About Christmas TV History

Monday, January 25, 2016

New writing project for 2016

Some of you may already know but I wanted to get everyone into the conversation. I'm busy working on my next writing project--and I'm loving it! I'm writing about my experiences in watching a 24 hour-long marathon of the 1983 movie A Christmas Story. If you chuckled when you read that last sentence, then you get it. Some might ask: Why would anyone do that? And that's sort of the point.

A Christmas Story has been broadcast on TV as a 24 hour marathon on Christmas Eve every year since 1997 and the marathon continues to grow in popularity. I like to think I'm like a lot of other people--I usually have it on my television during the holiday but it's a part of the background of activities. Does the network think people watch the whole thing? Should someone watch the whole thing? What will happen if someone is foolish enough--I mean...dedicated to Christmas entertainment enough to watch the whole marathon? I'm more than enough crazy to find out. I hope you're curious enough to follow along.

Extreme television watching is all the rage right now. Many of us already binge-watch streaming shows on their debut, including House of Cards, Orange Is the New Black, Arrested Development, Transparent, Mozart in the Jungle, et al.  Earlier this month, a new sitcom Angie Tribeca (starring Rashida Jones) premiered as an overnight marathon on the basic cable network TBS. Even more of us know what is it to indulge in a Twilight Zone, Law & Order, or Friends marathon of episodes. TV viewers crave immersing themselves in a world created by their favorite TV shows--old and new. Upon reflection of my own viewing habits, I have to confess I participate in this trend of viewing all the time. I have the habit of watching anywhere from 4-6 episodes of Law & Order every Sunday morning on TNT. Of course, the individual episodes only hold my attention if I don't have the plot and final verdict memorized at its start. Otherwise, it's just background noise while I seek out a newspaper or read a magazine.

However, A Christmas Story marathon is different.  It's watching the same movie over and over--not a new episode every hour or half-hour. Yet this is the appeal of Christmas entertainment. We tend to watch the same specials and movies year after year--how many times have you tuned in to watch Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer? A Charlie Brown Christmas? It's a Wonderful Life? A Christmas Story? As a culture, we seem to have unique viewing habits and traditions when it comes to Christmas entertainment. I'm going to try to unpack some of this and make sense of it while documenting my 24 hour movie viewing experience. Heaven help me.

If you love reading TV books like I do, then you may recognize that this project takes its inspiration from previous experiments in hyper-viewing including Charles Sopkin's Seven Glorious Days, Seven Fun-Filled Nights (1968), Jack Lechner's Can't Take My Eyes Off of You (2000), and others. Will my sanity be tested while watching the same movie over and over for 24 hours? Will my sanity be tested for even considering watching the same movie over and over for 24 hours? yes and yes.

I'm dying to know what you think. Please leave any brief remarks you have in the comments below. I also have some questions for you--and request any lengthy remarks be sent to my email: [sorry--address removed.]

Please feel free to answer any or all of the questions that you like.

What I'm wondering:
1) Is the 24 hour marathon of A Christmas Story on Dec. 24th-25th each year a part of your holiday tradition? How much of it do you watch? How important is it to your family?

2) What's your favorite scene in A Christmas Story? a scene that stands out? Besides the DVD, do you own any merchandise/decorations tied in to the movie? what are they?

3) Do you think it succeeds as a 24 hour marathon? Why? Does it get better with repeated viewings?

4) What other movie/special would you rather watch as a 24 hour marathon on Christmas Eve? What Christmas-themed movie or special do you think would absolutely fail as a 24 hour marathon?

5) Do you marathon any favorite holiday entertainment with your family at Christmas?

Feel free to speak up. Thanks for your imput!

***Update: The book is entitled The Triple Dog Dare: Watching--& Surviving--the 24-Hour Marathon of A Christmas Story and will be released Oct. 15, 2016. Purchase at www.1701Press.com

Monday, January 4, 2016

Year in Review: 2015

Before I move on to new content in the new year, I thought I'd provide a look back on the previous one.  I was a little surprised by a few of 2015's most popular blog posts and reviews--maybe you will be surprised too. Curious about 2014's most popular essays? Click HERE to see the 2014 list again. Here are 2015's most viewed posts:

1. Christmas in July-Christmas TV Party (from June)
The 2015 summer blogathon was clearly a reader favorite this past year.  I have to confess: it's a favorite of mine as well. It was the announcement and instructions for the Christmas TV Party that received the most views. Here's the link to the recap at the end of the blogathon with all the links to each participant's responses. Should we do another Christmas TV Party this summer?

The 1981 Christmas episode of LHOTP includes scenes from the original 1974 pilot movie of the series.

2. Little House on the Prairie Christmas episode from 1981 entitled "A Christmas They Never Forgot." Although I wrote about this emotional episode in January last year, it apparently was the perfect time for readers to recapture their holiday spirit. This episode is a fan favorite because the story is structured around our favorite TV family reminiscing about Christmases past.

The Christmas Note stars actor Jamie-Lynn Sigler (right).

3. My review of the new TV movie The Christmas Note which debuted on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries in November. The Christmas Note distinguishes itself as a mystery story rather than a romance (the most common genre of holiday TV movies by far). The movie's title may seem familiar because it was adapted from the best-selling book by popular author Donna VanLiere. Did you get a chance to see the movie this past holiday season?

"He's better than a doctor. He's Santa Claus!"

4. My review and commentary of The Brady Bunch Christmas episode "The Voice of Christmas" from 1969. I wrote this essay last May as part of the Classic TV Blog Association's Summer of MeTV blogathon. Does it get any more classic than this heartwarming episode?

Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd on Moonlighting.

5. My review and commentary of the 1985 Christmas episode of Moonlighting was the fifth most popular one. This essay from last February was another one that was a part of a Classic TV Blog Association action--this time a Classic TV Detectives blogathon. I chose to write about this episode because it includes a memorable musical moment that breaks the fourth wall of the fiction of the series.

Do you remember reading each of these most popular entries? As I plan my upcoming schedule, do you have any requests?  Let me know in the comments below.  Happy New Year!