Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Christmas in July 2019: Rick





Christmas in July 2019: Rick, from Twitter: @rickc817

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

Steve Martin doing "What I Want For Christmas."


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

Most definitely all of it. I'm one of those odd mates who loves everything about Christmas. Drives my wife crazy. The Brady Christmas is always a player in our house. I love Twas the Night Before Christmas animated special from 1974 with the town clock and the mice. Loved that as a kid and still do. The songs are catchy. Also the greatest animation of all time which is A Charlie Brown Christmas. And who can forget the movie Elf. Oh and the oft forgotten Emmet Otter's Jugband 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?)

Have to say A Charlie Brown Christmas from the great Vince Guaraldi. I have that on CD and it's a player in the Suburban on vacation.


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

Any of the ones I listed above.


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

There are more romance movies like on the Hallmark Channel. But again...I'm probably the only guy that wants to watch all of them. Why?  They're good. Meaning good and wholesome. It's really nice to watch good, clean programming and refresh your mind from everything else that's around. They may have all the same basic plot...but that's ok. Good clean programming beats the opposite every day.


Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Christmas in July 2019: Jim Fanning




Christmas in July 2019: Jim Fanning at http://jimattulgeywood.blogspot.com/ 
On Twitter at https://twitter.com/EmeliusBrowne and on Instagram at  https://www.instagram.com/jim.fanning1/

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

Probably because of my love for animation and classic Christmas songs, my favorite is probably Justin Timberlake, along with Bill Hader, Andy Samberg and Fred Armisen (as Alvin and the Chipmunks), performing “The Christmas Song” (Christmas Don’t Be Late).” It’s so funny to see these performers dressed up as the Chipmunks and singing this favorite.


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

For me animation is most important. Next for me is comedies. I will watch any Christmas episode on any TV sitcom series. I have found some new good shows that I wasn’t watching that way!



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?)

John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together. It’s my all time favorite holiday album. Close runners-up are A Charlie Brown Christmas and the Tennessee Ernie Ford: The Story Of Christmas.


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

Seems to me you have reviewed everything! Maybe some of the newer specials like A Legendary Christmas. Also maybe some of the movies that feature Christmas scenes (and are therefore considered by some as Christmas movies) such as Desk Set or Catch Me if You Can. If you have already done this, sorry I missed it!


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

Just as others have said, it’s the decline in TV specials, animated and otherwise, and the rise of Hallmark Channel-style romantic holiday movies. Another trend I can mention ties in with my answer to number 2. Most comedies in recent times have a Christmas episode every season. Years ago, generally speaking, even though some TV series would have a Christmas episode, it wasn’t the norm…and it was rare for a series to produce more than one. Since Christmas is my favorite time it’s always festive and fun to see how the characters on each show deal with holiday themes.


Monday, July 29, 2019

Christmas in July 2019: Anson Sage Jr.



Christmas in July 2019: Anson Sage Jr.

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

Chris Farley as 45-year-old divorced motivational speaker Matt Foley playing Santa Claus at a local mall. Every time I read 'Twas The Night Before Christmas, I can't help but hear Farley's version:

“‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the van
Your ol’ buddy Matt fell asleep behind the can.
His children were nestled two time zones away,
With his first wife and her husband, in sunny L.A.
Matt woke up and realized with a chill and a quiver
That he was living in a van down by the river!“


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

I'm always looking forward to new Christmas animation of any kind. I'm currently looking forward to Netflix's Klaus, hopefully by Christmas of this year. Back when I watched more TV, I was a fan of watching the yearly Doctor Who Christmas special on Christmas Day, but overall I most look forward to the yearly animated specials like How The Grinch Stole Christmas and A Charlie Brown 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?)

Vince Guaraldi's soundtrack for A Charlie Brown Christmas will always be number 1. A close second would be 1966's How The Grinch Stole Christmas, followed by John William's score for Home Alone. "Somewhere In My Memory" always brings a tear to my eye.


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

I'd love to see a review of "The Husbands of River Song," the 2015 Doctor Who Christmas special.


