About Christmas TV History

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Betty White: The Golden Palace Christmas (1992)

Betty White at her 90th birthday celebration, NBC's TV special
Happy Birthday Betty White!  January 17th, Betty White celebrated her 90th birthday and I've been inspired to write several blog posts as a tribute to her wonderful legacy on television.  I've already written about Date With the AngelsThe Mary Tyler Moore ShowLife With Elizabeth, Prep & Landing Stocking Stuffer: Operation: Secret Santa, the 1986 Golden Girls and the 1989 Golden Girls Christmas episodes.

The Golden Girls spin-off
How many of you remember watching The Golden Girls spin-off sitcom, The Golden Palace?  In the final episodes of The Golden Girls, Dorothy marries Blanche's uncle Lucas, played by Leslie Nielsen.  The story continues in The Golden Palace, the name of the hotel that Blanche, Rose and Sophia invest in with their retirement savings. With the restaurant's chef Chuy Castillos, played by Cheech Marin, and the hotel's manager, Roland Wilson, played by Don Cheadle, the girls struggle to keep the hotel in business.  Sadly, the spin-off only lasted one season.

Rose orders Roland (Don Cheadle) to recite the names of the reindeer to prove his worthiness to play Santa Claus for a children's party
The Golden Palace's brief run included a Christmas episode: 1992's "It's Beginning to Look a Lot (Less) Like Christmas."  Sophia accepts a large reservation for the holiday from a therapy group looking to escape from Christmas.  That means the hotel must avoid hanging any decorations and ban any festivities.  The friends agree to set aside their holiday for the sake of the business however, Chuy revels in this bit of humbug.  Overnight, he is visited by three ghosts that convince him that he is missing out on the happiness of the holiday.  Of course, these three ghosts take on the appearance of his three elderly female co-workers Blanche, Rose and Sophia. 

Chuy (Cheech Marin) with the Ghost of Christmas Past (Betty White)
Meanwhile, Roland has volunteered to be Santa Claus for a children’s charity party and Rose gives him strict lessons on how to be a better Santa.  Betty White is hilarious as Rose, demanding that Roland rehearse and perfect his characterization of Santa--you have to see Rose in her ridiculous elf costume as Nicodemus, Santa's head elf.

Rose Nyland in her elf costume
This episode from the rare sitcom can be found on Youtube.  While it's not my favorite Christmas episode, it is noteworthy as yet another interpretation of  A Christmas Carol.  I'm not sure Charles Dickens ever could have imagined a Castillos walking Christmas cake as a part of his classic tale!  I think it's also interesting to see the Academy Award-nominated Don Cheadle in this sitcom.  I'm currently watching him in his new TV series House of Lies which airs on Showtime.  Tell me what you think of The Golden Palace Christmas episode.

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