About Christmas TV History

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Game Part 1: Christmas Screen Shots

How well do you know Christmas entertainment? Let's play a game! Jeff from Name That Christmas Special website generously shared with me a group of screen shots taken from Christmas episodes, specials and movies. Can you identify what program each screen shot is taken from?

Play along by leaving your answer in the comments below. PLEASE identify only one screen shot--let's give everyone a chance to play along. Some are easy, some are harder. Bonus points: if you can name what specific episode of the TV series some of these are pulled from or the original date of the movie or special. This is just for fun--there are no prizes except bragging rights. Here goes:

#1 A Christmas Carol (Maryam Sarshar)

#2 A Christmas Story (Phairhead)

#3 TV episode of Benson (Joseph Mello)

#4 National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (Kiki Howell)

#5 Home Alone (Joanna)

#6 Frosty the Snowman (Donna)

#7 It's a Wonderful Life--colorized! (Patrick)

#8 Disney's Small One (Ed South)

#9 Pee-Wee's Playhouse Christmas Special (Penny)

#10 Elf (RigbyMel)

#11 He-Man & She-Ra: A Christmas Special (Kevin Bowman)

#12 Disney's I'll Be Home for Christmas (DwWashburn)

Monday, November 28, 2016

TV Guidance Counselor Christmas podcast 2016

If you're anything like me, this past weekend was a blur from turkey indulgences. So I want to make sure you know about a new podcast I participated in with the TV Guidance Counselor himself, Ken Reid. Ken is an energetic Boston-area stand-up comedian who grooves on pop culture. Ken and I met several years ago, by way of the internet, over our mutual love of Christmas entertainment. I'm extremely pleased and honored that he invited me to take part in his lively podcast.

In this installment, we entertained ourselves--and hopefully you too--with a discussion about my Top 10 List of favorite Christmas episodes. Along the way, we reminisced about quite a few other Christmas programs as well. Give it a listen. And, if you're a TV junkie too, I recommend following along with his podcasts all year long to hear some fascinating talk about TV from the past.

You can listen to my appearance on TV Guidance Counselor (11/22/16) at iTunes here.

Or, the TV Guidance Counselor Podcast website here.

After listening, feel free to leave your comments here or with Ken.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Triple Dog Dare Excerpt

Need a taste from my new book Triple Dog Dare: Watching--& Surviving--the 24-Hour Marathon of A Christmas Story? Someone suggested I share an excerpt from the book. Okay, here goes--I picked several paragraphs from Chapter 6 from my ongoing conversation speculating on the popularity of the 1983 movie and marathon.

"A Christmas Story seems to make a good marathon at least in part because there are several different story threads woven together to make one movie. We usually focus on Ralphie’s quest for the Red Ryder BB gun but there’s also the added tales which include the Old Man’s “major award,” Flick’s tongue stuck to the frozen pole and his rescue, Ralphie’s experiences downtown and standing in line to talk to Santa Claus, the avoidance and confrontation with bully Scut Farkus, the intruding Bumpus hounds, decoding Little Orphan Annie’s secret message, the various fantasies from Ralphie’s imagination, and more. Fans of writer Jean Shepherd’s work recognize that these memorable scenes are derived from five of his short stories. All five of the short stories were first published in Playboy Magazine during the 1960s. If this is before your time, you may be unaware that Playboy Magazine, although most often associated with titillating nude photos of women, was also a gentlemen’s magazine that published essays and interviews of significant literary appeal.

The short story about Ralphie’s quest for the Red Ryder BB gun is entitled “Duel in the Snow, Or Red Ryder Nails the Cleveland Street Kid.” The other short stories adapted for the movie are “The Counterfeit Secret Circle Member Gets The Message, Or The Asp Strikes Again,” “My Old Man and the Lascivious Special Award That Heralded the Birth of Pop Art,” “Grover Dill and the Tasmanian Devil,” and “The Grandstand Passion Play of Delbert and the Bumpus Hounds.” Four of the stories were eventually published in the book In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash in 1966. The fifth was published in the 1971 collection of Shepherd’s essays entitled Wanda Hickey’s Night of Golden Memories. All five short stories adapted for the movie have since been collected into one book entitled A Christmas Story: The Book That Inspired the Hilarious Classic Film.

