Sunday, July 23, 2017

Christmas in July 2017: Jim Randle

Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
 
Christmas in July 2017: Jim Randle of Paris, Tennessee

1) Who's your favorite Santa Claus?

The story goes that Natalie Wood was crest fallen when she saw Edmund Gwenn without his beard because she really believed he was Santa Claus. And I agree with her. His depiction of Kris Kringle was perfect.


Friends' 2000 episode "The One With the Holiday Armadillo."

2) What's your favorite Christmas episode from a TV series?

The Holiday Armadillo episode of Friends has to top the list. The three male leads were hilarious. David Schwimmer as the Holiday Armadillo, Matthew Perry as Santa, and Matt LeBlanc as Christmas Superman. As usual the writing for the episode was first rate, especially the lines given to Perry ("Weird Turtle Man." "I especially liked the part where Superman flew down and saved all of the Jews.")

3) Do you enjoy watching Christmas entertainment year round or do you only like watching it during the holidays? And, why?

For the most part I watch Christmas programs during the season. However if it's something I really like and I happen to come across it on TV, I will watch. This usually only pertains to series television, though. I mainly save Christmas features for the holidays.

4) This is the 21st century--how do you watch TV and/or Christmas entertainment?

I'm an older fellow (71) so I mainly watch in house entertainment through either broadcast (cable) TV or my home library. My cable contract is only for extended cable and does not include premium channels like Showtime or HBO. And I've never seen anything on streaming services that has interested me.


1979 TV movie An American Christmas Carol starring Henry Winkler.

5) If you were to be stranded on an island (maybe Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean!), what three Christmas movies, specials, or episodes would you like to have with you?

I'd start with John Denver and the Muppets - A Christmas Together. I saw someone mention this special in a previous "Christmas in July" and I will add my sentiment that I wish it were available on official DVD release. I've also had a soft spot in my heart for An American Christmas Carol starring Henry Winkler. Although it is kind of dated (the ghost of Christmas Future is dressed like a disco dancer) it's a fine piece of holiday entertainment. Finally I would probably take a copy of A Charlie Brown Christmas because . . well, because it's A Charlie Brown Christmas. That's reason enough!



Saturday, July 22, 2017

Christmas in July 2017: SleepyKittyPaws


Christmas in July 2017: SleepyKittyPaws of http://sleepykittypaws.tumblr.com/

1) Who's your favorite Santa Claus?

I'm partial to Ed Asner's Santa, mostly due to Elf, but Asner has played Santa before, and is slated to do so again, for good reason. His gruff but lovable voice and overall demeanor definitely suit the role (pun intended), and Elf's gentle-but-somewhat-cynical Santa gives the Jolly Old Elf a modern spin, without sacrificing Santa's inherent innocence and charm. And perhaps most importantly for a man whose bushy beard hides his features, Asner's deep laugh translates into a true, booming "ho ho ho" that perfectly embodies the cheeky, magical man in red.

I'd also like to award honorable mentions to Edmund Gwenn's classic appearance as Kris Kringle in the original Miracle on 34th Street, who set the Santa standard for generations of moviegoers, and the various charismatic & indelible animated portrayals of the North Pole's most famous resident. From Rudolph's red-cheeked employer, to Prep & Landing's rarely-seen, red-coated head honcho and the Polar Express' winsome Santa-as-Celebrity portrayal, most of our first impressions of Christmas' Big Guy come from stories and specials featuring famous voices, but hand-drawn, or CGI, visages.



2) What's your favorite Christmas episode from a TV series?

Oh my, so very many to chose from!

The Simpsons have put together half a dozen remarkable holiday episodes, including their pilot outing, "Simpsons Roasting On An Open Fire" (1989).

 Last year, Disney Channel put out a special 30-minute episode of its new Mickey Mouse cartoon short series, titled, "Duck the Halls," that is sure to become an annual must-watch in our house, though that treads the line between stand-alone special (since it can definitely be watched that way & is outside its series normal format), and series holiday-centric episode.

As does another animated fav (also from the Disney Channel), "Phineas & Ferb Christmas Vacation," where Santa threatens to skip Danville due to a Doofenshmirtz inator that puts the entire town on the naughty list. This sweet & funny extra-long episode, released as a stand-alone in 2009, is a yearly tradition in our house.

The other, more offbeat choice that came to mind is the holiday episode of the one-season-wonder, Trophy Wife. A more grown-up Christmas laugh, in "'Twas the Night Before Christmas...Or 'Twas It"(2013), the adult members of the extended Trophy Wife family struggle to unravel the mystery of exactly what happened on Christmas Eve after their memories go blank, thanks to some especially potent mulled wine. Unexpected and uproariously funny, this was one of the most clever, and completely unique, sitcom salutes to the holiday I've ever seen.

3) Do you enjoy watching Christmas entertainment year round or do you only like watching it during the holidays? And, why?

As a serious Christmas TV & movie junkie I limit myself to indulging only during the holiday season. Granted, I have extended that window to roughly November 1, having learned since I had little ones that the time between Thanksgiving & Christmas flies by so quickly, with so many events & obligations, that if I wait until after we carve the turkey, as I used to, I'll barely get to see anything at all.

To me, holding out, makes it sweeter. There's nothing I enjoy more than sitting down to enjoy the first Hallmark movie of the season with my husband and a glass of wine in my decorated -- albeit for Thanksgiving -- house. Waiting until the time of year is upon us, makes it special, a teeny bit sacred and absolutely influences my overall holiday spirit!

Not to mention that movies and specials are an integral part of our family Christmas traditions. The day before Thanksgiving I spend alone in the kitchen, prepping for the big day and watching a marathon of my favorite Christmas films. When everything is set for the feast, we sit down as a family and watch Love, Actually. A movie I've seen, roughly, 1,000,000 times, but still never fails to make me cry. What for many would be a day of drudgery -- 8+ hours of baking, cooking & cleaning -- is, for me, one I look forward to all year long.

We also have a family TV advent calendar, of sorts, letting the kids choose an animated special every night between Thanksgiving & Christmas, that we all watch together. It feels cozy and ramps up the entire clan's Christmas spirit.