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

I'm noticing more Christmas entertainment geared toward a more adult, cynical view of the holiday, with families being dysfunctional and argumentative, and more sex, drugs and alcohol for the sake of comedy and shock value. Personally, I'm not a fan.



Sunday, July 28, 2019

Christmas in July 2019: Sally Silverscreen

(The Middle)

Christmas in July 2019: Sally Silverscreen from 18 Cinema Lane

1. What is your favorite Saturday Night Live Christmas/Hanukkah/New Year's sketch? 
Because I don’t watch Saturday Night Live, I don’t have a favorite Christmas themed sketch from that show. When it comes to Christmas themed comedy, however, I’ve enjoyed the Christmas episodes of The Middle and Last Man Standing.

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

I definitely look forward to watching Hallmark’s Christmas movies! It’s interesting to see how different or similar the films are compared to the previous years. Seeing the creativity that can come from some of these movies is also interesting. I try to catch some of the Christmas movies on other networks as well, to see what they have to offer.



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?) 

After giving this a little bit of thought, I chose the soundtrack from Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s Ghosts of Christmas Eve. The music found in this movie is from the band’s first album, Christmas Eve, which was released three years prior to the film’s premiere. This is an example of when a Christmas program’s soundtrack is better than the program itself, as I found this movie to be disappointing.


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

If you are able to, can you please review the 2019 Hallmark Hall of Fame Christmas film? So far, there has been no announcements made about this project. I’m hoping this movie will be revealed at this year’s Hallmark TCA Summer Event!


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

I’ve noticed one trend, specifically from Hallmark, that concerns me as a Hallmark fan. Hallmark’s Christmas movie line-ups have become bigger and more popular every year. But it seems like Hallmark puts so much focus on their Christmas line-ups, that their other priorities are falling to the way-side. In 2019, there will be two months dedicated to premiering Christmas movies. Plus, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Hallmark Channel’s “Countdown to Christmas” line-up, a Christmas movie has aired every Thursday (on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries) and Friday (on Hallmark Channel) so far, as well as the entire month of July being reserved amongst Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries for “Christmas in July”. However, it’s been a few years since we’ve seen a new St. Patrick’s Day, Independence Day, Father’s Day, and/or Memorial Day movie from either network. It looks like Hallmark is trying to make up for this by having Hallmark Movies & Mysteries air their military related Christmas movies on Independence Day and Hallmark Channel incorporating this holiday into their film, Sister of the Bride. But, it just isn’t the same.






Saturday, July 27, 2019

Christmas in July 2019: John D.


(Not sure this is the sketch John references--and Raging Rudolph is from MadTV--but we can discuss it further in the comments. )


Christmas in July 2019: John D.

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

There are so many to pick from! But I think my favorite has to be the one where they recreated Rankin/Bass' Rudolph special - and they copied the characters and the stop-motion animation perfectly - but they gave it a dark spin, with a little bit of South Park thrown in there as well!


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

I'd say all of it. As far as Christmas episodes go, they are usually my favorite episodes of  TV series anyway. Among more recent series, I especially love the ones from the Big Bang Theory, Last Man Standing, The Goldbergs and the BBC Comedy show Mrs. Brown's Boys.



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?)

For me, it's Nick Bicat's score from the 1984 version of "A Christmas Carol," with George C. Scott. Wonderful soundtrack, but was never released. I emailed Nick Bicat once and said the score was really good and asked him if he was ever going to release it. He said he gets that all the time and he was working on it. A few years later I emailed him again and asked him whatever happened to the score, and in return he asked for my mailing address. A couple of weeks later I received a CD-R in the mail from London. The score was never released at the time. He just made a copy for me and sent it to me, and because of that it's one of my most treasured Christmas CD's.
(The score did see a limited release years later though.)


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

That's a tough one, I'm not sure I remember all of the reviews and what has already been covered, but I certainly enjoy all the ones I read on there!


