Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Christmas Podcasts 2017

Hi gang! I was privileged to be invited by four different podcasters this year to join them in discussions about Christmas entertainment. Each of these conversations is very different from the others, so I encourage you to give them each a listen, or perhaps the ones that most appeal to you. Let me introduce each one.

Christmas Past Podcast

Christmas Past is a podcast that tells the stories behind your favorite holiday traditions. Each episode is 10-15 minutes long, and features interviews with experts, archival audio, and Christmas memories from listeners. Its host is Brian Earl.

My discussion is Episode #16: Golden Age of Christmas TV Cartoons.

****You can listen at this link to the website: http://christmaspastpodcast.com/golden-age-christmas-tv-cartoons/  

Be sure to check out the other episodes for more discussions about favorite holiday traditions. You can also follow along with Christmas Past Podcast on Facebook HERE, on Twitter HERE, and on Instagram HERE.

Weird Christmas

Weird Christmas started as a Tumblr site with a collection of Victorian Christmas cards and postcards. It has since expanded into a website--and now a podcast too--to further the discussion about weird and unusual Christmas culture. It's host is Craig Kringle.

My discussion is WC #5: Weird Christmas TV and Movies. Yes, this conversation stems from my book The Christmas TV Companion and from the encyclopedia Tis the Season TV.

****You can listen at this link on his website: https://weirdchristmas.com/2017/12/03/podcast-weird-christmas-tv-and-movies-with-joanna-wilson/

Be sure to scroll down the Tumblr collection of weird Victorian Christmas cards and postcards HERE. The nineteenth century was strange, indeed. You can follow along with Weird Christmas on Facebook HERE, on Twitter HERE, and on Instagram HERE.

Woo-Hoo Wednesday: At Home with Holmsey
on Radio Once More

Are you into Old Time Radio? This is the place for you. Radio Once More is the place to listen to those old time radio programs from the past. Johnny Holmes hosts a culture show which explores conversations about his favorite cultural trends. This is I think, the fourth year Johnny and Helen have had me on their show--it's always a fun time and a great conversation.

This year we discussed the 1983 movie A Christmas Story, 1951's A Christmas Carol, 1946's It's a Wonderful Life, 1947's Miracle on 34th Street, 1973's Miracle on 34th Street, the 1965 animated special "Christmas Lost & Found" from Davey & Goliath, The Spirit of Christmas from 1950 featuring the Mabel Beaton Marionettes, and more!

****For a full description of our talk and the permanent link to listen, check out Johnny's website: https://jholmsey.wordpress.com/2017/12/02/radio-once-more-welcomes-back-joanna-wilson/

You can follow along with Radio Once More at their website HERE, and on Facebook HERE.

*The fourth show will be Made for TV Mayhem Podcast and it is still pending. More about that soon!*

When I said these were all very different, I wasn't kidding. Please give them a listen and see what you think. Your comments are welcome here, and at the individual website links.

I enjoy joining people in conversations about Christmas entertainment. Feel free to listen to last year's podcasts too, at the links below:

Ed South invited me to talk about my favorite Christmas movies on his podcast What's Your Favorite Movie? last year. Thant was fun. Link HERE.

2016: Bloomington Review with Jim Inman Jr. We discussed How the Grinch Stole Christmas, A Christmas Story, and my book Triple Dog Dare. Listen HERE.

2016's It's a Christmas TV Movie Game Show! on Made for TV Mayhem Podcast. Link HERE.

2016's discussion with Johnny Holmes on Woo-Hoo Wednesday on Radio Once More. We discussed my book Triple Dog Dare, 1973's Miracle on 34th Street, and 1969's The Littlest Angel, among other things. Link HERE.

And, I was invited by Ken Reid to discuss our favorite Christmas programs on TV Guidance Counselor (11/22/16 episode) Find it on iTunes HERE. And, here's the link Ken's website: TV Guidance Counselor.

If you can stand the sound of my voice any further, HERE's a link of podcasts I did from 2015 too.

Lots to listen to. Thanks to all my wonderful hosts!