4) This is the 21st century--how do you watch TV and/or Christmas entertainment?

Almost all of the above. We've got, probably, 100+ movies and specials -- all of our favs and annual must-sees -- on DVD, blu-ray and/or purchased in iTunes, and my DIRECTV DVR is full thru January with Christmas movies, specials & holiday series episodes. We've also got Netflix, Hulu & Amazon Prime. All are sources for our nightly, holiday TV viewing. Honestly, other than sports, I'd say we don't watch much BUT Christmas-themed fare throughout November & December.

Actually the glut of options, and the sheer, overwhelming amount of annual content, is why I started to make a list of all the new, holiday fare that will be airing each year. What started as a Google doc shared between friends, eventually got put online at http://sleepykittypaws.tumblr.com/, though I still do it primarily to keep track myself of what's out there.



5) If you were to be stranded on an island (maybe Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean!), what three Christmas movies, specials, or episodes would you like to have with you?

So tough to decide! Years ago I made a list with some friends and struggled to limit myself to 10 choices from various categories (theatrical films, made-for-TV movies, animated specials, classic films) so picking just three total seems pert near impossible, but I'll give it a go ...

1) Christmas Vacation - It is no exaggeration to say I know every word of this film by heart and can (obnoxiously) recite it even before the characters say them onscreen. But even with that, I never get tired of watching Clark's adventures in exterior illuminations or Audrey being frozen from the waist down. Just hearing the opening "Christmas Vacation" theme song & seeing the Santa animation makes me happy. To me, it means, It's that time, Christmas is here and everybody knows there's not a better time of year. 🎅🏼

2) Love, Actually - I've already said we watch this, literally, every single Thanksgiving Eve, and despite seeing it countless times I always cry when Uncle Jamie proposes to Aurelia, Sarah gives her brother the scarf and Emma Thompson learns her husband has given a necklace to someone else. I admit that Hugh Grant danced his way into my heart long before he played the Prime Minister and this movie not only has him at his most affably charming outside Four Weddings and a Funeral, but probably boasts the greatest overall cast ever assembled for a rom-com. Heck, I even cried over the Red Nose Day sequel that debuted this year and am trying to find out where I can get a copy for future re-viewings.

I know Love, Actually can be polarizing but, to me, it's perfect.

3) While my one-two picks came easily, as they're by far my very favorites, deciding on "just one" more is decidedly trickier. Do I go with my all-time favorite animated special, The Grinch?  I honestly can't imagine a Christmas season without seeing it, or Charlie Brown Christmas, or The Year Without a Santa Claus, or A Garfield Christmas. How could I possibly pick just one?

How about The Polar Express, which is the first movie our eldest ever really watched, kicking of a still-secure lifetime love of trains, and is now our family Christmas Eve, viewing tradition? Perhaps my all-time favorite made-for-TV Christmas movie, Holiday Switch, which embodies the cheesy, crazy goodness of its genre by having a Baywatch babe climb through her clothes dryer into an alternate holiday reality? The catchy, feel-good Britishness of Nativity!, whose soundtrack is almost as good as this underrated, sweet, funny film?

But I think if you held a Christmas cracker to my head, I might have to go with the Prep & Landing series (2 specials & 1 short) for sheer classic Christmas spirit, combined with rampant rewatch-ability. The story of Lanny the elf adds new lore to the Christmas canon and delights both kids and adults. Both festive & funny, this is the very best of the modern Christmas specials to my mind. I'm still holding out hope that Disney will deliver a promised third, full-length installment.




Friday, July 21, 2017

Christmas in July 2017: Joe Mello

from the 1964 Christmas episode of Bewitched entitled "A Vision of Sugar Plums."
 
Christmas in July 2017: Joe Mello from Wish You Merry Christmas and My Third Parent 

1) Who's your favorite Santa Claus?

The Santa played by Cecil Kellaway in the Bewitched episode "A Vision of Sugar Plums" is great and I love that he knows Sam!

 
Lenny and Squiggy in the 1976 Christmas episode of Laverne & Shirley singing "The Jolliest Fat Man."


2) What's your favorite Christmas episode from a TV series? 

This was tough! I settled on Laverne and Shirley's "Oh Hear the Angels' Voices" - So much fun in that episode, including Jolliest Fat Man!

3) Do you enjoy watching Christmas entertainment year round or do you only like watching it during the holidays? And, why?

I usually watch during November and December, but if an episode pops up in the run of a show I am watching, I will watch. Just watched the Alice season 2 episode "A Semi-Merry Christmas" the other day.

4) This is the 21st century--how do you watch TV and/or Christmas entertainment?

Usually watch through cable, using the DVR to record specials, episodes and movies as they air and watching them when we have the time. Some older, more obscure things that aren't as important to networks today, like A Smoky Mountain Christmas, I watch on DVD. I have to watch them, so I make sure to have a copy of my own. Netflix and Hulu are newer alternatives, I like seeing what they have available. Have also used their Fireplace Log videos as background, quite festive. And we often have the music channel Sounds of the Seasons on, as well.



5) If you were to be stranded on an island (maybe Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean!), what three Christmas movies, specials, or episodes would you like to have with you?

Just three???

A Very Brady Christmas, for sure. I love this reunion movie.
It's a Wonderful Life. A classic that I never tire of.
Christmas Vacation. Also a classic. With these three, I think we get some heart, drama, comedy and Christmas joy.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Christmas in July 2017: Tom Howley


Christmas in July 2017: Tom Howley (aka Humanbelly in other parts o' the Blogosphere--)

1) Who's your favorite Santa Claus?

Y'know, I'm sure it's going to be an eye-roller, but I still find Edmund Gwenn's Kris Kringle in MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET as charming now as I did several decades ago. I'm gonna stick with him for this year. Mickey Rooney as the voice of Kris in the Rankin/Bass SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN does get a special shout-out, though. He has a wonderfully strong, dynamic, expressive voice that you tend to miss when watching him in a film (probably because his size and pugnaciousness and energy tend to seize one's attention). I wonder if he ever realized how good he was in that special? And--one other nod to Alec Baldwin's voicing of the more eastern-European, burly wizard take on Santa in Rise of the Guardians (not a television release, I know) a few years ago. His speech about the nesting-doll aspect of his nature was simply lovely.