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

Something I noticed with a lot of Christmas special reruns, especially on the 25 Days of Christmas schedule, is how much they edit the shows to make more room for commercials. Not only that, but they slightly speed them up to make even more room for commercials. You can usually tell because the audio has a slight whooshy sound when sped up. I've noticed that in everything from Rankin/Bass reruns to George C. Scott's Christmas Carol. The editing and the audio are so bad that I can hardly watch them on TV sometimes and just stick to the DVDs instead. I don't mean to say everybody does that, but you can sure tell when they do!

Friday, July 26, 2019

Christmas in July 2019: Chantelle



 


Christmas in July 2019: Chantelle from All Things Christmas.com

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

I mean, it's definitely Adam Sandler's Hannukah song right? An absolute gem of the mid-90s I think that literally everyone I knew sang that song for weeks and weeks, maybe even years after it came out!


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

I really enjoy Holiday specials from British shows like Downton Abby and Doctor Who. I've not been a fan of the newer Christmas Movies (even the newest Grinch movie was only okay).



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

The Bill Murray Netflix Christmas Special was pretty great, and had a few pretty unique and funny songs. Plus, I hate to admit, but Miley Cyrus can *really sing*


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

I can't think of one that I know about that you haven't covered. I'd have to really scrape my brain for something not very well known. ... like the 1990's Christmas episode of the New Kids on the Block animated series? https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1578459/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1


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

There are quite a few more 'adult' themed Christmas movies. The Night Before, and Office Christmas Party come to mind. I don't mind - as I am an adult now, but as I have a six year old, I'd love to see at least one new animated or kid-centric Christmas film each year as well.



Thursday, July 25, 2019

Christmas in July 2019: Patrick Labelle





Christmas in July 2019: Patrick Labelle
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

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

I know that SNL has put out many hilarious holiday-related sketches, and perhaps this isn't their best one, but it's the one that pops into mind automatically and makes me laugh... the infamous "Dick in a Box." It's so ludicrous. I love how Andy Samberg and Justin Timberlake act so seriously throughout the whole video as do Maya Rudolph and Kristen Wiig. It's really juvenile and totally stupid, but it's also just plain ridiculous and funny. I sometimes wonder how this sketch would've turned out if it had paired Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake. Well, it doesn't really matter, this one is a classic (even if it's for the wrong reasons!)

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

I love most of it. I'll make an effort each year to watch as much holiday programming as time permits, but, in recent years, I haven't had as much time to watch as in the past. My brother and I share a passion for holiday programming since we were children. For a number of years, he has prepared a list of specials, movies, animation programs and more that he plans on watching each season. For the past few years, I've started doing the same. I add to this list throughout the year as I learn or read about programs I don't know about. Among other things, we both like finding obscure tv movies from the 1970s and 1980s, and sharing our observations with each other. There are a few staples that I do look forward to each year that I've been watching for decades. These animation specials were among our favourites growing up and I now like to watch these with my four children: A Garfield Christmas Special (I just love this one!), 'Twas the Night Before Christmas (the Rankin/Bass special), the original How the Grinch Stole Christmas (I love this one too!) and A Pink Christmas (I really enjoy the simplicity of this one). So, in looking back at your original question, I guess that I look forward to watching animation specials the most, but I could probably just as easily offer an argument for other types of programming such as holiday movies (classics and newer ones) as well as other specials and early tv movies. I end up anticipating so many hours of holiday viewing pleasure only to end up disappointed at how quickly the season has passed.



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 have a few answers here. In my entry for last year's Christmas in July party, I mentioned that I love the Andy Williams Christmas specials. I discovered these by watching a PBS pledge drive where they showed a compilation of some of his best numbers done throughout the years and they interspersed this montage with celebrity interviews. It was really well done. Although I haven't seen all of his annual specials, you could probably pick any one of these specials and you'd have the perfect holiday soundtrack. Most of his specials included both religious and secular songs performed by Williams himself and, in many cases, with others including his brothers and the Osmonds. There is something about these specials that make them stand out.