Joanna Wilson is a TV researcher and book author specializing in Christmas entertainment. Her latest book "Triple Dog Dare: Watching--& Surviving--the 24-Hour Marathon of A Christmas Story" was released in 2016. Her books can be found at the publisher's website: 1701 press.com


Monday, December 4, 2017

Christmas Story Run 2017

I had an exciting weekend! Saturday, Dec. 2nd in Cleveland, OH was the 5th annual Christmas Story Run 5k/10k race and walk. It's an EXTREMELY FUN fundraiser for the Tremont neighborhood that surrounds A Christmas Story House & Museum. This year's event featured several special guests--more on that in a minute! The race starts in front of the former Higbee's department store in downtown Cleveland--where the parade and the Higbee's department store scenes were filmed for the original 1983 movie. The race ends in front of A Christmas Story House & Museum--which just happens to be 3.1 miles from downtown. It's the perfect 5k race.

This year I wore my Pink Nightmare suit--and my boyfriend dressed as an elf.

It's kind of a big deal. Thousands of people come from all over the country (and around the world) to walk or run the race course each year. Nearly everyone wears a costume or their best Christmas bling. And, the crowds are in the best holiday spirit--it's the friendliest gathering of people you'll ever encounter.

The race medals are always fantastic! This year's features Flick stuck to the metal pole and the center spins!

The costumes were outrageous this year. Of course, there are countless runners in pink bunny suits, leg lamp costumes, people dressed as wooden crates marked 'fragile,' runners wearing Flick hats or  Schwartz hats, and even a few Santa Clauses. However, you'd probably be surprised how many folks dress up in black-and-white striped bandit costumes too. I saw quite a few participants with turkey hats (wait a minute, it'll come to you! It's a reference to the Bumpus Hounds and their favorite meal). I saw several Sheriff Ralphies in white cowboy hats and western gear, and there were a trio of Miss Shields look-alikes--one woman was brilliantly dressed as the Victorian/fantasy school teacher! I even saw one intrepid woman dressed exactly like Randy--stuffed tight into a red snowsuit. There was no shortage of people dressed as elves, Christmas trees, and wrapped in Christmas lights, bows, tinsel, and ornaments. This race also sees its fair share of people dressed as Cousin Eddie, Will Ferrell's Elf, and a couple of Wet Bandits! I told you this event is a lot of fun. They also hand out warm Ovaltine at the finish line--this is the total Christmas experience.

Post-race photo in front of A Christmas Story House. The woman to the left in the blue jacket is wearing a turkey hat--can you make it out!?

"I want you to write...a theme." Here she is Miss Shields.

I should have brought her a fruit basket.

As a part of the event, they also welcomed several special guests and offered meet-and-greet opportunities. On Friday afternoon, I went to packet pick-up and got to meet actor Tedde Moore, the woman who plays the schoolteacher Miss Shields in A Christmas Story. She couldn't have been nicer. She overheard me talking to someone else about my encyclopedia Tis the Season TV, which includes every Christmas-themed special, episode and movie, and she asked if her other holiday movie was included. She was of course speaking about the 2011 Hallmark movie Mistletoe Over Manhattan. I had to explain that it will be in the next edition of the encyclopedia since the book first came out in 2010. But it was a wonderful exchange we shared.

A Christmas Story book authors: Joanna and Tyler Schwartz.

Is it possible? I was even more excited to meet another special guest at the event. Tyler Schwartz was there! Tyler and I have spoken on the phone before, but this was our first meeting in person. He is the documentary filmmaker of Road Trip for Ralphie, the book author of A Christmas Story Treasury, and he runs the pop culture Christmas store Retro Festive in Canada. He is A Christmas Story superfan. Tyler was generous enough to recommend survival tips for me when I recreated my 24-hour marathon of the movie--which became the book Triple Dog Dare. It was wonderful to finally meet him in person. I also got him to sign a copy of his book for me!

You've seen Tyler's documentary and the read his book, right?

Follow A Christmas Story Run on Facebook to see more photos of this year's race.

