Thursday, July 31, 2014

Christmas TV Party 2014: Cheryl at The Stylish Studio



Christmas TV Party 2014: Cheryl at The Stylish Studio

1) First Christmas special I recall:
Frosty the Snowman or Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer in the 1960s

2) Name one Christmas program/movie I enjoy year round:
Home Alone




3) Name one overlooked or under appreciated Christmas movie:
Colbert Christmas



4) Three places on the Internet:
1. World Santa Claus Congress in Denmark
2. It's a Wonderful Movie: A Blog Regarding Christmas Movies on TV
3. Party 411.com {plan a Christmas in July party }
http://www.party411.com/PlanYourParty/Theme/Summer/ChristmasinJuly.aspx

5) Favorite Christmas tv episodes:
Does this count? I loooved the Kraft Food holiday commercials in the 1980's during Charlie Brown and Peanuts holiday programs. Looovvvvved them.


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Christmas TV Party 2014: Maryam Sarshar

Carrie's star on Little House on the Prairie
 
Christmas TV Party 2014: Maryam Sarshar

1) What is the first Christmas special you remember watching?
I think it would have to be one of the Bing Crosby Christmas specials, the ones where his kids and wife also appeared. It was probably one that was mid to late 1960s and done in color. I am not sure just which one I saw first, but those holiday specials really stay in my memories. I remember watching them every single year. He did such a nice mix of fun seasonal songs AND ones that were more religious. Bing also had great guests on that made the event even more special....comedians, singers, actors.....a really nice mix. Who didn't love all of that faux snow also? I think they just gave me a warm, cozy, holiday feeling and that is why they stood out.

2) Name one Christmas program/movie you enjoy watching all year round.
I know that this is one of Joanna's favorites, but it probably has to be the  Little House On The Prairie Christmas episode called "Christmas at Plum Creek."  It is a bit O. Henry-esque in that Laura is willing to give away her most prized pet horse Bunny in order to be able to get her mom an expensive stove that she has been eyeing for their "little house." Everyone else also has secrets as to what they are buying and/or making for the others. Love when Mary starts doing some sewing work in order to make money to buy some material so she can make Pa a shirt. Ma has also made the same shirt, but she hides it once she sees what Mary has made. It is also so sweet when Mr. Oleson marks the Christmas star down so that Carrie can buy it for a penny. It is usually on several times a year because INSP and Hallmark both show LHOTP daily during the week.  Make sure to follow Joanna on Facebook because I know she always makes sure to post about this episode whenever it is on! Go back and read her blog post about it also.



1972's The House Without a Christmas Tree


3) Name one overlooked, or under-appreciated Christmas program.
This is definitely a question I could answer right away! It is The House Without A Christmas Tree.  It is definitely slightly darker than most specials, but it has such a wonderful story to tell and such a wonderful upbeat ending. It features Jason Robards, Mildred Natwick, and Lisa Lucas. I am not sure why this special cannot be found on tv anymore, but I DO own the dvd so I can watch it multiple times during the season. It deals with a family that consists of a paternal grandmother, father, and a teenage daughter. The father lost his wife when his daughter was born and since that period of time Christmas was never the same. He is pretty much a Scrooge or Grinch. They didn't really celebrate and he would not allow a Christmas tree in the home since his wife's death. The entire TV special is a period piece centered around Christmas in a small town during the mid-1940s and includes scenes at school while the children are preparing for the holidays. If you have never watched it it is a must see! Very simply done, yet memorable.

4) Send us to 3 places on the internet.
http://afamishedfoodie.wordpress.com/  (a great blog by my daughter who loves traveling and all things food-related)
http://www.buxr.com/ (a coupon and deal site.....I check this daily. You can share coupons and deals and earn money also for the best deals of the day!)
http://www.mrrebates.com?refid=116469 (get cash rebates when you shop! you can request a check every month or wait until it builds up. You will be surprised how fast your money adds up, especially if you are a big online shopper!)



from the 1976 Christmas episode of What's Happening!!

