About Christmas TV History

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Celebrating the joy of the season.  Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Benson Christmas (1982)

In my new book Merry Musical Christmas Vol. 1, I discuss the best Christmas music in TV sitcoms and dramas.  Here on the blog, I've already shared excerpts from the book about two of the most memorable TV musical moments: The Dick Van Dyke Show and Glee.  (Click on those titles for the link to return to the posts again).  let me remind you of another favorite musical Christmas episode-- "Mary and her Little Lambs" from the 1980s TV sitcom Benson.  "Mary and her Little Lambs" is an example of a Christmas tradition on television--it is a musical revue, or a show within a show.  Other Christmas musical revues I discuss in the book include episodes from Car 54, Where Are You?, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Laverne & Shirley, The Facts of Life, Good Times, Ally McBeal--and even South Park.

Remember this TV sitcom spin-off from SOAP?

In an attempt to re-create the popular structure and entertainment of a musical variety show, sitcoms sometimes create musical revues in a show-within-a-show format.  Viewers get treated to entertainment of the highest quality with complete songs as well as dance numbers and comedic acts, performed by their favorite sitcom characters.

An excerpt from the 1970s-1980s chapter in Merry Musical Christmas:

"The 1980s sitcom Benson mostly concerned itself with the comical affairs of the staff of the Governor’s Mansion in California, however even this unlikely source created an outstanding musical Christmas episode.  In the 1982 episode “Mary and her Little Lambs,” the new assistant cook Mary has a problem that she asks Benson to help her with--she doesn’t have legal custody of the two orphans she’s raising and the state wants to take them away.  Benson runs out of legal options but magically finds a loophole that will allow Mary to spend Christmas with the children in the Governor’s Mansion." 

The cast of Benson gather around the piano during the final third of the episode to sing and entertain in a mini musical revue.

"This touching family storyline is eclipsed by an exceptional musical moment.  The final third of the episode follows the format of the show-within-a-show with the Governor’s Christmas party guests gathered around the piano.  Denise and Pete, seated at the piano, play a simple piano accompaniment while the cast sings “Joy to the World.”

All the cast each take their turn at singing a solo.  Here Governor Gatling (James Noble) takes the spotlight.

The Governor sings “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” followed by several others including Denise and Pete, Clayton, and the young Katie taking solos in “O Come All Ye Faithful.”

Pete and Denise seated at the piano.  Remember Didi Conn?  She is also in the 1978 movie musical Grease as Frenchy--the beauty school drop-out.

Didi Conn, who plays Denise, has also shown off her vocal talents in the 1978 movie musical Grease, playing Frenchy the beauty school drop-out and member of the Pink Ladies.  Next, Kraus sings a beautiful German language version of “Stille Nacht” or as we know it, “Silent Night.”

Kraus, played by Inga Swenson, sings "Stille Nacht," or "Silent Night" sung in German.

Don't underestimate Benson.  Robert Guillaume brings down the house with his solo on "O Holy Night."

But Benson wows the audience with an elegant yet powerful rendition of “O Holy Night.”  This reverent moment comes to us not from Benson, the sarcastic, dry-witted member of the Governor’s staff, but from Robert Guillaume himself, the Tony-nominated Broadway singer and actor who has amazing skills beyond his many TV sitcom roles.  This musical moment is followed by the cast of Benson breaking the fourth wall as each delivers his and her own individual holiday greeting to viewers."

If you haven't seen this episode in a while, you can watch it again on Antenna-TV at Midnight (ET) on Dec. 24.  It's often available on youtube.

Below is a segment of that episode which includes Guillaume's breath-taking performance of "O Holy Night."

My book Merry Musical Christmas Vol. 1 is available for purchase as an e-book at Amazon and in paperback at Amazon and on this website.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

An American Christmas Carol (1979)

This essay, written by me, first appeared at Holiday Film Reviews during Dickensfest, December 2012.  Much thanks to JA Morris and RigbyMel for inviting me to participate in Dickensfest--a tribute to Dickens' most popular work A Christmas Carol in honor of the author's 200th birthday.  You may remember that JA Morris and RigbyMel have guest blogged for me here during my Christmas in July celebrations in both 2011 and 2012.

An American Christmas Carol:

In honor of the 200th anniversary of the birth of author Charles Dickens, it’s the perfect time to once again reflect upon one of his most popular works, A Christmas Carol.  I’m sure that one of the reasons that A Christmas Carol continues to remain popular is due to the seemingly endless number of adaptations that have been and continue to be made.  One adaptation that stands out to me is the 1979 made-for-TV version, An American Christmas Carol.

