Thursday, July 31, 2014

Christmas TV Party 2014: Cheryl at The Stylish Studio

Christmas TV Party 2014: Cheryl at The Stylish Studio

1) First Christmas special I recall:
Frosty the Snowman or Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer in the 1960s

2) Name one Christmas program/movie I enjoy year round:
Home Alone

3) Name one overlooked or under appreciated Christmas movie:
Colbert Christmas

4) Three places on the Internet:
1. World Santa Claus Congress in Denmark
2. It's a Wonderful Movie: A Blog Regarding Christmas Movies on TV
3. Party {plan a Christmas in July party }

5) Favorite Christmas tv episodes:
Does this count? I loooved the Kraft Food holiday commercials in the 1980's during Charlie Brown and Peanuts holiday programs. Looovvvvved them.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Christmas TV Party 2014: Maryam Sarshar

Carrie's star on Little House on the Prairie
Christmas TV Party 2014: Maryam Sarshar

1) What is the first Christmas special you remember watching?
I think it would have to be one of the Bing Crosby Christmas specials, the ones where his kids and wife also appeared. It was probably one that was mid to late 1960s and done in color. I am not sure just which one I saw first, but those holiday specials really stay in my memories. I remember watching them every single year. He did such a nice mix of fun seasonal songs AND ones that were more religious. Bing also had great guests on that made the event even more special....comedians, singers, actors.....a really nice mix. Who didn't love all of that faux snow also? I think they just gave me a warm, cozy, holiday feeling and that is why they stood out.

2) Name one Christmas program/movie you enjoy watching all year round.
I know that this is one of Joanna's favorites, but it probably has to be the  Little House On The Prairie Christmas episode called "Christmas at Plum Creek."  It is a bit O. Henry-esque in that Laura is willing to give away her most prized pet horse Bunny in order to be able to get her mom an expensive stove that she has been eyeing for their "little house." Everyone else also has secrets as to what they are buying and/or making for the others. Love when Mary starts doing some sewing work in order to make money to buy some material so she can make Pa a shirt. Ma has also made the same shirt, but she hides it once she sees what Mary has made. It is also so sweet when Mr. Oleson marks the Christmas star down so that Carrie can buy it for a penny. It is usually on several times a year because INSP and Hallmark both show LHOTP daily during the week.  Make sure to follow Joanna on Facebook because I know she always makes sure to post about this episode whenever it is on! Go back and read her blog post about it also.

1972's The House Without a Christmas Tree

3) Name one overlooked, or under-appreciated Christmas program.
This is definitely a question I could answer right away! It is The House Without A Christmas Tree.  It is definitely slightly darker than most specials, but it has such a wonderful story to tell and such a wonderful upbeat ending. It features Jason Robards, Mildred Natwick, and Lisa Lucas. I am not sure why this special cannot be found on tv anymore, but I DO own the dvd so I can watch it multiple times during the season. It deals with a family that consists of a paternal grandmother, father, and a teenage daughter. The father lost his wife when his daughter was born and since that period of time Christmas was never the same. He is pretty much a Scrooge or Grinch. They didn't really celebrate and he would not allow a Christmas tree in the home since his wife's death. The entire TV special is a period piece centered around Christmas in a small town during the mid-1940s and includes scenes at school while the children are preparing for the holidays. If you have never watched it it is a must see! Very simply done, yet memorable.

4) Send us to 3 places on the internet.  (a great blog by my daughter who loves traveling and all things food-related) (a coupon and deal site.....I check this daily. You can share coupons and deals and earn money also for the best deals of the day!) (get cash rebates when you shop! you can request a check every month or wait until it builds up. You will be surprised how fast your money adds up, especially if you are a big online shopper!)

from the 1976 Christmas episode of What's Happening!!