2) What's your favorite Christmas episode from a TV series?

Possibly the PINKY & THE BRAIN CHRISTMAS EPISODE---?  I mean, I like so many of them, but that one totally blindsides you with an inescapable pull at the heartstrings. . . and in a way that completely works within the framework of both the story and the characters. I do also like the Twilight Zone Christmas episode with Art Carney, although it comes off as rather clunky since it's shot on videotape, giving it a "stagey" feel.

3) Do you enjoy watching Christmas entertainment year round or do you only like watching it during the holidays? And, why?

Not year-round, no-- but I do like accidentally coming across one every once in awhile over the course of the year-- sort of checking to make sure the pilot light is still lit.  Now, I'm certainly capable of starting to watch them before Halloween sometimes (and my daughter's even worse than me on this score), but at that point I'm sort of in the early stages of season anyhoo.

4) This is the 21st century--how do you watch TV and/or Christmas entertainment?

We've yet to subscribe to cable or any streaming service-- don't watch enough current television to quite justify the monthly cost. Nope, we have many DVD's and VHS tapes; I'll sometimes watch something obscure on Youtube; the kitchen television gets a LOT of holiday-centric use as the season provides programming; and our local library is also a source of many, many old series on DVD-- just there for the borrowing. Man, do I love that amenity in our society!



5) If you were to be stranded on an island (maybe Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean!), what three Christmas movies, specials, or episodes would you like to have with you? 

A) IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE.  One of my favorite movies of all time across the board.  Easy answer on that one.
B) 1950 version of SCROOGE/CHRISTMAS CAROL with Allistar Simm.  It's my favorite version out of the many.
C)  Ohhhh, probably MIRACLE ON 34TH ST again, just 'cause it's so chock-full of notable character actors jumping in for brief moments throughout. It's kind of disastrously edited (some really sloppy jumps), but the director does such a great job of trusting his cast as they pop in and out of the film that you happily let the blemishes go right by. We have a colorized version, and it's one of the few classic B&W films that I think is improved with the addition of a bit of color-- especially that sort of water-color filter look that early colorization seemed to yield.

There ya go, folks.  And who knows-- maybe next year the answers'll be entirely different!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Christmas in July 2017: David Hannah


Christmas in July 2017: David Hannah

1) Who's your favorite Santa Claus?

-I think it's Sir Richard Attenborough, Miracle on 34th Street (1994)



2) What's your favorite Christmas episode from a TV series?

-I think it's the Glee Christmas special from season three: "Extraordinary Merry Christmas."


3) Do you enjoy watching Christmas entertainment year round or do you only like watching it during the holidays? And, why?

-I love watching it throughout the year; I watch something festive each Rudolph Day and kick off Christmas on November 15th each year with regular viewings of holiday classics. I like the anticipation that off-season viewing brings.


4) This is the 21st century--how do you watch TV and/or Christmas entertainment?

I watch through a combination of these media: classics on DVD (purchased), annual cable broadcasts on TV (and PVR), purchases through AppleTV, and Netflix



5) If you were to be stranded on an island (maybe Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean!), what three Christmas movies, specials, or episodes would you like to have with you?

3.) It's a Wonderful Life
2.) A Charlie Brown Christmas
1.) White Christmas

(And I'd sure miss/think a lot about A Christmas Story and Yogi's First Christmas)

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Christmas in July 2017: Kevin Bowman

 
Christmas in July 2017: Kevin Bowman

1) Who's your favorite Santa Claus?

I’ll pick the Rankin/Bass’s Animagic Santa with the voice of Mickey Rooney, because that gives me a threefer: Santa Claus is Comin' to Town, The Year Without a Santa Claus, and Rudolph & Frosty’s Christmas in July. In particular I love Mickey’s singing in the first two, with "Put One Foot in Front of the Other," "Be Prepared to Pay" and "I Believe in Santa Claus." Great performances by a great performer.



from the 1998 episode of Frasier entitled "Merry Christmas, Mrs. Moskowitz."
 
2) What's your favorite Christmas episode from a TV series?

This question is so difficult to answer. Sometimes what starts as an ordinary episode, later becomes a special. "How The Flintstones Saved Christmas’ was just Season 5 Episode 15, but it aired on Christmas Day, 1964, which would rank it among the first animated Christmas specials if it were counted as a special. It is one of my favorites. Same issue with “The Tick Loves Santa,” which, I recall, aired in the evening on Fox as an animated special, but also as a regular series episode. I love that one, too. But, I’m going to pick “Merry Christmas, Mrs. Moskowitz” from the sixth season of Frasier.  Some of the best Frasier episodes build from a simple premise to an absurd climax.  A very funny episode.  



3) Do you enjoy watching Christmas entertainment year round or do you only like watching it during the holidays? And, why?

I watch year round, primarily because there is insufficient time between Thanksgiving and New Years to take in the required yearly viewing and to catch up on all the stuff that I recorded. It has become something of an obsession. I am still in the process of transferring VHS recordings to DVD (packing the tapes away), where possible, and am watching those a little at a time. 



4) This is the 21st century--how do you watch TV and/or Christmas entertainment?

Like you Joanna, I watch Christmas entertainment through multiple media. I have cable with a DVR, home-recorded DVDs, purchased DVDs, many VHS tapes, both home-recorded and purchased.  I also watch specials or episodes that are otherwise unavailable on You-tube.  Also Netflix and Amazon streaming services, sometimes.  




from 1941's Meet John Doe.
 
5) If you were to be stranded on an island (maybe Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean!), what three Christmas movies, specials, or episodes would you like to have with you?

