Sunday, July 21, 2019

Christmas in July 2019: Ronda Roxbury


Saturday Night Live (1975)

Christmas in July 2019: Ronda Roxbury

1. What is your favorite Saturday Night Live Christmas/Hanukkah/New Year's sketch?

To be honest, I haven't watched SNL since I was a little kid. The cone heads were the craze back then....I'm going to have to pass with an answer for this question.


2. Do you most look forward to watching holiday episodes from series? Specials? Movies? Animation? or, all of it?

I look forward to watching It's a Wonderful Life usually Thanksgiving night and again Christmas Eve. I also love watching the children's classics like Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer and Frosty with the grandchildren.



3. What's your favorite soundtrack from a holiday program? (it doesn't have to have been officially released as an album--just what program features your favorite collection of music?)

I love Bing Crosby's White Christmas


4. What one program are you patiently (or impatiently) waiting for me to review on this blog? 

Perhaps some local kid's that are making it big.....Like Cooper Mothersbaugh?


5. What change in Christmas entertainment have you noticed over the years? Do you like the trend?

Christmas is more commercial and less Christianity...and no I don't like the trend.  I believe Jesus is the reason for the season....and I get not everyone believes, that's OK. I feel the holidays are so hurried, gone are the days of going to Grandma's after church and spending time with family.....enjoying the holidays. So are the classic shows, movies.....times are changing.



Saturday, July 20, 2019

Christmas in July 2019: Ed South





Christmas in July 2019: Ed South - host of "What's Your Favorite Movie?" podcast available on iTunes, Spotify and Spreaker. Twitter: @edsouth, @WYFMoviePodcast

1. What is your favorite Saturday Night Live Christmas/Hanukkah/New Year's sketch?

Two of my all-time favorite SNL Christmas skits are both very simple...Steve Martin's Christmas Wish address, where he wishes for all the children of the world to join hands and sing in the spirit of harmony and peace and also for $30 million tax-free in a Swiss bank account. I also like when John Malkovich reads The Night Before Christmas to the group of kids. Oh, and even though these are more associated with Thanksgiving, I adore the music videos for (Do It On My) Twin Bed and Back Home Baller. Those are both painfully funny and also catchy songs!

2. Do you most look forward to watching holiday episodes from series? Specials? Movies? Animation? or, all of it?

When we start inching towards the end of October, and the small handful of essential Halloween specials have all been watched, I turn my attention to all things Christmas themed in television and film!  There's dozens of animated specials that without viewing would make the holiday season incomplete. There are also plenty of great Christmas movies that are as essential as presents and egg nog. But my real passion in Christmas viewing is digging up unseen (to me) Christmas episodes of vintage television shows. It's fun each year to discover another series that I did not know has a Christmas episode and track that show down via Netflix DVD or YouTube or other means. I have a dozen or so DVD compilations of old Christmas episodes that I enjoy watching every year also. Donna Stone throwing the hospital Christmas party,  Samantha Stephens taking the orphaned kid to the North Pole and trimming the tree with Ricky and Lucy are all required moments in my holiday season.



3. What's your favorite soundtrack from a holiday program? (it doesn't have to have been officially released as an album--just what program features your favorite collection of music?)

My favorite holiday soundtrack would have to be A Charlie Brown Christmas which provides so much atmosphere for most of the holiday season. I get excited every single time I hear "Linus & Lucy" played on the radio. (It's a shame they won't play Charlie Brown music all year.) Besides all the wonderful music that is associated with the Charlie Brown Christmas special, the CD release of the soundtrack features great covers of classic Xmas tunes provided by the Vince Guaraldi Trio. I've had the privilege of hearing the entire soundtrack album performed live by a local jazz ensemble accompanied by a screening of the 1965 animated special on a couple of occasions.

4. What one program are you patiently (or impatiently) waiting for me to review on this blog?

When it comes to the content of the Christmas TV History blog, I most enjoy being introduced to shows and movies I'm not familiar with. I'm not one to read reviews of things I've already seen but from the blog I have discovered many wonderful movies and obscure specials.  Not only did Joanna turn me on to the wonders of The Waltons Christmas movie The Homecoming when she appeared on my podcast, but most recently I was able to track down a copy of the 1987 TV-movie Christmas Comes to Willow Creek which I had heard about for years via this very blog!


5. What change in Christmas entertainment have you noticed over the years? Do you like the trend?

Trends in Christmas Entertainment: Well, it seems in the last few years that content providers - TV networks, cable channels, streaming services and even Hollywood studios - have noticed the popularity of Christmas entertainment. We seem to be getting more celebrity driven prime time variety specials on the big networks. Cable channels realize that they can't run Christmas Vacation, Elf and Die Hard too many times in December. I also love that the big networks have brought back so many of the classic animated specials that had previously moved on to smaller stations. The Grinch, Santa Claus is Coming To Town and even Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol have all returned to network television after long hiatuses. However, I think the biggest trend would have to be the impact of the Hallmark Channel and their blizzard of 191 new Christmas movies every season which in turn has led Lifetime and Netflix and several others to beef up their original Christmas movie offerings too. While the Hallmark movies are warm and inviting, they do almost all tend to blend together after a few weeks but some of the other guys are tinkering with the format a little bit and offering some neat movies. Netflix' The Christmas Chronicles was a blast and Lifetime's Melissa Joan Hart vehicle A Very Nutty Christmas was a goofy fun flick, just as two examples from 2018. 


Friday, July 19, 2019

Christmas in July 2019: Martin Johns




Christmas In July 2019: Stubby (aka Martin Johns), Stubby's House of Christmas

Spoiler alert:  Stubby's is closing up shop and will disappear entirely in October, though I do have something planned for Christmas In July.

1. What is your favorite Saturday Night Live Christmas/Hanukkah/New Year's sketch?

Mr. Robinson's Neighborhood (with Eddie Murphy), though my favorite Christmas sketch comedy tends to be from SCTV (Great White North, Sammy Maudlin, etc.) and my all-time favorite comedy sketch might just be "Christmas With Mr. Shatner" from Dennis Leary's 2005 Christmas special ("Well at least they have pets.")


2. Do you most look forward to watching holiday episodes from series? Specials? Movies? Animation? or, all of it?

Maybe I've just gotten old but I find myself most looking forward to the holiday commercials these days.  Tears, laughter, short attention span, and generally more creativity than the networks exhibit these days.  In recent years, I scan the guides for Christmas programming only to find those shows I'm most interested in on channels I don't get.  But there will always be commercials.  Yeah, you'll always make time for the classic TV episodes and movies, but the new stuff...most of it, anyway...sucks.  Or I've just gotten old.


from peter, Paul and Mary's Holiday Concert (1988)

3. What's your favorite soundtrack from a holiday program? (it doesn't have to have been officially released as an album--just what program features your favorite collection of music?)

Well, clearly, nothing beats A Charlie Brown Christmas...nearly every kid's introduction to exceptional Jazz.  Among the holiday specials, for me, nothing beats the Peter, Paul and Mary Holiday Concert.  And, in terms of soundtracks to TV episodes, I've always been impressed with the mix in A Roswell Christmas Carol.  You've got The Swingtips, The Eels, Burl Ives, Kay Kaiser, Lucious Jackson, Fountains of Wayne, The Silvertones, and, of course, Jane Siberry ("Calling All Angels").


