About Christmas TV History

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Remembering Clarence Clemons

Like many others, I've been touched by the recent passing of musician/actor Clarence Clemons.  The first image that comes to mind when I think of the tenor saxophonist, is that one with him and Bruce Springsteen from the Born to Run album cover.  My big sister had a Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band concert t-shirt that I used to "borrow" and wear during my high school years.

Ahhh...the 1980s.
But the Big Man did more than just provide the most amazing, rockin' sax accompaniment to back up The Boss.  What's on my mind today is Clemons' appearance on the Christmas episode of the TV police drama Nash Bridges.

Hunky Don Johnson as a police detective

The second season episode, "25 Hours of Christmas," has several different storylines.  Nash and his partner Joe, played by Don Johnson and Cheech Marin, are investigating a department store armed robbery that didn't go off as the robbers planned.  Joe has taken Nash's much-beloved vintage car to get it detailed for him as a present for Christmas but the 'Cuda is stolen in transit.  Nash accidentally switches the gifts he purchased for his ex-wife and his current girlfriend which causes some unexpected reactions from the women in his life.  And, Angel, a mentally unstable local citizen tells Nash that he is Nash's guardian angel this Christmas.  This is an unwelcome distraction to the police investigations and activity at the San Francisco station house.

Clemons as Big Barry, looking to get his sax from the police evidence locker.
But more relevantly, this episode also includes Clarence Clemons, near the end, as a local businessman and musician named Big Barry.  In this episode, he is here to give Nash the car tires he needs and to ask for help getting his property out of an evidence locker.  After this Big Barry attends the police department Christmas party.  Dressed in a Santa Claus suit,  Joe joins Barry to entertain the party guests, performing the holiday song "Santa Claus is Coming to Town."  Clemons' role as Big Barry is brief here but the performance is a substantial one as the music extends into Clemons playing "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" as well.

Cheech Marin and Clemons rockin' together on "Santa Claus is Coming to Town"
This Christmas episode of Nash Bridges is available for viewing on DVD.  It's on Season 2, disc 3 for Netflix users.  How lucky we are to have Clemons' musical work and his appearances in movies and films recorded.  In this way, he can live forever.

Hopefully, this 1996 episode has stimulated your appetite for more 1990s Christmas entertainments because throughout the whole month of July, I'll be featuring just that.  I'm hosting a dozen guest bloggers and I'll even jump in there to write about a few 1990s movies and programs myself.  So make sure you stop back during July to check out what others are saying about our favorite 1990s Christmas movies, specials and TV episodes.  It's still not too late to join in on the fun if you'd like to guest blog during July--email me ASAP with a title if you're interested.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Remembering Peter Falk

Peter Falk (1927-2011)

It is with sadness that we say our final goodbye to actor Peter Falk.  There are many tributes to Falk's long career, many focusing on his iconic TV detective Columbo, the Runyon-esque tough guys he played on the big screen, or even his much-beloved appearance in Wim Wenders' arthouse classic Wings of Desire.

But here, on my blog, I want to acknowledge his appearances in the trilogy of Christmas TV movies in which he plays Max, the underestimated angel that works to bring people together for the holiday.

The first film in the series is 2001's A Town Without Christmas which also stars Patricia Heaton. 

Heaton is currently starring on the hit sitcom 'The Middle.'
 Heaton plays a TV news reporter who's sent to cover a story where a letter to Santa is discovered at a small town post office that sparks attention all over the country--a letter written by a child whose life is in jeopardy!

The second in the series of three films is 2003's Finding John Christmas which stars Valerie Bertinelli.  In this story, a photojournalist snaps a photo of an anonymous man, down on his luck at the holiday, which runs in the local newspaper. 

Bertinelli is currently on TVLand's 'Hot in Cleveland.'
Kathleen, played by Bertinelli, recognizes the photo as her long lost brother and contacts the journalist.  The public is moved by the photo in the newspaper and there’s a movement to find the stranger in the photo labeled ‘John Christmas.'  Unfortunately, he doesn’t want to be found.

And the third TV movie is 2004's When Angels Come to Town which stars Katey Sagal.  This story centers on two people in a small town who both need help this Christmas.  The angel Max attempts to help each of them but another angel, Jo, played by Sagal, believes that Max's efforts are mistaken.