Is there an island-themed Martha Stewart Christmas how-to episode? That would be useful. Putting that aside, I’ll pick two Christmas movies I can watch repeatedly: Alastair Sims’ Scrooge or Christmas Carol (1951); Frank Capra’s Meet John Doe (1941) (I consider it a Christmas movie.  Like It’s a Wonderful Life, the climax of the film occurs on Christmas Eve, and there is a reason why that is so).  And, finally, A Mac Davis Special: Christmas Odyssey 2010.  Although, it would probably not bear up to repeat watching, I got to see only the first 10 minutes of the show in 1978, and I have been wanting to see the rest ever since. Since the Christmas Island fairies are bringing me only three shows, but I can get whatever I want, that’s it. When I am rescued, I promise to put the special up on You-Tube, unless Mac Davis threatens me with a copyright suit. 

Monday, July 17, 2017

Christmas in July 2017: Laura Rachel

 
Christmas in July 2017: Laura Rachel at What to Watch.

1) Who's your favorite Santa Claus?
  
My favorite Santa Claus will probably be Tim Allen in The Santa Clause film series. I don't know there is something about his performance as an unwilling Santa Claus that endears me to his character. It helps that he tries to continue to work on his relationship with his son after the divorce. I really love films that show working on relationships and these films do that. The scene where he's at the doctor's explain his weight and hair growth just makes me smile. It's becoming a classic in my home.


from Little House on the Prairie's "The Christmas They Never Forgot."
 
2) What's your favorite Christmas episode from a TV series?

My favorite Christmas episode from a TV series would be Little House on the Prairie's "A Christmas They Never Forgot." Little House is still a TV show I watch. This Christmas episode is my favorite because it's the one where the characters remember Christmases past. This episode includes a clip from the Christmas that happened during their time in Kansas, which aired during the premiere of the show. It also is one of my favorite Little House Christmases.

3) Do you enjoy watching Christmas entertainment year round or do you only like watching it during the holidays? And, why?
 
I will watch Christmas shows throughout the year. I don't care that it's 100 degrees out, if someone is snowed in or falling in love to Silver Bells, it's just so enjoyable to see family and friends on the silver screen coming together like they do in Christmas shows. Although, there is nothing like curling up with hot chocolate in the evening to watch Christmas shows during the Christmas season. I'll take both.

4) This is the 21st century--how do you watch TV and/or Christmas entertainment?
 
I have satellite but I also have Netflix. I don't usually watch anything live anymore. I DVR most of my programing. I have also used my local library for movie rentals. They are an excellent place to rent and the cheapest. So, I highly recommend the library. I only own movies that I would re-watch, so I do have an extensive DVD collection.


from Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey.
 
5) If you were to be stranded on an island (maybe Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean!), what three Christmas movies, specials, or episodes would you like to have with you?
 
I'm sorry, I can't just pick three so here are my top five Christmas movies that I would want if I was stranded on an island: It's a Wonderful Life (1946), It Happened on Fifth Avenue (1947), Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey (1977), Christmas Comes to Willow Creek (1987), Holiday in Handcuffs (2007).


Saturday, July 15, 2017

Christmas in July 2017: Rob Martinez

 
Christmas in July 2017: Rob Martinez - The Nights Before Christmas

1) Who's your favorite Santa Claus?

Edmund Gwenn from Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
Gwenn was a British stage actor who began his film career in 1916, made his first Hollywood movie in 1940, and had no standout roles until he played Kris Kringle. His emotions from pure joy to despair to removing bubble gum out of his whiskers made this movie a classic.

He is the only person to win an Academy Award for portraying Santa Claus.  End of story.



2) What's your favorite Christmas episode from a TV series?

Hill Street Blues - "Santaclaustrophobia"  (http://www.hulu.com/watch/61428

"Let's be careful out there... hey, hey! HEY!  Merry Christmas". - Sgt. Phil Esterhaus


3) Do you enjoy watching Christmas entertainment year round or do you only like watching it during the holidays? And, why?

At least once a month, I will devote myself to a Christmas movie, special, or TV episode - thanks to Joanna's book and this blog, it's been fun catching up on things I've missed.


4) This is the 21st century--how do you watch TV and/or Christmas entertainment?

We moved into our home on July 1  (17 years and counting).  The first thing we did was to subscribe to DIRECTV  (17 years and counting).  And yes to everything else listed above.



5) If you were to be stranded on an island (maybe Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean!), what three Christmas movies, specials, or episodes would you like to have with you?

In no random order:

1.)  A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
2.)  It's A Wonderful Life (1946)
3.)  Hill Street Blues - "Santaclaustrophobia"  (1982)

Christmas in July 2017: Jeff Fox

 
Christmas in July 2017: Jeff Fox (http://twitter.com/chrspecials)

1) Who's your favorite Santa Claus?

First thought is always Richard Mulligan from the 1985 Twilight Zone remake of "Night of the Meek." I generally hadn’t thought of Santa portrayals as authentic, because they’re usually pretty one dimensional, or just cliché, but I could really relate with Mulligan’s Santa, someone who started the day as someone else entirely, but who eventually accepted that he was in fact Santa Claus. That portrayal is always going to be my favourite.


from the 1977 Jefffersons episode "984 W. 124th Street, Apt. 5C."


2) What's your favorite Christmas episode from a TV series?

Honourable mentions to Rosemary Clooney on ER, the M*A*S*H episode with Charles and the orphanage, All in the Family’s "The Draft Dodger," Community’s "Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas," WKRP’s "Jennifer’s Home For Christmas," and the first Simpson’s episode, but I think I have to give it to The Jefferson’s with George’s old apartment. Classic, sentimental, and funny. Regular repeat viewings around here. Facts of Life's "Christmas in the Big House" (and the other Christmas episodes) also gets a lot of plays come Christmas time.

Oh, and wanting to pick a more obscure one that I love that might not be as well known, Jack Klugman guest-starring on Third Watch’s ‘Run of the Mill’ is another great choice.

And of course the "Night of the Meek" episode mentioned above, but I think I covered that with the last question. All of these get viewed a lot around here.

3) Do you enjoy watching Christmas entertainment year round or do you only like watching it during the holidays? And, why?

