Saturday, July 20, 2019

Christmas in July 2019: Ed South





Christmas in July 2019: Ed South - host of "What's Your Favorite Movie?" podcast available on iTunes, Spotify and Spreaker. Twitter: @edsouth, @WYFMoviePodcast

1. What is your favorite Saturday Night Live Christmas/Hanukkah/New Year's sketch?

Two of my all-time favorite SNL Christmas skits are both very simple...Steve Martin's Christmas Wish address, where he wishes for all the children of the world to join hands and sing in the spirit of harmony and peace and also for $30 million tax-free in a Swiss bank account. I also like when John Malkovich reads The Night Before Christmas to the group of kids. Oh, and even though these are more associated with Thanksgiving, I adore the music videos for (Do It On My) Twin Bed and Back Home Baller. Those are both painfully funny and also catchy songs!

2. Do you most look forward to watching holiday episodes from series? Specials? Movies? Animation? or, all of it?

When we start inching towards the end of October, and the small handful of essential Halloween specials have all been watched, I turn my attention to all things Christmas themed in television and film!  There's dozens of animated specials that without viewing would make the holiday season incomplete. There are also plenty of great Christmas movies that are as essential as presents and egg nog. But my real passion in Christmas viewing is digging up unseen (to me) Christmas episodes of vintage television shows. It's fun each year to discover another series that I did not know has a Christmas episode and track that show down via Netflix DVD or YouTube or other means. I have a dozen or so DVD compilations of old Christmas episodes that I enjoy watching every year also. Donna Stone throwing the hospital Christmas party,  Samantha Stephens taking the orphaned kid to the North Pole and trimming the tree with Ricky and Lucy are all required moments in my holiday season.



3. What's your favorite soundtrack from a holiday program? (it doesn't have to have been officially released as an album--just what program features your favorite collection of music?)

My favorite holiday soundtrack would have to be A Charlie Brown Christmas which provides so much atmosphere for most of the holiday season. I get excited every single time I hear "Linus & Lucy" played on the radio. (It's a shame they won't play Charlie Brown music all year.) Besides all the wonderful music that is associated with the Charlie Brown Christmas special, the CD release of the soundtrack features great covers of classic Xmas tunes provided by the Vince Guaraldi Trio. I've had the privilege of hearing the entire soundtrack album performed live by a local jazz ensemble accompanied by a screening of the 1965 animated special on a couple of occasions.

4. What one program are you patiently (or impatiently) waiting for me to review on this blog?

When it comes to the content of the Christmas TV History blog, I most enjoy being introduced to shows and movies I'm not familiar with. I'm not one to read reviews of things I've already seen but from the blog I have discovered many wonderful movies and obscure specials.  Not only did Joanna turn me on to the wonders of The Waltons Christmas movie The Homecoming when she appeared on my podcast, but most recently I was able to track down a copy of the 1987 TV-movie Christmas Comes to Willow Creek which I had heard about for years via this very blog!


5. What change in Christmas entertainment have you noticed over the years? Do you like the trend?

Trends in Christmas Entertainment: Well, it seems in the last few years that content providers - TV networks, cable channels, streaming services and even Hollywood studios - have noticed the popularity of Christmas entertainment. We seem to be getting more celebrity driven prime time variety specials on the big networks. Cable channels realize that they can't run Christmas Vacation, Elf and Die Hard too many times in December. I also love that the big networks have brought back so many of the classic animated specials that had previously moved on to smaller stations. The Grinch, Santa Claus is Coming To Town and even Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol have all returned to network television after long hiatuses. However, I think the biggest trend would have to be the impact of the Hallmark Channel and their blizzard of 191 new Christmas movies every season which in turn has led Lifetime and Netflix and several others to beef up their original Christmas movie offerings too. While the Hallmark movies are warm and inviting, they do almost all tend to blend together after a few weeks but some of the other guys are tinkering with the format a little bit and offering some neat movies. Netflix' The Christmas Chronicles was a blast and Lifetime's Melissa Joan Hart vehicle A Very Nutty Christmas was a goofy fun flick, just as two examples from 2018. 