My second thought would be to consider the Rankin/Bass specials. So many of these have songs arranged by Murray Laws with lyrics written by Jules Bass, which have become classics. I mentioned this earlier, but one of my favourite Rankin/Bass specials is 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. I have the vinyl LP for this special and, I can't really pinpoint why, but I truly enjoy watching this short program and listening to its soundtrack. I'm hypothesizing here, but nostalgia probably explains why I like this particular entry in the Rankin/Bass canon. Each year, growing up, my brother and I would end our Christmas Eve programming marathon by watching this one. The special only has three songs, but they are thoughtful and entertaining: "Give Your Heart a Try," "Even a Miracle Needs a Hand" and "Chimes are Calling (Santa, Santa)." (The latter is heard throughout the special and is quite catchy). Obviously, many Christmas specials have great soundtracks and I wanted to highlight two examples that stand out for me.


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

This is great question. Four or five years ago, I discovered your blog and read all of its posts within a two-month period. I was so impressed by the details, the screenshots, the comments from other readers. I started a spreadsheet to capture episodes, movies or other titles that sparked interest and that I hadn't seen. I still have this list and turn to it frequently (along with your great encyclopedia). So, prior to answering your question, I used the search box on your site to query its content to see if you had written something about Nilus the Sandman: The Boy Who Dreamed Christmas. This 1991 Canadian special combined a live action introduction and conclusion with an animated story taking place while our main character falls asleep and is guided by Nilus to visit Santa at the North Pole on Christmas Eve. The story is simple and common, but this special resonates with me (and my brother - again!). I was surprised to discover, while writing this answer, that I was 14 years old when this special first aired! Seems a bit odd for me to cherish it as if it were something that I watched when I was a younger child, but there is something about it that I enjoy even now as an adult. There are funny segments within it and it might warrant a longer essay on your blog.


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

I have noticed a few trends over the past decade or so. First, the plethora of Hallmark-style tv movies. I know that these movies have devoted fan bases, but I can't help but dream of the day that will perhaps see the return of stories reminiscent of tv movies of yesteryear that had more meaningful and realistic plotlines. The tv movies of the 1970s and 1980s (and, one could argue, even some in the early 1990s) had a sincere message to deliver rather than a sappy and predictable storyline. I can watch one or two of these movies with my wife per year, but that's about it. I have discovered the Deck the Hallmark podcast which is fantastic. Knowing that I can turn to one of their episodes after watching one of the Hallmark movies makes it more bearable. Their shows are so funny!

The second trend I have noticed is the lack of great holiday feature films. The last great film to come out of Hollywood, in my opinion, was Elf back in 2003 (with a few other ones during that decade of the 2000s). However, since then, it seems like Hollywood has failed to deliver anything meaningful and, even when trying to remake tried and tested stories, the end results fail to inspire and entertain us (or, at least, me).

Finally, my third observation is a renewed interest in tv holiday musical specials. I wasn't around during the golden era of the Andy Williams specials or of the Bing Crosby, Perry Como, Frank Sinatra ones, but there's something about them that I truly enjoy. It seems that, in recent years, there has been a bit of a resurgence of this kind of programming. I really enjoyed the Michael Bublé specials and was surprised by the quality of more recent ones featuring, among others, Pentatonix, John Legend, Reba, Blake Shelton as well as the yearly CMA specials. It's always fun to have these in the background while wrapping the kids' presents. I hope that this trend continues.



Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Christmas in July 2019: Jeff Fox

 
Christmas in July 2019: Jeff Fox, Name That Christmas Special, @chrspecials

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

I always try to catch the Christmas episode of SNL because it’s always a lot of fun with cameos and a relaxed and festive atmosphere. That said, I don’t tend to remember many sketches. I usually enjoy them at the time but checking back in on them after the fact makes me wonder why I enjoyed them so much at the time. But that’s okay, that’s why it’s still live, it’s a fun Christmas show with spontaneity and cheer. It’s the closest thing we have to the old variety Christmas specials these days. Works for me!


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

Probably movies? I tend to be busy all the time so sitting down and enjoying a whole movie can be a privilege, and one which I make time for at Christmas. I do love a good Christmas special though, and ‘very special episodes,’ so really, I look forward to them all, but the luxury of Christmas movies brings a smile to my face...



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 Muppet Christmas Carol deserves year-round attention; 'Thankful Heart' should replace national anthems at sporting events, school assemblies and the Olympics.


