Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Christmas in July 2022: Warehouse 13 (2011)

 


 

Merry Christmas in July! It is Day #6 in the month-long celebration of Christmas entertainment. As announced before, 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 third season episode "The Greatest Gift" of the science fiction series Warehouse 13. Warehouse 13 is a series that originally aired on the Syfy Channel that combines charming characters with a provocative location--these are the employees of an Area 51-type governmental storage facility. They are responsible for guarding over supernatural and sometimes alien artifacts that the government secretly possesses. I first wrote about this episode here on the website in 2012 and I've pulled from that essay to talk about it again here.


The Aisle of Noel inside the government warehouse. Ooohh I wonder what supernatural power that Leg Lamp holds!?


In this third season episode, special agent Pete Lattimore is in the warehouse's Aisle of Noel when he accidentally touches an upholstery brush owned by Philip Van Doren Stern--the author of the short story “The Greatest Gift” which inspired the movie It’s A Wonderful Life. Pete now finds he lives in world in which he has never been born! The special agent goes to Washington DC to convince his co-worker Myka, who’s never heard of him, to let another special agent Artie out of prison and help him break into Warehouse 13. They have to make things right because in this world, a dangerous villain from previous episodes--agent-turned-killer James MacPherson isn’t dead. MacPherson has booby trapped the warehouse to use the artifacts for his own purposes. Pete has to find a way to convince his co-workers Myka, Artie, Claudia, and Leena to trust him even though he’s a stranger. 

This is a very clever, complex adaptation of the holiday movie It’s A Wonderful Life in a new and interesting way. It maintains the world and characters of the Warehouse 13 science-fiction universe but also places them in familiar narrative of It's a Wonderful Life. Literary fans love this too because this Christmas episode's story goes one step further and acknowledges and incorporates Philip Van Doren Stern's original story "The Greatest Gift" which inspired Frank Capra to make the 1946 holiday movie.

The cast of this 2011 Christmas episode includes Eddie McClintock as Pete, Joanne Kelly as Myka, Saul Rubinek as Artie, Allison Scagliotti as Claudia, Genelle Williams as Leena, and Roger Rees as James McPherson.


Cover of deluxe edition from Penguin Books.


Have you ever read Philip Van Doren Stern's book "The Greatest Gift?"  Please 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 5, 2022

Christmas in July 2022: SNL (1986)

 


 

Merry Christmas in July! It is Day #5 in the month-long celebration of Christmas entertainment. As announced before, 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 Saturday Night Live parody sketch known as "The Lost Ending of 'It's a Wonderful Life'" that was first broadcast in 1986 in the episode hosted by William Shatner, with musical guest Lone Justice. The sketch was rebroadcast numerous times, including in the "Best of SNL Christmas" prime time holiday specials of 1992, 1999, 2002, and 2009.

 

Dana Carney performing his Jimmy Stewart impression, here as George Bailey.

 

The season 12, black-and-white sketch "The Lost Ending of 'It's a Wonderful Life'" suggests a "forgotten" alternative filmed ending to the 1946 holiday movie. Here, the residents of Bedford Falls discover Mr. Potter’s deception about finding Uncle Billy’s money and they give Potter his due. The comedy here is seeing George Bailey, Mary Bailey, and the others delivering ridiculously violent vengeance. This "Lost Ending" completely contradicts the feel-good, spiritually uplifting ending we all know so well but also pokes fun at how satisfying it feels to see Mr. Potter experience some painful consequences from the community he exploits. 

 


The cast in this sketch includes Saturday Night Live regulars Dana Carvey as George Bailey, Jan Hooks as Mary Bailey, Phil Hartman as Uncle Billy, Dennis Miller as Harry, Kevin Meany as Dave, and Jon Lovitz as Mr. Potter.

Saturday Night Live has created other parody sketches with references to It's A Wonderful Life however the 1986 one is the most memorable. There is an It's a Wonderful Life sketch in the 1988 episode hosted by Danny Devito, in Val Kilmer's opening monologue in a 2000 episode, and the opening sketch of the 2018 episode hosted by Matt Damon. A 1988 episode hosted by Kevin Kline includes a talk show sketch with Dana Carvey performing as Jimmy Stewart plugging It's a Wonderful Life released on home video. 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 4, 2022

Christmas in July 2022: Merry Christmas George Bailey (1997)

 



Merry Christmas in July! It is Day #4 in the month-long celebration of Christmas entertainment. As announced before, 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 PBS special Merry Christmas, George Bailey. The program made its debut on Dec. 25, 1997 but aired in 1998 and 1999 as well. The hour-long program is a script reading of the 1947 “Lux Radio Theater” production of the 1946 holiday movie “It’s a Wonderful Life.” The dramatic reading brings the radio script to life at the Pasadena Playhouse as a fundraiser for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.

