About Christmas TV History

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Christmas in July 2016: Ed South

Jack Benny (left) considers buying a wallet for Don Wilson as a Christmas gift.

Christmas in July 2016: Ed South of Wonderful World of Blog

Please check out Ed's new film-themed podcast called What’s Your Favorite Movie? where he talka about why people love the films they love! It’s available on iTunes, Spreaker and through the website Wonderful World of Blog. You can also follow along on twitter: @edsouth

1) What Christmas episode/special/or movie always puts you in the holiday spirit?

I tend to try and save my favorites for as close to Christmas Day as possible. This usually leaves me  running out of time and missing some of my favorites each year. But when I pull out my “Christmas Movie Box” in early November there are two programs I usually start the season off with. The first is Silent Night - Story of A Christmas Carol which is a 1953 educational short that was probably shown in Catholic schools the day before Christmas vacation started. It’s the story of how the traditional carol was written. It’s slow, every copy I’ve seen is in bad shape, and it’s certainly an outdated piece of holiday nostalgia but I had a copy of it when I was a kid and then it turned up again in my adult life on a DVD full of public domain Christmas oddities and I’ve been enjoying it ever since.

Another of my early favorites to start the season off with is The Jack Benny Program Christmas episode, which also shows up on plenty of public domain collections. In the episode, Jack goes Christmas shopping and ends up leading store clerk, Mel Blanc, to a nervous breakdown as he changes his mind over which gifts to give to his friends and coworkers. Funny stuff and I love any old Christmas shows that show what department stores looked like in the 1950’s.

1989 movie Prancer

2) What Christmas program or scene brings you to tears?

It’s gotta be Prancer. The end of Prancer gets me every time.

3) What's your favorite quote of dialogue, song lyric, or sentiment from a Christmas program?

My favorite Christmas song lyric has always been “And this song of mine, In three-quarter time” from Frank Sinatra’s Christmas Waltz. It’s just a neat rhyme that always makes me smile…and sing along.

Favorite quote from a program goes to Lucy Van Pelt: “Look, Charlie, let’s face it. We all know that Christmas is a big commercial racket. It’s run by a big eastern syndicate, you know.” From A Charlie Brown Christmas, of course!

4) Is there a Christmas program that unintentionally frightens you--or turns you off?

I wouldn’t say there are any Christmas programs that frighten me. I was very turned off by Disney’s feature length take on A Christmas Carol, the one with Jim Carrey. I guess there are so many cheerful and happy versions of the story that I just didn’t care for any of the dark choices made in that animated film.

5) Name one character from Christmas entertainment with whom you closely identify? and explain why.

I’ve always closely identified with Charlie Brown, but he’s not exclusively a Christmas character. I can certainly relate to George Bailey…but so does everybody else.  As sad as it may be, I think my schoolyard days probably went a lot like Rudolph’s. Perhaps the red-nosed reindeer is the character I identify with the most in Christmas entertainment.


  1. I have never seen that Jack Benny Christmas episode. I'll definitely have to look for it this Christmas. His type of humor is so interesting and rare these days.

    Oh my goodness... 'Prancer' is also a perfect answer for #2!. It's beautifully done, and the scene in the church during the candlelight service always gets to me!

    I think during our school days, we probably all, or most of us, had moments we felt like Rudolph. Thanks to Joanna for bringing us all together - We're definitely not misfits here!

    Enjoyed reading all your responses, Ed!
    Blessings!!! Net

  2. I love that classic Jack Benny Christmas episode too. It takes such a dark turn at the end--no one is funnier than Benny! Thanks for the reminder Ed--and thanks for participating.

  3. The Frank Sinatra Christmas Album is one of the best Christmas albums ever. I collect old Christmas records and CDs and this is one of my all-time favorites. The recording of We Wish You the Merriest from this album, with Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians is a mid-century blast!


    I also agree with your pick of the Jack Benny Show. His radio and TV Christmas shows were legendary. His cast of characters was the best--Mel Blanc as the poor counter man, Frank Nelson as the obsequious floorwalker, Benny Rubin as the "I don't know" guy and Artie Auerbach as Mr. Kitzel (mostly on the radio) appeared year after year.