Sunday, July 31, 2022

Christmas in July 2022: It's a Wonderful Summer Recap

Merry Christmas in July! This month went by quickly, didn't it? Did you check out all the daily posts during the month-long marathon? In case you were late to the party this summer, here's your chance to catch up. Below is a complete list of links to each of discussion on Christmas programs adapted from the 1946 holiday movie It's a Wonderful Life or programs that make significant references to IAWL. 

This month-long list of interesting references to It's a Wonderful Life is NOT an exhaustive list by far. From the dozens and dozens of adaptations of IAWL, I purposefully selected thirty that featured children's programming, drama series, sitcoms, parodies, and adaptations that were not even Christmas stories! A complete list of TV adaptations of IAWL can be found in the appendix of my upcoming book Tis the Season TV.

 
Thanks to everyone who followed along and to all who left comments. If you would still like to leave comments, please feel free to do so--the discussion doesn't have to end just because the marathon is over.  And, keep your eyes open--the expanded and updated encyclopedia Tis the Season TV is coming soon. Merry Christmas in July! 

 


 

It Happened One Christmas (1977)

Beverly Hills 90210 (1992) 

The Facts of Life (1987)

Merry Christmas George Bailey (1997)

Saturday Night Live sketch (1986)

Warehouse 13 (2011)

Mulaney (2014)

 


 

Rugrats (1994)

It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie (2002)

Clarence (1990)

The ABC Afterschool Special: Amy & the Angel (1982)

The Goldbergs (2019)

The Magic School Bus (1996)

Mork & Mindy (1979)

 


 

The O.C. (2006) 

Quantum Leap (1992)

A Dream of Christmas (2016)

Providence (1999)

Roseanne (1992)

Moonlighting (1986)

Richie Rich's Christmas Wish (1998)

 


 

Wacky Races (2017)

Even Stevens (2000)

Benson (1984)

Alf (1987)

The Emperor's New School (2006) 

 


 

Night Court (1991)

Psych (2010)

Married...With Children (1989)

Rolie Polie Olie (2001)





Joanna Wilson is a TV researcher and book author specializing in Christmas entertainment. More about the TV programs mentioned on this website can be found in her book "Tis the Season TV: the Encyclopedia of Christmas-themed Episodes, Specials, and Made-for-TV Movies." Her latest book "Triple Dog Dare: Watching--& Surviving--the 24-Hour Marathon of A Christmas Story" was released in 2016. She is currently updating and expanding the encyclopedia for an upcoming release. Her books can be found at the publisher's website: 1701 press.com

*Support this website and its research by purchasing the books at 1701 press.com

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Christmas in July 2022: Rolie Polie Olie (2001)

 

 

Merry Christmas in July! It is Day #30 of the month-long celebration of Christmas entertainment. Each day this month I will be sharing reminisces about Christmas TV episodes, specials, and movies with a IT'S A WONDERFUL SUMMER attitude. Yes--this month I'm sharing brief essays about TV adaptations of the 1946 movie It's a Wonderful Life along with TV programs with significant references to the movie. Just a little something different and a way for me to show off the diversity of holiday stories I've collected in the encyclopedia Tis the Season TV (the updated and expanded 2nd edition being released soon).   

 


 

Today's discussion is on the 2001 episode "it's a Round-iful Life" of the CGI-animated Disney series Rolie Polie Olie. This imaginative children's series focuses on the Polie family of robots who live in a geometric world called Planet Polie. They don't exactly celebrate Christmas like us Earthlings, but instead they celebrate a nearly identical holiday--yet geometric one--called Jingle Jangle Days with an annual gift-giver named Klanky Klaus. This series is adorable!


Here's a clip so you can see what Klanky Klaus looks like--from the episode "A Jingle Jangle Wish" (2001).