Friday, July 19, 2019

Christmas in July 2019: Martin Johns




Christmas In July 2019: Stubby (aka Martin Johns), Stubby's House of Christmas

Spoiler alert:  Stubby's is closing up shop and will disappear entirely in October, though I do have something planned for Christmas In July.

1. What is your favorite Saturday Night Live Christmas/Hanukkah/New Year's sketch?

Mr. Robinson's Neighborhood (with Eddie Murphy), though my favorite Christmas sketch comedy tends to be from SCTV (Great White North, Sammy Maudlin, etc.) and my all-time favorite comedy sketch might just be "Christmas With Mr. Shatner" from Dennis Leary's 2005 Christmas special ("Well at least they have pets.")


2. Do you most look forward to watching holiday episodes from series? Specials? Movies? Animation? or, all of it?

Maybe I've just gotten old but I find myself most looking forward to the holiday commercials these days.  Tears, laughter, short attention span, and generally more creativity than the networks exhibit these days.  In recent years, I scan the guides for Christmas programming only to find those shows I'm most interested in on channels I don't get.  But there will always be commercials.  Yeah, you'll always make time for the classic TV episodes and movies, but the new stuff...most of it, anyway...sucks.  Or I've just gotten old.


from peter, Paul and Mary's Holiday Concert (1988)

3. What's your favorite soundtrack from a holiday program? (it doesn't have to have been officially released as an album--just what program features your favorite collection of music?)

Well, clearly, nothing beats A Charlie Brown Christmas...nearly every kid's introduction to exceptional Jazz.  Among the holiday specials, for me, nothing beats the Peter, Paul and Mary Holiday Concert.  And, in terms of soundtracks to TV episodes, I've always been impressed with the mix in A Roswell Christmas Carol.  You've got The Swingtips, The Eels, Burl Ives, Kay Kaiser, Lucious Jackson, Fountains of Wayne, The Silvertones, and, of course, Jane Siberry ("Calling All Angels").


4. What one program are you patiently (or impatiently) waiting for me to review on this blog?

I don't follow the blog as closely as I should, but a search turns up neither of a pair at opposite ends of my enjoyability scale.  A few years back, on a podcast, the host recommended the Christmas episode of The Famous Teddy Z (he loved it), but you didn't offer your opinion.  I have it on VHS and I sometimes show it to people because so few have ever seen it.  But it was really, really bad.  Almost unwatchable.  I tend to love TV and am always the guy saying a show, no matter how awful, deserved a longer run.  But The Famous Teddy Z?  That's one that should have been cancelled about two minutes into the debut episode.  Really just godawful.  The Christmas episode was no exception.

On the other side of the scale, and more recent, I thoroughly enjoyed the Christmas episode of 12 Monkeys, "Memory of Tomorrow".  OK, it's not purely a Christmas episode.  And yet it is.  It has all the themes of Christmas fare, but with twists that give them a fresh perspective.  I particularly love the line "Death can be undone.  Love cannot."  And I dig the fact that the episode first aired in July.


5. What change in Christmas entertainment have you noticed over the years? Do you like the trend?

I lament the lack of Christmas variety/music specials.  Used to be you'd get Bing, Andy, Perry and more...every Christmas.  I hoped Michael Buble would become an annual staple, but no.  And Pentatonix just doesn't do it for me.  Yes, the Hallmark movies are very formulaic, but so is most of the Christmas fare these days.  Growing up, someone always had a fresh and unique take on the holidays (or maybe I'm just remembering the past with rose colored glasses).  I suppose that's why I enjoyed the 12 Monkeys episode so much and look forward to commercials, these days.



Thursday, July 18, 2019

Christmas in July 2019: Donna Bock

 


Christmas in July 2019: Donna Bock

1. What is your favorite Saturday Night Live Christmas/Hanukkah/New Year's sketch?

The Justin Timberlake/Jimmy Fallon rapping in wrapping paper and a gift bag is a favorite of mine.  They are hilarious!  Bring it on down to Wrappinville.  It's a new classic!
Another favorite of mine is Alex Baldwin's Schweddy Balls. The conversation is so funny and none of the actors break from their character. The writing for this entire 1998 Christmas show was spectacular!  Can't forget Christmas Time for the Jews.  The song is so clever I find myself humming it after watching.  Lastly, who could not love the musical numbers Santa's My Boyfriend and I Wish it Was Christmas Today?