I LOVE Sagal on her current TV series 'Sons of Anarchy.'
 All three movies are uplifting Christmas stories that include the angel Max who usually takes on several guises to provide the main characters the support and encouragement they need to do the right thing.  There's usually a touch of magic and the feeling of fate's hand guiding people in the right direction.  Falk's Max is eccentric, all-knowing and persistent--not unlike Columbo.  It's a real treat to see his familiar face and his way of doing what he does best--in these feel-good holiday stories.

The cable network Universal HD will be airing all three Peter Falk Christmas TV movies starting this Thursday and repeating them each several times through Saturday.  If you don't get Universal HD network, don't worry.  These three movies still regularly air each December.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Circus Boy Christmas (1956)

Do you watch Antenna TV?  This is one of the growing number of national digital multicast television networks.  It can be picked up through rabbit ears or a TV antenna in certain areas with a local affiliate.  It can also be received through a cable system that picks up the local affiliate.  I happen to watch it through my Time/Warner cable subscription.

And I watch Antenna TV alot.  This network airs old, classic TV shows and mostly forgotten movies.  I like to watch Maude, Rin-Tin-Tin, Burns and Allen, the Partridge Family, Hazel, Dennis the Menace, Too Close for Comfort, Here Come the Brides, Gidget, the Flying Nun and more.  But what I'm excited about is happening next Sunday, July 3rd on Antenna TV.  They happen to be airing the Christmas episodes of Circus Boy and the Monkees, two TV shows that star Mickey Dolenz.

Cue the calliope music

Circus Boy is a half-hour, black-and-white adventure series from the mid-1950s about a traveling circus at the turn-of-the-century.  The show centers around Corky, the young orphan boy who takes care of the little elephant Bimbo.  The role of Corky is credited to actor Mickey Braddock but it's easy to recognize the boy to be a young, blonde Mickey Dolenz.  The 1956 Christmas episode of Circus Boy is entitled 'The Good Samaritans.'  The circus has been invited to perform in the small town of Hayfield at Christmas but finds its residents are prejudiced against circus people.

Of course, Braddock is a blonde Dolenz! duh.

Here we come, walking down the street...
The Monkees is the iconic 1960s absurd comedy about the four members of the band the Monkees.  It stars Mike Nesmith, Peter Tork, Davey Jones and Mickey Dolenz.  The 1967 Christmas episode finds the four men babysitting a wealthy little boy in order to earn money for Christmas presents.  Look closely and you may recognize the rich kid, Melvin, as actor Butch Patrick--also known for his role as Eddie Munster on The Munsters.  Mickey Dolenz has a special moment in this Christmas episode as he sings the lead in the performance of 'Riu Chiu.'  This Spanish song is a beautiful carol from the 16th century Renaissance period.  You didn't know the Monkees had it in them, did ya?

 This starts with the Monkees performance of 'Riu Chiu' beautifully harmonized.

Both of these vintage Christmas episodes air on Antenna TV Sunday July 3rd.  The Circus Boy episode is at 9:30 am (EST) and the Monkees Christmas episode airs at 3:30 pm (EST).  If you'd like more updates on daily Christmas episode and movie broadcasts, you can follow my Facebook group 'Christmas TV History blog or follow me on Twitter: TistheSeasonTV.  Both of those links are on along the right hand side of this blog.

Mickey and Butch Patrick in The Christmas Show

The Christmas episode of Circus Boy is also available for viewing on Youtube--just follow the link for my Youtube channel, TistheSeasonTV, on the right hand side of this blog.  The Monkees is also available for viewing on Youtube as well as DVD.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Ace of Cakes

Reality show Ace of Cakes intro

Do you like Christmas cake?  Who doesn't, right?  The reality series Ace of Cakes on the Food Network has made several episodes about their Christmas cakes.  This TV show about Charm City Cakes, the bakery run by Chef Duff Goldman in Baltimore, Maryland, shows the behind-the-scenes preparations, baking and decorating of cakes for all kinds of celebrations.

The first yuletide episode came in the third season entitled 'Charm City Cakes' in which the bakery makes a specialty cake for Radio City Music Hall’s 75th annual Christmas Spectacular with the Rockettes.  This 2007 episode is available to watch on DVD.

