1) What Christmas program/movie have you seen more times than any other?
Probably Black Christmas (the original, the only one that counts). Maybe Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas. Maybe a Muppet Family Christmas. Maybe Christmas Evil. Maybe A Charlie Brown Christmas, maybe National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. Ooh, maybe Scrooged. I'd be happy to say any of the above and they all qualify as well watched. Seen the most? After a certain point, I stop counting.
|Black Christmas (1974) movie poster.|
2) What is your favorite musical Christmas TV special, variety performance, or holiday song in a movie?
These are tough! White Christmas is untouchable. My favourite musical Christmas TV special would probably be A Quartette Christmas, but the Canadian musical group Quartette, just a simple special of them singing. It doesn't get much purer than that. Right up there with my yearly must-watches is John Denver's Montana Christmas Skies. I want to buy a barn with hay bales and have a Christmas singalong every year after watching that one. Emmet Otter has a great soundtrack by the legendary Paul Williams. "When the River Meets the Sea" is a huge Christmas memory without being an actual Christmas song. Amy Grant's: A Christmas To Remember still gets a lot of play as well. Honourable mention to Anne Murray's Classic Christmas, and the A Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack. All excellent.
|from 1977's Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas.|
3) What's your favorite TV or movie adaptation of Dickens' A Christmas Carol?
I know you keep asking for one, but is that actually possible? Top three would have to be (probably in this order): The animated 1971 version with Alistair Sim, the 1935 version with Seymour Hicks, and the 2009 with Jim Carrey. Oh no, I forgot the Muppet Christmas Carol. Michael Caine is my favourite Scrooge, but my instinct is to go with the purer adaptations, but the Muppet Christmas Carol is likely one of the most enjoyable versions, with a great soundtrack (And what's up with Disney editing out a song from the middle. Blasphemy). And the Ricky Schroder/Jack Palance version called Ebenezer gets repeated viewings for some reason. There's some charm to it. I'm not even going to touch on TV adaptations. Too many to list. But, if the Mr Belvedere version had managed to work in a Robert Goulet cameo into their retelling it would have skyrocketed to the top of the list. Sadly, it did not.
|1992's Muppet Christmas Carol.|
4) What do you think is the worst Christmas program/movie--or your least favorite, the most disappointing or most overrated?
I don't love the Alistair Sim Christmas Carol from 1951. I don't hate it, but I tend to think people who love it most haven't seen any other versions. Nothing against anyone who loves it for nostalgic reasons, but it's not the version I would start with if I were trying to show people a great Christmas movie.
There are few Christmas specials/movies/episodes I hate, but two that stand out are Christmas with a Capital C, a preachy piece of nonsense, and A Christmas Too Many, an unfunny mess that makes me lose respect for anyone attached, and some decent people were attached. I assume that's the only reason anyone ever watched it, but if I had my choice, I'd like my ninety minutes back for both.
5) If you were asked to give advice to a TV network executive in charge of holiday programming, what would you suggest?
Following my advice might not get them many viewers, so my first advice might be don't listen to me. But that said, I'd say find people who actually care about the holiday instead of whoever needs an album sales boost. When I see things like Blake Shelton's Not So Family Christmas, I know they're out of ideas. Someone give Neil Patrick Harris his own variety show Christmas Special, that would work. Give Mick Foley a Christmas variety show, with his buddies the Santas. That could be fun. Or let them be the Mystery Science Theatre 3000-style critics of other specials. That has potential. Make less of them for better reasons. Make something because you want to celebrate something instead of wanting to sell something. The selling will come when people appreciate it. Michael Bublé has found a nice niche. Let that happen more. But what do I know, I watch it all...