About Christmas TV History

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

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.


  1. I'm from NC but don't know A Beaufort Christmas. I'll have to be on the lookout if they who it again.

  2. Beaufort is a picturesque small town on the NC coast near Morehead City and Atlantic Beach. I've been there a couple times on trips to the coast and there are scenes of the town decorated for Christmas in the show between songs.

  3. Hugh, It's on the UNC-TV Explorer Channel on the following days: Monday, December 16, 10:00 am, Tuesday, December 17, 05:00 pm, December 18, 03:00 am and Friday, December 20, 03:00 am. Also on the UNC-TV NC Channel on Monday, December 23, 01:00 pm. These are sub-channels of UNC-TV. Hope you can watch it.