 

The episode "It's a Round-iful Life" is adapted from the 1946 movie It’s a Wonderful Life, however it is not set at Christmas or Jingle Jangle Days. In this story, the young boy Olie is feeling like his parents only want to pay attention to his baby sister Zowie and that he isn’t wanted anymore. Olie decides to runaway but he only hides in the backyard treehouse. When his father Mr. Polie and mother Mrs. Polie miss Olie and realize what’s going on, they decide to help him feel better about himself. Olie’s parents and sister leave Olie alone in the treehouse but they speak loudly about how they miss him and how much their lives are lessened by his absence. Sure enough, Olie hears them and feels like one of the family again.

This charming adaptation of It’s a Wonderful Life is appropriate for the youngest of viewers to understand how to value one’s life. It's interesting that the children's series freely draws upon the familiar story structure of the 1946 movie to tell its story. I like that Olie's parents are familiar enough with the movie to use it to help their son.

The voice cast includes Cole Caplan as Olie, Kristen Bone as Zowie, Catherine Disher as Mrs. Polie, and Adrian Truss as Mr. Polie.


Joanna Wilson is a TV researcher and book author specializing in Christmas entertainment. More about the TV programs mentioned on this website can be found in her book "Tis the Season TV: the Encyclopedia of Christmas-themed Episodes, Specials, and Made-for-TV Movies." Her latest book "Triple Dog Dare: Watching--& Surviving--the 24-Hour Marathon of A Christmas Story" was released in 2016. She is currently updating and expanding the encyclopedia for an upcoming release. Her books can be found at the publisher's website: 1701 press.com

*Support this website and its research by purchasing the books at 1701 press.com

Friday, July 29, 2022

Christmas in July 2022: Married...With Children (1989)

 


Merry Christmas in July! It is Day #29 of the month-long celebration of Christmas entertainment. Each day this month I will be sharing reminisces about Christmas TV episodes, specials, and movies with a IT'S A WONDERFUL SUMMER attitude. Yes--this month I'm sharing brief essays about TV adaptations of the 1946 movie It's a Wonderful Life along with TV programs with significant references to the movie. Just a little something different and a way for me to show off the diversity of holiday stories I've collected in the encyclopedia Tis the Season TV (the updated and expanded 2nd edition being released soon).  

Today's discussion is on the memorable 4th season episode "It's a Bundyful Life" from the irreverent sitcom Married...With Children. This Christmas episode originally aired as an hour-long episode but has since been broken into two parts to re-air in the traditional half-hour time slot. This series' version of It's a Wonderful Life flips the original meaning of the 1946 movie on its side. Let's look at it a little more closely.


In the first half of the episode, father Al Bundy promises Christmas this year will be different because he has opened a Christmas club savings account at the bank--there will be money for presents! However, Peg, Kelly, and Bud each greedily try to convince him to spend all of the money just on them. Meanwhile, neighbor Steve has gone home to his mother for the holidays leaving his wife Marcy to attend her debauched office Christmas party by herself. On Christmas Eve, Al doesn’t make it to the bank before it closes, leaving him broke as usual.  

 

 

In the second half of the story, Al finds that his family members aren't very forgiving when he comes home without the money from his Christmas club account. Al regrets that he was ever born and his guardian angel arrives to show him what his family's lives would be like without him.

 

Comedian Sam Kinison-Als' guardian angel


Before moving on with the summary, let's talk about Al's guardian angel. One of the reasons this sitcom adaptation of It's a Wonderful Life is so memorable is because of the casting of Al's guardian angel. The angel is played by boundary-pushing, stand-up comedian Sam Kinison who was well known at the time for his anger, frustration and scream-filled approach to comedy. So when the audience sees Sam Kinison as Al's guardian angel, we know the disrespected and unloved Al Bundy will not be given the sympathy, compassion, or understanding that he craves. 


 

In the guardian angel's vision of life without Al Bundy, wife Peg becomes a devoted June Cleaver-type homemaker, and Al's children Bud and Kelly are intelligent and squeaky clean. Peg’s new husband Norman Jablonsky is a hard-working professional and a very loving husband and father. Of course, Al can’t stand how happy the Jablonskys are without him so he insists that his guardian angel return him back to his former life so they can all be miserable together.