The stellar cast includes Bill Pullman as George Bailey, Penelope Ann Miller as Mary Bailey, Nathan Lane as the angel Clarence, Martin Landau as Mr. Potter/Pa Bailey, Sally Field as the narrator/Mrs. Bailey, Joe Mantegna as Joseph/Nick, Christian Slater as brother Harry Bailey, Jerry Van Dyke as Uncle Billy, Robert Guillaume as pharmacist Mr. Gower, Carol Kane as Cousin Tilly/Mrs. Hatch, Bronson Pinchot as Mr. Carter/Charlie, Dan Lauria as Bert, Craig Sheffer as Ernie/the bridgekeeper, Armelia McQueen as Mrs. Thompson, Ryan Slater as young George Bailey, Tina Majorino as Janie Bailey, Myles Jeffrey as Tommy Bailey, and Mae Whitman as Zuzu Bailey.


 Look how young Mae Whitman is!


The script reading in front of a live audience gives TV viewers a new experience of the familiar story and an insight into how dramatic radio productions were created, including sound effects. 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

Sunday, July 3, 2022

Christmas in July 2022: Facts of Life (1992)

 


Merry Christmas in July! It is Day #3 in the month-long celebration of Christmas entertainment. As announced before, 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 ninth season Christmas episode of the sitcom The Facts of Life entitled "It's a Wonderful Christmas." In this story, Beverly Ann is invited to spend Christmas with her best friend back in her hometown of Appleton but she decides she wants to spend the holiday with her new family in Peekskill. However, the girls all have plans of their own for Christmas and Beverly Ann begins to feel unneeded. In this adaptation of the 1946 movie It’s a Wonderful Life, Santa Claus offers to show Beverly Ann what life would have been like if she had never come to Peekskill. 

 

The later years cast of The Facts of Life: George Clooney, Nancy McKeon, Mackenzie Astin, Lisa Whelchel, Kim Fields, Cloris Leachman, and Mindy Cohn.

Beverly Ann sees that Pippa would be a punk rock drop-out; Tootie would have broken up with her true love Jeff; Blair would have acted on her investment whims and would be broke; Natalie would be mistaken for a criminal and would be in jail; Andy would still be an orphan; and, Jo would have been killed in a motorcycle accident on the ice. In the end, the girls and the orphans at Jo’s Christmas party gather to sing “Silent Night.”

The cast includes Lisa Whelchel as Blair Warner, Nancy McKeon as Jo Polniaczek, Kim Fields as Tootie Ramsey, Mindy Cohn as Natalie Green, Cloris Leachman as Beverly Ann Stickle, Mackenzie Astin as Andy, Sherrie Krenn as Pippa, and Chuck McCann as Santa Claus. 


 

Video: Jo, Blair, Tootie, Natalie, Pippa, and Andy react to Beverly Ann's concern for them.

 

Interestingly, Beverly Ann's guardian angel in this sitcom adaptation is interpreted as Santa Claus. This story becomes even more special when one remembers that Cloris Leachman appears in another TV adaptation of It’s a Wonderful Life--in 1977’s TV movie It Happened One Christmas as the guardian angel Clara Oddbody. See the discussion about that movie again HERE.

This is just one of five holiday episodes on The Facts of Life--got another favorite? Feel free to leave your 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

Saturday, July 2, 2022

Christmas in July 2022: Beverly Hills 90210 (1992)

 

  

Merry Christmas in July! It is Day #2 in the month-long celebration of Christmas entertainment. As announced before, 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 third season episode of the teen soap Beverly Hills, 90210 entitled "It's a Totally Happening Life." The story is organized around two angels named Miriam and Clarence looking over the 90210 gang, worried about the teens’ Christmas spirit. Andrea Zuckerman has been accepted at Yale but her boyfriend breaks up with her and she’s depressed. Brandon Walsh’s girlfriend breaks up with him and he’s upset. Steve Sanders feels left out because he’s unable to participate in school activities due to his detention. Kelly Taylor, Brenda Walsh, and Dylan McKay are upset with each other because their friendship is in jeopardy due to their failed romances. David Silver worries about his friends graduating and moving on without him. And, Donna Martin is responsible for a children’s Christmas party and her distracted friends aren’t much help. 

A miraculous intervention sees the gang supernaturally escape a bus accident with a drunk driver on their way to the children’s charity Christmas party. The humbling event causes the friends to rethink their selfish problems and look to help each other.