Joanna Wilson is a TV researcher and book author specializing in Christmas entertainment. Her latest book "Triple Dog Dare: Watching--& Surviving--the 24-Hour Marathon of A Christmas Story" was released in 2016. Her books can be found at the publisher's website: 1701 press.com

Friday, November 17, 2017

Where to Watch Christmas TV programs 2017

It's the most wonderful time of the year, isn't it? The Christmas TV movies have already begun airing.  I've started my tweets (@TisTheSeasonTV) and daily postings on the Facebook page Tis The Season TV making suggestions for viewing--calling them SET YOUR DVRs.  The viewing options during November and December each year can get a little overwhelming. Let me update you with the details of where to find the best holiday programming for 2017.

The Hallmark Channel releases more new Christmas TV movies each year than any other network in the industry.
Christmas TV Movies:

For many Christmas TV movie fans, the Hallmark Channel is the network schedule to check first.  With good reason, in 2017, Hallmark will be airing more than 20 new Christmas TV movies alongside many classics from their archives.  If you didn't already know, the movie marathon has already begun--it started Friday, October 27th--and continues all day and all night through the end of December.  They typically debut their new holiday movies on Saturday and Sunday nights. HERE'S the link to the list of Christmas TV movie premieres. The daily schedule of their holiday movies can be found on their website HERE.

Complete list of 2017 Hallmark Christmas movie premieres. Click on image to enlarge.

Complete list of Hallmark Movies & Mysteries 2017 Christmas movie premieres. Click on image to enlarge.

Hallmark's sister channel--Hallmark Movies and Mysteries--also airs new Christmas TV movies and older classics. In fact, the older holiday movies they broadcast are pulled from a deeper archive so this is the place to see some of your older Hallmark Christmas TV movie favorites.

This is the fifth year that HMM is premiering their own new Christmas TV movies--this year they have thirteen new movies.  Click HERE for more about HMM Christmas movies. And, just like the Hallmark Channel, HMM has already begun their holiday programming--which will continue through the end of the holidays.  Click HERE for the link to the complete HMM Christmas movie schedule.

The schedule highlights of the 25 Days of Christmas on Freeform. Click on image to enlarge.

Freeform (formerly known as ABC Family Channel) is another major source of holiday programming every year. But I didn't need to tell you that, right?  We're all familiar with their marathons of Christmas animation, Christmas movies, and family-friendly entertainment. Freeform's 25 Days of Christmas programming marathon begin Dec. 1st, however their holiday programming has already begun. Click HERE for the daily schedule. They have three new debuts this holiday season: the original movie Angry Angel which first airs on Nov. 27th, Disney Fairy Tale Weddings: Holiday Magic on Dec. 11th, and Decorating Disney on Dec. 18th.

New Lifetime Christmas TV movies begin Nov. 25th.

Lifetime is debuting eight new Christmas TV movies in 2017. I know, right? Those new movies will be airing on Saturday and Sunday nights. Click here for more info about each of those.

UpTV holiday schedule for 2017. Click to enlarge.

UP Network also debuts new family-friendly Christmas TV movies, as well as showing older favorites too. This year, the schedule looks exciting. Of these movies, many are new ones. For more about the UP Network Christmas programming, click HERE.

2017 movie guide for Ion TV including premieres. Click to enlarge.

ION Television's schedule is filled with holiday movies too. Look for those on Saturday and Sunday nights. This year, they are debuting five new Christmas TV movies as well as airing favorites from the past. Click HERE for the complete schedule.

Classic Christmas Specials and Movies:

The 2017 schedule of GetTV Christmas programming chock full of vintage variety specials! Click to enlarge.

But one of the MOST EXCITING holiday programming schedules has to be GetTV. They have pulled out all the stops again this year! What I'm most looking forward to watching are A Nashville Christmas special,  four classic Perry Como Christmas specials, the Mac Davis Christmas Special, the Johnny Cash Christmas music specials, Glen Campbell Christmas special, and the Father Knows Best Christmas TV movie reunion. GetTV is also airing Christmas episodes of nearly forgotten TV westerns. There's so much good stuff on their schedule, I'm overwhelmed--and you should be too. This is an abundance of riches. Check out the full GetTV holiday schedule here.

Me TV offers Sunday afternoon marathons in 2017.