4. What one program are you patiently (or impatiently) waiting for me to review on this blog?

I don't follow the blog as closely as I should, but a search turns up neither of a pair at opposite ends of my enjoyability scale.  A few years back, on a podcast, the host recommended the Christmas episode of The Famous Teddy Z (he loved it), but you didn't offer your opinion.  I have it on VHS and I sometimes show it to people because so few have ever seen it.  But it was really, really bad.  Almost unwatchable.  I tend to love TV and am always the guy saying a show, no matter how awful, deserved a longer run.  But The Famous Teddy Z?  That's one that should have been cancelled about two minutes into the debut episode.  Really just godawful.  The Christmas episode was no exception.

On the other side of the scale, and more recent, I thoroughly enjoyed the Christmas episode of 12 Monkeys, "Memory of Tomorrow".  OK, it's not purely a Christmas episode.  And yet it is.  It has all the themes of Christmas fare, but with twists that give them a fresh perspective.  I particularly love the line "Death can be undone.  Love cannot."  And I dig the fact that the episode first aired in July.


5. What change in Christmas entertainment have you noticed over the years? Do you like the trend?

I lament the lack of Christmas variety/music specials.  Used to be you'd get Bing, Andy, Perry and more...every Christmas.  I hoped Michael Buble would become an annual staple, but no.  And Pentatonix just doesn't do it for me.  Yes, the Hallmark movies are very formulaic, but so is most of the Christmas fare these days.  Growing up, someone always had a fresh and unique take on the holidays (or maybe I'm just remembering the past with rose colored glasses).  I suppose that's why I enjoyed the 12 Monkeys episode so much and look forward to commercials, these days.



Thursday, July 18, 2019

Christmas in July 2019: Donna Bock

 


Christmas in July 2019: Donna Bock

1. What is your favorite Saturday Night Live Christmas/Hanukkah/New Year's sketch?

The Justin Timberlake/Jimmy Fallon rapping in wrapping paper and a gift bag is a favorite of mine.  They are hilarious!  Bring it on down to Wrappinville.  It's a new classic!
Another favorite of mine is Alex Baldwin's Schweddy Balls. The conversation is so funny and none of the actors break from their character. The writing for this entire 1998 Christmas show was spectacular!  Can't forget Christmas Time for the Jews.  The song is so clever I find myself humming it after watching.  Lastly, who could not love the musical numbers Santa's My Boyfriend and I Wish it Was Christmas Today?

2. Do you most look forward to watching holiday episodes from series? Specials? Movies? Animation? or, all of it?

I have so many Christmas watching traditions I could write a book.  Some of my all time favorites in no particular order are, Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer, I saw it the first time it aired in 1964, and I still need to watch it on TV every year.  Christmas Eve on Sesame Street, though not shown on network TV it is another tradition.  Every Christmas Eve my Grandsons and I watch it on DVD.  It's such a great show, I don't understand why it's not shown every year.  Christmas viewing wouldn't be complete if I didn't watch a bunch of old (60-70s)  Christmas sitcom episodes. My all time favorite is "Guess Who's Coming to Christmas."  Fonzi pretending to have somewhere to go on Christmas Eve gets me every-time.  In my humble opinion it's the best of the sitcom holiday episodes. I've expressed my love for the movie White Christmas every year, so this July I'll leave it out.


 

3. What's your favorite soundtrack from a holiday program? (it doesn't have to have been officially released as an album--just what program features your favorite collection of music?)

The Holiday musical specials were always something my family looked forward to... way back when.  They aren't as popular as they were, but I watched a few last year.  David Bowie and Bing Crosby's "Little Drummer Boy" is iconic.  I don't see how that can be topped. I did enjoy the Glee Holiday episodes and all of the Christmas music they danced and sang to.


4. What one program are you patiently (or impatiently) waiting for me to review on this blog?

I enjoy all of your blog posts.  There aren't any that I am waiting for.  Whenever a new one is posted, I read it.  I sometimes reread the older blogs of my favorite shows.


5. What change in Christmas entertainment have you noticed over the years? Do you like the trend?

There have been many changes since I first started watching TV.  I remember what a huge event it was when a new animated Christmas Show was coming on.  When Charlie Brown Christmas first aired in 1965, there was a big write up in the TV Guide and the young actors were interviewed. The extraordinary thing was that the producer used kids instead of actors to read the parts of the Peanuts gang. I'm not a big fan of the Christmas romance movies, there are too many of them.  I loved the TV movies of the 80s and 90s.  One of my favorites is The Night They Saved Christmas. The cast is great, the story is cute, and it has a happy ending. When my adult children were young they watched it almost everyday, (Thank you VCR) even in the summer...hey it kept them entertained!

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Christmas in July 2019: Jim Inman





Christmas in July 2019: Jim Inman - Christmas Movies and Music admin 

1. What is your favorite Saturday Night Live Christmas/Hanukkah/New Year's sketch?

I've always loved the voice of Darlene Love... and to have her participate in a fun, slightly risque song on SNL makes me appreciate her even more.  From 2005, Season 31, Darlene Love's song "Christmastime for the Jews" is a take-off on class Rankin/Bass animation, with the usual SNL touches. TV Funhouse: Christmastime For The Jews - SNL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGzO1ghRKp4


2. Do you most look forward to watching holiday episodes from series? Specials? Movies? Animation? or, all of it?

There are select options from all the above... watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, followed by the original version of Miracle on 34th Street... finding Rudolph, Charlie Brown, Frosty on television... looking for some classic TV holiday episodes throughout the weeks... and enjoying It's a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Story are all must-do activities during the holiday season.  With YouTube and streaming services, many of the old, rare TV specials with The Carpenters, Andy Williams, Bing Crosby and more are accessible to enjoy on a long winter's night. 





3. What's your favorite soundtrack from a holiday program? (it doesn't have to have been officially released as an album--just what program features your favorite collection of music?)

This is a tough one.  There are a number of songs that are closely tied to a special ("Christmastime is Here" for Charlie Brown's Christmas, "White Christmas," etc).  As for a collection or album, I would have to include National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation - "Holiday Road" and Ray Charles' "That Spirit of Christmas" are vastly different, but capture the heart of that film so well.  Of course Vince Guaraldi's "Charlie Brown Christmas" is timeless... and also the soundtrack to Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.  Burl Ives' voice cannot be duplicated, and he brings a kindness and genuine affection to every song he sings on the album. 

Side note -- I think a fun project would be taking a collection of Christmas songs (a "favorites" album, so to speak) and creating a holiday special from those.


4. What one program are you patiently (or impatiently) waiting for me to review on this blog?

Another tough question.  This blog is such a tremendous resource for Christmas fans, and your books and blog have covered so many holiday programs already.  The only thing I might think of would be conducting interviews with people who have ties to those holiday programs, to get some additional behind-the-scenes information (but I know you've done some of this already)...


5. What change in Christmas entertainment have you noticed over the years? Do you like the trend?

I miss the choral arrangements of holiday music. As an avid record collector, I have a lot of albums from the 1960s-70s that were church groups and ensemble singing. When you have a large group of voices coming together, and creating those natural sounds... it's pretty amazing and awesome.  The sounds of an orchestra can really change the listener's perspective on a song that everyone may already know...

I would also say that the stories of Christmas entertainment don't seem as "real" as they once were.  The depression George Bailey felt in It's a Wonderful Life and the elation on the children's faces in Santa Claus: The Movie are no match for computerized, animated shows today.  And I have to say that the Hallmark Christmas films don't do much for me at all - too focused on romance and predictable storylines don't cut it for me.  But, to each his own... and we can still all love Christmas and the music, television and films that make us smile and feel the holiday spirit! 




Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Christmas in July 2019: Travis Van Hauen


Christmas in July 2019: Travis Van Hauen

1. What is your favorite Saturday Night Live Christmas/Hanukkah/New Year's sketch?



2. Do you most look forward to watching holiday episodes from series? Specials? Movies? Animation? or, all of it?

Pretty much all of it.


3. What's your favorite soundtrack from a holiday program? (it doesn't have to have been officially released as an album--just what program features your favorite collection of music?)

TV- Our family will sing along to Phineas & Ferb Christmas because we have seen it so many times. Not sure about movies. So many to go from. Christmas Vacation, Polar Express, Elf and Die Hard had excellent music choices. White Christmas is a great soundtrack.


4. What one program are you patiently (or impatiently) waiting for me to review on this blog?

I am not sure what has been covered so I am just gonna throw a few out there.

*Coach: "Christmas of the Van Damned." After finding fellow Van Dams in Minnesota, Luther attends a family reunion/Christmas party where everything goes haywire. Luthor (Jerry Van Dyke) walks through the party and sees a family member (Dick Van Dyke) and they just shrug an walk pass each other as if they don't know each other.

 *Chuck season 2 "Chuck Vs Santa Claus." The Buy More is held hostage. As it becomes apparent the incident is not a random act brought on by holiday madness, and Chuck and the Intersect are at risk, Sarah takes action. (it is a funny tribute to Die Hard)

*Justice League: "Comfort And Joy." I thought this was great episode of introducing the viewers to how some DC characters and how they celebrate the holidays.

*Syfy series Eureka had a episode that transported them through several types of Christmas Special effects in "Do you see what I see?"


Rankin and Bass's Festival of Family Classics - Episode 11: A Christmas Tree ( I saw it as a kid and don't remember seeing it since).




5. What change in Christmas entertainment have you noticed over the years? Do you like the trend? 

Seems Hollywood in the past ten years is going through the Dirty Santa phase. Having a dirty old Santa with filthy humor followed by bad story lines in order to try to get a edgy or young audience. I guess the jokes are humorous but they are definitely not timeless.




Monday, July 15, 2019

Christmas in July 2019: Linda M. Young





Christmas in July 2019: Linda M. Young at flyingdreams.org

1. What is your favorite Saturday Night Live Christmas/Hanukkah/New Year's sketch?

Wow. I actually don't remember any SNL Christmastide sketches at all. I don't watch the recent shows because they are too political, and I don't recall any classic ones. I seem to vaguely recall seeing a SNL sketch with Hugh Laurie when House was on the air, but I didn't like it that much.

My favorite Christmas sketch from a comedy LIKE SNL is "Raging Rudolph" from MAD TV. It's amazingly gross, but at the same time having the juxtaposition of the Rankin-Bass characters in a Godfather-setting is well done and very funny in a grim way.

2. Do you most look forward to watching holiday episodes from series? Specials? Movies? Animation? or, all of it?

That's a hard one to choose, because I just watch them indiscriminately based on how I feel, The Homecoming one night, The Voyagers! Christmas episode and The Waltons "Best Christmas" the next. So I'd say the whole beautiful bunch of them. It's wonderful to revisit with the unique characters like Addie, the Thornton family, Susan Walker, etc., but also nice to see your favorite series characters in a Christmas setting.




3. What's your favorite soundtrack from a holiday program? (it doesn't have to have been officially released as an album--just what program features your favorite collection of music?)

Oh, my gosh, what a hard question. I would have to say A Charlie Brown Christmas, because the jazz soundtrack is unique to specials of the time, and even the incidental music (like the piece of music that's playing when the kids are catching snowflakes on their tongues) is memorable.  "Christmastime is Here" is probably one of the most beautiful Christmas songs to come out of the 1960s. But I could say the same of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and especially Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol, the latter whose songs I could sing by heart even after the network dropped showing it for years and years and it wasn't until I got cable in the 1980s that I got to see it again. Magoo is also a production where the incidental music is just as memorable as the songs, like the piece that plays when Scrooge comes back to the town where he went to school, after he says "I could walk it blindfolded!"


4. What one program are you patiently (or impatiently) waiting for me to review on this blog?

Any that you haven't reviewed before.  And will you ever be reviewing The March Girls at Christmas, which some people hated, but I enjoyed (except for the fact that half the male characters were "eh..." especially their take on John Brooke).


5. What change in Christmas entertainment have you noticed over the years? Do you like the trend?

I think I have commented on this before, but really, it's the part I hate. From Thanksgiving Day (and sometimes before) onward, we are bombarded by Christmas specials and Christmas episodes, and then WHAM, about three or four days before the holiday itself, except for the movies on the non-network channels, Christmas just VANISHES and we get reruns. (Thank goodness for PBS, which still shows Christmas concerts on Christmas Eve.) Through the 70s you would get new Christmas specials, or even reruns of Christmas specials, on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and there would be new episodes of shows on Christmas Day back in the 1950s and 1960s for sure. The British still do this (although often what they call a "Christmas episode" has very little to do with Christmas), and I love reading "The Radio Times" and "The TV Times" for Christmas week to see what the BBC and ITV are showing. Thankfully we have DVDs to fill in this gap, but it's really very lazy of the networks. And then, the minute Christmas Day bongs its finally bong at midnight--Christmas is GONE. The Christmas season lasts until January 6--the Twelve Days of Christmas. Instead we are stuck with more reruns, while the stores are already putting out Valentines Day decorations before we even count down to New Year's. If we're lucky, someone will rerun Happy New Year, Charlie Brown, but they'll usually do it before Christmas!


Sunday, July 14, 2019

Christmas in July 2019: Lisa Iannucci





Christmas in July 2019: Lisa Iannucci from thevirgintraveler.com

1. What is your favorite Saturday Night Live Christmas/Hanukkah/New Year's sketch?

Schweddy Balls


2. Do you most look forward to watching holiday episodes from series? Specials? Movies? Animation? or, all of it?

A combination.


3. What's your favorite soundtrack from a holiday program? (it doesn't have to have been officially released as an album--just what program features your favorite collection of music?)

Hmmmm, honestly I don't know this one. I never really pay attention to soundtracks. LOL


 
4. What one program are you patiently (or impatiently) waiting for me to review on this blog?

How about The Holiday? My fave!


5. What change in Christmas entertainment have you noticed over the years? Do you like the trend?

I don't like Hallmark's weekly Christmas countdown. I understand they are popular but leave it to closer to the holiday.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Christmas in July 2019: Rick Stoneburner




Christmas in July 2019: Rick Stoneburner

1. What is your favorite Saturday Night Live Christmas/Hanukkah/New Year's sketch?

Two of them came immediately to mind. The first was Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake Wrappinville. Every time I watch I cannot stop laughing. The two of them together are must-watch TV. Second is Dan Akroyd and Candice Bergen. Dan being interviewed about dangerous toys and oh man is he great. Strangled himself with a telephone cord, chokes on a ball and falls out of the chair. I’m laughing now just thinking about it


2. Do you most look forward to watching holiday episodes from series? Specials? Movies? Animation? or, all of it?

I most look forward to the movies. I love them so much. But I never miss a holiday special. CMA Country Christmas. Christmas at Rockefeller Center and and on. Really wish Pentatonix would go back to their original specials though. The last 2 have been almost unwatchable for me.