5) What are your 3 favorite Christmas episodes of a TV sitcom or drama?
(it was difficult to narrow this down to 3!)
Family Ties "A Keaton Christmas Carol"
M*A*S*H "Death Takes A Holiday"
What's Happening!! "Mama Gets Off For Christmas"

Wouldn't it be great if one or two nostalgia stations tried to get as many holiday sitcom and drama episodes as they could and air them all during the month of December?  One can dream..... :)



Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Christmas TV Party 2014: Net at It's A Wonderful Movie

Meet Me in St. Louis
 
Christmas TV Party 2014: Net at It’s a Wonderful Movie

1) What is the first Christmas special you remember watching?
As a child, I remember watching A Charlie Brown Christmas. Oh, how I loved Charlie Brown and his sweet little tree that just needed a little love! And, of course, it is such a precious moment, in the middle of all the chaos and confusion, when Linus tells Charlie Brown the true meaning of Christmas!
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” –Luke 2:11

2) Name one Christmas program/movie you enjoy watching all year round.
While It’s a Wonderful Life is my absolute favorite at Christmas, I also love Meet Me in St. Louis! I completely adore this classic Christmas musical, starring Judy Garland and Margaret O'Brien, all year long, especially since it has so many seasons in it. It’s such a lovely film... from the costumes, the memorable lines I cherish and say along with them, and the dancing and music, as well! I love all the songs, too… “The Boy Next Door,” “Skip To My Lou,” “The Trolley Song,” the title song “Meet Me In St. Louis, Louis,” ‘You and I,” and most of all, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”

Meet Me in St. Louis is like an old-fashioned Christmas card come to life… with sleigh rides, sledding, snowfall, snowmen, and traditional Christmas Carols. The realness of the family, the film, and the era, in which it takes place, makes one long to meet there - today!


Terrible Imogene in The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.


3) Name one overlooked, or under-appreciated Christmas program.
I love the sweet little one hour special The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. It’s about the Herdman children who are poor, dirty, and bullys who take over the local Christmas Nativity Pageant. However, when the meanest of them, Imogene, portrays Mary… something beautiful happens. It’s a precious, very special, Christmas story.

4) Send us to 3 places on the internet.
The Dove Foundation - your source for family friendly movie reviews
Movieguide - Movie reviews from a Christian perspective
Silver Scenes - A Blog for Classic Film Lovers, by The Metzinger Sisters 


The family together again on Christmas morning on The Waltons.

5) What are your 3 favorite Christmas episodes of a TV sitcom or drama?
I love The Waltons Christmas Special: The Best Christmas.  At first, no one arrives home for Christmas Eve, but then everyone returns home just in time for Christmas Morning! Plus, I love the Dennis the Menace and Father Knows Best Christmas Specials, too! Oh, it just makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, just thinking about them!



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:
http://alternatehistories.com/

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.



Sunday, July 27, 2014

Christmas TV Party 2014: Jeff Haggar at Classic TV Sports


 
Christmas TV Party 2014: Jeff Haggar at Classic TV Sports

1) What is the first Christmas special you remember watching?
A Charlie Brown Christmas

2) Name one Christmas program/movie you enjoy watching all year round.
the animated How the Grinch Stole Christmas! - one of the many brilliant creations of Dr. Seuss



3) Name one overlooked, or under-appreciated Christmas program.
the Christmas-themed edition of NFL Films Presents titled The Christmas Show which tells the story of player Bob Kalsu who was killed in the Vietnam War and profiles the legendary announcer team of Pat Summerall and Tom Brookshier

4) Send us to 3 places on the internet.
Frank Deford NPR podcast 
506sports (NFL TV maps and more)     
a retrospective on the most famous Christmas Day sports telecast - after receiving a lot of criticism for conducting playoff games on Christmas Day 1971 (especially with this lengthy double overtime game impacting Christmas dinners around the country), the NFL avoided scheduling any December 25 games until 18 years later   


Joanie leads the conga line at the Lucky Strikes Christmas party on Mad Men.


5) What are your 3 favorite Christmas episodes of a TV sitcom or drama?
All in the Family - Christmas Day at the Bunkers
The Mary Tyler Moore Show - Christmas and the Hard Luck Kid
Mad Men - Christmas Comes But Once a Year




Saturday, July 26, 2014

Christmas TV Party 2014: Dan Budnik

Bob and Doug McKenzie discuss beer nog in SCTV's "Staff Christmas Party."
 
Christmas TV Party 2014: Dan Budnik, co-author of Bleeding Skull!: A 1980s Trash Horror Odyssey


1) What is the first Christmas special you remember watching?
A Charlie Brown Christmas - It was either this or Christmas Eve on Sesame Street. I was born in 1973. So, chronologically, I think it was Chuck and his pals. I still watch it every year and I still love it. It’s not quite the same, though, without the commercials for Dolly Madison products. I remember those Zingers commercials as if I’d watched them yesterday. I think we only got Zingers at Christmastime and it was because of this special. I also felt a tie to the special because of Linus's Scripture quoting interlude. Sometimes, growing up, I felt like Linus. It was good to see him take command of the show and prove his point with textual backup. My kind of kid.

