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.


15 comments:

  1. Thank you for starting us off! The SNL skit is a great one - I remember the days before YouTube and online videos, and how the great clips like these were so hard to find on video.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome, Jim. I was lucky to be #1. I have the SNL Christmas DVD, that's the only place I've been able to find this clip, but Joanna managed to find it on the internet.

      Delete
  2. Congratulations Tom on being the first. The last "variety" show I can remember with a Christmas theme was "A Colbert Christmas -- The Greatest Gift of All". I put "variety" in quotes because it was more of a comedy special but it did include mini sketches, lots of guest appearances and lots of music which are components of a variety show.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, DW! I'll have to pay more attention this season and see what's offered.

      Delete
  3. You might want to check out last year's A LEGENDARY CHRISTMAS WITH JOHN AND CHRISSY, which aired on NBC. It's a very classic comedy-musical variety special, that I really enjoyed. (My review, if you're interested: https://sleepykittypaws.tumblr.com/post/180652757249/a-legendary-christmas-with-john-and-chrissy)

    There's also the 2015 Bill Murray Netflix special A VERY MURRAY CHRISTMAS, which is more in the vein of one of the Dean Martin-Rat Pack booze-fueled specials of the '70s.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Sleepy. I remember hearing about the Bill Murray Netflix special, but somehow missed it. I will definitely check it out and read your review of Legendary Christmas.

      Delete
  4. Yes--thanks for starting us off Tom. There's something special about the music found in "A Charlie Brown Christmas" isn't there? What a great choice for favorite soundtrack :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome, Joanna. You see the questions and think the answers will be a breeze, but then you really have to sit down and think about it. And yes, the Charlie Brown Christmas music just works on so many levels. It's amazing Charles Schulz was able (and insightful enough) to go with a progressive soundtrack like that rather than defaulting to classic Christmas tunes.

      Delete
    2. Coincidentally, the Charles Schulz Museum FB page just posted this today:

      Visitor Question: "Considering Schulz's love of classical music, why was Vince Guaraldi jazz chosen for the TV specials' music?"

      Answer from the Archivist: "Following the completed filming of 'A Boy Named Charlie Brown,' Lee Mendelson needed to add music to the film. He heard Guaraldi's 'Cast Your Fate to the Wind' on the radio while driving home from visiting Schulz. Mendelson eventually contacted Guaraldi, who was a PEANUTS fan, and asked him to compose the music for 'A Boy Named Charlie Brown.' Guaraldi agreed and went on to compose the music for 17 of the TV specials." —Sarah Breaux, Archivist

      Delete
  5. Love your choice of SNL skit.
    You're right about those old specials. No one has been able to recapture that magical quality. I could never figure out why the Michael Bublé specials didn't work for me, but I think you nailed it. They feel forced.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Dana. So much of what we try to recreate these days from things that we enjoyed in the past does feel forced. I think it's that "lighting in a bottle" factor. You just can't recreate it.

      Delete
  6. The Charlie Brown soundtrack is timeless and gorgeous. Everytime it snows I think of the music that is playing when the kids catch snowflakes on their tongues (except for Lucy, who always waits for January). :-)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Great SNL skit, and fabulous soundtrack--I thought about naming that one myself. Your comments about "O Tannenbaum" (one I definitely love), and it got me thinking about the Royal Guardsmen's song about Snoopy & the Red Baron, which starts with a somber take on that carol. I'd never connected those before.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ooh, good catch, Hugh. I don't believe I ever made that connection before either.

      Delete