Sunday, July 23, 2017

Christmas in July 2017: Jim Randle

Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
 
Christmas in July 2017: Jim Randle of Paris, Tennessee

1) Who's your favorite Santa Claus?

The story goes that Natalie Wood was crest fallen when she saw Edmund Gwenn without his beard because she really believed he was Santa Claus. And I agree with her. His depiction of Kris Kringle was perfect.


Friends' 2000 episode "The One With the Holiday Armadillo."

2) What's your favorite Christmas episode from a TV series?

The Holiday Armadillo episode of Friends has to top the list. The three male leads were hilarious. David Schwimmer as the Holiday Armadillo, Matthew Perry as Santa, and Matt LeBlanc as Christmas Superman. As usual the writing for the episode was first rate, especially the lines given to Perry ("Weird Turtle Man." "I especially liked the part where Superman flew down and saved all of the Jews.")

3) Do you enjoy watching Christmas entertainment year round or do you only like watching it during the holidays? And, why?

For the most part I watch Christmas programs during the season. However if it's something I really like and I happen to come across it on TV, I will watch. This usually only pertains to series television, though. I mainly save Christmas features for the holidays.

4) This is the 21st century--how do you watch TV and/or Christmas entertainment?

I'm an older fellow (71) so I mainly watch in house entertainment through either broadcast (cable) TV or my home library. My cable contract is only for extended cable and does not include premium channels like Showtime or HBO. And I've never seen anything on streaming services that has interested me.


1979 TV movie An American Christmas Carol starring Henry Winkler.

5) If you were to be stranded on an island (maybe Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean!), what three Christmas movies, specials, or episodes would you like to have with you?

I'd start with John Denver and the Muppets - A Christmas Together. I saw someone mention this special in a previous "Christmas in July" and I will add my sentiment that I wish it were available on official DVD release. I've also had a soft spot in my heart for An American Christmas Carol starring Henry Winkler. Although it is kind of dated (the ghost of Christmas Future is dressed like a disco dancer) it's a fine piece of holiday entertainment. Finally I would probably take a copy of A Charlie Brown Christmas because . . well, because it's A Charlie Brown Christmas. That's reason enough!



Saturday, July 22, 2017

Christmas in July 2017: SleepyKittyPaws


Christmas in July 2017: SleepyKittyPaws of http://sleepykittypaws.tumblr.com/

1) Who's your favorite Santa Claus?

I'm partial to Ed Asner's Santa, mostly due to Elf, but Asner has played Santa before, and is slated to do so again, for good reason. His gruff but lovable voice and overall demeanor definitely suit the role (pun intended), and Elf's gentle-but-somewhat-cynical Santa gives the Jolly Old Elf a modern spin, without sacrificing Santa's inherent innocence and charm. And perhaps most importantly for a man whose bushy beard hides his features, Asner's deep laugh translates into a true, booming "ho ho ho" that perfectly embodies the cheeky, magical man in red.

I'd also like to award honorable mentions to Edmund Gwenn's classic appearance as Kris Kringle in the original Miracle on 34th Street, who set the Santa standard for generations of moviegoers, and the various charismatic & indelible animated portrayals of the North Pole's most famous resident. From Rudolph's red-cheeked employer, to Prep & Landing's rarely-seen, red-coated head honcho and the Polar Express' winsome Santa-as-Celebrity portrayal, most of our first impressions of Christmas' Big Guy come from stories and specials featuring famous voices, but hand-drawn, or CGI, visages.



2) What's your favorite Christmas episode from a TV series?

Oh my, so very many to chose from!

The Simpsons have put together half a dozen remarkable holiday episodes, including their pilot outing, "Simpsons Roasting On An Open Fire" (1989).

 Last year, Disney Channel put out a special 30-minute episode of its new Mickey Mouse cartoon short series, titled, "Duck the Halls," that is sure to become an annual must-watch in our house, though that treads the line between stand-alone special (since it can definitely be watched that way & is outside its series normal format), and series holiday-centric episode.

As does another animated fav (also from the Disney Channel), "Phineas & Ferb Christmas Vacation," where Santa threatens to skip Danville due to a Doofenshmirtz inator that puts the entire town on the naughty list. This sweet & funny extra-long episode, released as a stand-alone in 2009, is a yearly tradition in our house.