This dark parody of It's a Wonderful Life sets itself apart from the many other TV adaptations of the 1946 movie. The perfect casting of Al's guardian angel in Sam Kinison captures the tone of this cynical comedy and alerts viewers that this will not be a feel-good story, like most other Christmas TV episodes. 



Fans of Married...With Children know that Norman Jablonsky here is played by actor Ted McGinley who would later be hired again to play Marcy’s second husband Jefferson D'Arcy, starting in season 5.

There’s also a funny running gag throughout the episode that the Bundys keep trying to pretend they aren’t home to avoid the roaming carolers in the neighborhood.

The cast includes Ed O'Neill as Al Bundy,  Katey Sagal as Peg Bundy, Amanda Bearse as Marcy, Christina Applegate as Kelly Bundy, David Faustino as Bud Bundy, Ted McGinley as Norman Jablonsky, and Sam Kinison as Al's guardian angel.


Joanna Wilson is a TV researcher and book author specializing in Christmas entertainment. More about the TV programs mentioned on this website can be found in her book "Tis the Season TV: the Encyclopedia of Christmas-themed Episodes, Specials, and Made-for-TV Movies." Her latest book "Triple Dog Dare: Watching--& Surviving--the 24-Hour Marathon of A Christmas Story" was released in 2016. She is currently updating and expanding the encyclopedia for an upcoming release. Her books can be found at the publisher's website: 1701 press.com

*Support this website and its research by purchasing the books at 1701 press.com

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Christmas in July 2022: Psych (2010)

 


 

Merry Christmas in July! It is Day #28 of the month-long celebration of Christmas entertainment. Each day this month I will be sharing reminisces about Christmas TV episodes, specials, and movies with a IT'S A WONDERFUL SUMMER attitude. Yes--this month I'm sharing brief essays about TV adaptations of the 1946 movie "It's a Wonderful Life" along with TV programs with significant references to the movie. Just a little something different and a way for me to show off the diversity of holiday stories I've collected in the encyclopedia Tis the Season TV (the updated and expanded 2nd edition being released soon). 


Psych isn't airing on Ion TV on Saturdays anymore (as of July 2022) but this trailer does capture the tone of the detective series.

 

Today's discussion is on the humorous detective series Psych and its fifth season episode "The Polarizing Express." In this Christmas episode, police consultant Shawn Spencer is caught on camera illegally obtaining evidence against the organized criminal Czarsky, so the case is dismissed, and the Santa Barbara Police Department fires Shawn. Feeling worthless, Shawn takes a nap after wondering how life would be different if he had never become the psychic police consultant five years ago.  

This series is all about the dynamic between Shawn and Gus who make continuous  pop culture references.

 

Shawn slips into a dream, guided by actor Tony Cox. Shawn's dream resembles It’s A Wonderful Life--but with even more movie and TV references! Shawn experiences what life would be like for the people who know him if he had never been there to influence them. Realizing that some of them may be better off, Shawn decides to awaken and gather more evidence to put Czarsky behind bars. In the end, the police are able to gather evidence against Czarsky when the city’s residents come together and agree to testify against him. Much like the ending in the 1946 movie, Shawn feels his life has meaning when he witnesses the community spirit to support him.

 

Shawn and his guardian angel Tony Cox.


The cast includes James Roday as Shawn Spencer, Dulé Hill as Gus Guster, Tony Cox as the guardian angel Tony Cox, and Keshia Knight Pulliam as Gus’ wife, Corbin Bernsen as Shawn's father Henry Spencer, Timothy Omundson as Det. Carlton Lassiter, and Det. Maggie Lawson as Juliet O'Hara. 

James Roday starred in this episode, directed it, and even has a co-writing credit. Whew! I like this adaptation of It's a Wonderful Life because the writing is clever enough to play with the familiar story structure and parody it too. This comedy series grew to be a cult TV hit largely for its humor, irreverence, pop culture and self-referential style, and boldness. This Christmas episode embodies the series' charm to the fullest. Psych has several Christmas episodes besides this one--do you have a favorite?


