About Christmas TV History

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Christmas TV Party 2015: Susan

Christmas TV Party 2015: Susan, Christmas movie super fan

1) What Christmas program/movie have you seen more times than any other?
That’s probably a tie between Christmas Vacation and A Christmas Story. Both are watched multiple times per season in our household, and quoted endlessly throughout the year. It’s not really Christmas until Cousin Eddie pulls up to Clark’s in the tenement on wheels and that darn “icicle” breaks Ralphie's glasses.

Who can forget Cousin Eddie?
Honestly, I just adore Christmas programming in general. Everything from classic movies like Christmas in Connecticut or a The Bishop’s Wife, to modern releases like The Polar Express and Love, Actually, to just about every TV Christmas movie Lifetime, Hallmark, UP, et. al. produce. Animated specials, Christmas-themed episodes of our favorite shows. We love, and watch, them all!

2) What is your favorite musical Christmas TV special, variety performance, or holiday song in a movie?
This is a tough one, because there are so many. For a single song, I’d have to say that the Heat Miser/Snow Miser song from The Year Without a Santa Claus is one that’s impossible not to sing along with, but there are so many specials I remember from my own childhood that I’ve got great joy from sharing with my own children. It’s just not Christmas without watching The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, A Charlie Brown Christmas, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, A Chipmunk Christmas and Frosty the Snowman. I remember watching those with my own parents, and hope my kids will someday be watching them with their own little ones, too. There are so many great ones, old and new, and we have so many on DVD and record others as they air on our DVR, that we actually try to watch an animated special as a family every single night from Thanksgiving through Christmas, with the Grinch always being our final hurrah on Christmas morning.

3) What's your favorite TV or movie adaptation of Dickens' A Christmas Carol?
It’s a tie between the kid friendly, yet classic take of the Muppet’s Christmas Carol and Bill Murray’s irreverent, but ultimately good-hearted portrayal, in Scrooged. As an off beat pick, I have a weird affinity for Tom Everett Scott’s TV-movie, Karoll’s Christmas, which I find myself watching almost every year.

4) What do you think is the worst Christmas program/movie--or your least favorite, the most disappointing or most overrated?
I think it’s hugely disappointing that they attempted to make a sequel of A Christmas Story; the unimaginatively titled A Christmas Story 2. I admit I haven’t seen it, but the universally dismal reviews it’s received pretty much confirmed what I already guessed.

As a “bonus” answer to a question you didn’t ask, I think there are a lot of very UNDERRATED Christmas movies and specials that deserve to be classics, but aren’t. Our family loves The Happy Elf starring Harry Connick Jr.; Olive the Other Reindeer, starring Drew Barrymore; Robbie the Reindeer, starring Hugh Grant and all of Disney’s Prep and Landing adventures. I think every one deserves to be far better known. I’d also add the British movie Nativity!, which we discovered last year, which is not only funny and touching, but features some amazing original music, and the also-UK-themed Arthur Christmas. Both are delightful family films many have never seen.

5) If you were asked to give advice to a TV network executive in charge of holiday programming, what would you suggest?
Really, just more. More original Christmas programming. Airing more classic Christmas specials, movies and episodes. Not all will be gems, but everyone has their favorites, and it is so nice to have that variety. It also obviously works. Look at ABC’s “Great Christmas Light Fight” the last two years, which is low-cost programming that got very good ratings for December. Hallmark Channel, UP and ABC Family all get their best ratings of the year with their dedicated Christmas programming, so the demand is definitely out there.


  1. I think that we need to find one of those "needs to be a classic" Christmas specials, and have a group chat while watching together. It could be a fun experience to watch a Christmas movie with other Christmas fans.

    Nice to have the in-depth write-up here, Susan!

    1. Thanks. As you can see by my reply below, brevity is not my strong suit. :)

      I'm always looking for the next hidden gem Christmas special/movie. Last year Nativity! was such a nice surprise. The whole family loved it and I was singing the music for weeks. I had to special order the CD from the UK so we could listen to it.

    2. Speaking of, I'd love to see that as a question for a future "Christmas in July" round-up ... What do you think is the most under-rated Christmas movie or special. To get ideas from others for future watching.