2. Do you most look forward to watching holiday episodes from series? Specials? Movies? Animation? or, all of it?

I have so many Christmas watching traditions I could write a book.  Some of my all time favorites in no particular order are, Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer, I saw it the first time it aired in 1964, and I still need to watch it on TV every year.  Christmas Eve on Sesame Street, though not shown on network TV it is another tradition.  Every Christmas Eve my Grandsons and I watch it on DVD.  It's such a great show, I don't understand why it's not shown every year.  Christmas viewing wouldn't be complete if I didn't watch a bunch of old (60-70s)  Christmas sitcom episodes. My all time favorite is "Guess Who's Coming to Christmas."  Fonzi pretending to have somewhere to go on Christmas Eve gets me every-time.  In my humble opinion it's the best of the sitcom holiday episodes. I've expressed my love for the movie White Christmas every year, so this July I'll leave it out.


 

3. What's your favorite soundtrack from a holiday program? (it doesn't have to have been officially released as an album--just what program features your favorite collection of music?)

The Holiday musical specials were always something my family looked forward to... way back when.  They aren't as popular as they were, but I watched a few last year.  David Bowie and Bing Crosby's "Little Drummer Boy" is iconic.  I don't see how that can be topped. I did enjoy the Glee Holiday episodes and all of the Christmas music they danced and sang to.


4. What one program are you patiently (or impatiently) waiting for me to review on this blog?

I enjoy all of your blog posts.  There aren't any that I am waiting for.  Whenever a new one is posted, I read it.  I sometimes reread the older blogs of my favorite shows.


5. What change in Christmas entertainment have you noticed over the years? Do you like the trend?

There have been many changes since I first started watching TV.  I remember what a huge event it was when a new animated Christmas Show was coming on.  When Charlie Brown Christmas first aired in 1965, there was a big write up in the TV Guide and the young actors were interviewed. The extraordinary thing was that the producer used kids instead of actors to read the parts of the Peanuts gang. I'm not a big fan of the Christmas romance movies, there are too many of them.  I loved the TV movies of the 80s and 90s.  One of my favorites is The Night They Saved Christmas. The cast is great, the story is cute, and it has a happy ending. When my adult children were young they watched it almost everyday, (Thank you VCR) even in the summer...hey it kept them entertained!

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Christmas in July 2019: Jim Inman





Christmas in July 2019: Jim Inman - Christmas Movies and Music admin 

1. What is your favorite Saturday Night Live Christmas/Hanukkah/New Year's sketch?

I've always loved the voice of Darlene Love... and to have her participate in a fun, slightly risque song on SNL makes me appreciate her even more.  From 2005, Season 31, Darlene Love's song "Christmastime for the Jews" is a take-off on class Rankin/Bass animation, with the usual SNL touches. TV Funhouse: Christmastime For The Jews - SNL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGzO1ghRKp4


2. Do you most look forward to watching holiday episodes from series? Specials? Movies? Animation? or, all of it?

There are select options from all the above... watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, followed by the original version of Miracle on 34th Street... finding Rudolph, Charlie Brown, Frosty on television... looking for some classic TV holiday episodes throughout the weeks... and enjoying It's a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Story are all must-do activities during the holiday season.  With YouTube and streaming services, many of the old, rare TV specials with The Carpenters, Andy Williams, Bing Crosby and more are accessible to enjoy on a long winter's night. 





3. What's your favorite soundtrack from a holiday program? (it doesn't have to have been officially released as an album--just what program features your favorite collection of music?)