The other, more offbeat choice that came to mind is the holiday episode of the one-season-wonder, Trophy Wife. A more grown-up Christmas laugh, in "'Twas the Night Before Christmas...Or 'Twas It"(2013), the adult members of the extended Trophy Wife family struggle to unravel the mystery of exactly what happened on Christmas Eve after their memories go blank, thanks to some especially potent mulled wine. Unexpected and uproariously funny, this was one of the most clever, and completely unique, sitcom salutes to the holiday I've ever seen.

3) Do you enjoy watching Christmas entertainment year round or do you only like watching it during the holidays? And, why?

As a serious Christmas TV & movie junkie I limit myself to indulging only during the holiday season. Granted, I have extended that window to roughly November 1, having learned since I had little ones that the time between Thanksgiving & Christmas flies by so quickly, with so many events & obligations, that if I wait until after we carve the turkey, as I used to, I'll barely get to see anything at all.

To me, holding out, makes it sweeter. There's nothing I enjoy more than sitting down to enjoy the first Hallmark movie of the season with my husband and a glass of wine in my decorated -- albeit for Thanksgiving -- house. Waiting until the time of year is upon us, makes it special, a teeny bit sacred and absolutely influences my overall holiday spirit!

Not to mention that movies and specials are an integral part of our family Christmas traditions. The day before Thanksgiving I spend alone in the kitchen, prepping for the big day and watching a marathon of my favorite Christmas films. When everything is set for the feast, we sit down as a family and watch Love, Actually. A movie I've seen, roughly, 1,000,000 times, but still never fails to make me cry. What for many would be a day of drudgery -- 8+ hours of baking, cooking & cleaning -- is, for me, one I look forward to all year long.

We also have a family TV advent calendar, of sorts, letting the kids choose an animated special every night between Thanksgiving & Christmas, that we all watch together. It feels cozy and ramps up the entire clan's Christmas spirit.

4) This is the 21st century--how do you watch TV and/or Christmas entertainment?

Almost all of the above. We've got, probably, 100+ movies and specials -- all of our favs and annual must-sees -- on DVD, blu-ray and/or purchased in iTunes, and my DIRECTV DVR is full thru January with Christmas movies, specials & holiday series episodes. We've also got Netflix, Hulu & Amazon Prime. All are sources for our nightly, holiday TV viewing. Honestly, other than sports, I'd say we don't watch much BUT Christmas-themed fare throughout November & December.

Actually the glut of options, and the sheer, overwhelming amount of annual content, is why I started to make a list of all the new, holiday fare that will be airing each year. What started as a Google doc shared between friends, eventually got put online at http://sleepykittypaws.tumblr.com/, though I still do it primarily to keep track myself of what's out there.



5) If you were to be stranded on an island (maybe Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean!), what three Christmas movies, specials, or episodes would you like to have with you?

So tough to decide! Years ago I made a list with some friends and struggled to limit myself to 10 choices from various categories (theatrical films, made-for-TV movies, animated specials, classic films) so picking just three total seems pert near impossible, but I'll give it a go ...

1) Christmas Vacation - It is no exaggeration to say I know every word of this film by heart and can (obnoxiously) recite it even before the characters say them onscreen. But even with that, I never get tired of watching Clark's adventures in exterior illuminations or Audrey being frozen from the waist down. Just hearing the opening "Christmas Vacation" theme song & seeing the Santa animation makes me happy. To me, it means, It's that time, Christmas is here and everybody knows there's not a better time of year. 🎅🏼

2) Love, Actually - I've already said we watch this, literally, every single Thanksgiving Eve, and despite seeing it countless times I always cry when Uncle Jamie proposes to Aurelia, Sarah gives her brother the scarf and Emma Thompson learns her husband has given a necklace to someone else. I admit that Hugh Grant danced his way into my heart long before he played the Prime Minister and this movie not only has him at his most affably charming outside Four Weddings and a Funeral, but probably boasts the greatest overall cast ever assembled for a rom-com. Heck, I even cried over the Red Nose Day sequel that debuted this year and am trying to find out where I can get a copy for future re-viewings.

I know Love, Actually can be polarizing but, to me, it's perfect.