Joanna Wilson is a TV researcher and book author specializing in Christmas entertainment. More about the TV programs mentioned on this website can be found in her book "Tis the Season TV: the Encyclopedia of Christmas-themed Episodes, Specials, and Made-for-TV Movies." Her latest book "Triple Dog Dare: Watching--& Surviving--the 24-Hour Marathon of A Christmas Story" was released in 2016. She is currently updating and expanding the encyclopedia for an upcoming release. Her books can be found at the publisher's website: 1701 press.com

*Support this website and its research by purchasing the books at 1701 press.com

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Christmas in July 2022: Night Court (1991)

 


 

Merry Christmas in July! It is Day #27 of the month-long celebration of Christmas entertainment. Each day this month I will be sharing brief reminisces about Christmas TV episodes, specials, and movies with a IT'S A WONDERFUL SUMMER attitude. Yes--this month I'm sharing brief essays about TV adaptations of the 1946 movie "It's a Wonderful Life" along with TV programs with significant references to the movie. Just a little something different and a way for me to show off the diversity of holiday stories I've collected in the encyclopedia Tis the Season TV (the updated and expanded 2nd edition being released soon). 

 

 

 

Today's discussion is on the season 8 episode "Hey Harry, F’Crying Out Loud--It’s a Wonderful Life...Sorta" from the sitcom Night Court which first aired on Feb. 27, 1991. Even though this is not a Christmas story, it is an adaptation of the 1946 holiday movie It's a Wonderful Life and includes some fantastic Christmas connects. 

 

Jazz singer Mel Tormé appears as Judge Harry Stone's guardian angel.

In this episode, Judge Harry Stone feels down after his girlfriend leaves him for the Witness Protection Program, and his regular routine seems meaningless. Attorney Christine Sullivan is worried about Harry and when she sees that Harry's favorite jazz singer Mel Tormé is performing in New York, she contacts Tormé and gets her friend tickets for the best seat in the house. Meanwhile, Harry is feeling depressed and wishes he’d never come to work at the courthouse. Harry's dream comes true courtesy of his guardian angel Herb who just so happens to resemble Mel Tormé. 

 

New York City is a far worse place when Dan Fielding is appointed as judge.
 

Herb shows Harry what life in the courthouse would look like if he never came to work there. Harry and Herb step into a black-and-white world in which Dan Fielding is the night court judge and justice is for sale. Fielding's corruption makes optimistic defense lawyer Christine Sullivan feel cynical and jaded, easy-going court clerk Mac Robinson is now a stressed-out prosecutor, bailiff Bull Shannon is the Deputy Mayor manipulated by Fielding's machinations, and bailiff Roz Russell is sent to jail for standing up to Fielding. Harry sees that his influence on the court and his friends is important and he's glad to return to his life as the night court's judge.

 

Harry sees the world without him in it in black-and-white--just like the 1946 holiday movie It's a Wonderful Life.

 

The guardian angel Herb escorts Harry into a black-and-white world--literally--as the angel explains that he knows Harry is a fan of old Hollywood movies. Inside the court, everyone is dressed in 1940s suits, dresses and fedoras--not just reflecting vintage Hollywood but recreating the look of It's a Wonderful Life.

 

In this episode, Tormé sings the jazz standard "Pick Yourself Up" written by Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields.

Although the story is not set at Christmas, casting Mel Tormé as Harry's guardian angel suggests Christmas nonetheless. Not only did Mel Tormé write the holiday anthem "The Christmas Song" (with Bob Wells), but Tormé had just appeared in the eighth season Christmas episode of Night Court two months prior! Another connection to It's a Wonderful Life is made in this episode when the song "Auld Lang Syne" can be heard just before the sitcom's closing credits. The song "Auld Lang Syne" is sung in It's a Wonderful Life at the end of the movie when all of George Bailey's friends arrive with money to help him out of his jam and the celebrating begins--the emotional highlight of the 1946 movie. This sitcom's tribute to It’s a Wonderful Life may not be a Christmas episode but the spirit remains the same.