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

I’m not sure I’ve seen your take on the Richard Mulligan version of "Night of the Meek". Or "The Star" from the same year. Actually my first thought though was ‘why no Black Christmas love?’ but I checked and you reviewed it before I discovered your site. Woo hoo, another article to check out!


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

So many more movies and specials every year! This is a good trend in general (who doesn’t love more Christmas specials?) but I certainly don’t find as many that I enjoy as much as the older ones, but if they keep making new ones, I’m sure it will happen eventually. I can’t keep up with them all anyway, maybe they’ve already made my new favourite and I just haven’t seen it yet…

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Christmas in July 2019: Laura Rachel



Christmas in July 2019: Laura Rachel, https://what-to-watch.com/

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

I haven't really watched Saturday Night Live for years. So I don't really have a sketch that I remember except Adam Sandler's Hanukkah song. When I did watch SNL I did love the Appalachian Emergency Room sketches. I believe they did do a Christmas version, Christmastime.


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

I mostly look forward to the Rockefeller Christmas Tree lighting Special. I really enjoy the music that they have on it, the musical guests. I also love watching the Hallmark Christmas movies every year. Mostly any Christmas movies.



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?)

Bridget Jones' Diary. I don't really think of Bridget Jones as a Christmas movie but it does take place around Christmas. I absolutely love the soundtrack. I mostly get a new CD of just Christmas music every year because I love Christmas music. So, I love to listen to all the classics-Bing Crosby, Josh Groban, Dean Martin, and Andy Williams.


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

I guess it'll be Little House on the Prairie Christmas episodes. Those were always fun to watch and I believe you haven't done anything on them yet.


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

I've dislike over abundance of every thing, Christmas movies and specials. I'm a traditionalist and love the watching the same specials over and over again. I also don't like how crude the Christmas entertainment has become. It's no longer the simple message and love that the older series has or it doesn't even have any message to the story.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Christmas in July 2019: Jonathan Sowers

Eddie Murphy as Gumby on SNL.
 
Christmas in July 2019: Jonathan Sowers

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

Gumby's Merry Christmas Dammit! From 12-11-82 with Eddie Murphy as Gumby. Specifically, Joe Piscopo doing Frank Sinatra making up his own hip lyrics to Silent Night. Here's what he sang...
"Silent night, holy night.
It's okay, everything's bright..
'round that virgin chick, she had a kid.
Who grew up to be famous.. you all know what he did.
Sleep! It's quiet in heaven!
Sleep! Heavenly peace."

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

Holiday Specials are my cup of tea. I remember when they were truly special and you had to be there to watch it or you missed it until maybe next year. They heightened the anticipation of Christmas for me in the 1960s as a kid and the ones they repeated yearly were worth looking forward to, like Charlie Brown, Rudolph and Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol, which were and are still my three
favorites.


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?)

A very obscure show only shown in NC called A Beaufort Christmas from 1973. Our public TV station produced the show and used to play it every year at Christmas and then it wasn't shown for years. They finally aired it again two years ago and I got it on DVR and made a DVD of it. It's only 30 minutes long, but the choir singing and their selection of songs is first rate and some are sung a
cappella. The harmony they achieved was incredibly good and there's one coloratura mezzo-soprano whose vibrato you hear over and above the crowd and it's spectacular in many of the songs.



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

The Dean Martin Christmas Special from 12-21-67, with Frank Sinatra and his family and Dean's family too, including his beautiful wife Jeannie. Another would be the Christmas parts of the movie On Moonlight Bay (1951) with Doris Day and Gordon MacRae. Sadly, we lost Doris Day this year and she had a way of brightening anyone's day with her smile and her gift of comedy and her outlook on life, which shone through all her performances. My favorite part of this movie is Doris and Gordy singing Merry Christmas All. What beautiful voices!


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

Hallmark Christmas movies being shown the last several years all December long. I don't like any of them. Formulaic treacle and trees with green leaves at Christmas. They give Christmas movies a bad name. I guess I'm not their target audience. Also anything that's a remake. The first version is always better to me.

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.