I’m one of those people old enough to remember when this movie first premiered on television in 1979.  It was well advertised by the network to promote the actor playing the lead role, Henry Winkler, who was extremely hot at the time playing the motorcycle-riding, ladies’ man, Arthur “Fonzie” Fonzarelli on the hit TV series Happy Days.  I think today’s TV audiences would more likely recognize Henry Winkler from his role as the incompetent lawyer Barry Zuckerkorn on TV’s Arrested Development.  No matter, Winkler as Ebenezer Scrooge--here named Benedict Slade--is almost unrecognizable under the thick make-up (and a latex facial prosthesis, I assume) used to create a much older man in need of a Christmas attitude change.

Henry Winkler as Benedict Slade, aged to look like a mature businessman.

There are two particular elements of this adaptation that make it noteworthy.  The most significant is the change of setting, from Victorian-era London to Depression-era New England, more precisely New Hampshire.  This change, I believe, makes the story and its message more clear and accessible for American TV viewers.  Gone are the references to prisons for the poor.  Modern audiences can more clearly connect with the pain of enduring unemployment known throughout the Depression.  Tiny Tim’s mysterious ill health is also changed.  Now the character, re-named Jonathan, suffers from infant paralysis, or polio, and his health and future well-being can be improved with treatments from a far away clinic. 

Another change made to communicate Slade’s (Scrooge’s) more hopeful attitude adjustment is his willingness to put his money where his mouth is: investing in re-opening the recently closed quarry.  This business decision will not only benefit Slade’s pocket but will provide jobs once again for the entire community.  While An American Christmas Carol, much like the original book, is filled with charity-giving, it seems uniquely American to adapt the story to include the use of capitalism, and Slade’s business acumen, to invest in the community’s well-being too.  At the film’s end, we also see the transformed Slade select one troubled boy from the orphanage and offer him an apprenticeship with his business, much like the young Slade was offered by a local successful businessman when Slade was living at the orphanage many years ago.  This offering of a leg-up--not a hand-out--seems to reflect certain American values as well.  I find this American business aspect of the 1979 story utterly fascinating.

Slade with the shop owner (David Wayne) examining a first edition of Dickens' Christmas Carol.

The second element in An American Christmas Carol that makes it a noteworthy adaptation is the casting and characterization of the Spirits of Christmas.  The Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future that come to haunt Slade on Christmas Eve are the same characters introduced in the beginning of the story.  Each one is a member of Slade’s community and a person he visited earlier in the day in order to repossess something from their homes due to a debt created by their inability to keep up with their payments. The Ghost of Christmas Past is the University Shop owner, played by David Wayne, whose bookstore’s inventory Slade seizes in order to re-claim some minor worth in value from the leather bindings.  Cleverly, the elderly shop owner begs Slade to  not destroy one leather-bound book, a heirloom first-edition of Dickens’ Christmas Carol.  Obviously ignorant of the book’s contents, Slade refuses to respect the shop owner’s pleas, ignoring the recommendation to read the book.

Mr. Jessup, the orphanage director (left) as Slade's Ghost of Christmas Present, making a surprise visit on Christmas Eve.

The Ghost of Christmas Present is Mr. Jessup, the director of the local orphanage.  Slade had stopped by earlier on Christmas Eve in order to repossess the piano the children were eager to use as a part of their meager Christmas celebration.  Even though Slade himself had lived in the orphanage at one time, his heart is hardened to the need of these children who already have nothing of their own, but want to raise their voices in celebration of the season. 

The Ghost of Christmas Future (Dorian Harewood) takes Slade on an emotional journey to the cemetery.

And, the Ghost of Christmas Future is a farmer, played by Dorian Harewood, from whom Slade had repossessed a pot belly stove, a rocking chair, and a radio--clearly the only domestic items owned by this poor farmer and his wife.  I think that the use of the shop owner, the orphanage director, and the farmer characters repeated as the three Spirits of Christmas more directly connects Slade in a personal way with his heartless actions earlier in the day.  Slade is forced to look at himself and his actions during that long Christmas Eve night by the very individuals he has been insensitive to as well as harmed.  The resolution in the film’s end of Slade returning the repossessed items from a new sense of holiday goodwill ties the the whole story together.  I like the balance that brings to the story.