Just a few more days of TV references to It's a Wonderful Life. Have I mentioned your favorite TV adaptation yet? Feel free to leave comments below. Merry Christmas in July!


Joanna Wilson is a TV researcher and book author specializing in Christmas entertainment. More about the TV programs mentioned on this website can be found in her book "Tis the Season TV: the Encyclopedia of Christmas-themed Episodes, Specials, and Made-for-TV Movies." Her latest book "Triple Dog Dare: Watching--& Surviving--the 24-Hour Marathon of A Christmas Story" was released in 2016. She is currently updating and expanding the encyclopedia for an upcoming release. Her books can be found at the publisher's website: 1701 press.com

*Support this website and its research by purchasing the books at 1701 press.com

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Christmas in July 2022: The Emperor's New School (2006)

 

  

Merry Christmas in July! It is Day #26 of the month-long celebration of Christmas/holiday entertainment. Each day this month I will be sharing brief reminisces about Christmas TV episodes, specials, and movies with a IT'S A WONDERFUL SUMMER attitude. Yes--this month I'm sharing brief essays about TV adaptations of the 1946 movie "It's a Wonderful Life" along with TV programs with significant references to the movie. Just a little something different and a way for me to show off the diversity of holiday stories I've collected in the encyclopedia Tis the Season TV (the updated and expanded 2nd edition being released soon).  


 

Today's discussion is on the Disney Channel animated series The Emperor's New School which is a follow-up to the animated Disney movie The Emperor's New Groove from 2000. The series centers on the character Kuzco who is focusing on his education before becoming emperor. The villain here is the adviser Yzma who wants to be empress instead. The first season episode "Yzmopolis" draws upon the 1946 holiday movie It's a Wonderful Life for its inspiration. I've chosen to discuss this episode because the series is set during the Pre-Columbian era featuring people from the Incan culture. I hope you're as impressed as I am to see how far the It's a Wonderful Life-story structure has traveled and yet remains meaningful to viewers. Let's look more carefully at the episode.

 

l to r: Kronk, Kuzco, and Malina.

In the 2006 episode "Yzmopolis," Kuzco knows that in his role as emperor, he doesn’t fit in with everyone else. After he upsets his friends Chicha, Kronk and Malina, Kuzco goes to the Temple of the Sky God and wishes he were never emperor. When Kuzco discovers his wish has come true and he can now fit in with the others, he happy to live the life of a peasant. 

 

The villainous Yzma is voiced by Eartha Kitt.

But Kuzco finds being a peasant isn’t as he imagined when Yzma is the emperor, Kronk is the school principal, and Malina is in violation of Yzma’s law. Kuzco finally realizes he is ready to resume his life as an emperor, however Yzma holds his fate in her hands.

The voice cast includes J.P. Manoux as Kuzco, Patrick Warburton as Kronk, Eartha Kitt as Yzma, Wendie Malick as Chicha, and Jessica DiCicco as Malina.
 

Even though this story is an adaptation of the 1946 holiday movie It’s a Wonderful Life, the 2006 episode is not a Christmas story. "What kind of Christmas could Incans celebrate anyway" you may ask. This is directly addressed in the 2007 episode “A Giftmas Story.” In that 2nd season episode, the holiday celebrated by Kuzco and his friends is creatively called Giftmas--a clear parallel to Christmas. The holiday features a gift-giver named Papa Santos who has a nice and naughty list from which he gathers names to give gifts. Papa Santas lives in the Ice Fortress (read: North Pole) and delivers his gifts on Giftmas Eve from a rickshaw to those who believe in him. Sounds pretty familiar, no? 

 

Even though the 1st season episode "Yzmopolis" does not take place at Christmas or Giftmas, it is interesting to see how the story structure from the 1946 holiday movie is repeated in a meaningful way--in a story for young viewers. Merry Christmas in July!