Me TV is rolling out their retro programming's Christmas installments on Sunday afternoon marathons throughout the holiday season. Here's the schedule of episodes for the Sunday marathons. However, if you just peek at their daily schedule, you can see an abundance of holiday episodes there too. Not quite sure why their not promoting it? I guess you can follow along with me on Facebook and Twitter at @TistheSeasonTV where I'll highlight the more fun and rare ones.

Antenna TV, another retro programming network, is planning a Christmas Eve and Christmas Day marathon of holiday episodes from their current classic TV line-up. That should be fun.

Major Networks:

NBC's live concert event is always a good one!

Of course, the major networks have their holiday programming as well. NBC is already promoting their 20th annual Christmas in Rockefeller Center concert for Wed. Nov. 29th at 8pm(ET). NBC will also be airing Dreamworks' Trolls Holiday Special at 8:30pm(ET) on Friday, Nov. 24th. That new animated special based on the film characters should be exciting.

ABC is once again airing the variety special CMA Country Christmas. This year's concert has a new host: Reba McEntire. It airs Monday, Nov. 27th, 8pm(ET). 

CBS is airing the animated classics Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, Frosty Returns, and The Story of Santa Claus again this year. Look for Frosty and Frosty Returns on Friday, Nov. 24th.

And, Fox is airing the live musical experience of A Christmas Story: the Musical. Matthew Broderick has been cast as the narrator, and Maya Rudolph as Mrs. Parker. This should be fun! It airs on Dec. 17th. Have you seen a staging of this musical before?

Stay close to my social media links for more announcements about fantastic holiday programming. If you'd like reminders of the new Christmas TV movie debuts and other exciting holiday TV  programming, don't forget to follow my Facebook page Tis The Season TV and/or my tweets at @TisTheSeasonTV.   Where on the metaphorical television dial do you watch your favorite Christmas movies and specials?  Feel free to share in the comments below.

Joanna Wilson is a TV researcher and book author specializing in Christmas entertainment. Her latest book "Triple Dog Dare: Watching--& Surviving--the 24-Hour Marathon of A Christmas Story" was released in 2016. Her books can be found at the publisher's website: 1701 press.com

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

A Christmas Story House with Triple Dog Dare

Cleveland Christmas celebrity photo bomb! See the person entering the gate to A Christmas Story House behind me?

What an adventure I had yesterday! Cleveland, Ohio TV news anchors from Fox 8 News slept overnight at A Christmas Story House on Monday, Nov. 13th. Early Tuesday morning, they broadcast their morning show live from the living room of the House. Luckily, they invited me to join them to talk about my latest book Triple Dog Dare. Since this was the morning show, I decided to join them in my Christmas pajamas. It was so much fun!

Photo courtesy of Fox 8. On the Christmas Story House front porch, from left to right: Wayne Dawson, Kenny Crumpton, Stefani Schaefer, Kristi Capel, and Scott Sabol.

After my live interview as I was leaving the House, I bumped into actor Patty Johnson. She played the hysterically funny mean elf that drags Ralphie up the stairs to visit with Santa Claus. Johnson was on her way into the House to join the Fox 8 anchors just after me. We exchanged pleasantries and I directed her to the back door entrance. I knew they were waiting for her, so I didn't want to hold her up by asking for a photo. I was also a little star struck! How awesome is it to bump into one of the movie's cast?

If you're interested in checking out my interview, watch the brief video clip above. If you don't have your own copy of Triple Dog Dare yet, or are looking to get one as a gift, author-signed copies are available for purchase from the publisher's website here: http://www.1701press.com/the-triple-dog-dare

I was very pleased to sign copies for each of the anchors.

Joanna Wilson is a TV researcher and book author specializing in Christmas entertainment. Her latest book "Triple Dog Dare: Watching--& Surviving--the 24-Hour Marathon of A Christmas Story" was released in 2016. Her books can be found at the publisher's website: 1701 press.com

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Holiday Season on Social Media: 2017

Hi Friends! Now that Halloween is behind us, I'm getting ready for the holiday season. I'm making some changes to my daily social media posts and want to let you know where you can follow along. I've amassed quite an archive of detailed discussions on Christmas entertainment--and I'll be trotting this content out again to help you rediscover holiday favorites from the past. Here's what I'll be doing:

On the Facebook page: Christmas TV History
--Each day of the week I'll be sharing another post from this website based on the following categories:

Monday Musicals
Tuesday 70s
Dickensian Wednesdays
Animation Thursdays
Friday Movies
Saturday Sitcoms
Sunday 60s

This is just a fun way to roll out the archives and I hope you'll enjoy it. Today on Tuesday 70s I have already shared my discussion of the 1977 Christmas episode of the sitcom Three's Company. I'm looking forward to exploring these lively categories.