 

Top left to right: David, Donna, Brenda, Steve. Bottom Left to right: Brandon, Andrea, Kelly and Dylan.


This episode includes guardian angels, several instances of the characters watching the 1946 movie “It’s a Wonderful Life,” Donna hearing a bell ringing from a tree, and the end of the episode includes the black-and-white footage of the bell ringing from the ending of the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Although this episode’s story is not an adaptation of the movie--no one wishes they were never born and experiences what life would be like for their friends and family if this were true. However, this fun episode certainly makes many meaningful references to the movie’s story.

The cast includes Jason Priestley as Brandon Walsh, Shannen Doherty as Brenda Walsh, Jennie Garth as Kelly Taylor, Ian Ziering as Steve Sanders, Gabrielle Carteris as Andrea Zuckerman, Luke Perry as Dylan McKay, Brian Austin Green as David Silver, Tori Spelling as Donna Martin. Robert Costanzo is the voice of Clarence, and Bonnie Urseth is the voice of Miriam.

Were you a fan of the hugely successful Fox network teen drama? Feel free to leave your 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

Friday, July 1, 2022

Christmas in July 2022: It Happened One Christmas (1977)

 

  

Merry Christmas in July! Today begins the month-long celebration of Christmas entertainment. As announced before, 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).  

 

Original TV Guide magazine ad from 1977.

Let's kick off July with a discussion of the 1977 Christmas TV movie "It Happened One Christmas" which made its debut December 11, 1977 on ABC. This is a feature-length, made-for-TV adaptation of the classic 1946 film “It’s a Wonderful Life.” This version features several characters cast in different gendered roles. For example, the lead role here is Mary Bailey, instead of George Bailey. However, the spirit of the story remains the same. In this version, Mary Bailey spends her life setting aside her own goals and ambitions to help her family business and the residents of her small town better their lives. After a life spent making sacrifices for others, Mary comes to question if her choices were all worth it. Mary’s guardian angel Clara arrives and shows Mary what life would be like for the people in Bedford Falls if she had not been there to help them and continually challenge the wealthy Mr. Potter’s influence.

The cast includes Marlo Thomas as Mary Bailey Hatch, Wayne Rogers as her husband George, Orson Welles as Mr. Potter, Cloris Leachman as the angel Clara Oddbody, Christopher Guest as brother Harry Bailey, Doris Roberts as mother, and Barney Martin as Uncle Willie.

TV critics panned this movie and it quietly disappeared from television. This remake seems to be missing some of the charm and chemistry of the original movie, however any adaptation will feel challenged to match the magic of Frank Capra’s hand. 

 

 

 

Marlo Thomas didn’t just star in this film--she also co-produced it. Switching the traditional gendered roles of three major characters seems in keeping with her feminism and 1970s TV movies in general. The production was nominated for two Emmys--one for Outstanding Art Direction, and Cloris Leachman earned another for Outstanding Supporting Actress.

Don't forget--I'll be posting each day throughout the month of July about programs inspired by "It's a Wonderful Life." Enjoy your summer!


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, June 20, 2022

Christmas in July 2022: ANNOUNCEMENT

 


Happy Summer! The annual Christmas in July party I host each year on this blog is happening again soon. If you've been around awhile, you may remember that the summer time party is a little different each year. I try to do something special in July because we all get very busy in December and it's fun to have a get-together when we aren't in the midst of the holiday season. This is the 8th year we've come together to do this--THANK YOU for joining in again!

I'm going to do Christmas in July this year in a similar manner to last year's event. I'll be sharing brief, daily reminisces about Christmas TV episodes, specials, and movies--but this year, I'll be sharing programs inspired by the 1946 movie "It's a Wonderful Life." Yup--I'll be sharing adaptations and programs with significant references to "It's a Wonderful Life." The programs I'm selecting for the July posts are NOT an exhaustive list of adaptations and references to "It's a Wonderful Life"--there are far more than 31. This is just be a fun treat and a way for me to show off the diversity of holiday stories I've collected in the encyclopedia Tis the Season TV.

 


To participate, all you have to do is follow along. I'll be sharing a different "It's a Wonderful Life" TV programs or movies everyday. Feel free to follow along daily or weekly. Maybe you're the type to check back on July 31st to see them all after the end of the party. It is all good! However you want to follow, I appreciate you. Everyone is welcome. I'll also be sharing the daily content through social media: on the Facebook page Christmas TV History, on twitter: @TistheSeasonTV, and on Instagram: @TistheSeasonTV.

The fun starts on July 1st and will continue through the last day of the month. Think you know what I'm going to talk about this July? You might--but I'm certain there will be some surprises too. See you 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