|The character Benson DuBois was created for the TV series Soap, but Robert Guillaume received his own spin-off sitcom Benson.|
Merry Christmas in July! It is Day #24 of the month-long celebration of Christmas/holiday entertainment. Each day this month I will be sharing brief reminisces about Christmas TV episodes, specials, and movies with a IT'S A WONDERFUL SUMMER attitude. Yes--this month I'm sharing brief essays about TV adaptations of the 1946 movie "It's a Wonderful Life" along with TV programs with significant references to the movie. Just a little something different and a way for me to show off the diversity of holiday stories I've collected in the encyclopedia Tis the Season TV (the updated and expanded 2nd edition being released soon).
Today's discussion is on the 1984 episode "Home for Christmas" from the sitcom Benson. In this story, Benson accidentally hits his head while last-minute Christmas shopping, and he finds himself in heaven talking with his mother Lois. She offers to show him what his friends’ lives will be like without him. In a retelling of the 1946 movie It’s a Wonderful Life, Benson learns how much his friends need him when he sees that the scheming Clayton is now Governor, Governor Gatling is the mansion’s servant, young Katie is already divorced and directionless, and Kraus has fallen on hard times. Benson’s “angel” shows him the office Christmas party and he sees how much they’ve lost their holiday spirit.
Although Benson’s friends can’t see him, he sings “O Little Town of Bethlehem” and his spirit inspires them. When he awakens in the hospital, Benson chooses to continue to help and support his friends.
Just before the credits, the cast break the fourth wall to each offer their holiday greetings to viewers watching at home.
The cast includes Robert Guillaume as Benson DuBois, James Noble as Governor Gatling, Missy Gold as Katie, Inga Swenson as Kraus, Rene Auberjonois as Clayton, and Beah Richards as Lois.
This month, I've shared a wide variety of adaptations, parodies, and significant references to the holiday movie It's a Wonderful Life. There have been comedies, dramas, TV movies--and some adaptations are found in children's programs. I've even tried to share a few examples of TV programs that adapt It's a Wonderful Life's narrative structure in episodes that are not Christmas stories. The influence of Frank Capra's movie is powerful. I have just one more week of Christmas in July. Thanks for joining me in this journey.
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 latest book "Triple Dog Dare:
Watching--& Surviving--the 24-Hour Marathon of A Christmas Story"
was released in 2016. She is currently updating and expanding the
encyclopedia for an upcoming release. Her books can be found at the publisher's website:
*Support this website and its research by purchasing the books at 1701 press.com