3. What's your favorite soundtrack from a holiday program? (it doesn't have to have been officially released as an album--just what program features your favorite collection of music?)

I am currently at 556 Christmas CDs in my collection. It is very hard for me to pick a specific program. I have so much great Christmas music stuck in my head.


4. What one program are you patiently (or impatiently) waiting for me to review on this blog?

Gosh you’ve done so many nothing comes to mind. Keep up the great work.


5. What change in Christmas entertainment have you noticed over the years? Do you like the trend?

The first is the mass production of “original” Christmas movies. While I watch and enjoy them, my wife really enjoys them, there is not much original about them. It’s the same stories over and over again, never much heartache. Christmas movies need heartache once in a while. Nothing like a good Christmas movie tear. Also it seemed like we went a very long time with no Christmas movies in the theater. Now it feels like we’re getting at least one a year. I love it.


Friday, July 12, 2019

Christmas in July 2019: Adam Parker





Christmas in July 2019: Adam Parker from MerryBritsmas.podbean.com

1. What is your favorite Saturday Night Live Christmas/Hanukkah/New Year's sketch?

I’m British so we never really encountered SNL. As far as I am aware, it never really aired here, especially when I was growing up in the 90s. However, as a Xmas fanatic, I have spent a lot of time on YouTube looking for seasonal content and a lot of these include SNL clips! My favourite of the ones I’ve seen online has to be Vincent Price’s Christmas Special. I simply love Bill Hader and he does an amazing Vincent Price. On top of that, the contrast of old school horror and old school Christmas is brilliant and Kristen Wiig knocks it out the park as a manic Hepburn.  Although, I also can’t ever get the Wish It Was Xmas Today song out of my head after I hear it!

2. Do you most look forward to watching holiday episodes from series? Specials? Movies? Animation? or, all of it?

Honestly, I love all of it! However I get most excited about re-watching classic Christmas films and Christmas specials I remember from when I was young. For example, I always look forward to watching Home Alone and National Lampoon as they were two of my dad’s favourites, so we’d always watch them together. I’d also watch lots of British sitcoms with my family (we are British, so it makes sense!) so I love the Christmas specials of shows like The Royle Family, The Vicar of Dibley, Father Ted and Only Fools & Horses.



3. What's your favorite soundtrack from a holiday program? (it doesn't have to have been officially released as an album--just what program features your favorite collection of music?)

Again, I love sitcoms so I really like the crazy Christmas music in the likes of the Community Glee festive episode. I also have to rewatch the Muppet Family Christmas every year which has some great musical bits. Also I need to shout out for A Colbert Christmas and the music in Raymond Briggs' Father Christmas, which always takes me back to childhood.


4. What one program are you patiently (or impatiently) waiting for me to review on this blog?

Again, the British bias comes out in me as I’d love some reviews of classic British fare such as the aforementioned sitcoms or even specials such as Flint Street Nativity or Robbie the Reindeer!


5. What change in Christmas entertainment have you noticed over the years? Do you like the trend?

I have found that a lot of recent Christmas episodes of television tend to shy away from going full Christmas, which makes me sad! They sometimes have it in the background or as a ‘setting’ but the story isn’t as Christmas focused as shows used to make it. This isn’t all shows but I’ve definitely noticed it more over the last couple of years. I do love the fact that there is just so much more however! With the increase in different channels, services, brands and companies, there are always LOADS of different Christmas things to check out and many ways to watch them!


Thursday, July 11, 2019

Christmas in July 2019: Dominic Caruso





Christmas in July 2019: Dominic Caruso of 1701 Press

1. What is your favorite Saturday Night Live Christmas/Hanukkah/New Year's Sketch?

It's a toss up between Steve Martin's "Christmas Wish" and "Desert Island Christmas" featuring Paul Simon marooned with Victoria Jackson (who just happens to know how to create incredible Christmas gifts--like a multifunction wristwatch--from scratch, using only natural resources found on the island).

2. Do you most look forward to watching holiday episodes from series? Specials? Movies? Animation? or, all of it?

I have my favorites, but I like being surrounded by all of it and feeling as though Thanksgiving through New Year's is one big party. That's the vibe I like, anyway.




3. What's your favorite soundtrack from a holiday program? (it doesn't have to have been officially released as an album--just what program features your favorite collection of music?) 

Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas. I mean, come on.


4. What one program are you patiently (or impatiently) waiting for me to review on this blog?

I don't know. I do enjoy weird things & you've covered many. Is Christopher Walken in anything Christmas-themed?


5. What change in Christmas entertainment have you noticed over the years? Do you like the trend?

There's a lot more of it, I think. The music in Christmas entertainment is getting more diverse and better, too. Even workaday productions often include some cool Christmas deep cut, or a special recording/performance by one of the actors, which is always fun to discover. So, I like the trend.


Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Christmas in July 2019: Randall Buie




Christmas in July 2019: Randall Buie

1. What is your favorite Saturday Night Live Christmas/Hanukkah/New Year's sketch?

I kind of gave up on SNL when Jane Curtin left so I'm not familiar with the majority of their sketches unless they have went viral.  I have liked the Claymation "Christmas for the Jews" bit they did.  And I don't know if it was SNL or which cast was performing it but I recall seeing a five minute vignette that showed Scrooge after a year.  He was giving away his assets to anyone and everyone with most recipients laughing at him as they made off with his treasure.  He is revisited by one of the ghosts who tells him he's going overboard and to dial it back a little (sounds like a Reagan era skit).  This also could have been the inspiration for the Blackadder Christmas Carol.

2. Do you most look forward to watching holiday episodes from series? Specials? Movies? Animation? or, all of it?

Well, my favorite forms of holiday entertainment are music, OTR, and live performances.  But from the selections above I would have to combine two -- specials and animation.  Most Christmas animation that I love (Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol, A Charlie Brown Christmas, A Garfield Christmas, How Murray Saved Christmas, etc) were specials.


 
3. What's your favorite soundtrack from a holiday program? (it doesn't have to have been officially released as an album--just what program features your favorite collection of music?) 

You'll probably get a lot of votes for this one but the best music is from Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol.  I was so happy when they issued a sheet music book for the special a couple of years ago.  I can do without "Back on Broadway" but other than that all the songs are excellent.

4. What one program are you patiently (or impatiently) waiting for me to review on this blog?

How Murray Saved Christmas.  I watched the initial broadcast and found it quite enjoyable.  Any program that uses the great Billy West can't be bad, can it?  However in succeeding years NBC cut the program from 90 to 60 minutes.  Fortunately I was able to obtain a DVD of the full length cartoon and it is played every year.


5. What change in Christmas entertainment have you noticed over the years? Do you like the trend?

The first change is the elimination of the religious element.  Don't like it. 

The second is the onslaught of identical plot movies running continuously.  My wife is hooked on the Hallmark Channel Christmas marathon.  I've never understood why because nearly every one I've watched contains the same plot.  A person is fed up with the big city / their life / their family and go to a rural area / small town /vacation site and find the true meaning of Christmas and the love they were always meant to have.  Yuk! 

And finally I've noticed a pullback on the use of Jingle Bells in Christmas programs.  From the forties to the seventies it seemed like if a movie or television program needed either background music or opening music they would always go to Jingle Bells (forties' programs also used religious carols).  But in later years it appears that although it is still used way too much it's not being used as much and that's a good thing (sorry, Martha Stewart).


Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Christmas in July 2019: Kevin Bowman

Christmas in July 2019: Kevin Bowman

1. What is your favorite Saturday Night Live Christmas/Hanukkah/New Year's sketch?



The honest answer is the Dana Carvey/Jon Lovitz/Phil Hartman/Jan Hooks sketch with the alternate ending to It's a Wonderful Life.  Every time I see It’s a Wonderful Life, afterward I go online and watch the alternate ending.  Capra let Mr. Potter get away with stealing that money.  SNL doesn’t.   But Joanna already picked that one, so, I’ll pick: The Killer Trees from a December 1976 episode with Candace Bergen as host, from SNL’s golden age.  “We’ve got to crack it.  There’s a lot of little kids who thought they were gonna get a bicycle, gonna wind up with a pierced thorax!”  I’ll mention that there are a number of holiday musical performances from SNL that aren’t really sketches that are particularly memorable to me:  The Roches singing the Hallelujah Chorus and the Rex Smith/Linda Ronstadt cast of Pirates of Penzance singing “O Come Emmanuel," "The First Noel," and "Joy to the World."  These performances really stick in my head for some reason.




(Sorry about the green!)


2. Do you most look forward to watching holiday episodes from series? Specials? Movies? Animation? or, all of it?



I probably most look forward to watching the classic animated specials (Rankin Bass, Charlie Brown, the Grinch, Mr. Magoo) that I fell in love with when I was a kid.  (A case of arrested development, no doubt)  And certain classic movies (Bishop’s Wife, Alastair Sim’s Christmas Carol, Miracle on 34th St.)   




3. What's your favorite soundtrack from a holiday program? (it doesn't have to have been officially released as an album--just what program features your favorite collection of music?)



Scrooge, the Leslie Bricusse musical, with Albert Finney.  Such a wonderful songs.  I heard the Mormon Tabernacle Choir cover “A Christmas Carol,” the opening number, once.  It is majestic.   I have the LP, but some weird legal problem prevented the soundtrack from being rereleased on CD, making the music harder to come by than it should be.

I also think that the Jule Styne/Bob Merrill score for Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol is incomparable. 

Finally, someone should cover Doug Goodwin’s wonderful songs from A Pink Christmas.  They should be holiday classics.


4. What one program are you patiently (or impatiently) waiting for me to review on this blog?



The Twelve Gifts by Australian animation company “Air Programs International.”  This one aired in syndication for a few years when I was a kid.  It was one of my favorites and has largely disappeared.  And, of course, A Mac Davis Special: Christmas Odyssey 2010.  Please review that one ASAP and then send me a copy.




5. What change in Christmas entertainment have you noticed over the years? Do you like the trend?

Certainly, I agree with Joanna that the stunning success of Hallmark’s and Lifetime’s Christmas movies has led to the complete domination of romance movies in terms of what Christmas Entertainment is produced nowadays, and not just on those networks.  I confess that I miss the more slice-of-life Christmas movies that were produced (in much smaller quantity) in the 60-‘s 70’s and 80’s.    I also miss the Hallmark Hall of Fame, which is usually now just the biggest budget, best cast, romance movie of the year.    The list of HHoF holiday classics is pretty long.  They should bring them all back.  (1998’s Saint Maybe was extraordinarily good.)   That said, as a Christmas entertainment fan, I think one has to learn to accept cliché and not judge too harshly.  I don’t really mind most of these movies, and some of them are pretty enjoyable. 

I think I would like to see more Christmas entertainment that is intended for mainstream audiences but which doesn’t shy away from spirituality and the notion of Christmas as a religious holiday.  This has always been a touchy area for television, but it was there (Little Drummer Boy, Charlie Brown, Amahl, Best Christmas Pageant Ever, etc.)  It seems like that has been lost, except, to some extent, on explicitly religious venues. 

One good change is in the availability of English television Christmas entertainment that was previously all but inaccessible to Americans.  With Netflix, BBC America, Acorn, BritBox. There is lots of good stuff that was not regularly available before.  Nativity! has become a  particular family favorite.    


Monday, July 8, 2019

Christmas in July 2019: Dana


2011 with Michael Bublé and Jimmy Fallon.

Christmas in July 2019: Dana

1. What is your favorite Saturday Night Live Christmas/Hanukkah/New Year's sketch?

Michael Bublé’s Christmas duets – A skit on his new fake album, with him singing with everyone from Sting to Justin Bieber. Bublé’s reaction to the insanity going on around him is really funny.

https://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/michael-buble-a-holly-jolly-christmas/2751855



2. Do you most look forward to watching holiday episodes from series? Specials? Movies? Animation? or, all of it?

All of it!
- I am fanatical about Christmas episodes from retro shows, anything from the ‘50s through the ‘80s – Ozzie & Harriet, Mary Tyler Moore, The Facts of Life and everything in between. If I don’t have them on DVD, I start recording them in July when I see them pop up and save them for December. I know… I need to get a life!

- I also can’t wait for the variety specials. I love it when a channel still airs some of the older ones, like Andy Williams.
- Anything Rankin-Bass from the early ‘70s is also high on my list. Those make me feel like a kid again.
- And I look forward to watching The Christmas List with Mimi Rogers every year without fail. It’s a silly movie, but I love it; and it’s become a tradition for me.


3. What's your favorite soundtrack from a holiday program? (it doesn't have to have been officially released as an album--just what program features your favorite collection of music?)

Andy Williams and The King Family are favorites. I have the soundtracks for those specials. But I have to say it’s the Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack that is played most often in my house. I love every song.




4. What one program are you patiently (or impatiently) waiting for me to review on this blog?

Maybe Monk. There were three or four Christmas episodes. I don’t think you have reviews on those, but I may have missed them.


5. What change in Christmas entertainment have you noticed over the years? Do you like the trend?

There’s a trend for every Christmas movie to be built around a romance. That’s fine sometimes, but a little variety would be nice. I’m at the point where I hardly watch those anymore. TNT had a couple of Christmas mysteries a few years back; that was a nice change of pace.
Another trend is for Christmas animation to be cutting edge. I prefer the shows from the ‘60s and ‘70s. There aren’t a lot of original, current shows with the kind of humor and sweetness those had – like Frosty, Rudolph, Charlie Brown, The Grinch. The trend now is to move away from sentimentality, and I miss that.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Christmas in July 2019: Sean Sotka


Christmas in July 2019: Sean Sotka - (e_xander) MyMerryChristmas.com

1. What is your favorite Saturday Night Live Christmas/Hanukkah/New Year's sketch?

I never really watched a whole lot of SNL during the holidays, but from what I've seen through TV specials replaying certain skits, I'd have to say the one that stands out to me is the Schweddy Balls skit with Ana Gasteyer, Molly Shannon and Alec Baldwin as Pete Schweddy.  I'm not sure how they made it through the skit without cracking up and the dead-pan delivery by Alec adds the the hilarity for me.




2. Do you most look forward to watching holiday episodes from series? Specials? Movies? Animation? or, all of it?

I'm more of a movies and animation person, although I don't mind some specials that either go through the history of Christmas and traditions of Christmas and specials that show what Christmas is like elsewhere in the world.  I like the nostalgic shows that bring me back to my youth at Christmas.



