Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Christmas TV Party 2015: RigbyMel

Christmas TV Party 2015: RigbyMel at Holiday Film Reviews

1) What Christmas program/movie have you seen more times than any other?
Well,  I cannot think of a year where I have not seen A Charlie Brown Christmas or Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer or How The Grinch Stole Christmas at least once. 

Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas and Christmas Eve On Sesame Street are probably near the top of the list as well.
  
In terms of Christmas movies,  the top contender is most likely A Christmas Story, thanks largely to the 24 hour marathons of it that have shown up on cable in recent years.   
I've also watched The Bishop's Wife (1947) and It's A Wonderful Life (1946) quite a few times over the years. 



2) What is your favorite musical Christmas TV special, variety performance, or holiday song in a movie?
This is a TOUGH one!   I definitely have loved David Letterman's Christmas Spectaculars featuring Darlene Love singing "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)".  The holidays will not be the same now that Letterman has retired.  Le sigh.  

I also love "Keep Christmas With You" and "True Blue Miracle" as sung by Bob and the rest of the Sesame Street gang in Christmas Eve On Sesame Street.  They're sweet songs, with nice sentiments to bear in mind "all through the year."   Am I a total sap?  Possibly.  But I don't really care.  

I also really like 2008's A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All!  for its affectionate sending up of the classic Bing Crosby/Andy Williams/ Perry Como etc style holiday specials. 




3) What's your favorite TV or movie adaptation of Dickens' A Christmas Carol?
My favorite adaptation of A Christmas Carol remains the 1984 made for TV version featuring George C. Scott as Scrooge.   It was the first live-action version of the story that I recall seeing as a child.  It's wonderfully well acted and I adore the attention to period verisimilitude.   I also like the fact that this version gets the fact that it's a GHOST STORY and that there are horrors inherent in the festive season for the less fortunate (lots of adaptations seem to miss this aspect of the story.)   It's brilliant!  

Scrooged  is another great favorite because is also gets the scary vibe just right (but balances it with some wickedly funny material as well.)   Also because Bill Murray makes most things better! 


George C. Scott as Ebenezer Scrooge.
4) What do you think is the worst Christmas program/movie--or your least favorite, the most disappointing or most overrated?
Well, there is an unfortunate amount of dreck out there (Lifetime and Hallmark channels?  I'm looking at you!).  But one person's dreck could be another one's favorite, who am I to judge?     

That being said,  I recall being deeply disappointed/disturbed by One Magic Christmas which was released by Disney in 1985 and which my family saw in the theater.   Despite having a great cast (Mary Steenburgen, Harry Dean Stanton, et al), it was just deeply and unrelentingly grim, dark and disturbing.   The plot involves crabby mom (Mary Steenburgen) needing to find the true meaning of Christmas, Dad loses his job and the company is kicking the family out of their house over the holidays to boot.   Dad takes the kids to the bank to get some money out for Christmas presents and gets SHOT by an even more desperate dad who is there to rob the bank and who then proceeds to steal the family car (containing the children) and drive it off a bridge into an icy river.)   Believe it or not, there is a happy ending to this, but goodness do you have to work to get there!!  Don't believe me?  Check out Roger Ebert's review from the time: http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/one-magic-christmas-1985   
Its heart is (sort of) in the right place but the execution is ... ummm ... lacking.   
Maybe I should re-watch it and see if it plays better to cynical adult me than it did to tender-hearted 9 year old me?    

5) If you were asked to give advice to a TV network executive in charge of holiday programming, what would you suggest?
I really would like to see more of a nice mix of classic Holiday performances from years past and high-quality current productions as well.  Admittedly, this is a hard balance to strike.  Some of the cable marathons come close, but they also seem to err on the side of loud and dopey sometimes.   I also wouldn't mind seeing some more action oriented episodes of shows like Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 



17 comments:

  1. I love the bleakness of One Magic Christmas. Sometimes I use it as a palate cleanser in between more syrupy offerings :) And nice to see Colbert in there. Forgot to include that one myself...

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    1. I did watch "One Magic Christmas" on cable several times as a kid (after seeing it in the theater), despite finding it upsetting. Guess I was trying to figure it out!

      I probably should re-visit it!!

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  2. Very interesting list. I have had One Magic Christmas on DVD for a couple years now and have never actually watched it, in part because I've seen that Ebert review. We re-watched All I Want for Christmas last year, which I remember mostly enjoying as a kid and it was just terrible. A real slog, despite the beauteous Lauren Bacall. And this is coming from someone who watches a lot of Hallmark movies happily.

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    1. It is interesting how tastes sometimes change as we gain more experience!
      I am thinking I should probably give "One Magic Christmas" another look and see how it plays for me now.

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  3. Wow. Sounds like quite a journey in One Magic Christmas! But Emmett Otter is amazing, love it.

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    1. I featured Emmet Otter in a children's program at the library I worked at last holiday season. Had the kiddos make their own jug-band instruments (shoe-box "banjos") & showed the special. :-) Figure it's good to pass the classics on to the next generation!

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    2. That is awesome! I have my kids loving it, so helping move it into the next generation, as well. They also love the "blooper reel" on the DVD. LOL

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    3. I know there are a few DVD versions out there (of Emmet Otter). I wish there was a definitive version, but that's unlikely to ever happen (Comparisons: http://muppet.wikia.com/wiki/Emmet_Otter's_Jug-Band_Christmas). Guessing none of them have PG rated blooper that's floating around out there either were Ma calls the woman who won't pay her bill a bitch...

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    4. A definitive version of Emmet on DVD would be awesome. I think one of the previously released versions does have the blooper you mention. ;-)

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    5. There's a LOT of Henson stuff that needs a definitive DVD (or blu-ray) release, actually.

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    6. Couldn't agree more on the definitive. Why they cut a song from Muppet Christmas Carol is beyond me...

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  4. Many thanks to Joanna for putting this Christmas in July tv party event together. It's been so much fun to read other people's thoughts about their favorite (and least favorite) programming! :-)

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  5. Another vote for definitive versions of Henson Christmas TV specials! I understand that broadcasts often cut out material for time but the DVD releases should contain the original program. PLEASE!

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    1. I agree! And would be amongst the first in line to purchase. By the way, is it true that the recent Muppets blu-ray release of Christmas Carol cuts a song out. Really?!?!

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    2. I believe the Blu Ray of MCC removes Michael Caine's 'When Love Is Gone'. Someone else might need to confirm that...

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    3. Yup "When Love Is Gone" is, in fact, gone from the recent MCC releases. Personally, I do not miss it, but that's just me. ;-)
      How do we persuade Disney that there is a market for Muppet back catalog stuff to be released for home viewing? Does anyone have any suggestions?

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