The titles of Shepherd’s stories seem reminiscent of American humorist literature and tall tales, much like “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” written by Mark Twain. With the addition of Shepherd’s voice as the narrator, delivering lines like “What happened next was a family controversy for years…” and “Even something as monumental as ‘The Scut Farkus Affair’ as it came to be known…” remind viewers of pulp fiction, serialized stories and comic books. In fact, his style is not unlike the serials referred to in the movie, including Red Ryder and Little Orphan Annie. The rich textures that Shepherd crafted grab readers of his stories and viewers of the movie.

While A Christmas Story is adapted from numerous individual stories woven together, individually the storylines work to develop the characters, placing them in different adventures, even if they unfold toward several resolutions instead of just one. Because of this serialized structure, it is easy for viewers to focus in and out of the movie. It doesn’t matter where you are in the movie’s plot, viewers can return their attention to the TV to enjoy a scene or two, or twenty or thirty more minutes of the plot. The order doesn’t really matter.

This structure also makes it easy to marathon-watch it, allowing Christmas revelers to leave the room, come back, hold several conversations throughout the movie, and still easily return to and follow the action within the story lines. I think this in part explains the success and popularity of the A Christmas Story marathon with families across the country. Watching the marathon is an easy Christmas Eve activity while we socialize, reminisce, eat, and open gifts."

I'm also pleased to see that readers have begun sharing their reactions to the book. A glowing review came from Daniel Budnik on Amazon:

"I, myself, would never be able to sit still for 24 hours of A Christmas Story. (Actually, probably any movie.) Luckily, Joanna did it for us. She's written several other books on Christmas TV/ movies so she knows what she's talking about and she (mostly) seems to know what she's getting into. The book is broken up into individual viewings of the film as she makes it through the night and the next day, gets visits from friends, exchanges gifts with her boyfriend and has a run-in with a bar of soap. When I got the book, I was a little worried about what the format would be like. Would reading the book get as repetitive as watching the same movie over and over? Well, it isn't. Not at all. Joanna has prepared herself a series of questions, which she asks herself throughout the viewing. So, as the movie is on in the background (not only for her but in the book itself), she is constantly riffing all around the movie. Telling stories, dwelling on Christmas entertainment, keeping her mind busy (and us entertained) as she makes it through the marathon. And it's all very interesting, well-written and fun to read. I read through the book very quickly. This Christmas, I plan on reading it again. Recommended wholeheartedly." 

Thanks Daniel. Triple Dog Dare is on sale now at http://1701Press.com and wherever books are sold.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

What's Your Favorite Movie Podcast 2016

Ed South recently invited me to join him in a conversation about my favorite Christmas movies. You remember Ed South--he joined us during our Christmas in July party. He also hosts a popular podcast called What's Your Favorite Movie? talking with people about...well, their favorite movies! I couldn't resist listing off my favorites which include A Christmas Story, Miracle on 34th Street, Scrooged, The Homecoming: A Christmas Story, and The House Without a Christmas Tree. The informal discussion was a lot of fun! He also got me talking a little about my new book Triple Dog Dare which centers on the phenomenon of the 24-hour marathon and the popularity of the movie A Christmas Story.

Episode 17 of the podcast is now available for listening on iTunes and on Spreaker HERE.

To make sure you catch Ed's other episodes, you can follow along on several platforms, including:
Favorite Movie Podcast on Twitter: https://twitter.com/WYFMoviePodcast
and @EdSouth73 on Instagram.

Make sure to tell Ed what you think. And, you can leave comments here too. What's YOUR Favorite Movie?

Saturday, November 12, 2016

2016 Christmas TV Listings

It's the most wonderful time of the year, isn't it? The Christmas TV movies have already begun airing.  I've started my tweets (@TisTheSeasonTV) and daily postings on the Facebook page Tis The Season TV making suggestions for viewing--calling them SET YOUR DVRs.  The viewing options during November and December each year can get a little overwhelming.  A few years ago, I wrote an essay about which TV networks generally broadcast new Christmas TV movies and older classics.  You can read that post again HERE.  Let me update you with the details of where to find holiday programming for 2016.

For many Christmas TV movie fans, the Hallmark Channel is the network schedule to check first.  With good reason, in 2016, Hallmark will be airing 20 new Christmas TV movies alongside many classics from their archives.  If you didn't already know--the movie marathon has already begun--it started Friday, October 28th--and continues all day and all night through the end of December.  They typically debut their new holiday movies on Saturday and Sunday nights.  HERE'S the link to the list of Christmas TV movie premieres. The daily schedule of their holiday movies can be found on their website HERE.

