About Christmas TV History

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Christmas TV Party 2014: Amanda By Night at Made for TV Mayhem

Christmas TV Party 2014: Amanda By Night at Made for TV Mayhem

What is the first Christmas special you remember watching?

Wow, now that’s going waaaay back. I think it must have been Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer.  I remember that Rankin and Bass were a huge part of my earliest Christmases, and I was always delighted whenever one of their signature specials aired. I guess Rudolph strikes a universal chord with children because it’s all about fitting in but also standing out, and I’m sure that’s part of what still draws me to him every year!

Name one Christmas program/movie you enjoy watching all year round.
I’m such a sucker for The Brady Bunch and adore A Very Brady Christmas.  I don’t know that I watch it all year, but it is definitely the Christmas program I watch the most. I also adore Bernard and the Genie and it’s more of a pick me up TV movie than one I use to celebrate the holidays. Whenever I need a laugh, I go to Lenny Henry!
And maybe Silent Night, Deadly Night because slashers are good all year round!

1977's Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey

Name one overlooked, or under-appreciated Christmas program.
I actually wrote about my all time favorite Christmas specials for you, Joanna!  I think Nestor, The Long Eared Donkey is one of the most moving things I have ever seen.  It absolutely devastated me as a child, and still resonates with me today.  It’s another one I watch every year, and usually by myself because I tend to go all teary eyed and snot-faced.  Not attractive.  Nestor means the world to me, and I think most people would get something out of it.  Plus, it’s only, like, 22 minutes!  Just bring your Kleenex.

Send us to 3 places on the internet.
Kindertrauma (http://www.kindertrauma.com/)
The Horn Section (http://hornsection.blogspot.com/) (Note: you must check out his Quincy M.E. reviews… awesome)
Daily Grindhouse (http://dailygrindhouse.com/)

Jessica, Seth, and his train on 1992's Christmas episode of Murder, She Wrote.
What are your 3 favorite Christmas episodes of a TV sitcom or drama?

Family Ties: A Keaton Christmas Special – I love this one mostly for the Christmas Future segment that features a bald and chubby Michael J. Fox joking about spending the “holiest of holy days” in Vegas, which is my hometown. It’s kind of a surreal episode, and I don’t know why, but it tickles me.
Joanie Love Chachi: Christmas Show – I just revisited this one for the first time since it originally aired on television. It’s just wonderful and Al Molinaro is given a little depth outside his usual “Yeah, yeah, yeah,” comedic delivery. He’s simply magic and so is the episode.
Murder, She Wrote: A Christmas Secret – I’ll be honest, I don’t remember much about the mystery that Jessica has to solve, but I love the story about how Seth hates the holidays because of the train he never received as a gift.  First of all, anything William Windom is amazing, but I also love getting background into Seth Hazlitt’s life.  Seth was one of the most loveable curmudgeon characters on TV, and only Jessica knew how to melt his heart.  And for that alone, I love this episode.


  1. I agree--Christmas slashers are good to watch all year long! Certainly Silent Night, Deadly Night but also Black Christmas and Christmas Evil as well. Gotta love the classics!

  2. Excellent list! I, too, am a big fan of the Joanie Loves Chachi Christmas episode. Any holiday episode that adds a little peril to the laughs is something I enjoy. And, I'm glad that Al got to reach some common ground with Uncle Rico. I always thought that element of the show was odd. If there is any character in sitcom history who doesn't require a nemesis, it's Al Delvecchio. (And, possibly, Sam Drucker.) I'm so very glad that they became friends in this episode at Christmas.

  3. I love A Very Brady Christmas...definitely part of my Christmas viewing every year. It's so corny and sweet. Also fun that you mentioned Silent Night, Deadly Night. Nestor is such a sweet movie...come to think of it, I'm glad ABC Family has aired some of the rare Rankin & Bass specials over the years so people would be exposed to more than just Rudolph and Frosty.

  4. Ah, Nestor. Some friends of ours confided that their son, when he was little, hated Nestor because the mother dies. So of course when he was a little older and did an overnight with us, we went out and bought Nestor and sprung it on him. Unfortunately, he watched it without batting an eye, either because it didn't bother him anymore or (more likely) he decided to outsmart us and not give us any satisfaction. Little bugger.

  5. Love most of these, too. A Very Brady Christmas is a favorite of mine, too. Cheesy, but in the can't-help-but-love-it Brady way. And that Murder, She Wrote episode is a favorite, too. Larry Wilcox is in the episode, if I am remembering correctly.

  6. Amanda, great choices. Nestor and Murder She Wrote...two great tastes that taste great together! I am tickled (good word) by that Family Ties installment as well. I have never seen that Joanie Loves Chachi ep so, thanks to your recommendation, I will watch for it come December.