There is also 2009's 'Demolition Cake' where Mary makes a finely detailed Christmas Stocking cake for a woman known for making cross-stitched stockings for her family.  Season 8 brought the episode 'Christmas in July' in which Chef Duff makes a plated dessert for a public relations firm's Christmas in July party.  And last December brought a special one hour-long episode, 'Holiday on Icing.'  This 2010 special sees the staff busy decorating a Christmas tree cake for Andrews Air Force Base’s golf course holiday party.  And, Katherine accidentally breaks a fragile glass topper for a holiday wedding snowflake cake.  Duff organizes the bakery's first ever Secret Santa gift exchange for the staff.

It's also fun to follow the employees of the bakery to see what they are up to each week.  Mary Alice and Elena are my favorite staff members at Charm City.  But Geof is hilarious too.  I have been lucky enough to enjoy a cake made by Charm City Cakes.  I was at the Lebowski-fest in Louisville, Kentucky in 2008 when the bakery made a White Russian-flavored cake inspired by the Coen Brothers 1998 movie The Big Lebowski.

Walter AND Chef Duff can get you a toe!

I got a piece of this cake and it was delicious!  Though I've never been able to find myself in the crowds of people, I was there when they filmed for the episode entitled 'The Big Cakeowski' from the fifth season.  I got to see Duff Goldman's band perform on the outdoor stage.  And, yes, I entered the costume contest dressed as an In-N-Out Burger drive thru employee.

That's me on the right, posing with actor Jim Hoosier (middle) who played Liam, the bowling partner of Jesus from the movie
I'm looking forward to the Christmas in July celebration here on the blog.  Summer is going fast as it begins next week!  Be sure to stop back during the entire month to catch all the blog posts covering our favorite holiday entertainments made during the 1990s.  What's your fav 1990s Christmas movie? special? episode?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Convoy Christmas: B.J. and the Bear

If you came to one of my speaking engagements in 2010, you may have been given a handout I prepared entitled 'Convoy Christmas.'  This was a piece I wrote about trucking themed TV Christmas entertainments.  I know, right?  There have been several of these stories including: Christmas episodes of Alice, Monk and King of the Hill as well as the TV movie Christmas Comes to Wilow Creek which stars the dream team John Schneider and Tom Wopat.  Additionally, there's the 1979 Christmas episode of the B.J. and the Bear entitled 'Silent Night, Unholy Night.'  Only in the past year has someone finally uploaded this episode onto You tube for viewing.

Greg Evigan as B.J. McKay with his mischievous passenger, Bear.
 While delivering a truckload of Christmas turkeys to market, B.J. McKay meets a pregnant woman, Allie Spencer, who’s car has run off the road.  Her driving is erratic because she must deliver a diary to her attorney husband who is preparing the case against the corrupt, Sheriff McCandles.  McCandles knows that the diary is the only evidence against him and he’s after Tom Spencer as well as his wife, Allie.  B.J. takes the fragile woman under his protection--even if that means asking Sheriff Cain, dressed in a Santa suit, to help him escape from the clutches of the desperate McCandles.

Remember Ted Danson in these Aramis cologne magazine ads?

This episode offers everything you want it to including a scene where B.J. drives through a police car blockade which causes an explosion.  It even includes a scene with B.J. delivering Allie’s baby in the cab of his truck!  In addition to singing the TV series’ theme song, Greg Evigan as B.J. also sings ‘The Christmas Song’ at a children's Christmas party.  If you forget that this show was made in the 1970s, you’ll be reminded of this fact when you hear Fleetwood Mac’s ‘I Don’t Want to Know’ and J.D. Souther’s hit song ‘You’re Only Lonely’ in the background of this episode.  Another piece of trivia: the director of the episode is Vince Edwards.  TV junkies may recognize Edwards from the 1960s medical drama ‘Ben Casey.’  And, yes--that is a very young Ted Danson playing the role of attorney Tom Spencer.

Part 1 of 'Silent Night, Unholy Night'--sorry about the very low res image quality

To watch the rest of the episode, you can find it in my You tube channel 1970s Christmas playlist.  Click here.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

All in the Family's Emotional Christmas

Archie's feeling confused!