Hallmark's sister channel--Hallmark Movies and Mysteries--also runs new Christmas TV movies and older classics.  In fact, the older holiday movies they broadcast are pulled from a deeper archive so this is the place to see some of your older Hallmark Christmas TV movie favorites.

This is the forth year that HMM is premiering their own new Christmas TV movies--this year they have seven new movies.  Click HERE for those titles and dates. And, just like the Hallmark Channel, HMM has already begun their holiday programming--which will continue through the end of the holidays.  Click HERE for the link to the complete HMM Christmas movie schedule.

Freeform (formerly known as ABC Family Channel) is another major source of holiday programming every year.  But I didn't need to tell you that, right?  We're all familiar with their marathons of Christmas animation, Christmas movies, and family-friendly entertainment.  Freeform's 25 Days of Christmas programming marathon begin Dec. 1st. Click HERE for the schedule.

UP Network also debuts new family-friendly Christmas TV movies as well as showing older favorites.  This year, the schedule looks exciting. Of these movies--seven are brand new ones.  I'm excited to see Merry Christmas, Baby--the fourth movie in the series that started with Marry Me for Christmas, Marry Us for Christmas, and A Baby for Christmas. For the UP network Christmas programming highlights schedule, click HERE.

ION Television's schedule is filled with holiday movies too. Look for those on Saturday and Sunday nights. This year, they are debuting five new Christmas TV movies as well as airing favorites from the past. Click HERE for the complete schedule.

But one of the MOST EXCITING holiday programming schedules has to be GetTV. They have pulled out all the stops! What I'm most looking forward to watching are the five Perry Como Christmas specials, the Mac Davis Christmas Special, and the Father Knows Best Christmas TV movie reunion. GetTV is also airing Christmas episodes of 80s TV series and nearly forgotten TV westerns. There's so much good stuff on their schedule, I'm overwhelmed--and you should be too. This is an abundance of riches. Check out the full GetTV holiday schedule here.

Of course, the major networks have their holiday programming as well. NBC is already promoting their annual Christmas in Rockefeller Center concert followed by the Christmas TV movie Dolly Parton's Christmas Coat of Many Colors airing on Wednesday, Nov. 30th starting at 8pm(ET). On Wednesday, Dec. 14th, NBC will also host The Pentatonix Christmas Special. The a capella group will welcome guests Reba McEntire, Kelly Clarkson, and more. Lots to look forward to.

ABC is once again airing the variety special CMA Country Christmas hosted by Jennifer Nettles. It airs Monday, Nov. 28th.  And, CBS is airing their annual A Home for the Holidays--a music special which brings awareness to adoption. It airs Friday, Dec. 23, at 8pm(ET). CBS is also airing the animated classics Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, Frosty Returns, and The Story of Santa Claus. Check your local listings for dates and times. I'm sure even more holiday TV programming will be announced soon. 

I'm especially interested in the schedules announcing classic Christmas episodes to air on retro-programming networks like MeTV, AntennaTV, CoziTV, and more. I'll do my best to wait patiently--sort of.

If you'd like reminders of the new Christmas TV movie debuts and other exciting holiday TV  programming, don't forget to follow my Facebook page Tis The Season TV and/or my tweets at @TisTheSeasonTV.   Where on the metaphorical television dial do you watch your favorite Christmas movies and specials?  Feel free to share in the comments below.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

2016 Holiday Season on Social Media

Hi Friends! Now that Halloween is behind us, I'm getting ready for the holiday season. I'm making some changes to my daily social media posts and want to let you know where you can follow along. I've amassed quite an archive of detailed discussions on Christmas entertainment--and I'll be trotting this content out again to help you rediscover holiday favorites from the past. Here's what I'll be doing:

On the Facebook page: Christmas TV History
--Each day of the week I'll be sharing another post from this website based on the following categories:

Monday Musicals
Tuesday 70s
Dickensian Wednesdays
Animation Thursdays
Friday Movies
Saturday Sitcoms
Sunday 60s

This is just a fun way to roll out the archives and I hope you'll enjoy it. Today on Dickensian Wednesday I have already shared my reading of the 1979 movie An American Christmas Carol--adapted from Charles Dickens' popular holiday tale--starring Henry Winkler. I'm looking forward to exploring these lively categories.

--Each day on Christmas TV History, I'll also be sharing a video link to a Christmas-themed episode, special, or movie. The funnest links are the rare, hard-to-find programs from the past. Look for one each day.

--I'll also post a link to the new essays I write throughout November and December, just like I usually do. You can expect a new essay on the 1966 animated TV special How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and more.