3) While my one-two picks came easily, as they're by far my very favorites, deciding on "just one" more is decidedly trickier. Do I go with my all-time favorite animated special, The Grinch?  I honestly can't imagine a Christmas season without seeing it, or Charlie Brown Christmas, or The Year Without a Santa Claus, or A Garfield Christmas. How could I possibly pick just one?

How about The Polar Express, which is the first movie our eldest ever really watched, kicking of a still-secure lifetime love of trains, and is now our family Christmas Eve, viewing tradition? Perhaps my all-time favorite made-for-TV Christmas movie, Holiday Switch, which embodies the cheesy, crazy goodness of its genre by having a Baywatch babe climb through her clothes dryer into an alternate holiday reality? The catchy, feel-good Britishness of Nativity!, whose soundtrack is almost as good as this underrated, sweet, funny film?

But I think if you held a Christmas cracker to my head, I might have to go with the Prep & Landing series (2 specials & 1 short) for sheer classic Christmas spirit, combined with rampant rewatch-ability. The story of Lanny the elf adds new lore to the Christmas canon and delights both kids and adults. Both festive & funny, this is the very best of the modern Christmas specials to my mind. I'm still holding out hope that Disney will deliver a promised third, full-length installment.




Friday, July 21, 2017

Christmas in July 2017: Joe Mello

from the 1964 Christmas episode of Bewitched entitled "A Vision of Sugar Plums."
 
Christmas in July 2017: Joe Mello from Wish You Merry Christmas and My Third Parent 

1) Who's your favorite Santa Claus?

The Santa played by Cecil Kellaway in the Bewitched episode "A Vision of Sugar Plums" is great and I love that he knows Sam!

 
Lenny and Squiggy in the 1976 Christmas episode of Laverne & Shirley singing "The Jolliest Fat Man."


2) What's your favorite Christmas episode from a TV series? 

This was tough! I settled on Laverne and Shirley's "Oh Hear the Angels' Voices" - So much fun in that episode, including Jolliest Fat Man!

3) Do you enjoy watching Christmas entertainment year round or do you only like watching it during the holidays? And, why?

I usually watch during November and December, but if an episode pops up in the run of a show I am watching, I will watch. Just watched the Alice season 2 episode "A Semi-Merry Christmas" the other day.

4) This is the 21st century--how do you watch TV and/or Christmas entertainment?

Usually watch through cable, using the DVR to record specials, episodes and movies as they air and watching them when we have the time. Some older, more obscure things that aren't as important to networks today, like A Smoky Mountain Christmas, I watch on DVD. I have to watch them, so I make sure to have a copy of my own. Netflix and Hulu are newer alternatives, I like seeing what they have available. Have also used their Fireplace Log videos as background, quite festive. And we often have the music channel Sounds of the Seasons on, as well.



5) If you were to be stranded on an island (maybe Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean!), what three Christmas movies, specials, or episodes would you like to have with you?

Just three???

A Very Brady Christmas, for sure. I love this reunion movie.
It's a Wonderful Life. A classic that I never tire of.
Christmas Vacation. Also a classic. With these three, I think we get some heart, drama, comedy and Christmas joy.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Christmas in July 2017: Tom Howley


Christmas in July 2017: Tom Howley (aka Humanbelly in other parts o' the Blogosphere--)

1) Who's your favorite Santa Claus?

Y'know, I'm sure it's going to be an eye-roller, but I still find Edmund Gwenn's Kris Kringle in MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET as charming now as I did several decades ago. I'm gonna stick with him for this year. Mickey Rooney as the voice of Kris in the Rankin/Bass SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN does get a special shout-out, though. He has a wonderfully strong, dynamic, expressive voice that you tend to miss when watching him in a film (probably because his size and pugnaciousness and energy tend to seize one's attention). I wonder if he ever realized how good he was in that special? And--one other nod to Alec Baldwin's voicing of the more eastern-European, burly wizard take on Santa in Rise of the Guardians (not a television release, I know) a few years ago. His speech about the nesting-doll aspect of his nature was simply lovely.



2) What's your favorite Christmas episode from a TV series?