I do watch some year round, as a practicality to keep up and catch up, and to fuel some of my need to capture images from Christmas shows or movies. Obviously the bulk is in winter, ramping up and setting the signal that Christmas is coming, but it doesn’t end the 25th, specials play regularly into the new year, but it slows for sure after that. Nothing wrong with watching them whenever the mood strikes you, if you enjoy them in December why not any other time? Some like Black Christmas get played whenever, no need to limit to winter.


4) This is the 21st century--how do you watch TV and/or Christmas entertainment?

Methods of consuming in rough order of use: Personal library on AppleTV, new purchases (DVD, download), Local library (DVD), Download, YouTube, Antenna. I don’t generally stream, and I don’t have cable, but I’ve spent 20 years gathering a personal library of Christmas TV content that would cover hundreds out hours of viewing. I like to try to add every year, but if I was never able to again, I’d likely be good for the rest of time. (I always have a ton of Christmas titles in my Amazon cart, so I can know when the price drops. Everyone loves a sale…)

I’m often fortunate to take a trip to Toronto each year around Christmas and I load up and old iPod Touch with obscure Christmas movies and amuse myself on the 5 hour train ride, catching up on lost gems. I keep a number of Christmas movies unwatched just so I can discover them in that time. It’s like putting down a bottle of wine for a time you know you’ll enjoy it ;)


from Black Christmas.

5) If you were to be stranded on an island (maybe Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean!), what three Christmas movies, specials, or episodes would you like to have with you?

Black Christmas (The original, I don’t acknowledge the remake) because it lends itself to repeat viewing, with new things to discover all the time, Scrooged, because it’s funny, long and always entertaining, and maybe Love Actually, because there’s so many characters and storylines in that it could hold up to regular repeat viewings and still be good. Three very practical answers!

Unless of course the MacGyver Christmas episode has tips for getting off an island. I don’t think it did, but if it did, then definitely that one. :)

Friday, July 14, 2017

Christmas in July 2017: Randall Buie

 
Christmas in July 2017: Randall Buie from Henderson, Nevada

1) Who's your favorite Santa Claus?

Although he never appears in a Santa suit during the movie, my favorite actor portraying Santa is Douglas Seale from Ernest Saves Christmas.  He is jolly without being over the top and he portrays the love of children, the love of his job, and the love of the holiday that you would expect from the man at the North Pole.



2) What's your favorite Christmas episode from a TV series?

"Mork's First Christmas" from the first season of Mork and Mindy.  It's fun watching Mork discover the holiday, interpret what he finds in his own unique way, and then save the day after he messes up.  And, hey, it's got Robin Williams!  How can you go wrong.

3) Do you enjoy watching Christmas entertainment year round or do you only like watching it during the holidays? And, why?

While I'm not adverse to watching holiday television during the year, I've found that it's most entertaining during the October to December time frame. There are exceptions, of course. If I'm watching old TV series that are being stripped by local or digital stations (M*A*S*H or The Simpsons, for example) I will watch the Christmas episodes when they air.  But I seldom go into my library to find Christmas programs any other time than the last three months of the year. Watching holiday programming during the spring and early summer makes me pine for the season. Christmas entertainment should leave you feeling happy and hopeful, not sad and longing.

4) This is the 21st century--how do you watch TV and/or Christmas entertainment?

While we subscribe to basic and premium cable television, I find myself watching very little of it. Any broadcast programs that I watch other than sports or news (and there are very few) are usually DVR'ed and watched as a group.

I've never gotten into the streaming systems. Their content holds very little interest to me. For example, my wife has a Netflix (DVD and streaming) subscription. My tastes are so "unique" that I rarely find anything listed on the site that I want to watch (documentaries mainly).

The vast majority of my Christmas entertainment is stored in my home library. VHS, DVD, and even Beta (yep, I still have an operating Beta player) are my major sources of holiday entertainment. Last year I bought a Blu-Ray player mainly because I wanted to own a copy of Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol with the commentary track along with the Marx Brothers' collection with the recently discovered footage on Animal Crackers and the Monkees' feature movie Head with the commentary track. I think my Blu-Ray purchases will be very few because I don't see much of a difference in picture quality between it and DVD.



5) If you were to be stranded on an island (maybe Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean!), what three Christmas movies, specials, or episodes would you like to have with you?

Well, first on the list would have to be Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol although I would hate to take a Blu-Ray player to the island to play only one disc. I also would like to have Muppet Family Christmas and Rich Little's Christmas Carol.  But mainly I would like to take my Christmas CD collection. While video Christmas is important to me, I couldn't make it through the season without hearing music from Elvis, the Fab Four (the tribute Beatles' band that released two sensational Christmas CDs), the Four Seasons or Leon Redbone.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Christmas in July 2017: Jim Inman

 
Christmas in July 2017: Jim Inman - co-admin for the Yahoo Group Christmas Movies and Music

1) Who's your favorite Santa Claus?

I would have to say that I have always enjoyed the realness of Kris Kringle in the original Miracle on 34th Street.  Edmund Gwenn was a real person that you could touch, talk to, see and engage.  He had that twinkle in his eye throughout the movie, and made me believe (at a young age) that he was the real Santa Claus.

A close second would be David Huddleston in the film Santa Claus: The Movie.  The first half of the film, where we meet Santa and Mrs. Claus, was truly magical.  You saw the lights and magic at the North Pole, and the kindness in all of their actions to children around the world.



2) What's your favorite Christmas episode from a TV series?

That is a tough question!  While it may not be a favorite, one that I've recently discovered is the Season 1 episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, titled "Christmas and the Hard-Luck Kid II."  As the newest employee at WJM in Minneapolis, Mary has to work on Christmas Eve.  It's the first time she's away from her family, and Mary tries to make the most of the evening by decorating her desk with Christmas pieces, watches The Nutcracker on television and even reaches out to a lonely soul on a CB radio.  When she realizes that she isn't alone in the building, and she begins to panic... well, that's the best part of the episode!  It's definitely a heart-warming episode from one of the greatest television sitcoms ever.