2) Name one Christmas program/movie you enjoy watching all year round. 

SCTV - "SCTV Staff Christmas Party" – I try not to watch too much Christmas-related stuff outside of December. (I probably should because it brings me great joy.) But, this episode, from 1981, is one I can watch at any time. It’s funny all the way through. The linking bits, involving the employees of SCTV at a Christmas party, are wonderful. And the sketches themselves are superb, from the Dusty Towne Sexy Holiday Special to Neil Simon’s Nutcracker Suite to the recipe for Beer Nog. My wife and I quote from this episode randomly throughout the year. ("No problem. Just a hysterical wife.")

Honorable Mention: Magic Christmas Tree (1964) - It is crazy and I love it.





3) Name one overlooked, or under-appreciated Christmas program. 
Meet Corliss Archer – “A Christmas Story” I saw this for the first time around Christmas 2012. It is almost infinitely charming. I know very little about this show (or its radio origins). But, the gist of it is: Dad hides the presents. Mom and Corliss look for them. Some clumsy neighbor kid named Dexter is building everyone gifts. Every once in a while the show cuts to a wacky drawing and the narrator lets loose with a gag. That was unexpected and cool. I wasn’t alive in 1954 but somehow this is exactly how I imagine the entire decade looking at Christmastime. (Yes, I do include the laugh track in that.) This episode puts a big smile on my face.


4) Send us to 3 places on the internet.
 
Branded In The 80s




An extra for the Old Time Radio fans:

Archive OTR Christmas
 


Lisa, Oliver, and Eb admire the Christmas tree on Green Acres.


5) What are your 3 favorite Christmas episodes of a TV sitcom or drama? 
Happy Days – “Guess Who’s Coming To Christmas?” An absolute favorite. Starts off as a regular entertaining Christmas episode of a sitcom made in the 1970s but set in the 1950s. But then, once the Cunningham’s car breaks down, it just gets better and better. Funny and touching, this episode usually brings a couple happy tears to my eyes. Written by Bill Idelson, who played Rush on my favorite OTR show Vic & Sade.

Green Acres – “An Old Fashioned Christmas” An episode from 1966 that is not only a great Christmas episode but also a perfect encapsulation of what the show was about. Oliver Douglas wants to have a perfect old-fashioned Christmas down on his farm in Hooterville involving every single tradition/ cliché he associates with the holiday. And, no one in Hooterville has any idea what he’s talking about. As always, they think he's nuts. Things go from funny to sentimental to funny again in the blink of an eye.  

You Can't Do That On Television - "Christmas" Fast, funny, slime-filled sketches all centering around Christmas. I was 9 when YCDTOTV appeared on Nickelodeon. I still watch it regularly. This Christmas episode hits on every cliche/ situation/ moment that a kid could want to see from the best time of the year for kids (and me). In December of 2009, I watched this episode on every single work day. I would get home from work, take a shower and then sit down and watch it. I haven't done that since then but for that particular month it made perfect sense. 


Honorable Mentions:
B.C.: A Special Christmas - Mainly because Bob & Ray provide the main voices. I can (and have) listened to Bob & Ray all day long. If you hunt around the Archive site I linked to above, you'll find some great B&R Christmas radio stuff.

Any of The Bob Newhart Show Christmas episodes. My wife and I don’t have a favorite. But, every Christmas, we have a Christmas With Bob Night and watch 3 or 4 of them.
 
Doctor Who Christmas Specials – I wouldn’t know which one to pick. I could be perverse and say The Feast of Steven. But, I won’t. Probably 2010's A Christmas Carol captures everything I love about the show and Christmas together in one 60 minute package with Michael Gambon included.


Friday, July 25, 2014

Christmas TV Party 2014: Jakki

Santa Claus is Comin' to Town

Christmas TV Party 2014: Jakki, founder of 'Tis The Season and Christmas Movies & Music Group

1) What is the first Christmas special you remember watching?
Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer and Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town by Rankin/Bass. They were enchanting, terrifying and believable, so they made a big impact.