--Each day on Christmas TV History, I'll also be sharing a video link to a Christmas-themed episode, special, or movie. The funnest links are the rare, hard-to-find programs from the past. Look for one each day.

--I'll also post a link to the new essays I write throughout November and December, just like I usually do. You can expect a new essay on Seinfeld and its invention of Festivus coming soon.

Follow along on the Facebook page to see what comes next. As always, if you skip a day on Facebook, just scroll down the Christmas TV History page wall to see what you missed.

On the Facebook page: Tis the Season TV
--Each day I'll be posting a Yuletide Memory of the Day as usual however, these are selected from the best of my archives and won't duplicate the daily links from Christmas TV History on Facebook! Yeah--I have a large archive.

--I'll also be making daily suggestions called Set Your DVRs on upcoming TV programs to look for in your TV listings. If you don't watch broadcast/cable/or satellite TV, you could look for these programming suggestions on-demand, or streaming on Hulu, Netflix, Amazon, on DVD at your local library, or by whatever means you enjoy holiday entertainment.

On the Facebook page: Triple Dog Dare
--I'll be making updates about my latest book, its contents, events & book signings, and more.

On Twitter: @TistheSeasonTV
--I'll be sharing the same content (in 144 characters or less) as above.  Follow me if you don't already.

I'm also on Instagram as @TistheSeasonTV--you're welcome to follow me there too.

Of course, the archives from this website are derived from the research I did and continue to update for the encyclopedia I wrote Tis the Season TV. From the same research, I've also written The Christmas TV Companion, Merry Musical Christmas, Vol. 1, and Triple Dog Dare. Yet this website's content is a small portion of the Christmas programming discussed in the encyclopedia and the other books. You can easily purchase any of these books--fulfilled by my publisher 1701 Press--directly from this website. Just click on the SHOP tab at the top of the website. Or, you can shop from the publisher's website: www.1701press.com

Feel free to follow any or all of these networking locations--and join the conversation. Social networking is about being social so please feel free to share your favorite memories from these programs or ask questions.

If you change your mind and don't want to follow my posts, just change your notifications or unfollow. It's that simple.

And, if you aren't seeing the daily posts from these facebook pages as you like, go to the home page and make sure you're receiving notifications. If you comment, like, and share the posts--this increases the page's visibility in your newsfeed. Again, if you miss any of the daily posts, go directly to the page wall and scroll down to see what you missed--like, comment, and share to see future posts. Let me know if you have any questions.

If you'd rather go through this website's archives yourself (independently of social media links) PLEASE do so--feel free to use the SEARCH BOX and type in any title you'd like. If you're on a computer, the search box is located at the top of this website on the right hand side. If you're on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom and hit view web version--and you should see the search box again at the top on the right. If I haven't written about your favorite Christmas episode, special, or movie yet on the website, let me know--maybe I'll cover it soon.

Joanna Wilson is a TV researcher and book author specializing in Christmas entertainment. Her latest book "Triple Dog Dare: Watching--& Surviving--the 24-Hour Marathon of A Christmas Story" was released in 2016. Her books can be found at the publisher's website: 1701 press.com

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Good Will to Men (1955) Christmas cartoon

1955 MGM cartoon--a remake of Hugh Harman's 1939 anti-war classic Peace on Earth.

During the month of October, I often think about Christmas entertainment that contains a spooky element or a horror theme. If you follow me on social media (Tis the Season TV on Facebook, and @TistheSeasonTV on Twitter), you know I usually share my reviews of these Halloween/Christmas cross-overs all month long. Last week on the website, I took a look back at the 1939 post-apocalyptic yuletide cartoon Peace on Earth. Click HERE to see that review again. I thought I'd follow that up with a discussion of Peace on Earth's re-make entitled Good Will to Men.