3) Do you enjoy watching Christmas entertainment year round or do you only like watching it during the holidays? And, why?

I watch "as needed," so yes - I do watch year round.  I'm glad I was part of a generation who understood the importance of waiting for those specials to come on just one time a year... and how our family planned activities around Rudolph, Charlie Brown, Frosty, etc. As I got a bit older, I can remember the excitement of walking into the local video store and finding those specials available to rent during the summer months - how awesome to be able to watch Christmas movies during summer vacations!  Over the years I've accumulated a lot of Christmas specials on DVD, and found many rare gems on YouTube and other online sources.  Those special cartoons, musical treats and holiday classics are great to fall asleep to, or just to relax and enjoy on a quiet afternoon.

4) This is the 21st century--how do you watch TV and/or Christmas entertainment?

I use all the above!  I stream most of my viewing these days (no broadcast television), so much of my holiday viewing comes from finds on Roku channels.  There are a few Christmas channels that offer some special broadcasts (https://www.rokuguide.com/roku-christmas-channels), so I have those added to my options to watch.  I have YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Prime and more to stream specials, and lots of things are available there.  I have checked my local library for things, but most of what they have is already readily available, so I haven't found much there for viewing (but they have a nice collection of holiday books to enjoy.)

I will add that one of my favorite sources of holiday entertainment is old-time radio.  For over thirty years I have listened to old radio broadcasts from the 1930s and 1940s.  These shows - comedies, dramas, reenactments of films - all create a different experience in Christmas cheer.  If you are a Christmas fan, and want to hear some of your favorite classic entertainers (Bing Crosby, Doris Day, the cast of Miracle on 34th Street and It's a Wonderful Life, and many more), I would highly recommend finding these shows on archive.org or on YouTube (search for "old time radio Christmas") and be prepared for great entertainment!


from the 1968 Dean Martin Christmas show.


5) If you were to be stranded on an island (maybe Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean!) what three Christmas movies, specials, or episodes would you like to have with you?

* I would need It's a Wonderful Life.  When I have challenging days, that movie helps remind me of the good in the world.  Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed complement one another so well in the film, and show how important it is to have loved ones and friends around you.
* I think having the unedited, original Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer would be great to have.  Perhaps if I'm stranded, Rudolph could find his way out to pick me up while headed to the Island of Misfit Toys!
* For my third option, I would like a surprise... but I would like it to be one of those 1960s-1980s Christmas specials full of random Hollywood stars who laugh, sing, dance, drink, play and have fun all in the name of holiday cheer.  Bring out some Bing, some Dean, some John Davidson, some Osmonds, maybe even Lawrence Welk... just some classic characters who would just make us laugh and smile during the broadcast.  There's nothing like that on television anymore, and it's a lost art.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Christmas in July 2017: Ronda Roxbury


Christmas in July 2017: Ronda Roxbury

1) Who's your favorite Santa Claus?

Santa Claus....merciful heavens there are so many....



2) What's your favorite Christmas episode from a TV series?

I still love Alf!!!

3) Do you enjoy watching Christmas entertainment year round or do you only like watching it during the holidays? And, why?

I love Christmas movies. The meaning of the season is not only about our Savior's birth but love, joy, peace and all those warm fuzzy feelings. I will watch a Christmas movie anytime all year long.

4) This is the 21st century--how do you watch TV and/or Christmas entertainment?

We just cut the cable. We now have Sling TV and Amazon Prime. I always watch It's a Wonderful Life. I have it on VHS and DVD.  I also stream it. Usually after all the Thanksgiving meal is over and the family has gone home, Don and I will pop in the DVD and watch It's a Wonderful Life then we know the holidays are upon us!



5) If you were to be stranded on an island (maybe Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean!), what three Christmas movies, specials, or episodes would you like to have with you?

It's a Wonderful Life, How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Charles Dickens' The Scrooge.


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Christmas in July 2017: Ed South


Christmas in July 2017: Ed South - "What's Your Favorite Movie?" podcast available on iTunes and Spreaker. Twitter: @edsouth and @WYFMoviePodcast (Don't miss episode 17 with guest Joanna Wilson!)

1) Who's your favorite Santa Claus? 

 There's been so many portrayals and depictions of Santa Claus over the years, and some of them have become as much a part of my Christmas season as the real Santa at the mall that it's hard to pick just one! One of my favorites is Hal Smith who has played the Man with the Bag in more than a few of my holiday favorites. He first donned the red suit in the season one Christmas episode of The Brady Bunch, "The Voice of Christmas" from 1969. This is the Santa lap which little Cindy Brady sat upon and asked for her mother's laryngitis to be cured in time for Christmas Eve mass. A clip from the Santa scene was also used in the 1989 TV movie A Very Brady Christmas.

Hal Smith also played Santa in a handful of Hanna-Barbera productions including my all-time favorite Christmas episode "Christmas Flintstone" from the 5th season of The Flintstones circa 1964.  Smith voiced Santa again when H-B essentially remade the Flintstones Christmas episode into an hour long special in 1977, creatively titled A Flintstone Christmas. Smith continued to vocally appear as Santa in the Hanna-Barbera productions Casper's First Christmas and Yogi's First Christmas. Both of those cartoons are favorites of mine as well.

Other favorite Santas of mine are Douglas Seale from Ernest Saves Christmas and Paul Frees' performance in the 1969 Frosty the Snowman special.



2) What's your favorite Christmas episode from a TV series?

As I mentioned, I love The Brady Bunch and Flintstones' Christmas episodes. Some of my other favorites are:
-"Santa's Helper," Date With The Angels (1957)
-"A Very Merry Christmas," The Donna Reed Show (1958)
-"No Room at the Inn," Newhart (1982)
-"ALF's Special Christmas," ALF (1987)

3) Do you enjoy watching Christmas entertainment year round or do you only like watching it during the holidays? And, why?