Lucky for us, An American Christmas Carol is being released on Blu-Ray this holiday season, making it even more accessible for audiences.

TV Confidential to Re-Air Another Interview

Good news! Another interview from TV Confidential will be re-airing this week. If you didn't hear it last year, Show #118 was my second appearance on TV Confidential, in December 2011.  In it, author Greg Ehrbar and I discuss our favorite Christmas programs with the show's regular hosts Ed Robertson, Tony Figueroa, and Donna Allen.  Ed calls me "...the holiday TV guru..."  I like that alot!  Can you guess which are my own personal favorite Christmas specials?  The first thing I bring up is Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas.  I was extremely impressed with Greg--isn't he sharp?  I loved his reading of the TV special Santa Claus is Comin' to Town.  In the broadcast, you can hear me tittering during Greg's reading of that classic Rankin/Bass Animagic special.

From the press release: 

Music journalist Lesley-Ann Jones and holiday TV programming expert Joanna Wilson will join us on the next edition of TV CONFIDENTIAL, airing Dec. 19-25, 2012 at the following times and venues:

WROM RadioDetroit, MI
esday 12/19
8pm ET, 5pm PT
2am ET, 11pm PT
Sunday 12/23
8pm ET, 5pm PT
2am ET, 11pm PT
Click on the Listen Live button at WROMRadio.net  

Share-a-Vision Radio
San Francisco Bay Area
Friday 12/21
7pm ET, 4pm PT
10pm ET, 7pm PT
Click on the Listen Live button at KSAV.org

Talktainment Radio
Columbus, OH
Friday 12/21
3am ET, Midnight PT
Noon ET, 9am PT
9pm ET, 6pm PT
Click on the Listen Live button at TalktainmentRadio.com

The Coyote KKYT 93.7 FM
Ridgecrest, CA
Sunday 12/23
9pm PT
Monday 12/24
Midnight ET
Click on the Listen Live button at Coyote395.com

The Radio Slot Network
San Francisco, CA
Monday 12/24
8pm ET, 5pm PT
Click on the Talk Slot button at RadioSlot.com

Passionate World Radio
Ann Arbor, MI
Tuesday 12/25
10:30pm ET, 7:30pm PT
Click on the Listen Now button at pwrtalk.ning.com
Indiana Talks
Marion, IN
Various times throughout the week
Click on the player at IndianaTalks.com

We'll open the program by welcoming award-winning music journalist Lesley-Ann Jones, author of Mercury: An Intimate Biography of Freddie Mercury,
an unvarnished, revealing look at the legendary lead vocalist of Queen whose unmatched skills as a songwriter and showman made both him and the group into household names. And though both Mercury and Queen left their marks in the world of music, in many respects, their success would not have been possible were it not for television - and particularly, the music video for the groundbreaking song "Bohemian Rhapsody." We'll talk about that, and a whole lot more, when Lesley-Ann joins us in our first hour.

Also this week: With just a few shopping days left until Christmas, Greg Ehrbar will join us for some last-minute holiday gift ideas as part of an expanded DVD report. We'll then close the program with an encore presentation of our conversation with Greg, Tony, Donna and holiday TV programming expert Joanna Wilson about some of our favorite holiday TV specials and holiday-themed episodes of classic TV series. Joanna Wilson, of course,
is the queen of holiday TV programming: her books on the subject include Tis The Season TV: The Encyclopedia of Christmas-Themed Episodes, Specials and Made for TV Movies.
TV CONFIDENTIAL: A radio talk show about televisionWed and Sun 8pm ET, 5pm PT on WROM Radio
Fri 7pm ET and PT on Share-a-Vision Radio, KSAV.org
Fri 9pm ET, 6pm PT on Talktainment Radio
Sun 9pm PT, Mon Midnight ET on
The Coyote KKYT 93.7 FM (Ridgecrest, Calif.)
Mon 8pm ET, 5pm PT on The Radio Slot Network
Tue 10:30pm ET, 7:30pm PT on Passionate World RadioNow also heard throughout the week on IndianaTalks.comTape us now, listen to us later, using DAR.fm/tvconfidential
Also available as a podcast via
iTunes, FeedBurner and now on your mobile phone via www.stitcher.com/TVConfidential
Follow us online at www.tvconfidential.net
Like our Fan Page at www.facebook.com/tvconfidential

Monday, December 17, 2012

2012 Book Signings

I had a wonderful weekend and met some great new friends at both of my recent book signing events.  Saturday, Dec. 15th, I was at two screenings of Home Alone at Plaza Cinemas at Chapel Hill in Cuyahoga Falls, OH.  I gave a brief introduction before both screenings and I met readers and film fans in the theater lobby.