Possibly the PINKY & THE BRAIN CHRISTMAS EPISODE---?  I mean, I like so many of them, but that one totally blindsides you with an inescapable pull at the heartstrings. . . and in a way that completely works within the framework of both the story and the characters. I do also like the Twilight Zone Christmas episode with Art Carney, although it comes off as rather clunky since it's shot on videotape, giving it a "stagey" feel.

3) Do you enjoy watching Christmas entertainment year round or do you only like watching it during the holidays? And, why?

Not year-round, no-- but I do like accidentally coming across one every once in awhile over the course of the year-- sort of checking to make sure the pilot light is still lit.  Now, I'm certainly capable of starting to watch them before Halloween sometimes (and my daughter's even worse than me on this score), but at that point I'm sort of in the early stages of season anyhoo.

4) This is the 21st century--how do you watch TV and/or Christmas entertainment?

We've yet to subscribe to cable or any streaming service-- don't watch enough current television to quite justify the monthly cost. Nope, we have many DVD's and VHS tapes; I'll sometimes watch something obscure on Youtube; the kitchen television gets a LOT of holiday-centric use as the season provides programming; and our local library is also a source of many, many old series on DVD-- just there for the borrowing. Man, do I love that amenity in our society!



5) If you were to be stranded on an island (maybe Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean!), what three Christmas movies, specials, or episodes would you like to have with you? 

A) IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE.  One of my favorite movies of all time across the board.  Easy answer on that one.
B) 1950 version of SCROOGE/CHRISTMAS CAROL with Allistar Simm.  It's my favorite version out of the many.
C)  Ohhhh, probably MIRACLE ON 34TH ST again, just 'cause it's so chock-full of notable character actors jumping in for brief moments throughout. It's kind of disastrously edited (some really sloppy jumps), but the director does such a great job of trusting his cast as they pop in and out of the film that you happily let the blemishes go right by. We have a colorized version, and it's one of the few classic B&W films that I think is improved with the addition of a bit of color-- especially that sort of water-color filter look that early colorization seemed to yield.

There ya go, folks.  And who knows-- maybe next year the answers'll be entirely different!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Christmas in July 2017: David Hannah


Christmas in July 2017: David Hannah

1) Who's your favorite Santa Claus?

-I think it's Sir Richard Attenborough, Miracle on 34th Street (1994)



2) What's your favorite Christmas episode from a TV series?

-I think it's the Glee Christmas special from season three: "Extraordinary Merry Christmas."


3) Do you enjoy watching Christmas entertainment year round or do you only like watching it during the holidays? And, why?

-I love watching it throughout the year; I watch something festive each Rudolph Day and kick off Christmas on November 15th each year with regular viewings of holiday classics. I like the anticipation that off-season viewing brings.


4) This is the 21st century--how do you watch TV and/or Christmas entertainment?

I watch through a combination of these media: classics on DVD (purchased), annual cable broadcasts on TV (and PVR), purchases through AppleTV, and Netflix



5) If you were to be stranded on an island (maybe Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean!), what three Christmas movies, specials, or episodes would you like to have with you?

3.) It's a Wonderful Life
2.) A Charlie Brown Christmas
1.) White Christmas

(And I'd sure miss/think a lot about A Christmas Story and Yogi's First Christmas)

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Christmas in July 2017: Kevin Bowman

 
Christmas in July 2017: Kevin Bowman

1) Who's your favorite Santa Claus?

I’ll pick the Rankin/Bass’s Animagic Santa with the voice of Mickey Rooney, because that gives me a threefer: Santa Claus is Comin' to Town, The Year Without a Santa Claus, and Rudolph & Frosty’s Christmas in July. In particular I love Mickey’s singing in the first two, with "Put One Foot in Front of the Other," "Be Prepared to Pay" and "I Believe in Santa Claus." Great performances by a great performer.



from the 1998 episode of Frasier entitled "Merry Christmas, Mrs. Moskowitz."
 
2) What's your favorite Christmas episode from a TV series?

This question is so difficult to answer. Sometimes what starts as an ordinary episode, later becomes a special. "How The Flintstones Saved Christmas’ was just Season 5 Episode 15, but it aired on Christmas Day, 1964, which would rank it among the first animated Christmas specials if it were counted as a special. It is one of my favorites. Same issue with “The Tick Loves Santa,” which, I recall, aired in the evening on Fox as an animated special, but also as a regular series episode. I love that one, too. But, I’m going to pick “Merry Christmas, Mrs. Moskowitz” from the sixth season of Frasier.  Some of the best Frasier episodes build from a simple premise to an absurd climax.  A very funny episode.  