I will watch Christmas movies and TV shows exclusively from Nov.1 through the first week of January - but I have a strict rule about watching any Christmas goodness outside of that extended holiday season. When I was younger I did a Christmas in July and watched a bunch of my Christmas videos over the summer, then when the holiday season was upon us - I felt like I had just watched everything and wasn't up for viewing some of the holiday classics again. That was almost 30 years ago and it's still a memory that has made the November and December Only rule a self-imposed law to this day!

4) This is the 21st century--how do you watch TV and/or Christmas entertainment?

During the year I mostly consume television and movies through DVD and DVR. I subscribe to Netflix and Amazon Prime but find I don't use them as much as the Netflix DVD service. I also use the DirecTV app to scour the TV listing looking for unusual and odd programs and movies to record.  When Christmas time rolls around, I turn into a treasure hunter looking for obscure and unheard of titles that I've never seen before. I'll search out Christmas episodes of series I've never watched and try to find them on air or DVD.  I also have a large collection of Holiday DVD and VHS that I have been amassing since I was a kid in the 80's. Now, I know my collection isn't near as extensive as dear Joanna, but I've upped my game in the past few years. This past year my collection outgrew the large tote I keep them all stored in and I now have DVD and VHS split into separate totes.


from Ernest Saves Christmas.

5) If you were to be stranded on an island (maybe Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean!), what three Christmas movies, specials, or episodes would you like to have with you?

If I was stranded on an island, my first mission would not be to try and get rescued right away. I'm a stay-at-home dad with three kids. I would certainly enjoy the peace and quiet of a deserted island for a little while...like maybe a couple of months. My three island video rentals would be: 1) A Charlie Brown Christmas - I could watch that one over and over again and probably never tire of it! 2) Ernest Saves Christmas - Another one I could watch endlessly and Ernest is like a dear ol' buddy to me so he would be some welcome company on the island. 3) A Very Brady Christmas - I would kill the hours by dedicating myself to memorizing every line of dialog from this fine 1988 TV-movie!


Monday, July 10, 2017

Christmas in July 2017: Linda Young


Christmas in July 2017: Linda M. Young from  www.flyingdreams.org

1) Who's your favorite Santa Claus?

Oh, I think that has to be Edmund Gwenn from Miracle on 34th Street. *I* would certainly believe his Kris Kringle to be Santa Claus. (Confession: I also have a fondness for Mr. Nicholson in Lassie's "Gift of Love.")


from the 1976 episode "The Best Christmas" of The Waltons.
 
2) What's your favorite Christmas episode from a TV series?

This is like asking Olivia Walton to choose which of the seven kids is her favorite. Probably "Merry Gentlemen" from All Creatures Great and Small because it's so old-fashioned. But must toss in for honorable mention all those black and white Timmy and Lassie episodes, The Good Life/Good Neighbors Christmas episode, and "The Best Christmas" from The Waltons. And "Christmas on the Airwaves" from Remember WENN. And the Christmas episodes from an old favorite I don't mention often enough, WSBK-TV38's local show Ask the Manager. This is too hard!!! :-)

3) Do you enjoy watching Christmas entertainment year round or do you only like watching it during the holidays? And, why?

I usually just watch Christmas entertainment at Christmas--but for me that goes from Black Friday to January 6 (or maybe even January 13, St. Knut's Day), so there's lots of time to enjoy it all. Sometimes if I'm depressed I will put on something Christmassy, like one of the Lassie episodes.

4) This is the 21st century--how do you watch TV and/or Christmas entertainment?

The majority of my viewing is done on DVD. I recorded a lot of Christmas programs on videotape and transferred them to DVD. Today a lot of what I recorded is now on professional DVD, but I still have the originals I taped, like A Very Merry Cricket and "The Best Christmas" and the Lassie stories. Because, really, how can one celebrate Christmas properly without John Denver and the Muppets, or A Muppet Family Christmas, or watching Joe and Dana/Dan and Dana clown around on the Ask the Manager set? I still have a few pro videotapes, too, like The Raccoons Christmas (with Rupert Holmes and Roberta Flack doing the music) and Perry Como's Christmas in Many Lands. (GetTV repeated several of the Como specials featured on that tape last Christmas. I still have them on the DVR. It was super seeing them again. I love Perry Como. They also had a Carpenters special, an Osmonds and Andy Williams special, the Judy Garland Show Christmas episode, and some Christmas episodes of The Merv Griffin Show.) I've found a few rarities on YouTube and promptly downloaded them, too. I can't really watch Christmas specials on "live television" anymore. The big commercial breaks make the stories too disjointed and I lose all my seasonal feeling when favorite scenes are ripped out for additional commercials. We have Britbox this year, so hoping they come up with something good at Christmas. I would love to see some old British Christmas documentaries, like Christmas Past (my copy is missing 10 minutes), and ones they did about Christmas' pagan roots and also one about Charles Dickens and the "invention" of Christmas. Ditto Acorn TV. Would love to see them pick up some Canadian Christmas programming, including a very weird movie called North Station (Station Nord) that I caught once on Netflix.

 
from the 1972 TV movie The House Without a Christmas Tree.


5) If you were to be stranded on an island (maybe Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean!), what three Christmas movies, specials, or episodes would you like to have with you?

As much as I hate to leave Rudolph and Charlie Brown out of the mix, this has to be The Homecoming, The House Without a Christmas Tree, and Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol. The others I love, but these three live in my heart. (I still want to sneak aboard my Ask the Manager and Lassie episodes, though.)

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Christmas in July 2017: Cathie Kahle


Christmas TV Party - Cathie Kahle, member of Christmas Movies and Music

1) Who's your favorite Santa Claus?

Wow, this one is hard. I think my favorite all time Santa has to be the Coca Cola Santa, David Huddleston (Santa Claus: The Movie) and the Santa from the 1959 movie Santa Claus. It's funny because Patch is the Elf in Santa Claus: The Movie and Pitch is the devil in Santa Claus.



2) What's your favorite Christmas episode from a TV series?

I think my favorite episode is I Love Lucy where Lucy, Ricky, Ethel and Fred all dress up as Santa for Little Ricky. Season 6 Episode 11 shown on 12/24/56. I like the surprise at the end when there is a 5th Santa!!

