13 to be airing new episodes. But Syfy programmers are playing Santa Tuesday night, and their gift is a back-to-back package of holiday-themed special originals of the channel's whimsical hit series. It's a great idea, because these are Syfy's most festive series anyway, so why not bring them back to spread a little cheer.

Want more Matt Roush? Subscribe to TV Guide Magazine now!

Eureka leads off (9/8c) with a tall tale — ironically involving miniaturization — told by Sheriff Carter to jaded kid prodigies in front of a roaring fire. The town is socked in by a blizzard, so Carter takes the opportunity to recall the hottest Christmas in Eureka history in a story that involves an unusually tasty fruitcake, a jet-powered sleigh (Rudolph 2.1), insistent hologram carolers and — here's the rub — a rapidly expanding hydrogen crystal that, as usual, could destroy the town if it isn't contained.

Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock vet Chris Parnell shows up as a scientist no one seems to remember — his name is Drummer, so could it be a holiday pun? — and keeping with the light comic theme, Matt Frewer returns as wacky Dr. Taggert, whose study of Santalogy goes predictably awry. Meanwhile, a very astute Secret Santa is keeping the holiday spirit alive, while the alluring Allison insists, "We could all use a little more magic in our lives."

There is magic and wonder in these special episodes of Eureka and Warehouse 13, and I was especially tickled by the way Warehouse sprinkles Christmas goodies throughout its credits and bumpers, using a storybook framework to spin its clever holiday fable (directed by executive producer Jack Kenny). The Santa in this story is, at first glance, a mean-spirited sprite, whooshing and twinkling in a blur of glitter, vandalizing and terrorizing a workaholic dad (Paul Blackthorne) who's ignoring his daughter while demolishing a block of mom-and-pop stores to build a new mall. Yes, it's Santa as Marley's ghost, but what's powering this mischievous apparition? An artifact, no doubt, but the back story behind this cursed object is a good one, grounded in historical yuletide lore.

While Pete and Mika investigate this Bad (or is he?) phantom Santa in a Los Angeles that isn't beginning to look a lot like Christmas, back at the warehouse Claudia is scheming to reunite crotchety boss Arnie with his estranged dad Isadore (a well-cast Judd Hirsch). In both episodes, the message is that family and home — even in the remote reaches of Eureka and the South Dakota warehouse — is where the heart is, and the night ends on an appropriately sentimental note.

All of this is recommended for watching in the glow of a properly lit tree with a mug of hot cider at your side. And if you're really good, Santa will bring you new seasons of Eureka and Warehouse 13 in 2011.

Subscribe to TV Guide Magazine now!