Follow along on the Facebook page to see what comes next. As always, if you skip a day on Facebook, just scroll down the Christmas TV History page wall to see what you missed.

On the Facebook page: Tis the Season TV
--Each day I'll be posting a Yuletide Memory of the Day as usual however, these are selected from the best of my archives and won't duplicate the daily links from Christmas TV History on Facebook! Yeah--I have a large archive.

--I'll also be making daily suggestions called Set Your DVRs on upcoming TV program to look for in your TV listings. If you don't watch broadcast/cable/or satellite TV, you could look for these programming suggestions on-demand, or streaming on Hulu, Netflix, Amazon, on DVD at your local library, or by whatever means you enjoy holiday entertainment.

On the Facebook page: Triple Dog Dare
--I'll be making updates about my latest book, its contents, events & book signings, and more.

On Twitter: @TistheSeasonTV
--I'll be sharing the same content (in 144 characters or less) as above.  Follow me if you don't already.

I'm also on Instagram as @TistheSeasonTV--you're welcome to follow me there too.

Of course, the archives from this website are derived from the research I did and continue to update for the encyclopedia I wrote Tis the Season TV. From the same research, I've also written The Christmas TV Companion, Merry Musical Christmas, Vol. 1, and Triple Dog Dare. Yet this website's content is a small portion of the Christmas programming discussed in the encyclopedia and the other books. You can easily purchase any of these books--fulfilled by the publisher 1701 Press--directly from this website. Just click on the SHOP tab at the top of the website.

Feel free to follow any or all of these networking locations--and join the conversation. Social networking is about being social so please feel free to share your favorite memories from these programs or ask questions.

If you change your mind and don't want to follow my posts, just change your notifications or unfollow. It's that simple.

And, if you aren't seeing the daily posts from these facebook pages as you like, go to the home page and make sure you're receiving notifications. If you comment, like, and share the posts--this increases the page's visibility in your newsfeed. Again, if you miss any of the daily posts, go directly to the page wall and scroll down to see what you missed--like, comment, and share to see future posts. Let me know if you have any questions.

If you'd rather go through this website's archives yourself (independently of social media links) PLEASE do so--feel free to use the SEARCH BOX and type in any title you'd like. If you're on a computer, the search box is located at the top of this website on the right hand side. If you're on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom and hit view web version--and you should see the search box again at the top on the right. If I haven't written about your favorite Christmas episode, special, or movie yet on the website, let me know--maybe I'll cover it soon.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Triple Dog Dare: Write a Book Review

Thank you so much to those of you who have already purchased my brand new book Triple Dog Dare: Watching--& Surviving--the 24-Hour Marathon of A Christmas Story. The holiday season is less than 2 months long and yet I want to reach as many interested readers as possible. Please consider writing a review about the book at Amazon, Goodreads, or where ever you learn about books.

Reviews are actually quite valuable to readers looking to discover new books. I like writing about Christmas entertainment and I'd like to keep doing it--selling books is how I can continue to share my passion and talk about everyone's holiday favorites. Please help me to spread the word about Triple Dog Dare by telling your friends and family about it--and writing a review.

If you haven't yet purchased the book, it is NOW available at the publisher's website: 1701 Press

and at Amazon. The Kindle version is now available too.

From the back cover:

"Every year since 1997, Turner Broadcasting has aired 24 hours of A Christmas Story from Christmas Eve through Christmas Day. The marathon has become a cultural phenomenon—many families tune in and watch the movie at least once—some watch several times. But no one watches all 24 hours, right?

Christmas TV writer Joanna Wilson trains her expertise on the 24-hour marathon of A Christmas Story to find out what really happens when you watch all 12 screenings of director Bob Clark’s classic Christmas movie non-stop, commercials and all. Along the way, she discusses the traditions of Christmas on TV, the nuances of Bob Clark’s filmmaking, the ongoing appeal of the movie and its relation to the multilayered, literary storytelling of Jean Shepherd, the activities of binge-watching and hyper-viewing—and she experiences what may or may not be the first recorded case of soap poisoning."

Author-signed copies are available through the publisher's website: 1701 Press

I was also lucky enough to get the endorsement of Brian Jones, the entrepreneur/owner of A Christmas Story House & Museum: "As a true, die hard fan myself, I find it inspiring that one person would put so much time and effort into this holiday tradition that brings so much joy into so many homes! You know you're never really alone when you're watching the A Christmas Story marathon, millions of fans are always watching right along with you!"

Thanks for your support. Only 8 more weeks until Christmas.