Joanna Wilson is a TV researcher and book author specializing in Christmas entertainment. More about the TV programs mentioned on this website can be found in her book "Tis the Season TV: the Encyclopedia of Christmas-themed Episodes, Specials, and Made-for-TV Movies." Her latest book "Triple Dog Dare: Watching--& Surviving--the 24-Hour Marathon of A Christmas Story" was released in 2016. She is currently updating and expanding the encyclopedia for an upcoming release. Her books can be found at the publisher's website: 1701 press.com

*Support this website and its research by purchasing the books at 1701 press.com

Monday, July 25, 2022

Christmas in July 2022: Alf (1987)

 

 


Merry Christmas in July! It is Day #25 of the month-long celebration of Christmas/holiday entertainment. Each day this month I will be sharing brief reminisces about Christmas TV episodes, specials, and movies with a IT'S A WONDERFUL SUMMER attitude. Yes--this month I'm sharing brief essays about TV adaptations of the 1946 movie "It's a Wonderful Life" along with TV programs with significant references to the movie. Just a little something different and a way for me to show off the diversity of holiday stories I've collected in the encyclopedia Tis the Season TV (the updated and expanded 2nd edition being released soon).  

 

Alf is handed out as a stuffed toy at the children's hospital.

Today's discussion is on the second season's hour-long installment known as Alf's Special Christmas. In this story, the Tanner family celebrates Christmas in the rustic cabin where Willie spent the holidays of his childhood. When the cabin's owner Mr. Foley drops by, Alf hides in his truck amongst a stack of Christmas presents. Alf is mistakenly given away as a doll at a children’s hospital! 

 

Alf learns about the true Christmas spirit from Tiffany.


At the hospital, Alf befriends a young girl named Tiffany who is terminally ill. Trying to get back to the Tanners, Alf gets trapped in the hospital elevator with a pregnant woman and he ends up delivering her baby. 


 

Alf steps in as Mr. Foley's guardian angel to remind Foley that still people need him.

Meanwhile, Mr. Foley is so depressed, he contemplates jumping off a bridge until Alf confronts him, much like the guardian angel in the 1946 movie It’s a Wonderful Life. Alf brings together Mr. Foley and Tiffany so each of them has someone who needs them.
 

In addition to the nod to It's a Wonderful Life, this extended episode makes two references to the famous editorial “Yes, Virginia, There Is A Santa Claus” in the context of honoring the hope of children for the future of society. The heart-felt message seems even more poignant in this already emotional episode. There are also several references to Alf being a fan of Perry Como and he’s disappointed to have to miss the annual Perry Como Christmas TV special while staying at the cabin. 

 



 

The cast includes Max Wright as Willie Tanner, Anne Schedeen as Kate Tanner, Andrea Elson as Lynn Tanner, Benji Gregory as Brian Tanner, and puppeteer Paul Fusco as the voice of Alf. Special guests include Cleavon Little as Mr. Foley, Molly Hagan as the new mother Denise, and Keri Houlihan as young Tiffany.

 

Cleavon Little as Mr. Foley.


At the end credits, there is a dedication to Tiffany Leigh Smith. She was a real-life terminally ill girl that inspired this Christmas special. 

 

Even if the reference in this episode to It's a Wonderful Life is fairly short, it is certainly memorable and the emotional climax of the story. On the icy bridge, Alf is dressed as Santa Claus and Mr. Foley wonders if his angel is actually St. Nicholas/Santa Claus. Foley is comforted by the sentiment in the editorial "Yes Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus" that we should all embrace the hope that comes with the idea of Santa Claus, as he chooses to step down from the railing of the ice-covered bridge. This sentiment is certainly beautiful year-round. Merry Christmas in July!


Joanna Wilson is a TV researcher and book author specializing in Christmas entertainment. More about the TV programs mentioned on this website can be found in her book "Tis the Season TV: the Encyclopedia of Christmas-themed Episodes, Specials, and Made-for-TV Movies." Her latest book "Triple Dog Dare: Watching--& Surviving--the 24-Hour Marathon of A Christmas Story" was released in 2016. She is currently updating and expanding the encyclopedia for an upcoming release. Her books can be found at the publisher's website: 1701 press.com

*Support this website and its research by purchasing the books at 1701 press.com