5) What are your 3 favorite Christmas episodes of a TV sitcom or drama?
(it was difficult to narrow this down to 3!)
Family Ties "A Keaton Christmas Carol"
M*A*S*H "Death Takes A Holiday"
What's Happening!! "Mama Gets Off For Christmas"

Wouldn't it be great if one or two nostalgia stations tried to get as many holiday sitcom and drama episodes as they could and air them all during the month of December?  One can dream..... :)

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Christmas TV Party 2014: Net at It's A Wonderful Movie

Meet Me in St. Louis
Christmas TV Party 2014: Net at It’s a Wonderful Movie

1) What is the first Christmas special you remember watching?
As a child, I remember watching A Charlie Brown Christmas. Oh, how I loved Charlie Brown and his sweet little tree that just needed a little love! And, of course, it is such a precious moment, in the middle of all the chaos and confusion, when Linus tells Charlie Brown the true meaning of Christmas!
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” –Luke 2:11

2) Name one Christmas program/movie you enjoy watching all year round.
While It’s a Wonderful Life is my absolute favorite at Christmas, I also love Meet Me in St. Louis! I completely adore this classic Christmas musical, starring Judy Garland and Margaret O'Brien, all year long, especially since it has so many seasons in it. It’s such a lovely film... from the costumes, the memorable lines I cherish and say along with them, and the dancing and music, as well! I love all the songs, too… “The Boy Next Door,” “Skip To My Lou,” “The Trolley Song,” the title song “Meet Me In St. Louis, Louis,” ‘You and I,” and most of all, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”

Meet Me in St. Louis is like an old-fashioned Christmas card come to life… with sleigh rides, sledding, snowfall, snowmen, and traditional Christmas Carols. The realness of the family, the film, and the era, in which it takes place, makes one long to meet there - today!

Terrible Imogene in The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.

3) Name one overlooked, or under-appreciated Christmas program.
I love the sweet little one hour special The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. It’s about the Herdman children who are poor, dirty, and bullys who take over the local Christmas Nativity Pageant. However, when the meanest of them, Imogene, portrays Mary… something beautiful happens. It’s a precious, very special, Christmas story.

4) Send us to 3 places on the internet.
The Dove Foundation - your source for family friendly movie reviews
Movieguide - Movie reviews from a Christian perspective
Silver Scenes - A Blog for Classic Film Lovers, by The Metzinger Sisters 

The family together again on Christmas morning on The Waltons.

5) What are your 3 favorite Christmas episodes of a TV sitcom or drama?
I love The Waltons Christmas Special: The Best Christmas.  At first, no one arrives home for Christmas Eve, but then everyone returns home just in time for Christmas Morning! Plus, I love the Dennis the Menace and Father Knows Best Christmas Specials, too! Oh, it just makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, just thinking about them!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Christmas TV Party 2014: Dominic Caruso at 1701 Press

Jimmy Durante in 1942's The Man Who Came to Dinner.
Christmas TV Party 2014: Dominic at 1701 Press publishing

1) What is the first Christmas special you remember watching?
It's either A Charlie Brown Christmas or the Rankin/Bass Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. What can you say about these two that hasn't already been said? They were essential viewing for a Gen-X kid such as myself.  I still think A Charlie Brown Christmas is a masterpiece: it created a world to inhabit with your imagination, while at the same time it reflected a bittersweet sort of Midwestern sensibility that I grew up in.

2) Name one Christmas program/movie you enjoy watching all year round.
I bet I could watch The Man Who Came to Dinner all year round.  Unfortunately, then you'd have to put up with my constant Jimmy Durante (as Banjo) impressions, and nobody wants that.

3) Name one overlooked, or under-appreciated Christmas program.
It's not for everyone, but I really like Junky's Christmas--a half-hour stop-motion animation of a gritty William Burroughs story, narrated by Burroughs himself. The animation is gorgeous and it captures the music of Burroughs' profane yet poetic voice.

