About Christmas TV History

Monday, July 28, 2014

Christmas TV Party 2014: Dominic Caruso at 1701 Press

Jimmy Durante in 1942's The Man Who Came to Dinner.
Christmas TV Party 2014: Dominic at 1701 Press publishing

1) What is the first Christmas special you remember watching?
It's either A Charlie Brown Christmas or the Rankin/Bass Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. What can you say about these two that hasn't already been said? They were essential viewing for a Gen-X kid such as myself.  I still think A Charlie Brown Christmas is a masterpiece: it created a world to inhabit with your imagination, while at the same time it reflected a bittersweet sort of Midwestern sensibility that I grew up in.

2) Name one Christmas program/movie you enjoy watching all year round.
I bet I could watch The Man Who Came to Dinner all year round.  Unfortunately, then you'd have to put up with my constant Jimmy Durante (as Banjo) impressions, and nobody wants that.

3) Name one overlooked, or under-appreciated Christmas program.
It's not for everyone, but I really like Junky's Christmas--a half-hour stop-motion animation of a gritty William Burroughs story, narrated by Burroughs himself. The animation is gorgeous and it captures the music of Burroughs' profane yet poetic voice.

4) Send us to 3 places on the internet.
Alternate Histories introduces monsters, zombies, and flying saucers to classic maps of U.S. cities. Their "Flee America" poster series parodies vintage Travel America posters of the 30s, and 40s and are as beautiful as they are hilarious:

Ben Katchor makes comic strips like no one else right now. His strip (from his book Hand-Drying in America) about a Museum of Souvenirs that dismantles itself with each visitor (each brick is a souvenir to be taken) until it ceases to exist is a work of genius: http://benkatchor.wordpress.com/

John Kenneth Muir's blog about cult movies and classic TV is endlessly fascinating. He's thoughtful, interesting, and brilliant: http://reflectionsonfilmandtelevision.blogspot.com/


5) What are your 3 favorite Christmas episodes of a TV sitcom or drama?
The Simpsons "Marge Be Not Proud" -- Bart wants an ultra-violent video game called "Bonestorm." I'm still hopelessly quoting this hilarious episode to this day. 
All in the Family "The Draft Dodger" -- I think this is the most powerful episode of the series. 
The Andy Griffith Show "The Christmas Story" -- You can't watch this one and not want to be a little like Andy Griffith.


  1. Great! I love The Man Who Came to Dinner, too! I don't watch it all year, but do try and watch it around Christmastime!

  2. I love "The Man Who Came to Dinner" too! You gotta love an insufferable guest who won't go home. Seeing Betty Davis in a comedy is fantastic too! I'm so glad to see other people still enjoy this old classic.

  3. Durante is great in 'The Man Who Came To Dinner'.
    He leaves you wanting more & shows why he was one of the greatest entertainers of the 20th century.

  4. After the fact, I came to think that I should have listed "The Man Who Came to Dinner" for that question. Such a funny movie - and J.A. is right that Durante absolutely steals that show. And with that cast, it wasn't easy!