About Christmas TV History

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

ChristmasTV Party 2014: Jeff Fox at Name That Christmas Special

Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas
Christmas TV Party 2014: Jeff Fox at NameThatChristmasSpecial.com

1. What is the first Christmas special you remember watching?
The first would probably have to be Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas which I think was in 1977, but I'm not sure of that because while it did come out in 1977 some places, it might not have been on the CBC til 1978? I could be totally wrong, but I'm positive it was on the same night as Rescue from Gilligan's Island, on and that was 1978. Who knows, could be making the whole thing up in my head and it was actually a repeat shown in 1982 for all I know. Of course, if it was 1978, that would mean the first one I remember watching was 1977's A Cosmic Christmas, but I've already written all that stuff about Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas so I'll leave it there. One or the other, they were both great and they were both a long time ago...

Classic horror: Black Christmas
2) Name one Christmas program/movie you enjoy watching all year round.
This is tough because I'm not shy about enjoying Christmas year 'round. Probably Black Christmas (The original of course. I can't imagine anyone actually enjoying the sequel). Not for the average Christmas fan, it is quite the film, worth repeat viewings for sure. Not sure what it says about me, but my runner up would probably be Christmas Evil (Yule Better Watch Out).

John Denver and the Muppets: Christmas Together

3) Name one overlooked, or under-appreciated Christmas program.
Joanna, you said John Denver and the Muppets and you couldn't be more right. The album that resulted from it is one of my favourites, and the special is just as fun. How this hasn't made it to an official DVD release yet is a mystery. John Denver is great, The Muppets are great, and together they're magic.
John Denver's Montana Christmas Skies gets played every year around here. No Muppets, but still magic.
I'd also have to say the 1935 version of Scrooge, my personal favourite. 1951 gets all the airtime, but there's still a lot of other great versions out there. 1971 too.
Lovely, Still from 2008 is a movie that never got much attention, but it should have, same with The Christmas Wish from 1998 with Debbie Reynolds and Neil Patrick Harris. Something about both of them I love.
And A Midnight Clear from 1992. I'm still waiting for a decent Blu Ray release, widescreen, not cropped from the pan and scan version. Gorgeous Christmastime film that gets a lot of views here, but I'm not sure about anywhere else.
I could go on, but I should probably stop there. You did say one. No shortage of answers though… In my book everything other than the 1951 Scrooge is under-rated, and it's not over, it's just rated. Even A Christmas Story is underrated. TBS just gives it one day? It deserves it's own channel.

4) Send us to 3 places on the internet.
http://www.christmastvhistory.com/ - THE source for Christmas TV history, and wonderful stories and anecdotes to bring all the episodes, specials and movies to life;
http://www.ioffer.com/ - Lots of old VHS copies of Christmas specials and shows, to tide us over until the real DVDs come; and
http://jinglebellrocks.com/ - Christmas isn't Christmas without music, and this documentary is a great look at the people who collect it.

A variety show-within-a-show, "Christmas in the Big House" on The Facts of Life.

5) What are your 3 favorite Christmas episodes of a TV sitcom or drama?
The Twilight Zone - 1985 - Night of the Meek (the remake).
The West Wing - Holy Night
The Facts of Life - Christmas in the Big House
Lists like this are always subject to changing order as we remember another title or two, but these three will always be in the top ten.


  1. The "Night of The Meek" remake just doesn't do it for me. I don't buy Richard Mulligan as a skid-row Santa. Besides, you shouldn't remake something that was perfect to begin with. Its like giving plastic surgery to Kate Upton. Why would you do that? But on that same Twilight Zone (if folks remember, the 80s Twilight Zone was an hour long), there's a short called "The Star" that I thought was excellent.

    1. I hear what you're saying, but I still like it, more than the original even. I thought Richard Mulligan was great in it. What we get introduced to, when we get introduced to it, what we're going through at the time... There are a million factors in what makes you love something. I won't argue with your choice, but I'll stick with mine :) And yes, The Star is also excellent.

  2. Great choices! I LOVE Emmet Otter, as well. And Black Christmas (the original) is one of my favorite films, but I save it for December. I actually get excited around Thanksgiving because I look forward to seeing it once more.

    1. It does work better when it's cold outside, but it's never stopped me if I was in the mood!

  3. Thanks for sharing, Jeff. I love the John Denver & the Muppets special too, and the album. It's a shame that music rights & Disney are blocking it from dvd/blu-ray. May it'll get "Kickstarted" some day.

    1. Yes, it's a great one. There are lots from that era that still need to come to market. But there's more and more each year, so I'm still hopeful!

  4. Excellent choices! Nice to see "The Facts Of Life" get some love. Nancy McKeon =sigh=.

    I have a tie for favorite Scrooges: Alistair Sim... and Michael Caine in "The Muppet Christmas Carol".

    1. No wonder we're friends Rob, it's a mutual Nancy McKeon appreciation...

      And I must admit, I momentarily forgot Michael Caine. Definitely a favourite as well...

  5. I like the movie A MIDNIGHT CLEAR as well. I love those WWII dramas--very emotional. And that reminds me how much I like 2002's SILENT NIGHT with Linda Hamilton and 1988's I'LL BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS with Courteney Cox and Hal Holbrook. Anybody else remember these movies?

    1. Oooh, don't know the Hal Holbrook one. I'll have to find that. I liked Silent Night, and 2005's Joyeux Noel covers the same material (in a very different way). Funny, I own two other I'll Be Home for Christmases, but not that one...

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. Jeff, awesome picks! I have to love any post that includes two Muppet specials. Now that's a Christmas party!