3) Do you enjoy watching Christmas entertainment year round or do you only like watching it during the holidays? And, why?

I watch occasionally. Not because I don't like to watch, but because it gives me something to look forward too! And I like looking forward to watching. It keeps it special for me. I'm really looking forward to Christmas in July on Hallmark and HMM. :)

4) This is the 21st century--how do you watch TV and/or Christmas entertainment?

I have Satellite and a DVR. I'm able to create my own DVD's on my laptop with the Honestech VHS to DVD software and modem. I have around 700-800 DVD's that I've recorded. The rest I've purchased. I have over 1100 DVD's.



5) If you were to be stranded on an island (maybe Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean!), what three Christmas movies, specials, or episodes would you like to have with you?

Unfortunately, I'm unable to picture myself on a deserted island. Lol Too Hot...and no electricity. Lol I know, I'll be on a deserted island in Alaska! I'd take White Christmas, which is my all time favorite Christmas movie! I watch it Christmas Eve every year while wrapping presents. Elf, because it's such a fun movie, and to include something sappy, I'll take A Season for Miracles. I love this one a lot. Patty Duke and Vanessa Redgrave are fantastic in it!! The rest of the cast is wonderful too!  And I am going to throw another good one in the mix. A Smoky Mountain Christmas with Dolly Parton and Lee Majors. I love the kids in this movie, and of course you can't go wrong with Dolly's music!!



Saturday, July 8, 2017

Christmas in July 2017: Mitchell Hadley

 
Christmas in July 2017: Mitchell Hadley, from It's About TV!

1) Who's your favorite Santa Claus?

Easy answer here - Edmund Gwenn from Miracle on 34th Street. He convinces you that Santa Claus not only has a British accent, but should have one. His interaction with children is marvelous. Runner-up: Fred Astaire in The Man in the Santa Claus Suit. Santa should be omniscient, don't you think?


from 1967's Christmas episode of Dragnet.

2) What's your favorite Christmas episode from a TV series?

Tough one, because most of the series television I've watched doesn't really offer a Christmas episode, per se. (I don't think I've ever seen "a very special episode of The Fugitive, for example). But I'll go along with "The Big Little Jesus" on the classic Dragnet because it avoids excess sentimentality, and gives us a chance to see Friday and Smith working this job just like any other. Until you get to the end, you really fear for the criminal who has to explain his actions to Friday!

3) Do you enjoy watching Christmas entertainment year round or do you only like watching it during the holidays? And, why?

Only during the holidays. For me, Christmas is a time of great anticipation, and it's always been inextricably intertwined with sensations - the weather turning cooler, the sun setting earlier, snow on the ground (at least in Minnesota), decorations going up (even though that seems to happen earlier every year), Thanksgiving. Personal opinion only, but for me if the anticipation is drawn out too far, it loses its appeal. Besides, Advent doesn't start until the end of November!

4) This is the 21st century--how do you watch TV and/or Christmas entertainment? 

A combination of my own DVDs and streaming services such as YouTube and Amazon prime. I like to think I've got a pretty good collection of classic movies and television shows, but it's always fun to find more and more obscure specials from the '50s and '60s online. It's nice to have something new to look forward to each year, and we've been fortunate enough in that respect that we don't even try and watch everything every year - if you feel like you have to force it in, it just isn't as much fun.



5) If you were to be stranded on an island (maybe Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean!), what three Christmas movies, specials, or episodes would you like to have with you?

Wonderful question! I'll say (1) Amahl and the Night Visitors, because I've written enough about it that I have a reputation to defend, (2) the "Christmas Through the Ages" episodes of The Bell Telephone Hour, because they remind you of what Christmas really did feel like once, and (3) a tie between We're No Angels, because it's a terrific Bogart comedy and there's great interaction between the "angels," and Miracle on 34th Street, which is such a good satire on so many levels, from the law to psychiatry to child development. It's really a very sharp commentary on our times, which makes it more than just a Christmas movie.


Friday, July 7, 2017

Christmas in July 2017: Patrick Manning

 
Christmas in July 2017: Patrick Manning

1) Who's your favorite Santa Claus?

Richard Attenborough, from the Miracle on 34th St. remake. Classy, warm, British - a great combo.



2) What's your favorite Christmas episode from a TV series? 

“The Mike Van Dyke Show,” from season 2 (3?) of thirtysomething. The episode was an exploration of family, faith, and appreciating what one has, along with a nice homage to The Dick Van Dyke Show, both in style and content.

3) Do you enjoy watching Christmas entertainment year round or do you only like watching it during the holidays?

Year-round, but only on a “happen to catch it” basis (e.g., Big Bang Theory broadcasts a Christmas episode, etc.). I have pulled DVDs out in summertime occasionally for “Christmas in July” movie parties – but not every year.

There are some movies that remain sacrosanct – I will ONLY watch these during the holiday season: White Christmas, It's a Wonderful Life, others.

4) How do you watch TV and/or Christmas entertainment?

Satellite broadcasts; DVDs and VHS tapes (I still watch Ebenezer (Jack Palance) from my taped VHS recording, as the DVD version is impossible to find (cheaply); DVDs from the library; Amazon Prime.

I make an effort to buy 2-3 new Christmas DVDs each year for my personal collection. So far this year, I’ve added The Office Christmas Party and Arthur Christmas.


1970's Scrooge with Albert Finney.

5) If you were to be stranded on an island, what three Christmas movies, specials, or episodes would you like to have with you?

This is a difficult question to answer – far too many worthy candidates.

The Homecoming (The Waltons pilot, 1971) – I grew up watching this movie every year on CBS, until they stopped broadcasting it. I found a DVD copy about 10 years ago, and it is our 2nd movie watched following Thanksgiving every ever since (the 1st movie each year is White Christmas, my wife’s tradition).

A Charlie Brown Christmas – How can you not have this one?

Scrooge (musical version with Albert Finney, 1970) – I own about 10 versions on DVD, but this one retains its charm. A nice balance of seriousness, humor, and music. Try saying “Thank You Very Much” in December without someone finishing the lines in song.