I recently wrote about the tragic 1977 Christmas episode of All in the Family entitled 'Edith's Crisis of Faith' for the incredible blog Kindertrauma.  Go there now and read it.  It's not too late to comment--and while you're over there, you should 'follow' them as well.  Kindertrauma.com is an awesome site!  Though this emotional episode was made over 30 years ago, the political and social issues it touches on are still relevant.

Here comes Beverly LaSalle 

Any excuse to show off my Dynamite Magazine collection!

The two-part episodes are available to watch on You Tube.  Have you checked out my You Tube channel yet?  TisTheSeasonTV.  Rewatch all you favorite Christmas episodes and specials. I'm adding more titles all the time so stop back again.  I also have a 1990s playlist if you're still looking to guest blog during the month of July.  Contact me if you would like to write about a Christmas episode, special or movie made during the 1990s.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

On the Radio with Tothar

A few weeks ago, my friend Tothar DJ'd during the Sunday brunch at Cleveland's Beachland Tavern.  His playlist included several far-out Christmas songs and since I was there, he invited me up to the microphone to introduce them.  Such are the never-ending duties of the self-professed Christmas Queen :)  Many thanks to Tothar for including me in his awesome show.

The Tavern is next to the Beachland Ballroom--THE hot place to see concert events in Cleveland, Ohio

You can hear the live recorded version featuring me and Tothar on his internet radio show The Beyondophonic Action Hour tonight at 10 pm (EST) on the internet radio station Luxuria Music.  Click here to listen to LuxuriaMusic.comClick here to see Tothar's DJ Profile.

Tothar describes his radio show The Beyondophonic Action Hour as "Retrofuturistic, Cosmopolitan, Poptastic."   If you miss tonight's broadcast, you can still check it out in the podcast archives at LuxuriaMusic.com.  Tonight's broadcast is the second of four hours recorded live from the Beachland Tavern Sunday brunch event.

Live on the air with Tothar

Monday, June 6, 2011

Guest Blogger Sign-Up for July

I'm still accepting guest bloggers for my Christmas in July celebration.  We're all going to write about Christmas episodes, specials or movies made during the 1990s.  Here's what has already been reserved:

TV movie: A Season for Miracles
Melrose Place
the movie: Silent Night, Deadly Night 5
Father Ted
My So-Called Life
Tales from the Crypt
The Adventures of Pete & Pete
Northern Exposure
South Park
The Tick
and a few unconfirmed titles from potential bloggers as well....

There are still PLENTY of 1990s Christmas-themed entertainments available, if you'd like to join in on the fun and write a blog post as well.  There are many sit-coms and children's shows with holiday episodes to write about.  For more suggests, click here
and click here
and click here.

Or, thumb through your copy of the encyclopedia Tis the Season TV and find your own favorite title made during the 1990s and contact me.  Then, during the month of July check back on the blog and read about what everyone else has to say about our favorite 1990s Christmas TV moments.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Still More Suggestions for 1990s Christmas Entertainments

Frana Kafka's It's A Wonderful Life

Interested in guest blogging in July?  Join the discussion about Christmas entertainments made in the 1990s.  Click here for instructionsClick here for previous suggests.  Sign up for your selection now! I already have writers for:
TV movie 'A Season for Miracles'
Melrose Place
Silent Night, Deadly Night 5
Father Ted
My So-Called Life
Tales from the Crypt
and a few other unconfirmed ones floating around...

There are still quite a few good ones left.  If you would like me to suggest something just for you--just let me know or thumb through a copy of the encyclopedia, Tis the Season TV, for other great 1990s titles.  Pick something that means something special to you, something you like to watch over and over or something that touched you emotionally.  Come to the Christmas in July party and join the discussion!

 Hey Arnold! 

Friday, June 3, 2011

Guest Blogger Sign-Up for July

 I've already confirmed bloggers for: Melrose Place, X-Files, and movies 'A Season for Miracles' and 'Silent Night, Deadly Night 5'. 

Need a suggestion for 1990s Christmas entertainments?

Olive the Other Reindeer

Alan Partridge in Knowing Me Knowing Yule

It's been less than 24 hours and I'm already signing people up to write a post for this blog in July!  I'm organizing a Christmas in July celebration for the blog--and I've put a call out for people to join in on the fun.  We're goning to write about Christmas TV episodes, specials and movies (both TV movies and theatrrical releases) made during the 1990s.  Do you want to do it too?  Check out the original post for instructions--click here