3. What's your favorite soundtrack from a holiday program? (it doesn't have to have been officially released as an album--just what program features your favorite collection of music?)

I like Andy Williams, Bing Crosby and the Osmond family holiday programs.  Andy and Bing especially have that feel of Christmas for me with their music.


4. What one program are you patiently (or impatiently) waiting for me to review on this blog?

I don't know how to answer this one.  I'm not much of a review reader.  I love the coverage you have of all thing Christmas on Television.  I've also enjoyed reading your CIJ questionnaires, which is what inspired me to respond myself.


5. What change in Christmas entertainment have you noticed over the years? Do you like the trend? 

I've notice more pastel colors coming out. I'm more of a traditionalist when it comes to Christmas colors, red, green, silver, gold and blue. I don't mind LED lights, mainly because I really like to decorate a lot and it saves money on electricity.  However, I still have a soft spot for the incandescent C9 lights.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Christmas in July 2019: Sleepy Kitty Paws


Christmas in July 2019: Sleepy Kitty Paws of https://sleepykittypaws.tumblr.com (twitter @SleepyKittyPaw)

1. What is your favorite Saturday Night Live Christmas/Hanukkah/New Year's sketch?

This is an easy one, because while I adore Jon Lovitz's original Hanukkah Harry skit, "The Night Hanukkah Harry Saved Christmas," my all-time favorite is now actually one from last season with Matt Damon and Cecily Strong as harried parents reliving Christmas morning, called "Best Christmas Ever." I don't think a sketch has ever quite captured the anxiety, stress and chaos that is Christmas with children, as well as the inevitable fondness of memory, quite so clearly. Plus, it's absolutely hilarious.




2. Do you most look forward to watching holiday episodes from series? Specials? Movies? Animation? or, all of it?

Well, as a dedicated Christmas viewer, I watch it all, but have to say the animated specials and my holiday movie favorites are what most make it "feel" like Christmas in our household. I've shared before that we do a sort of televised advent calendar, watching a special or holiday series episode every night between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve. It's just not Christmas until Prep and Landing, Rudolph, Frosty, The Grinch and Charlie Brown grace our screen. Viewing Love, Actually is an annual "Thanksgiving Eve" tradition, just as is watching Polar Express, the first movie my eldest ever sat through and now a whole-family fave, on Christmas Eve before bed.

While I'm not as fond of Hallmark's ever more homogenized version of the formula, I've still got more than a slight soft-spot for cheesy, made-for-TV Christmas movies, which I start watching long before we carve the turkey. Basically, from the first week in November, straight through New Year's, the bulk of our family viewing—be it movies, TV series or specials—is holiday themed. It's one of my very favorite things about the season.



3. What's your favorite soundtrack from a holiday program? (it doesn't have to have been officially released as an album--just what program features your favorite collection of music?)

I already mentioned what a tradition Love, Actually is in our household—I've probably seen it close to 30+ times at this point—and even though the soundtrack isn't exclusively holiday-themed, every song on it now reminds me of the Christmas season. The feelings all these tunes evoke, from joy to melancholy, really encompasses the range of emotion a typical holiday season includes.

The opening title song from Mavis Staples from Christmas Vacation is also something that can make it instantly feel like the holidays for me. Just those few opening musical bars, and, "It's that time, Christmas time is here, Everybody knows there's not a better time of year," sum up what the holiday means to me.

And, while it's not a full soundtrack by any means, the James Corden-sung The Greatest Gift, from the 2016 Sainsbury's Ad (LINK: https://youtu.be/bq5SGSCZe4E, has become one of our family's all-time favorite Christmas songs. We all sing along and my kids will run into the room when they hear it start to play. Family dance parties to this tune are some of my favorite Christmas memories.

We actually have a whole cache of commercials, mostly British, that we watch every season, as if they were specials. UK retailer John Lewis is especially known for their multi-minute masterpieces, all wonderfully set to music. One of my favorites is 2014's Monty the Penguin (LINK: https://youtu.be/RSxOjBIjyhI).

Another can't miss commercial that makes a non-Christmas song feel oh-so-holiday is Cineplex's 2016 Lily and the Snowman (LINK: https://youtu.be/ZC9vB5AUU2M), a heartbreaking, yet ultimately uplifting, short film, more than a commercial. It provokes more emotion in 3 minutes than most 2 hour-long movies, and the music—Follow You, Follow Me by Adaline—is an absolutely integral part of that.


4. What one program are you patiently (or impatiently) waiting for me to review on this blog?

Not sure I have a definitive answer here, but maybe take time to dive into some of the aughts and 2010s content? It really was a banner time for made-for-TV holiday fare, with great specials like Prep and Landing, Phineas and Ferb's Christmas Vacation, How Murray Saved Christmas, Olive the Other Reindeer, Robbie the Reindeer and The Happy Elf, to name just a few. As well as the heyday, in my mind, of the made-for-TV cable Christmas movie. Every one of my favorite in the genre has been made since 2001, including Holiday Switch (Lifetime), Holiday in Handcuffs (ABC Family), Three Days (USA) and A Family Thanksgiving (Hallmark), among others. (See a full list of my holiday favorites, here: https://sleepykittypaws.tumblr.com/post/132091660499/top-25-made-for-tv-holiday-movies)


5. What change in Christmas entertainment have you noticed over the years? Do you like the trend?

A few friends and I have always loved sweet and silly, and oh-so-cheaply-produced, made-for-TV Christmas movies, and as they grew ever more ubiquitous (and similarly titled), I started keeping lists, so we'd know which ones were new, and what we've already seen. In 2015, I started putting that list online, so it was easier for all of us to readily access. At that time, the number of new movies per season had already escalated to what we felt was an overwhelming 20-30 total per year. How naive we were.

Last year, there were 85 original, made-for-TV movies airing across cable, Netflix and Hulu, and that number doesn't include other VOD options or myriad of other new, non-movie holiday programming out there. This year, I think the 100-movie threshold will be crossed, with more than 40 coming from the Hallmark channels alone. (And, if not in 2019, then in 2020 for sure.)

And the definitive lesson I have learned from this is…There absolutely CAN be too much of a good thing. I find Hallmark's increasingly identical offerings more and more rote and joyless, despite their pop culture popularity; with scripts so similar and utterly stripped of life and spark that not even the most charming of actors can rescue them from saccharine sameness. I'm not looking for hardcore or dark in my holiday viewing material—quite the contrary—and little makes me happier than a sweet, silly Christmas rom-com, but I think Hallmark's factory farming approach to holiday movies has made them a bit of a slog, with only rare glimpses of the fun and frothy dose of holiday spirit I used to tune into them for.

So far, Lifetime and Netflix are doing a great job creating cute Christmas content, with a little more diversity of story (and cast), that I still truly enjoy viewing, but I fear, as goes Hallmark, the made-for-TV holiday movie behemoth, so goes the rest of the field. Fingers crossed I'm wrong, as I'd hate to lose something that, it may sound crazy, but has been so much a part of my Christmas joy over so very many years.


Friday, July 5, 2019

Christmas in July 2019: Skyler Harvey


Christmas in July 2019: Skyler Harvey

1. What is your favorite Saturday Night Live Christmas/Hanukkah/New Year's sketch?

I LOVED Chanukah Harry and the old one for sanitary lap protectors with John Belushi as a very drunk Santa and Loraine Neuman as the lap sitter.