      I'd also love to hear other's thoughts about their favorite holiday tradition involving Christmas TV. When/where/why you watch a certain thing annually. I know we have our "always this" because, and I have plenty of friends and family that have their own, and always find the stories of where and why compelling and interesting.

  2. Thanks for mentioning "Karroll's Christmas." That TV movie has charmed me too. I watch it as often as I can find it airing--usually at 2am. What's with that? Great answers, Susan.

    1. Even though I normally have what I’d like to think is rather discerning taste in movies and television, at Christmas I simply adore the cheesiest of holiday shows and movies. I really look forward to the Hallmark, Lifetime, UP, ION, et al original movies, no matter how formulaic. Apparently, if you put a Christmas tree in it, I’ll watch almost anything. :)

      Though, I will note, there are definite good and bad entries in this genre. I usually find one or two a year I really love, and the rest are either merely passable, or downright bad. I used to be big about sticking with them till the end, but with the sheer number that are available these days, I don’t hesitate to turn the dullest, most poorly written and acted ones off, early on. (I’m looking at you Merry Ex-Mas; one of the few so dreadful I can still remember the name even without having watched it. Ugh!)

      I admit the sheer number of these I have seen is fairly ridiculous, but I’ve even managed to get my husband hooked on them by this point.

      My favorites, besides the already mentioned Karoll’s Christmas, include: Comfort and Joy, Christmas Do-Over, Holiday in Handcuffs, Snowglobe (this movie was terrible on first viewing, yet I see it almost every year and it’s become a definite guilty pleasure … “everybody loves mittens!"), The 12 Dates of Christmas, The Christmas Card, A Boyfriend for Christmas, A Season for Miracles and, my all-time, goofy, so-bad-it’s-good favorite: Holiday Switch. In which, I kid you not, a former Baywatch lifeguard crawls though her clothes dryer into an alternate life. You know, as you do.

      All these movies seem to star the third lead of an ‘80s/‘90s series, namely Candace Cameron, Dean Cain (whom, I believe, has played a lawyer that defends Santa in court at least three times now, and a sheriff who arrests him twice; talk about niche typecasting), Lacey Chabert and Haylie Duff.

      Plus, they’re so educational. In addition to learning that it’s better to be poor and happy than rich but lonely, now I know that a house swap is a guaranteed way to find love. That the old inn/toy company/dude ranch/etc. is definitely gonna be run by a hot guy/girl who will end up seducing the big city business person come to shut them down into living a simpler life. And that, that nice old man who keeps popping up probably IS really Santa, so be good for goodness sake!

      I’ve actually seen so many of these similarly-named and themed movies that I’ve started keeping a list, so I know what not to re-record as I’m stuffing my DVR full of November and December viewing. I admit I’m already counting down the days until the 2015 crop debuts.

  3. Fun answers and I agree on most! An underrated special I have come to enjoy is the somewhat-new Yes Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus. Not cheesy or creepy, just sentimental and sweet.

    1. Yes, we like that one, too. Neil Patrick Harris and the skinny Santa. :)

      I agree it's also not talked about as much, but it still gets annual airplay on network TV (sometimes Prep and Landing does, sometimes not), so it's at least slightly less obscure.

      There are so many. For instance, Murray's Christmas, which debuted last year, seemed like it has a lot of re-watchablity, too.

      And I forgot to mention in my original comments Hoops and Yoyo Save Christmas. That's a hilarious Hallmark Channel original my son simply ADORES, and we enjoy watching with him at least once a season. (They also have an awesome Halloween special.)

  4. Yay! Someone else shares my love for "Nativity!" - it really is astonishingly enjoyable. (I even have the not-quite-so-good sequel because ... David Tennant!)

    1. We adored Nativity! and I have the sequel to watch this season, even though I've been advised to lower expectations. I actually ended up buying DVDs as gifts for several people last year and all raved about how awesome it is and how they can't believe they'd never heard of it before.

  5. I'm with you Susan... I LOVE the Christmas Classics plus all the TV Movies, too, and I try to watch as many as possible on all the Networks, including Hallmark Channel, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, TCM, Lifetime, UP, ION, and INSP... during the Christmas season! My poor recorder hardly gets a break!

    I love it all so much... I'm definitely counting down the days with you! :)