"I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille," at the Home Alone screenings.

On Sunday, Dec. 16th, I was in Sandusky OH at the Santa Hustle 5k and Half Marathon race.  Not only did I run the 5k race but I was at the Post-Race Party greeting racers and their families, and discussing classic Christmas TV specials. 

My booth at the Post-Race Party at the Santa Hustle.

Queuing up at the starting line for the 5k race in our Santa outfits.

Waiting for the race to start!

This is the first time the Santa Hustle has been held in Ohio and I was told there were 2000 runners.  So that's a pretty good turn-out for a new race and one held in December in Ohio.  The weather is extremely unpredictable during December in Ohio--on Sunday, it was 50 degrees and windy.  It could have been so much worse.  I was extremely pleased.  Everyone else seemed in pleasant spirits as well.

The family-friendly race venue included a small pen with two reindeer!

And inflatables!!!

These women ran their 5k races dressed as Christmas presents--how awesome is that?

Among the many outstanding costumes, I really liked meeting Hermey the elf.

Thanks to everyone who came out and shared their favorite Christmas memories with me.  I had a great time and enjoyed meeting everyone.  I can't wait for next year's Santa Hustle.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Cleveland Christmas Memories book GIVEAWAY!

Cleveland Christmas Memories is a brand-new book by author Gail Ghetia Bellamy, published by Gray & Company.  It's a nostalgic guide to the Christmas experience for the Boomer Generation living in Northeast Ohio.  The book reminds readers of holiday shopping downtown at Higbee's and Halle's, visiting Mr. Jingeling at Halle's, holiday concerts at Severance Hall, performances of "The Christmas Carol" at the Cleveland Play House, and much more.

However, the book may have an interest to those beyond Northeast Ohio residents from the 1940s to the 1980s.  It documents Christmas culture with many color photos and personal stories and recollections about popular toys, Christmas tree decorations, and the traditions of families common to many during that time period.  The many photos in this book will stir Christmas memories whether you've ever lived in Cleveland or not!

Readers younger than Boomers and living outside of Cleveland may also enjoy reading about the filming of the 1983 movie A Christmas Story and the museum that now exists.  It is also interesting to read about the Cleveland resident, Pastor Schwan, who is said to have been responsible the first publicly lit Christmas tree in America, in 1851.  He was buried in Lake View Cemetery and his grave site includes a tree that is decorated each year for Christmas by members from a local church. 

The publisher Gray & Company has given me a copy to give away to one of my loyal readers.  To qualify for the book giveaway:

--leave a comment below with the book's title "Cleveland Christmas Memories."  You can enter again on Facebook and Twitter by commenting with the words "Cleveland Christmas Memories" once at each of the following locations:

Facebook page: Christmas TV History
Facebook page: Tis the Season TV
Facebook page: Christmas TV Companion

So you could enter up to five times by leaving the correct comment at all five locations.  This giveaway is for North American residents only.  This runs from today, Friday December 14 to Sunday, December 16, noon (ET).  On Dec. 16th at noon, I'll use random.org to generate a number from the total number of qualifying entries to select a winner. I'll drop it in the mail ASAP after receiving the winner's mailing address--so you can have it by Christmas.

This would make a great gift for any Boomer but especially one that lives or has lived in Cleveland during the 1940s, 50s and 60s.  It is also currently available for purchase in bookstores throughout Northeast Ohio, on Amazon, and at the publisher's website.  Merry Christmas and Good Luck!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Glee Christmas (2011)

Volume 1 covers The best Christmas music in TV sitcoms and dramas.

In my new book Merry Musical Christmas Vol. 1, I discuss the best Christmas music in TV sitcoms and dramas.  Two days ago, I composed a post with excerpts from the new book about the 1963 musical Christmas episode of The Dick Van Dyke ShowClick HERE to see that again.  The new book includes discussions of memorable Christmas musical moments throughout the history of TV--including ones released just last year.  Let me share one significant element from last year's episode of Glee.

Though there are nine songs performed in this episode, three of them are performed on Arnie's set while taping a local TV special.  I want to focus my discussion today on the three performances on Artie's TV Special set.  (In Merry Musical Christmas Vol. 1, you can find the rest of the musical moments of the 2011 Christmas episode of Glee covered in detail).