2. Do you most look forward to watching holiday episodes from series? Specials? Movies? Animation? or, all of it?

If I had to pick it would be the old Rankin & Bass specials from my childhood.


3. What's your favorite soundtrack from a holiday program? (it doesn't have to have been officially released as an album--just what program features your favorite collection of music?)

Gotta be "White Christmas"


 


4. What one program are you patiently (or impatiently) waiting for me to review on this blog?

The Family Guy Christmas Show


5. What change in Christmas entertainment have you noticed over the years? Do you like the trend?

It seems to me that the animation and writing in the old children's Christmas specials was so much better than the modern day stuff. I much prefer the older specials.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Christmas in July 2019: Drew Flowers




Christmas in July 2019: Drew Flowers, ChristmasMoviesandMusic

1. What is your favorite Saturday Night Live Christmas/Hanukkah/New Year's sketch?

This one was actually a spoof commercial promoting a Christmas album called "Dysfunctional Family Christmas."  I thought Phil Hartman and Dana Carvey were hilarious with their songs.


2. Do you most look forward to watching holiday episodes from series? Specials? Movies? Animation? or, all of it?

I think each category has a level of excitement for all Christmas fans but the specials are always a unique feel. Specials like Christmas at Rockefeller Center, Christmas in Washington DC, Christmas at Disney to name a few are always great to catch each year.



3. What's your favorite soundtrack from a holiday program? (it doesn't have to have been officially released as an album--just what program features your favorite collection of music?)

Definite tough one here because there are so many to chose from. I think the soundtrack to Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer is always a terrific listen that will bring you back to your childhood each time you listen to it. The same goes for A Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack.



4. What one program are you patiently (or impatiently) waiting for me to review on this blog?

There was a CBS special aired in 1987 called A Hobo's Christmas starring Gerald McRaney and Barnard Hughes. I believe it was a one and done Christmas special but I remember it well. Would love to read a review on this one!


5. What change in Christmas entertainment have you noticed over the years? Do you like the trend?

There have been a few but the first one that comes to mind is the marathons. I remember being a kid and A Christmas Story was on randomly the month of December, a few airings on TBS, some on TCM, Some on TNT.  Suddenly it became a 24 hour marathon on TBS and not aired the rest of the month. I know for me Christmas Eve is a busy day/ night and its tough to sit down and enjoy this classic during that 24 hour period. Also, the new movies have become "sappy" and overly romantic which is a Hallmark staple. I am happy to see people want to watch Christmas movies and it still is a
strong market but how about a few more "funny" Christmas movies.


Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Christmas in July 2019: Cathie Kahle



Christmas in July 2019: Cathie Kahle, member of Christmas Movies & Music

1. What is your favorite Saturday Night Live Christmas/Hanukkah/New Year's sketch?

I’ve rarely watched SNL, so I have no favorite...sorry...



***Joanna says "I hope Cathie doesn't mind if I make a suggestion"*****


2. Do you most look forward to watching holiday episodes from series? Specials? Movies? Animation? or, all of it?

All of it!! I do a search for Christmas on my DVR throughout the year, looking for things I haven’t seen before.


3. What's your favorite soundtrack from a holiday program? (it doesn't have to have been officially released as an album--just what program features your favorite collection of music?)

This is hard, because there are so many, but I’ll have to say anything from Bing Crosby, especially White Christmas.



4. What one program are you patiently (or impatiently) waiting for me to review on this blog?

Caillou’s Holiday. You may have done it, and I just missed it, but I love it!


5. What change in Christmas entertainment have you noticed over the years? Do you like the trend?

The trend that I overall don’t like is Country sounding like Pop. I’ve noticed that Country Music is coming back to its roots, and I’m very happy about it. Country is its own genre. Not a part of the pop charts. And that applies to Christmas Country too!



Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Christmas in July 2019: Hugh H. Davis

"Jesus and Christmas" sketch can be found in 1997 episode hosted by Helen Hunt.

Christmas in July 2019: Hugh H. Davis

1. What is your favorite Saturday Night Live Christmas/Hanukkah/New Year's sketch?

Much as I love the "Hanukkah Song" (and the way Adam Sandler keeps updating the lyrics) and Steve Martin telling everyone his Christmas wish, my absolute favorite was one of the animated TV Funhouse segments (now going on about 20 years). In it, an adult Jesus walks through a modern city. He sees plenty to disgust him, and he finally stops in front of a department store, where a TV is on at the window (do stores do this anymore?). Jesus mimes using a remote, and the TV keeps changing, showing animated versions of various Christmas specials, as well as the John Wayne as centurion scene from The Greatest Story Ever Told. He is increasingly frustrated with the commercialism he sees and the lack of Christian charity, and then he lands on a clip from A Charlie Brown Christmas. He watches Linus recite the Gospel, and tears fill his eyes, and it ends with him dancing away, Peanuts style.


from 1947's The Bishop's Wife.

2. Do you most look forward to watching holiday episodes from series? Specials? Movies? Animation? or, all of it?

A tough one, but I think movies rank the top. I make sure each year to watch It's a Wonderful Life and The Bishop's Wife at least once if not more each Christmas, and it's a time of year that we can definitely see classic holiday movies being broadcast. There's something about watching them that helps make the holiday "right."




3. What's your favorite soundtrack from a holiday program? (it doesn't have to have been officially released as an album--just what program features your favorite collection of music?)

If it counts as a soundtrack (since the album and special differ slightly), then it would have to A Christmas Together by John Denver & the Muppets. Without a doubt, this has some of my favorite ever Christmas songs.


4. What one program are you patiently (or impatiently) waiting for me to review on this blog?

Probably not a surprise based on things I've written for this event the last couple of years, but I'd love to hear your review of the Animaniacs "Helloooo Holidays" video (which collects several segments, including the beautiful "Little Drummer Warners."


5. What change in Christmas entertainment have you noticed over the years? Do you like the trend?

I am not sure if this is a trend or not, but it seems to me that, despite all the special programming we now have dedicated to Christmas, it's often the same things repeated, either as a marathon (24 hours of Elf or A Christmas Story) or in short succession (several films/specials on repeat during the "12 Days of Christmas"). (And that's not getting into that some things are formula.) The result to me is that we don't get to see plenty of lesser acclaimed films, and we certainly miss out on many great holiday episodes of shows. It becomes a matter of which shows happen to be on which cable channels and if their programmers pay attention to running holiday installments at the time. I'd like to see more variety and diversity in what is shown, so that we can keep eyes on some of these classic (if forgotten) gems.


Sunday, June 30, 2019

Christmas in July 2019: Tom Beiter


Christmas in July 2019: Tom Beiter

1. What is your favorite Saturday Night Live Christmas/Hanukkah/New Year's sketch? 



Since you took the "Lost Ending of It's a Wonderful Life," I'll have to go with the Christmas Album commercial parody, "A Dysfunctional Family Christmas" featuring such songs as “Can't You Let It Drop, It’s Christmas,” “What I Want You Can’t Buy Me,” “Fruitcake And Shame,” “Why Am I The Only One Who Knows What Christmas Really Means?” and my favorite "Daddy's Nose is Red and Runny."




2. Do you most look forward to watching holiday episodes from series? Specials? Movies? Animation? or, all of it?



I think the Specials bring back more memories for me.  The Homecoming, The House Without a Christmas Tree, and JT put me back into my 5 year-old self in the early 70's.  I would also include the Christmas episodes of popular television shows of the early 70's that do the same, particularly the Happy Days episode "Guess Who's Coming to Christmas."



