About Christmas TV History

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Doris Day Show Christmas (1970)

This review is part of A Very Merry MeTV Blogathon hosted by the Classic TV Blog AssociationClick here to see the blogathon's complete schedule.  Please be sure to check out all the other participating blog posts. And, click here for the 2015 holiday programming schedule on MeTV.

Who doesn't love a Christmas party? Cranky neighbor Mr. Jarvis says he doesn't, that's who! This is the problem facing lead character Doris Martin (Doris Day) in the 3rd season holiday episode of The Doris Day Show.

Mr. Jarvis not only hates noise--he also hates Christmas!

In the 1970 episode “It’s Christmas Time in the City,” Doris throws a party on Christmas Eve for her family and friends at her apartment. Although her fussy neighbor Mr. Jarvis is difficult to get along with, Doris invites him to the party to extend a hand of friendship.  Jarvis turns down her invitation and warns her about making too much noise!

Is THIS the face of a noisy troublemaker?

Actors Kay Ballard and Bernie Koppell play the landlords/Italian restaurant owners Angie and Louie Pallucci.

Doris decides to move forward with her Christmas party anyway. Her guests include her sons Billy and Toby, her sons' grandfather Buck, her boss Mr. Nicholson, her co-workers Ron and Myrna, and Billy and Toby's babysitter Ethel.  If you don't regularly watch this series, you may be surprised to see its amazing cast--it's a virtual who's who of television actors.

Actor Denver Pyle plays Buck.  Pyle directs many episodes of this series--including this one.

Look who else is here! Rose Marie plays Myrna, Paul Smith as Ron, and McLean Stevenson as the boss Mr. Nicholson.

Does this party look out of control?

Wouldn't you know it, Mr. Jarvis drops by several times threatening everyone’s fun with numerous noise complaints.  When Ron entertains the party guests by playing his trumpet, Jarvis complains.  After the guests begin to dance, Jarvis threatens to call the police! Doris is beyond frustrated.

What do you do with an impossible neighbor?

Knowing whatever they do will upset Jarvis, the party guests decide to begin caroling.  They gather around the piano and sing "Jingle Bells." The gang gets through the first song and there's no complaint.  Her friends suggest that Doris should sing "Silver Bells."

When Doris sings "Silver Bells," the most frozen of hearts warms.

Even though Mr. Jarvis has made it clear that he hates Christmas, after hearing his neighbors caroling, he warms to the idea of celebrating with Doris’ gathering. By herself, Day sings a heart warming version of “Silver Bells” with just the simple piano accompaniment. The performance convinces Mr. Jarvis to change his attitude. When the carolers move on to sing “Silent Night,” Mr. Jarvis finally joins the party.

The ascot and leopard-print smoking jacket suggest he's in a party mood!

Professor Hinkle from 1969's Frosty the Snowman.

Character actor Billy DeWolfe plays the grumpy, mean neighbor Mr. Jarvis.  If he sounds familiar, it may be because his voice was used for the character Professor Hinkle, the magician who entertains at the children’s school in the 1969 Rankin/Bass animated classic Frosty the Snowman. It is Professor Hinkle’s magical top hat that charms the snowman into life.  The nasty disposition displayed by Mr. Jarvis is the same one expressed by Professor Hinkle as he follows Frosty on his journey to the North Pole in an effort to reclaim his magical hat from the top of the snowman’s head.

What would Christmas be like without watching Frosty the Snowman? I don't want to know.

Doris Day breaks the fourth wall at the story's end to express her holiday greetings to TV viewers.

While this episode's story may be a bit predictable, it actually affirms what we all want to see. We want to think that mean people can be redeemed at Christmas time. We want to think that Christmas carols have the power to transform and move us all.  The best Christmas stories aren't always about something new--many times they seem more concerned with returning to the comfortably familiar.  And, I return to my original question: who doesn't love a Christmas party? By story's end, even Mr. Jarvis does.

This series regularly gives the middle-aged (in 1970) Doris Day a soft focus when she's alone in shots. This camera technique to hide her aging was probably less noticeable until high-definition TV screens.

What about the music that soothed Jarvis' savage breast?  We all know Doris Day's vocal talents have many charms.  This episode takes its title from the lyrics of the popular carol "Silver Bells" written by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans.  Livingston and Evans originally wrote "Silver Bells" for a movie adapted from a Damon Runyon short story--1951's The Lemon Drop Kid starring Bob Hope and Marilyn Maxwell. 

The Doris Day Show closing credits.

What you may not know is that Livingston and Evans also wrote the song “Que Será Será (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)” which grew in popularity to become the biggest hit song of Doris Day’s career.  This tune was originally written for the 1956 Alfred Hitchcock film The Man Who Knew Too Much, and it won the Academy Award for Best Song that year.  "Que Será Será" went on to become Day’s signature tune, and was used as the theme song to her TV series The Doris Day Show.  Remarkably, Livingston and Evans also wrote the TV theme tunes for Mister Ed and Bonanza.

The holiday standard “Silver Bells” is also a very popular track on her 1964 Christmas LP The Doris Day Christmas Album. The song is the first track on side A.  Another song off that album, Day’s version of “The Christmas Waltz” can be heard in the fifth season Christmas episode of Mad Men also titled "Christmas Waltz."  The song can be heard playing in the background in the scene in which office manager Joan Harris and ad exec Don Draper escape the office to grab a drink in a nearby bar to console each other about love and loss.  It’s a classy, elegant but also melancholic, and mature holiday moment on Mad Men.

Don Draper and Joan Harris skipping work on Mad Men.

You never expected me to link Doris Day to Frosty the Snowman, Alfred Hitchcock, Damon Runyon, and Don Draper, did you?

If you're curious to read more of my particular viewpoint on holiday episodes found on A Very Merry MeTV programming schedule this holiday season, click on the following links to previous posts on my blog: That Girl, The Brady Bunch, The Andy Griffith Show,
The Honeymooners, Dragnet, Family Affair,  
Gunsmoke, Rawhide, Wanted: Dead or Alive
Dobie Gillis, The Donna Reed Show, Gilligan's Island, Car 54 Where Are You?,  
Welcome Back Kotter, Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley (1976), Laverne & Shirley (1978), The Odd Couple,
ChiPs, and The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

And, don't forget to check out the other essays in A Very Merry MeTV BlogathonClick here for the link to the complete list of participating blogs.


  1. You're so right--it is amazing cast of familiar faces! If I recall, this was the last season before the show's format was altered. I prefer these family-oriented show...and who wouldn't want to celebrate Christmas with Doris Day?

    1. Thanks for your comment Rick. That Billy DeWolfe (as Jarvis) is a character. Who could turn down a party invitation from Doris Day? hahahaha

  2. Great article. "Does this party look out of control?" made me laugh out loud. I wondered what would have happened if Mr. Jarvis hadn't warmed to the party and the police showed up. Could you imagine the end of the episode? "Doris, you're under arrest!" TO BE CONTINUED! Doris In Prison!

    In an alternate world, that's what happened in this episode.

    Thanks again! Fantastic stuff. Love all the extra research too.

  3. Lovely!! I so want to watch this now!! Your connections are wonderful. A terrific read!!


  4. DeWolfe: Messy..Messy...Messy! LOL SC