Excerpt from the final chapter in Merry Musical Christmas, Vol. 1:

"The third season of Glee produced another outstanding holiday episode, 2011’s “Extraordinary Merry Christmas.”  Although the Glee Club members promise Coach Sylvester they will volunteer at a local homeless shelter, most of them cancel when a new opportunity arises.  The New Directions star in a musical Christmas special for local television.  Under Artie’s direction, “The Glee Holiday Spectacular” combines the best of two of his favorite TV specials:  the Christmas episode of The Judy Garland Show and the Star Wars Holiday Special."

The opening credits to Artie's local TV special reflect a familiar Star Wars style.

"During the taping of the TV special, Blaine and Kurt sing “Let It Snow” on a set that looks just like the one in Judy Garland’s TV special--a re-creation of Judy’s own living room on Rockingham Dr. in her Brentwood home during the taping of the 1963 Christmas TV show.  At the piano, Rachel sings “My Favorite Things” and later Finn and Puck dressed as Star Wars characters Luke Skywalker and Han Solo, perform a rockin’ version of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” in the style of Bruce Springsteen’s version of the holiday classic.  Dressed as a sexy female Santa, Brittany sings a lively version of the 1980s hit “Christmas Wrapping.”   Brittany’s song is accompanied by a ribbon twirling dance routine with the other New Directions dancers including Tina and Mike.  This production number actually pays tribute to a dance number in the original Judy Garland Christmas show, in which a frenzied group of Santa Claus dancers bursts through her front door to perform a fast-paced Charleston dance number."

The start of the TV special includes Kurt stepping through the front door to address the camera, inviting TV viewers into his "home" for the Christmas show.

Likewise, Judy opens her 1963 Christmas show stepping through the front door of her "home" to address the camera, inviting TV viewers to watch her Christmas show.

"The appeal of this third season Glee Christmas episode is the tipping of their hat to two somewhat rare but real TV specials from the past: the 1963 Christmas episode of the black-and-white variety series The Judy Garland Show and the 1978 bomb Star Wars Holiday Special which aired only once on TV but has since cast a long shadow.  The only elements from the Star Wars TV special here are the Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, and Chewbacca costumes."

Dressed as Han Solo and Luke Skywalker, Puck and Finn perform the song "Santa Claus is Coming to Town."
"However, Artie’s TV special recreates many elements from the original Judy Garland Show including the living room set which looks identical to the 1963 set.  Other similarities include the fact that Artie’s special is also shot in black-and-white, Kurt addresses the camera to invite viewers into the living room set, and the Santa Claus dancers.  While Judy’s original TV special included several songs from the musical Oliver!, this Glee episode includes Rachel singing “My Favorite Things” from another Broadway hit, The Sound of Music."

Brittany sings "Christmas Wrapping" as she leads the energetic ribbon twirling dancers.

The Glee ribbon twirlers are much like the dancing Santa Clauses in the 1963 Judy Garland Christmas show.

"The music from this 2011 Glee Christmas episode was also released as an album.  Just like the previous Glee cast Christmas album, there are holiday music standards that are not included in the episode, such as “Santa Baby,” “Do You Hear What I Hear,” and “Little Drummer Boy.”  Buyers should also know that the song “My Favorite Things” is not on the Glee cast Christmas album although the single is for sale by itself."

Have you seen Judy Garland's 1963 Christmas show before?  You really should--it's a quintessential example of the TV variety special.  Judy welcomes singers Jack Jones and Mel Tormé as her guests.  Viewers are also treated to entertainment by Judy's children--a teenaged Liza Minnelli, and younger siblings, Lorne and Joe Luft.  Glee pays a wonderful tribute to Judy's original show that I'm glad has not been forgotten.

Not only is The Judy Garland Show's Christmas episode available on DVD for purchase, but it's also on youtube:

Are you looking forward to the 2012 Christmas episode of Glee?  It airs Thurs, Dec. 13th at 9pm (ET) on Fox.  I can't wait to see what surprises the series brings to this year's Christmas episode.  What's your favorite musical moment in a Christmas-themed sitcom or drama?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Santa Quiz #3

Here's my final Santa Claus identification quiz this month. I hope this was as much fun for everyone else as it was for me. I started these quizzes these last few weeks as an expression of my excitement for getting to dress like Santa myself at the Santa Hustle 5k I'm running this Sunday, Dec. 16th at Cedar Point, in Sandusky OH. Not only do all the participants get a Santa shirt, Santa hat, and beard for the race--but we get to race alongside thousands of other people dressed the same way. I'm bringing my camera.

