About Christmas TV History

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Christmas in July 2018: Jim Randle

from 2002's It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie

Christmas in July 2018: Jim Randle, from Paris Tennessee

1) Name your favorite Henson's Muppet Christmas program and why.

Its a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie is great because of the stars and cameos (the cast of Scrubs, Whoopi Goldberg, Mr. Courteney Cox, and of course Triumph the Insult Comic Dog.)  The show melds many Christmas classics (Rudolph with Sam the Snowman voiced by Mel Brooks, Grinch, and the main reflection, It's a Wonderful Life).  And puppets from the short lived Muppets Tonight TV show are sprinkled throughout.  This special allows Pepe the King Prawn to take a starring roll.  If you're going to watch it, you need to get the home version where you see muppet outtakes with the puppeteers staying in character as they crack up or forget their lines.

Lenny & the Squigtones perform "The Jolliest Fat Man" on the 1976 Christmas episode of Laverne & Shirley.

2) Which decade produced your favorite Christmas entertainment?

I straddle the 60s and 70s.  Lots of good holiday episodes from standard shows (Odd Couple, Mork and Mindy, Laverne and Shirley containing the classic "The Jolliest Fat Man", etc) and stand alone programs (A Christmas Carol animated with Alastair Sim providing the voice, An American Christmas Carol, The House without a Christmas Tree).  And of course the classics like Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol and A Charlie Brown Christmas.

3) Imagine the entertainment behind your ideal Christmas Eve dinner. Name the appetizer, entré, and dessert.

The appetizer should be small and should whet your appetite for things to come.  With that said how can you not play the Max Fleischer classic Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer from 1948.  For the main course you need a movie that's easy on the digestion what better movie that Ernest Saves Christmas. And for  a light fare that can be enjoyed over pecan pie and coffee, the always classic Charlie Brown Christmas.

4) What Christmas episode, special or movie doesn't exist--that you wish did? Describe it.

This special DID exist but I only saw it run once. I'm a history buff. As much as people rail against Christmas being commercial, shopping is an integral part of the season. Many years ago the History Channel spent the week of Christmas each night with a one hour program showcasing the history of a major department store. I would like to see that taken one step farther. I would like to see five different businesses (Sears, Macys, Gimbels, Neiman Marcus, and Western Auto ) highlighted but specifically concerning their Christmas preparation. Going to toy shows, designing their Christmas catalog, creating their store windows, etc.

5) If one Christmas movie, special or episode was to be selected for a time capsule to opened in 1,000 years, which title do you think should be included?

The reason for the season cannot be forgotten. I first learned of the Nativity though Sunday School teachings. But I first saw the Nativity on the big screen in my second grade class performed by the Mabel Beaton Marionettes and sponsored by AT&T.  I've always loved puppets and this program, The Spirit of Christmas,  has a special place in my heart.


  1. >Many years ago the History Channel spent the week of Christmas each
    >night with a one hour program showcasing the history of a major
    >department store.
    How did I miss that?! I would have loved to have seen that. And, I'd love to see specials done on department stores as you propose. I think it was HGTV that used to have a mini-series each year about the decoration of the store windows for Christmas at various department stores. I always enjoyed that. Wish they'd bring that back.

    1. Tom, I'm with you--I wish HGTV would bring back the show about the decoration of the dept. store windows for Christmas.

  2. I didn't miss those History Channel shows and recorded them. The show about the 1960s even showed the same hand-knit Christmas stockings that we've used ever since about 1965. I never knew that was a popular stocking pattern across the US.

    A show about what the retailers did would be nice to see, and especially about how they put together the Sears Christmas Wish Book. In those years before the internet, and for those of us who had to travel a long way to see a downtown or a Sears, those catalogs were gold. I still have three of those Sears Christmas catalogs from my childhood--that's how important they were to me.

    I also remember going to different cities back in the 1960s and seeing their Christmas display windows downtown and their streets decorated for Christmas. That's something that went away when shopping malls became popular in the 1970s.

  3. I like your idea about the department stores. They did something similar with a UK store Liberty of London - https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2013/dec/03/liberty-of-london-tv-review - it was fascinating!

    Love your sitcom picks too!

  4. The Mabel Beaton Marionettes, hooray! Good for you, Jim. And I like you made the offbeat choice of Its a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie.

  5. I like your choice in "It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie." I've always loved all the Christmas references--as you point out--made within that story. Great responses :)