This is a tough one.  There are a number of songs that are closely tied to a special ("Christmastime is Here" for Charlie Brown's Christmas, "White Christmas," etc).  As for a collection or album, I would have to include National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation - "Holiday Road" and Ray Charles' "That Spirit of Christmas" are vastly different, but capture the heart of that film so well.  Of course Vince Guaraldi's "Charlie Brown Christmas" is timeless... and also the soundtrack to Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.  Burl Ives' voice cannot be duplicated, and he brings a kindness and genuine affection to every song he sings on the album. 

Side note -- I think a fun project would be taking a collection of Christmas songs (a "favorites" album, so to speak) and creating a holiday special from those.


4. What one program are you patiently (or impatiently) waiting for me to review on this blog?

Another tough question.  This blog is such a tremendous resource for Christmas fans, and your books and blog have covered so many holiday programs already.  The only thing I might think of would be conducting interviews with people who have ties to those holiday programs, to get some additional behind-the-scenes information (but I know you've done some of this already)...


5. What change in Christmas entertainment have you noticed over the years? Do you like the trend?

I miss the choral arrangements of holiday music. As an avid record collector, I have a lot of albums from the 1960s-70s that were church groups and ensemble singing. When you have a large group of voices coming together, and creating those natural sounds... it's pretty amazing and awesome.  The sounds of an orchestra can really change the listener's perspective on a song that everyone may already know...

I would also say that the stories of Christmas entertainment don't seem as "real" as they once were.  The depression George Bailey felt in It's a Wonderful Life and the elation on the children's faces in Santa Claus: The Movie are no match for computerized, animated shows today.  And I have to say that the Hallmark Christmas films don't do much for me at all - too focused on romance and predictable storylines don't cut it for me.  But, to each his own... and we can still all love Christmas and the music, television and films that make us smile and feel the holiday spirit! 




Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Christmas in July 2019: Travis Van Hauen


Christmas in July 2019: Travis Van Hauen

1. What is your favorite Saturday Night Live Christmas/Hanukkah/New Year's sketch?



2. Do you most look forward to watching holiday episodes from series? Specials? Movies? Animation? or, all of it?

Pretty much all of it.


3. What's your favorite soundtrack from a holiday program? (it doesn't have to have been officially released as an album--just what program features your favorite collection of music?)

TV- Our family will sing along to Phineas & Ferb Christmas because we have seen it so many times. Not sure about movies. So many to go from. Christmas Vacation, Polar Express, Elf and Die Hard had excellent music choices. White Christmas is a great soundtrack.


4. What one program are you patiently (or impatiently) waiting for me to review on this blog?

I am not sure what has been covered so I am just gonna throw a few out there.

*Coach: "Christmas of the Van Damned." After finding fellow Van Dams in Minnesota, Luther attends a family reunion/Christmas party where everything goes haywire. Luthor (Jerry Van Dyke) walks through the party and sees a family member (Dick Van Dyke) and they just shrug an walk pass each other as if they don't know each other.

 *Chuck season 2 "Chuck Vs Santa Claus." The Buy More is held hostage. As it becomes apparent the incident is not a random act brought on by holiday madness, and Chuck and the Intersect are at risk, Sarah takes action. (it is a funny tribute to Die Hard)

*Justice League: "Comfort And Joy." I thought this was great episode of introducing the viewers to how some DC characters and how they celebrate the holidays.

*Syfy series Eureka had a episode that transported them through several types of Christmas Special effects in "Do you see what I see?"


Rankin and Bass's Festival of Family Classics - Episode 11: A Christmas Tree ( I saw it as a kid and don't remember seeing it since).




5. What change in Christmas entertainment have you noticed over the years? Do you like the trend? 

Seems Hollywood in the past ten years is going through the Dirty Santa phase. Having a dirty old Santa with filthy humor followed by bad story lines in order to try to get a edgy or young audience. I guess the jokes are humorous but they are definitely not timeless.




Monday, July 15, 2019

Christmas in July 2019: Linda M. Young





Christmas in July 2019: Linda M. Young at flyingdreams.org

1. What is your favorite Saturday Night Live Christmas/Hanukkah/New Year's sketch?

Wow. I actually don't remember any SNL Christmastide sketches at all. I don't watch the recent shows because they are too political, and I don't recall any classic ones. I seem to vaguely recall seeing a SNL sketch with Hugh Laurie when House was on the air, but I didn't like it that much.