2) Name one Christmas program/movie you enjoy watching all year round.
It's A Wonderful Life. The themes are universal for any time of year, not to mention only a small portion of the movie actually takes place at Christmas. Actually, I find that I watch it most often during the off-season when I need a Christmas fix.


cover art on VHS release

 
 3) Name one overlooked, or under-appreciated Christmas program.
Mr. Krueger's Christmas. This is the forgotten James Stewart Christmas film that features the glorious vocals of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. It's an incredibly touching story about an elderly widower who lives alone with his cat and is longing for a little company at Christmas. It's guaranteed to bring tears to my eyes each time I watch it. James Stewart is his usual charming self and it's a beautiful reminder to think of others less fortunate during the holiday season. I really believe it would be a classic if it got more air time, so I hope this makes even a few people seek it out if they've never heard of it!

4) Send us to 3 places on the internet.
It's A Wonderful Movie (http://itsawonderfulmovie.blogspot.com),  
The Sounds of Christmas (http://www.soundsofchristmas.com) and  
My Merry Christmas (http://mymerrychristmas.com)

 


5) What are your 3 favorite Christmas episodes of a TV sitcom or drama?
Mad About You episode Met Someone (love the story of how Paul and Jamie met at Christmas), the Lark Rise To Candleford Christmas Special (a traditional English Christmas ghost story in the tradition of Dickens) and Blackadder's Christmas Carol (Hilarious flipped version of the classic tale).



Thursday, July 24, 2014

Christmas TV Party 2014: Ronda Roxbury


 
Christmas TV Party 2014: Ronda Roxbury

1) What is the first Christmas special you remember watching?
The Little Drummer Boy

2) Name one Christmas program/movie you enjoy watching all year round. 
It's a Wonderful Life  



3) Name one overlooked, or under-appreciated Christmas program.
Alf's Special Christmas lol I love Alf.

4) Send us to 3 places on the internet.
http://rroxbury.avonrepresentative.com 
http://www.snapfish.com/





5) What are your 3 favorite Christmas episodes of a TV sitcom or drama?
Little Drummer Boy, Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, Charlie Brown's Christmas


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Christmas TV Party 2014: Amanda M. Prok



Christmas TV Party 2014: Amanda M. Prok

1) What is the first Christmas special you remember watching?
The first Christmas special I remember watching is Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.  I must admit the abominable snowman caused me a sleepless night or two when I was younger.  However, my favorite character was Yukon Cornelius.  I distinctly remember his voice and was taken in immediately by him.  I always love the part(s) when he throws up his pick axe, lets it land, sniffs it and licks it and declares whether there is gold or not.  Silly thing to remember from this classic Christmas special, but as a kid I always made sure I tuned in to that part.  It was sad to read about his passing earlier this year.

2) Name one Christmas program/movie you enjoy watching all year round.
Elf!!!!  No matter what time of year, I will always sit down and watch Elf.  A sweet and simple Christmas tale that makes me laugh now just as hard as I did the first time around.  I find myself quoting the movie in my own day to day activities.  As a teacher I’ve found the best way to spread cheer (all year round) “...is singing loud for all to hear."  It drives my students nuts, but they love hearing some music come out of this tone deaf teacher.



3) Name one overlooked, or under-appreciated Christmas program.
Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol is one that I don’t often see being shown at Christmas time.  It is unfortunate because it is a classic special.  I was so excited to sit down and watch it last year when it aired.  As a English/Language Arts teacher, I teach the novel A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.  Aside from the brilliance of the writing the story of redemption that is portrayed in the written word is uplifting and inspiring.  Although tough to read at times the students end up loving Scrooge.  Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol is a great follow-up to the words of Dickens and quickly becomes a favorite for the students.  I wish the episode aired yearly so more could enjoy this absolutely wonderful Christmas special.   

4) Send us to 3 places on the internet.
3 places all things Christmas:



"SAAAAAANTA!  I know him."


Seth and Summer enjoying Chrismukkah on The O.C.