While this Christmas animated short is not usually considered a horror story, it does contain frightening imagery that intends to shock viewers--an experience that stands out against most other Christmas entertainment. Even if you've become accustomed to Dickens' ghost story, a frightening story about the extinction of mankind isn't what we expect from a typical Christmas cartoon.

Do those names sound familiar? Yes, this 1955 cartoon was directed by Hanna and Barbera, the two men who eventually went on to create their own studio for TV animation. You know Yogi Bear, the Flintstones, and the original Scooby-Doo? That's Hanna-Barbera.

Like the 1939 cartoon, so too was the 1955 re-make nominated for an Academy Award. Pretty cool, huh? Let's see why.

This 1955 re-make begins just as the 1939 cartoon does with an image of a broken stained glass window in a bombed out church.

The choir of mice raise their voices to sing "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing."

The 1955 re-make is quite similar to the 1939 original. The cartoon begins with snow falling on the war torn remains of a church. A group of mice in the ruins of a church are singing “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing.” After the lyric "Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men," the youngsters ask their choir director who are men? His reply begins with the warning that men didn't practice what they preached.

In the 1939 cartoon, we see an elderly squirrel share his story with his grandchildren. In the 1955 re-make, we see a choir director mouse share his story with the youngsters in the church choir.

Once again, humans are described as monstrous.
The mouse choir director goes on to describe humans as monstrous creatures with an unquenchable thirst for violence that drove them to extinction. As the choir director says, humans were..."always thinkin' up ways to kill each other." The description grows alarming and the imagery in the cartoon becomes startling!

Keep in mind: when this cartoon was made, we were in the middle of the Cold War. Has our thirst for blood changed? I'll let you make your own conclusion.

By 1955 we had the ability (and willingness) to firebomb whole towns and cities.

One of the differences between the 1955 cartoon and the earlier one is an acknowledgment in the advancement of military technology and escalation in deadly weaponry. In both cartoons we see soldiers marching, tanks rolling, and exploding bombs lighting up the night sky. However, in the 1955 cartoon, we see an advancement in anti-aircraft weaponry, flame throwers, automatic guns, and even bigger bombs.

The chilling image of a military cemetery that stretches beyond the horizon.

The glow of red and green Christmas lights? NOPE. This is the depiction of how human went extinct--overlapping mushroom clouds. This is horrifying stuff.

The warning is CLEAR: this is our future if we continue on our current violent path.
Not your typical Christmas message, is it?

The 1955 cartoon imagines that humans are so out-of-control that they went extinct by means of multiple nuclear explosions that encircled the planet. Yikes!

Just like the 1939 version, this cartoon finds an owl sharing wisdom from the humans' book of rules.
The cartoon continues after the extinction of mankind, with animals of the forest coming out of hiding to seek shelter in a church in ruins. An old owl finds a discarded Bible with the oft-ignored rules “Thou Shalt Not Kill” and “Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself,” which inspires the animals to learn from the humans' mistakes and live peacefully.

The choir director makes the point in his story that the lesson "Love Thy Neighbor As Thyself" are words upon which depend the future of us all.

The animals all exchange pleasant greetings and small kindnesses

As the choir begins singing the popular carol "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" again, we see the members of the church enter and take their seats for the Christmas service. This ending feels more hopeful for the future than the previous 1939 cartoon. There also seems to be a stronger moral tone in the later version. The biblical references from the earlier version are "Thou Shalt Not Kill" and the Old Testament adage "Ye Shall Rebuild the Old Wastes," while the 1955 version includes "Thou Shalt Not Kill" and "Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself." To be fair, it's a stronger message. The second version of this cartoon includes a scarier warning about violence, one that results in nuclear war. The more uplifting tone in the end is a welcome sentiment.

Which cartoon do you prefer--1939's Peace on Earth, or 1955's Good Will to Men? Perhaps we can all agree the message of both cartoons concerning peace and good will is a wonderful reminder any time of year.

Joanna Wilson is a TV researcher and book author specializing in Christmas entertainment. Her latest book "Triple Dog Dare: Watching--& Surviving--the 24-Hour Marathon of A Christmas Story" was released in 2016. Her books can be found at the publisher's website: 1701 press.com