My favorite Christmas sketch from a comedy LIKE SNL is "Raging Rudolph" from MAD TV. It's amazingly gross, but at the same time having the juxtaposition of the Rankin-Bass characters in a Godfather-setting is well done and very funny in a grim way.

2. Do you most look forward to watching holiday episodes from series? Specials? Movies? Animation? or, all of it?

That's a hard one to choose, because I just watch them indiscriminately based on how I feel, The Homecoming one night, The Voyagers! Christmas episode and The Waltons "Best Christmas" the next. So I'd say the whole beautiful bunch of them. It's wonderful to revisit with the unique characters like Addie, the Thornton family, Susan Walker, etc., but also nice to see your favorite series characters in a Christmas setting.




3. What's your favorite soundtrack from a holiday program? (it doesn't have to have been officially released as an album--just what program features your favorite collection of music?)

Oh, my gosh, what a hard question. I would have to say A Charlie Brown Christmas, because the jazz soundtrack is unique to specials of the time, and even the incidental music (like the piece of music that's playing when the kids are catching snowflakes on their tongues) is memorable.  "Christmastime is Here" is probably one of the most beautiful Christmas songs to come out of the 1960s. But I could say the same of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and especially Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol, the latter whose songs I could sing by heart even after the network dropped showing it for years and years and it wasn't until I got cable in the 1980s that I got to see it again. Magoo is also a production where the incidental music is just as memorable as the songs, like the piece that plays when Scrooge comes back to the town where he went to school, after he says "I could walk it blindfolded!"


4. What one program are you patiently (or impatiently) waiting for me to review on this blog?

Any that you haven't reviewed before.  And will you ever be reviewing The March Girls at Christmas, which some people hated, but I enjoyed (except for the fact that half the male characters were "eh..." especially their take on John Brooke).


5. What change in Christmas entertainment have you noticed over the years? Do you like the trend?

I think I have commented on this before, but really, it's the part I hate. From Thanksgiving Day (and sometimes before) onward, we are bombarded by Christmas specials and Christmas episodes, and then WHAM, about three or four days before the holiday itself, except for the movies on the non-network channels, Christmas just VANISHES and we get reruns. (Thank goodness for PBS, which still shows Christmas concerts on Christmas Eve.) Through the 70s you would get new Christmas specials, or even reruns of Christmas specials, on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and there would be new episodes of shows on Christmas Day back in the 1950s and 1960s for sure. The British still do this (although often what they call a "Christmas episode" has very little to do with Christmas), and I love reading "The Radio Times" and "The TV Times" for Christmas week to see what the BBC and ITV are showing. Thankfully we have DVDs to fill in this gap, but it's really very lazy of the networks. And then, the minute Christmas Day bongs its finally bong at midnight--Christmas is GONE. The Christmas season lasts until January 6--the Twelve Days of Christmas. Instead we are stuck with more reruns, while the stores are already putting out Valentines Day decorations before we even count down to New Year's. If we're lucky, someone will rerun Happy New Year, Charlie Brown, but they'll usually do it before Christmas!


Sunday, July 14, 2019

Christmas in July 2019: Lisa Iannucci





Christmas in July 2019: Lisa Iannucci from thevirgintraveler.com

1. What is your favorite Saturday Night Live Christmas/Hanukkah/New Year's sketch?

Schweddy Balls


2. Do you most look forward to watching holiday episodes from series? Specials? Movies? Animation? or, all of it?

A combination.


3. What's your favorite soundtrack from a holiday program? (it doesn't have to have been officially released as an album--just what program features your favorite collection of music?)

Hmmmm, honestly I don't know this one. I never really pay attention to soundtracks. LOL


 
4. What one program are you patiently (or impatiently) waiting for me to review on this blog?

How about The Holiday? My fave!


5. What change in Christmas entertainment have you noticed over the years? Do you like the trend?

I don't like Hallmark's weekly Christmas countdown. I understand they are popular but leave it to closer to the holiday.