5) What are your 3 favorite Christmas episodes of a TV sitcom or drama?
The O.C. episode “Chrismukkah” in 2003 is one of my favorite Christmas themed episodes of any TV drama.  This holiday combo of Christmas and Hanukkah created by character Seth in an effort to understand both of his parents religious beliefs also serves as a way to help Ryan, Marissa, and Summer forget about past Christmases that left them battered and bruised.  Seinfeld  1997 “a Festivus for the rest of us.”  The single aluminum pole has not replaced our family Christmas tree, but we do "air our grievances" and "compete in feats of strength.”  Finally, Touched by an Angel in December of 2001, tackled the tough issue of September 11th in the episode “A Winter Carol.”  It is one of the first TV show episodes that I remember centering its plot around that horrific day in our country.  A mayor of a small town in New York tries to find the Christmas spirit once again.  As the mayor’s oldest son, sparked by the events of 9/11 enlists in the military, a long time town tradition is carried on, as he gets to pick the hymn sung in his honor on the last Sunday before he leaves.  The show ends with a powerful rendition of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir at the town’s Christmas pageant.  All these years later it still brings me to tears. 


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Christmas TV Party 2014: RigbyMel of Holiday Film Reviews

The Doctor Who 2011 Christmas Special, "The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe."

Christmas TV Party 2014: RigbyMel of Holiday Film Reviews

1) What is the first Christmas special you remember watching?
It's either A Charlie Brown Christmas or Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer.  I am not 100% sure, but I remember loving both when I was little.  

2) Name one Christmas program/movie you enjoy watching all year round.
Pretty much any Christmas episode of Doctor Who is worthy of year round viewing!  But I have a special soft spot for "The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe."



3) Name one overlooked, or under-appreciated Christmas program.
There are several quite good specials involving the Muppets that have never been released intact or at all on disc.  I'll single out the delightful Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas (1977)  and Muppet Family Christmas (1987) as particular favorites. 

4) Send us to 3 places on the internet.
Subversive Cross Stitch (sampIers with attitude)  http://www.subversivecrossstitch.com/
Unshelved (library humor) http://www.unshelved.com/
Hark!  A Vagrant (historical webcomic of awesomeness) http://harkavagrant.com/


The Emmy-award wining episode "Seoul Mates" is from the series' third season.

5) What are your 3 favorite Christmas episodes of a TV sitcom or drama?
Father Ted - "A Christmassy Ted" (1996) 
Quantum Leap - "A Little Miracle" (1990) 
Northern Exposure - "Seoul Mates"  (1991) 
(favorites subject to change according to whim, but these are sticking out at the moment.  Apparently, I am in a 1990s state of mind!?!)

Monday, July 21, 2014

Christmas TV Party 2014: Juniper Sage


 
Christmas TV Party 2014: Juniper Sage

1) What is the first Christmas special you remember watching?
Raggedy Ann and Andy in The Great Santa Claus Caper.  I am sure I didn't watch this the year it came out but it must not have been too much later than 1978.

2) Name one Christmas program/movie you enjoy watching all year round.
The Nightmare Before Christmas - partially because it has all of the other holidays in it as well as Christmas.



3) Name one overlooked, or under-appreciated Christmas program.
Emmet Otter's Jug-band Christmas - much loved by those that grew up with it but not known by younger generations at all.


4) Send us to 3 places on the internet.
Muppet Wiki - http://muppet.wikia.com/wiki/Muppet_Wiki
Flooby Nooby - http://floobynooby.blogspot.com/
Cartoon Brew - http://www.cartoonbrew.com/

"Penny's Christmas" on Good Times.
 
5) What are your 3 favorite Christmas episodes of a TV sitcom or drama?
Good Times - Penny's Christmas, although this is the 'jump the shark season' for me, I still love Janet Jackson's addition to the cast and her relationship with Willona and J.J.
Little House on the Prairie - Blizzard, I didn't love the show as much as the books but I do like this episode in particular
The Twilight Zone - Night of the Meek, this has become a favorite from the all day New Year's showings of The Twilight Zone



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.


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Christmas TV Party 2014: Stephen Lind, PhD

"Lights, please?"
 
Christmas TV Party 2014: Stephen Lind, PhD  at Washington and Lee University

1) What is the first Christmas special you remember watching?
Walt Disney's Pluto's Christmas Tree is the one Christmas program I simply remember always remembering... even though I don't actually remember when I first watched it.  Of all the classics that have been so meaningful and so much fun for me over the years, it is the one that holds the oldest anchor in my mind.  Only a 6 minute short released in 1952, it has certainly been around for a long time, and I invariably saw it on TV as a child in the 1980s.  Perhaps we had the Little Golden Book adaptation, Donald Duck's Christmas Tree.