4) Send us to 3 places on the internet.
Alternate Histories introduces monsters, zombies, and flying saucers to classic maps of U.S. cities. Their "Flee America" poster series parodies vintage Travel America posters of the 30s, and 40s and are as beautiful as they are hilarious:

Ben Katchor makes comic strips like no one else right now. His strip (from his book Hand-Drying in America) about a Museum of Souvenirs that dismantles itself with each visitor (each brick is a souvenir to be taken) until it ceases to exist is a work of genius:

John Kenneth Muir's blog about cult movies and classic TV is endlessly fascinating. He's thoughtful, interesting, and brilliant:


5) What are your 3 favorite Christmas episodes of a TV sitcom or drama?
The Simpsons "Marge Be Not Proud" -- Bart wants an ultra-violent video game called "Bonestorm." I'm still hopelessly quoting this hilarious episode to this day. 
All in the Family "The Draft Dodger" -- I think this is the most powerful episode of the series. 
The Andy Griffith Show "The Christmas Story" -- You can't watch this one and not want to be a little like Andy Griffith.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Christmas TV Party 2014: Jeff Haggar at Classic TV Sports

Christmas TV Party 2014: Jeff Haggar at Classic TV Sports

1) What is the first Christmas special you remember watching?
A Charlie Brown Christmas

2) Name one Christmas program/movie you enjoy watching all year round.
the animated How the Grinch Stole Christmas! - one of the many brilliant creations of Dr. Seuss

3) Name one overlooked, or under-appreciated Christmas program.
the Christmas-themed edition of NFL Films Presents titled The Christmas Show which tells the story of player Bob Kalsu who was killed in the Vietnam War and profiles the legendary announcer team of Pat Summerall and Tom Brookshier

4) Send us to 3 places on the internet.
Frank Deford NPR podcast 
506sports (NFL TV maps and more)     
a retrospective on the most famous Christmas Day sports telecast - after receiving a lot of criticism for conducting playoff games on Christmas Day 1971 (especially with this lengthy double overtime game impacting Christmas dinners around the country), the NFL avoided scheduling any December 25 games until 18 years later   

Joanie leads the conga line at the Lucky Strikes Christmas party on Mad Men.

5) What are your 3 favorite Christmas episodes of a TV sitcom or drama?
All in the Family - Christmas Day at the Bunkers
The Mary Tyler Moore Show - Christmas and the Hard Luck Kid
Mad Men - Christmas Comes But Once a Year

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Christmas TV Party 2014: Dan Budnik

Bob and Doug McKenzie discuss beer nog in SCTV's "Staff Christmas Party."
Christmas TV Party 2014: Dan Budnik, co-author of Bleeding Skull!: A 1980s Trash Horror Odyssey

1) What is the first Christmas special you remember watching?
A Charlie Brown Christmas - It was either this or Christmas Eve on Sesame Street. I was born in 1973. So, chronologically, I think it was Chuck and his pals. I still watch it every year and I still love it. It’s not quite the same, though, without the commercials for Dolly Madison products. I remember those Zingers commercials as if I’d watched them yesterday. I think we only got Zingers at Christmastime and it was because of this special. I also felt a tie to the special because of Linus's Scripture quoting interlude. Sometimes, growing up, I felt like Linus. It was good to see him take command of the show and prove his point with textual backup. My kind of kid.

2) Name one Christmas program/movie you enjoy watching all year round. 

SCTV - "SCTV Staff Christmas Party" – I try not to watch too much Christmas-related stuff outside of December. (I probably should because it brings me great joy.) But, this episode, from 1981, is one I can watch at any time. It’s funny all the way through. The linking bits, involving the employees of SCTV at a Christmas party, are wonderful. And the sketches themselves are superb, from the Dusty Towne Sexy Holiday Special to Neil Simon’s Nutcracker Suite to the recipe for Beer Nog. My wife and I quote from this episode randomly throughout the year. ("No problem. Just a hysterical wife.")

Honorable Mention: Magic Christmas Tree (1964) - It is crazy and I love it.

3) Name one overlooked, or under-appreciated Christmas program. 
Meet Corliss Archer – “A Christmas Story” I saw this for the first time around Christmas 2012. It is almost infinitely charming. I know very little about this show (or its radio origins). But, the gist of it is: Dad hides the presents. Mom and Corliss look for them. Some clumsy neighbor kid named Dexter is building everyone gifts. Every once in a while the show cuts to a wacky drawing and the narrator lets loose with a gag. That was unexpected and cool. I wasn’t alive in 1954 but somehow this is exactly how I imagine the entire decade looking at Christmastime. (Yes, I do include the laugh track in that.) This episode puts a big smile on my face.