3. What's your favorite soundtrack from a holiday program? (it doesn't have to have been officially released as an album--just what program features your favorite collection of music?)  

It has to be Vince Guaraldi's score for A Charlie Brown Christmas.  The instrumental version of "Christmastime is Here" and his slower rendition of "O Tannenbaum" (before it breaks into a livelier jazz version) stand out. These always make it feel like Christmas for me.


4. What one program are you patiently (or impatiently) waiting for me to review on this blog?

I had a hard time finding one you haven't reviewed. Since you've covered most that I could think of, how about either A Family Circus Christmas featuring that creepy Grandpa Ghost or a more modern one (although it's nearly 20 years old now!) like Spongebob Squarepants' "Christmas Who?"


5. What change in Christmas entertainment have you noticed over the years? Do you like the trend?

What stands out to me is the loss of the Christmas Variety Special. Maybe we're too hip for them these days, but in addition to the traditional Bing Crosby and Andy Williams Christmas Specials, there were always ones hosted by popular figures of the day like The Carpenters, Sonny and Cher or Donnie and Marie that I enjoyed. I think there's a lack of celebrities these days that could pull off shows that corny/innocent. I know Michael Bublé has done some and as much as I enjoy his music, the specials feel forced and more like an imitation of those classic shows.


Ottawa/Christmas Records--Part 4

Downtown Ottawa--the capital city of the country.

After the DegrassiPalooza TV fan convention two weeks ago in Toronto, I headed east to visit Christmas music collector Jeff Fox in Ottawa. Jeff also runs the website Name That Christmas Special.com. As you can imagine, we have a lot in common. Miss my post on DegrassiPalooza? Click HERE to see it again. You may remember that I visited Jeff three years ago--HERE's that post again. Like last time, we spent a good amount of our time together shopping for Christmas music and thrifting.


Joanna and Jeff--June 2019

Interested in seeing what I was able to find during this trip? I always love hearing your comments about my growing Christmas music collection so please feel free to comment below. Want to see more of my Christmas music collection? I focus on collecting Christmas music with a TV or film connection. Check out these past links:

Christmas Records in Detroit
Christmas Records-Part 1
Christmas Records-Part 2
Christmas Records-Part 3
Christmas Music on CDs




My Christmas record collection of Rankin/Bass soundtracks is nearly complete. I was very excited to acquire 1976's Frosty's Winter Wonderland animated TV special soundtrack. Now all I need is the soundtrack to 1969's Frosty the Snowman. I think I have all the others. I didn't find this one--Jeff was kind enough to know I was looking for it and set it aside for me. Thanks Jeff!

(1965)

Despite the age and wear on the cover, I'm excited to add this record to my collection. The music is as the cover claims--it's organ and chimes arrangements of holiday favorites but that Hanna-Barbera cover with The Flintstones, Magilla Gorilla, Top Cat, Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound, and Snaggle Puss really makes this album a keeper. Thanks again to Jeff for sharing this with me.


(1976)
Christmas with Robert Shaw conducting The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus may not be attractive to every Christmas record collector, but to me it's a nice addition. I just saw an episode of American Masters on PBS about Robert Shaw and he impressed me as an artist. I also know that there's a Christmas TV special on PBS with Shaw conducting the orchestra and chorus as well. This recorded performance IS NOT from that TV special but still, I wanted this recording. When I saw that the track listings included "Introduction, March and Shepherd's Dance" from the opera Amahl and the Night Visitors, I knew this used LP was coming home with me.


(1964)

This is the record that I'm most excited about. I'm so pleased with myself for finding it! This is the soundtrack to the 1963 TV special The Story of Christmas with Tennessee Ernie Ford. The cover even includes a still from the animated segment in the TV special about the Nativity. The 18-minute, minimally animated segment was created by Eyvind Earle, an accomplished artist who also worked for Walt Disney on Fantasia, Sleeping Beauty, Peter Pan, and other noteworthy projects. The soundtrack also includes Ford sharing the story "Little Gray Donkey," a memorable Christmas story written by Charles Tazewell. (Tazewell is also known for writing "The Littlest Angel.") Have you seen the 1963 TV special? It has been officially released on DVD by the estate of Ford. It's classic Christmas on TV and may be most attractive to people looking for more religious content in their entertainment.


various CDs

I also brought home numerous Christmas CDs. Four of them can be seen above. Top left is the 2011 re-issue of The Muppets: A Red and Green Christmas. I'm excited that one of the bonus tracks is a song from the 2008 TV special A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa. Whheee! Top right is the 1993 Christmas album by Boyz II Men. Their single "Snow" appears in the 1993 episode “Twas the Night Before Christening" on the comedy The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Bottom right is Medieval Carols recorded by a chorus in England. I was interested in this because the chorus performs "Riu riu chiu" a Spanish carol with gorgeous harmonies. You may have heard the song before--it was also performed by The Monkees in their 1967 Christmas episode. And, bottom left is the album of Christmas in Vienna IV from 1997 featuring Placido Domingo, Ying Huang, and Michael Bolton. The original concert aired as a Christmas TV special on PBS.


California Raisins figures, dated 1988 and 1989.


Spending time in used record and thrift stores throughout Ottawa, I couldn't help but stumble across other items and media attractive to Christmas collectors. We found a bag of plastic figures, each about 3 inches tall, of the California Raisins. These characters came to life in TV commercials and the 1987 TV special Claymation Christmas Celebration. The stop-motion holiday special was animated by the claymation master Will Vinton. The California Raisins appear in the final segment, singing "Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer" in their own unique R&B/Motown style. It was the 80s--a lot of weird stuff happened!


I found lots of cheap, public domain VHS copies of It's a Wonderful Life (made before the rights were reclaimed!)






both books from 2000.




I also picked up a hardbound storybook and a paperback novelization of The Grinch from the 2000 theatrical release movie.


1995




We found a cookbook filled with recipes inspired by the 1995 theatrical release film Home for the Holidays, directed by Jodie Foster. Remember this Thanksgiving movie? It's not exactly a feel-good movie. I love that a cookbook was made to promote it.


Two-for-One Christmas Fun (1995)




Jeff shared with me a 1995 Christmas novelization from the TV sitcom Full House featuring the middle sister Stephanie. It pairs nicely with the Michelle book I already own.


(2007)

I'm also pleased to add this paperback book to my Christmas book collection: Peter Griffin's Guide to the Holidays. The Family Guy holiday book pairs nicely with The Simpsons Christmas book already in my collection.

My luggage was FULL coming back into the States. Hilariously, the bag of plastic California Raisins set off alarms at TSA screening in the airport. They inspected my suitcase and pulled out the raisins--I saw the inspector start laughing when she realized what had been red-flagged as "suspicious." They immediately sent me right through!

What's in your Christmas music collection? Got any Christmas LPs or CDs with a film or TV tie-in?



Joanna Wilson is a TV researcher and book author specializing in Christmas entertainment. More about the TV programs mentioned on this website can be found in her book "Tis the Season TV: the Encyclopedia of Christmas-themed Episodes, Specials, and Made-for-TV Movies." Her most recent book "Triple Dog Dare: Watching--& Surviving--the 24-Hour Marathon of A Christmas Story" was released in 2016. Her books can be found at the publisher's website: 1701 press.com

*Support this website and its research by purchasing the books at 1701 press.com