Runners at the starting line at a Santa Hustle race in 2011.

I'll see everyone at the race on Sunday. Please stop by my booth to say 'hi' and to share with me your favorite Christmas TV special.  If you want to check out my books, I'll have copies there with me.  Otherwise, good luck to all the racers!  Have you seen the Facebook event page for the race?

Can you identify any of these animated Santa Clauses?  Just like before, name the series or the TV special's title in the comments below.  Can you do it without checking google?  Thanks for playing along.


Olive, The Other Reindeer

The Year Without a Santa Claus

Santa Baby!

Claymation Christmas Celebration

Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town

The Nightmare Before Christmas

A Christmas Flintstone

The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus

Phineas and Ferb Christmas Vacation

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Dick Van Dyke Show Christmas (1963)

In my new book Merry Musical Christmas Vol. 1, I discuss the best Christmas music in TV sitcoms and dramas.  One of my personal favorite musical Christmas episodes is "The Alan Brady Show Presents" from The Dick Van Dyke Show.   My discussion of this classic episode is found in the first chapter.  "The Alan Brady Show Presents" is an example of a Christmas tradition on television--it is a musical revue, or a show within a show.  Other Christmas musical revues I discuss in the book include episodes from Car 54, Where Are You?, Laverne & Shirley, The Facts of Life, Good Times, Benson, Ally McBeal--and even South Park.

In an attempt to re-create the popular structure and entertainment of a musical variety show, sitcoms sometimes create musical revues in a show-within-a-show format.  Viewers get treated to entertainment of the highest quality with complete songs as well as dance numbers and comedic acts, performed by their favorite sitcom characters.

An excerpt from the first chapter in Merry Musical Christmas:

"In the 1963 episode “The Alan Brady Show Presents,” the sitcom’s plot is offered up as if it is a Christmas episode of The Alan Brady Show, the TV show-within-a-show Rob, Sally, and Buddy write for.  It’s a special holiday episode that features music and dancing from The Alan Brady Show staff!  In this special holiday show, the original music is credited to The Dick Van Dyke Show writers Bill Persky and Sam Denoff."

This opening number is my favorite.

The opening number is legendary.  Buddy, Sally, Mel and Laura come out on stage dressed in choir robes followed by Rob as their choir director.  Tapping his baton, the formal director leads the group in a song he claims immortalizes the great man, as the foursome sing the name of the star of the show “Alan Brady” over and over to a beautiful melody.  The first time the song is sung through, the dignified conductor is choked up by emotion.  The second time the song is sung through, each of the singers takes a solo chorus singing “Alan Brady” however, in the final verse, TV writer Buddy substitutes his own name in place of Alan Brady’s--and he’s sent off the stage in disgrace." 

On the last chorus, the TV writer doesn't sing his boss' name but substitutes it for his own name, Buddy Sorrell.

"The next sing-through of the song goes beautifully once again until the final verse where TV writer Sally substitutes her name instead of singing the name Alan Brady.  She too is sent away off stage, carrying her music stand in shame.  The conductor prepares to begin again when Laura bursts out singing her own name and rushes off stage before the music even begins." 

The conductor sends another traitor off-stage in a wonderful bit featuring both physical and musical comedy.

"With only producer Mel Cooley remaining on stage, the conductor begins again and Mel sings as directed.  The conductor holds up his hand to halt the music, and Rob turns to the audience remarking that he trusts this singer as he’s Aan Brady’s brother-in-law--only to have Mel sing out his own name and rush off stage in defiance!  Amidst the laughter from the audience, Rob forces himself to say his own name and he too makes his exit." 

The stuffy conductor threatens his last remaining singer--Alan Brady's brother-in-law.

This musical performance and comedy sketch is contagiously singable--don’t be surprised if you find yourself singing the “Alan Brady” song at Christmas time.  If you've seen this bit of comedy gold, you'll know why it's one of my favorites.  And this is only the first sketch of the episode!  What's your favorite musical moment in a Christmas-themed sitcom or drama?

The full episode is curently available streaming on Netflix. Here's a video clip of the song I describe.  Sorry about the quality--the video kicks in about 1 minute into the clip.

Merry Musical Christmas is now on sale at Amazon and on this website.