4) Send us to 3 places on the internet.
Branded In The 80s

An extra for the Old Time Radio fans:

Archive OTR Christmas

Lisa, Oliver, and Eb admire the Christmas tree on Green Acres.

5) What are your 3 favorite Christmas episodes of a TV sitcom or drama? 
Happy Days – “Guess Who’s Coming To Christmas?” An absolute favorite. Starts off as a regular entertaining Christmas episode of a sitcom made in the 1970s but set in the 1950s. But then, once the Cunningham’s car breaks down, it just gets better and better. Funny and touching, this episode usually brings a couple happy tears to my eyes. Written by Bill Idelson, who played Rush on my favorite OTR show Vic & Sade.

Green Acres – “An Old Fashioned Christmas” An episode from 1966 that is not only a great Christmas episode but also a perfect encapsulation of what the show was about. Oliver Douglas wants to have a perfect old-fashioned Christmas down on his farm in Hooterville involving every single tradition/ cliché he associates with the holiday. And, no one in Hooterville has any idea what he’s talking about. As always, they think he's nuts. Things go from funny to sentimental to funny again in the blink of an eye.  

You Can't Do That On Television - "Christmas" Fast, funny, slime-filled sketches all centering around Christmas. I was 9 when YCDTOTV appeared on Nickelodeon. I still watch it regularly. This Christmas episode hits on every cliche/ situation/ moment that a kid could want to see from the best time of the year for kids (and me). In December of 2009, I watched this episode on every single work day. I would get home from work, take a shower and then sit down and watch it. I haven't done that since then but for that particular month it made perfect sense. 

Honorable Mentions:
B.C.: A Special Christmas - Mainly because Bob & Ray provide the main voices. I can (and have) listened to Bob & Ray all day long. If you hunt around the Archive site I linked to above, you'll find some great B&R Christmas radio stuff.

Any of The Bob Newhart Show Christmas episodes. My wife and I don’t have a favorite. But, every Christmas, we have a Christmas With Bob Night and watch 3 or 4 of them.
Doctor Who Christmas Specials – I wouldn’t know which one to pick. I could be perverse and say The Feast of Steven. But, I won’t. Probably 2010's A Christmas Carol captures everything I love about the show and Christmas together in one 60 minute package with Michael Gambon included.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Christmas TV Party 2014: Jakki

Santa Claus is Comin' to Town

Christmas TV Party 2014: Jakki, founder of 'Tis The Season and Christmas Movies & Music Group

1) What is the first Christmas special you remember watching?
Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer and Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town by Rankin/Bass. They were enchanting, terrifying and believable, so they made a big impact.

2) Name one Christmas program/movie you enjoy watching all year round.
It's A Wonderful Life. The themes are universal for any time of year, not to mention only a small portion of the movie actually takes place at Christmas. Actually, I find that I watch it most often during the off-season when I need a Christmas fix.

cover art on VHS release

 3) Name one overlooked, or under-appreciated Christmas program.
Mr. Krueger's Christmas. This is the forgotten James Stewart Christmas film that features the glorious vocals of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. It's an incredibly touching story about an elderly widower who lives alone with his cat and is longing for a little company at Christmas. It's guaranteed to bring tears to my eyes each time I watch it. James Stewart is his usual charming self and it's a beautiful reminder to think of others less fortunate during the holiday season. I really believe it would be a classic if it got more air time, so I hope this makes even a few people seek it out if they've never heard of it!

4) Send us to 3 places on the internet.
It's A Wonderful Movie (,  
The Sounds of Christmas ( and  
My Merry Christmas (


5) What are your 3 favorite Christmas episodes of a TV sitcom or drama?
Mad About You episode Met Someone (love the story of how Paul and Jamie met at Christmas), the Lark Rise To Candleford Christmas Special (a traditional English Christmas ghost story in the tradition of Dickens) and Blackadder's Christmas Carol (Hilarious flipped version of the classic tale).