2) Name one Christmas program/movie you enjoy watching all year round.
A Charlie Brown Christmas  is simply my favorite movie, regardless of the season.  Of course, it's not actually a "movie," but rather is a television special aired in 1965... but that matters little to me (my favorite actor is Kermit the Frog, so perhaps I'm not one for the letter of the law).  It's one of those shows that I own multiple copies of, listen to the soundtrack from regularly, and actively enjoy watching at all times of the year (which is a good thing, because I am currently writing a book about the Peanuts franchise).  The style alone grabs me, and the boldness by which Charles Schulz was willing to gently but earnestly share from the Gospel of Luke is as important as it is impressive.


The Muppet Christmas Carol

3) Name one overlooked, or under-appreciated Christmas program.
The Muppet Christmas Carol is a rather well-known recent-ish (1992) Christmas program, but it surprises me each year that it is not as much of a national event as the airings of the other classics.  When I was in college, I had a copy of the video on an early MP3 player I owned, and I would play the video while driving home from Virginia to Michigan.  The songs are just outstanding (find "It Feels Like Christmas" on YouTube and tell me you disagree.  The harmonies!), the lines are hilariously witty with significant fidelity to Dickens' original, and the Muppets have such a visual flare that I could picture the whole movie without taking my eyes off from the winding Appalachian roads.  This is easily #2 for me behind A Charlie Brown Christmas.

4) Send us to 3 places on the internet.
ReligiMedia -- this is my (occasional) blog in which I discuss religious content in mainstream entertainment.  Do subscribe, and watch for a "Christmas (in the 1960s) in July!" post. www.Religimedia.com 

JRPC -- the Journal of Religion and Popular Culture recently published some of my research on religion in classic Christmas specials - "Christmas in the 1960s: A Charlie Brown Christmas, Religion, and the Conventions of the Television Genre."  It's an academic journal that your local library will likely have access to, or you can purchase the article online. http://utpjournals.metapress.com/content/w552ht473484w376/

Bronner's -- If you've not been to Bronner's Christmas Wonderland in Frankenmuth, Michigan, you need to go.  It is reportedly the world's largest Christmas store, the grounds covering a total 27 acres.  The building itself is 7 acres of all-Christmas, all-year-round (except Easter, Christmas, Thanksgiving, and New Year's Day).  If you go, be sure to purchase an ornament and have it personalized.  It is the quintessential Bronner's experience.  Afterward, you can find ornaments for everyone on your Christmas list... they have one of just about everything.  Then treat yourself to dinner at Zehnder's or the Bavarian Inn.  If you make it during the winter, be sure to schedule your trip during the annual ice festival.  www.Bronners.com  

Merry Christmas, Mr. Bean

5) What are your 3 favorite Christmas episodes of a TV sitcom or drama?
Mr. Bean: Merry Christmas, Mr. Bean (1992).  It's important that television producers feel the freedom to responsibly reference the spiritual meaning/history of Christmas (which is alive and well in the real lives of many many viewers).  That doesn't mean it can't be funny, though.  Mr. Bean's nativity scene is pretty funny.. complete with Daleks and a T-Rex.

ALF's Special Christmas (1987).  Haa!  He kills me.  (Actually, this one's a rather touching extended episode.)

The Dick Van Dyke Show: The Alan Brady Show Presents (1963).  Rob and Laura are a smash in their singing and dancing numbers, as always.  




Friday, July 18, 2014

Christmas TV Party 2014: Helen Holmes at Radio Once More

The Snowman

Christmas TV Party 2014: Helen Holmes at Radio Once More

1) What is the first Christmas special you remember watching?
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer



2) Name one Christmas program/movie you enjoy watching all year round.
The Snowman by Raymond Briggs



3) Name one overlooked, or under-appreciated Christmas program.


'Twas the Night Before Christmas - 1974 Rankin-Bass

Twas the Night Before Christmas



4) Send us to 3 places on the internet.
    http://www.amazon.com
    http://www.imdb.com
   
http://www.facebook.com





5) What are your 3 favorite Christmas episodes of a TV sitcom or drama? How the Flintstones Saved Christmas (1964)
"The Night of the Meek" - December 23, 1960 Twilight Zone



Thursday, July 17, 2014

Christmas TV Party 2014: Jim Inman

 
Christmas TV Party 2014: Jim Inman

1) What is the first Christmas special you remember watching?
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. It was an experience to catch it, and especially hear the CBS "Special Presentation" music (see #4)

2) Name one Christmas program/movie you enjoy watching all year round.
A Christmas Story. Ralphie Parker deserves that BB gun!