3) Do you enjoy watching Christmas entertainment year round or do you only like watching it during the holidays? And, why?

I watch year round, primarily because there is insufficient time between Thanksgiving and New Years to take in the required yearly viewing and to catch up on all the stuff that I recorded. It has become something of an obsession. I am still in the process of transferring VHS recordings to DVD (packing the tapes away), where possible, and am watching those a little at a time. 



4) This is the 21st century--how do you watch TV and/or Christmas entertainment?

Like you Joanna, I watch Christmas entertainment through multiple media. I have cable with a DVR, home-recorded DVDs, purchased DVDs, many VHS tapes, both home-recorded and purchased.  I also watch specials or episodes that are otherwise unavailable on You-tube.  Also Netflix and Amazon streaming services, sometimes.  




from 1941's Meet John Doe.
 
5) If you were to be stranded on an island (maybe Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean!), what three Christmas movies, specials, or episodes would you like to have with you?

Is there an island-themed Martha Stewart Christmas how-to episode? That would be useful. Putting that aside, I’ll pick two Christmas movies I can watch repeatedly: Alastair Sims’ Scrooge or Christmas Carol (1951); Frank Capra’s Meet John Doe (1941) (I consider it a Christmas movie.  Like It’s a Wonderful Life, the climax of the film occurs on Christmas Eve, and there is a reason why that is so).  And, finally, A Mac Davis Special: Christmas Odyssey 2010.  Although, it would probably not bear up to repeat watching, I got to see only the first 10 minutes of the show in 1978, and I have been wanting to see the rest ever since. Since the Christmas Island fairies are bringing me only three shows, but I can get whatever I want, that’s it. When I am rescued, I promise to put the special up on You-Tube, unless Mac Davis threatens me with a copyright suit. 

Monday, July 17, 2017

Christmas in July 2017: Laura Rachel

 
Christmas in July 2017: Laura Rachel at What to Watch.

1) Who's your favorite Santa Claus?
  
My favorite Santa Claus will probably be Tim Allen in The Santa Clause film series. I don't know there is something about his performance as an unwilling Santa Claus that endears me to his character. It helps that he tries to continue to work on his relationship with his son after the divorce. I really love films that show working on relationships and these films do that. The scene where he's at the doctor's explain his weight and hair growth just makes me smile. It's becoming a classic in my home.


from Little House on the Prairie's "The Christmas They Never Forgot."
 
2) What's your favorite Christmas episode from a TV series?

My favorite Christmas episode from a TV series would be Little House on the Prairie's "A Christmas They Never Forgot." Little House is still a TV show I watch. This Christmas episode is my favorite because it's the one where the characters remember Christmases past. This episode includes a clip from the Christmas that happened during their time in Kansas, which aired during the premiere of the show. It also is one of my favorite Little House Christmases.

3) Do you enjoy watching Christmas entertainment year round or do you only like watching it during the holidays? And, why?
 
I will watch Christmas shows throughout the year. I don't care that it's 100 degrees out, if someone is snowed in or falling in love to Silver Bells, it's just so enjoyable to see family and friends on the silver screen coming together like they do in Christmas shows. Although, there is nothing like curling up with hot chocolate in the evening to watch Christmas shows during the Christmas season. I'll take both.

4) This is the 21st century--how do you watch TV and/or Christmas entertainment?
 
I have satellite but I also have Netflix. I don't usually watch anything live anymore. I DVR most of my programing. I have also used my local library for movie rentals. They are an excellent place to rent and the cheapest. So, I highly recommend the library. I only own movies that I would re-watch, so I do have an extensive DVD collection.


from Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey.
 
5) If you were to be stranded on an island (maybe Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean!), what three Christmas movies, specials, or episodes would you like to have with you?
 
I'm sorry, I can't just pick three so here are my top five Christmas movies that I would want if I was stranded on an island: It's a Wonderful Life (1946), It Happened on Fifth Avenue (1947), Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey (1977), Christmas Comes to Willow Creek (1987), Holiday in Handcuffs (2007).