1962's Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol

3) Name one overlooked, or under-appreciated Christmas program.
Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol. Without that special, we might not have had so many other entries in the world of holiday animation.

4) Send us to 3 places on the internet.
CBS Special Presentation
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4_d_6A8nE0

Rare Jean Shepherd clip before "A Christmas Story"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rzstbfBi6R8

Carol Burnett - The Christmas Song
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EPigFJWTrKY


From the 1963 episode "The Alan Brady Show Presents" on The Dick Van Dyke Show.


5) What are your 3 favorite Christmas episodes of a TV sitcom or drama?
Big Bang Theory - Penny gives Leonard a napkin signed by his idol, Leonard Nimoy - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mlhHTdDqoBc

Dick Van Dyke Show - Everyone participates in a holiday TV sketch - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOnjmYAHNqA

The Waltons - A Homecoming -- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-wx655bcXU



Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Christmas TV Party 2014: Mitchell Hadley at It's About TV!



Christmas TV Party 2014: Mitchell Hadley at It's About TV!

1) What is the first Christmas special you remember watching?
I think it was probably Rudolph, watching it at the home of my friends the Gunners, which would have made me probably 7.  I even remember that there were parts of it I didn't like, which means it wasn't the first time I'd seen it, nor does that mean it was the first one I ever watched, but that's the farthest back Christmas special I can remember.  If not that, then Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol, which I also remember from a long time back in the late 60s.

2) Name one Christmas program/movie you enjoy watching all year round.
I generally segregate the seasonal shows; I don't really watch them the rest of the year so that I don't get tired of them.  But one movie I think can be watched year-round is Going My Way - I've always considered it a Christmas movie because it's been shown at that time of the year so often, but Christmas plays such a small role in the story that it can be enjoyed at any time.  As a second choice, I'd add Larceny, Inc. with Edward G. Robinson - I've never actually watched it at Christmastime in fact, but hey - it ends on Christmas Eve!  It counts!

Bill McIver as the crippled boy Amahl from the 1955 production of Amahl and the Night Visitors.

3) Name one overlooked, or under-appreciated Christmas program.
Well, I'm always going to be biased toward Amahl and the Night Visitors because it's been so long since it was on TV, and very few people today know just what a sensation it was when it aired, what an important role it plays in the history of television.  To get a front-page review in "The New York Times" is not something that very many television shows get.  As a secondary choice, I'd mention Tennessee Ernie Ford's "The Story of Christmas," which was the first hour-long network special presented without commercials, and has a religious theme that would be unthinkable on network TV today, and an unforgettable animated segment on the Nativity that runs 18 1/2 minutes.

4) Send us to 3 places on the internet.
1) The Onion's AV Club, especially their TV page- www.avclub.com/tv/.  The TV reviews of current series are very good if you like current series (which, for the most part, I don't), but their writing on classic TV is terrific.  2) The Classic History TV Blog - http://classictvhistory.wordpress.com/.  Stephen Bowie has some of the best writing on classic TV that's out there.  3)  Uniwatch - www.uni-watch.com.  If you're nerd enough to be interested in "the obsessive study of athletics aesthetics," you have to check out this blog that concentrates on the study of sports uniforms, but every once in a while tosses in some sociology on the side.


Friday and Gannon ask Father Rojas questions about the missing Baby Jesus in the 1967 Christmas episode of Dragnet.

5) What are your 3 favorite Christmas episodes of a TV sitcom or drama?
This is challenging, since most of my favorite Christmas shows are specials, but I'd name these without hesitation: 1) The Jack Benny Program where Jack goes Christmas shopping - Mel Blanc absolutely steals the show.  2) "The Changing of the Guard" on The Twilight Zone.  Most people will think of the wonderful "Night of the Meek" with Art Carney, but I'll shine the spotlight on this story, in which Donald Pleasence plays a schoolteacher who feels his life has been a failure, and plans to commit suicide on Christmas Eve, when the ghosts of his former students appear to tell him of the impact he's made.  There's a Christmas concert on the radio that night, and the image of listening to Christmas music alone on Christmas Eve has remained with me since.  3)  "The Big Little Jesus" on Dragnet - how can you possibly pass up Friday and Smith (and later Friday and Gannon in the remake) hunting down the "heinous" criminal who'd steal a statue of the Baby Jesus on Christmas Eve?