About Christmas TV History

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Christmas in July 2022: SNL (1986)



Merry Christmas in July! It is Day #5 in the month-long celebration of Christmas entertainment. As announced before, 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 Saturday Night Live parody sketch known as "The Lost Ending of 'It's a Wonderful Life'" that was first broadcast in 1986 in the episode hosted by William Shatner, with musical guest Lone Justice. The sketch was rebroadcast numerous times, including in the "Best of SNL Christmas" prime time holiday specials of 1992, 1999, 2002, and 2009.


Dana Carney performing his Jimmy Stewart impression, here as George Bailey.


The season 12, black-and-white sketch "The Lost Ending of 'It's a Wonderful Life'" suggests a "forgotten" alternative filmed ending to the 1946 holiday movie. Here, the residents of Bedford Falls discover Mr. Potter’s deception about finding Uncle Billy’s money and they give Potter his due. The comedy here is seeing George Bailey, Mary Bailey, and the others delivering ridiculously violent vengeance. This "Lost Ending" completely contradicts the feel-good, spiritually uplifting ending we all know so well but also pokes fun at how satisfying it feels to see Mr. Potter experience some painful consequences from the community he exploits. 


The cast in this sketch includes Saturday Night Live regulars Dana Carvey as George Bailey, Jan Hooks as Mary Bailey, Phil Hartman as Uncle Billy, Dennis Miller as Harry, Kevin Meany as Dave, and Jon Lovitz as Mr. Potter.

Saturday Night Live has created other parody sketches with references to It's A Wonderful Life however the 1986 one is the most memorable. There is an It's a Wonderful Life sketch in the 1988 episode hosted by Danny Devito, in Val Kilmer's opening monologue in a 2000 episode, and the opening sketch of the 2018 episode hosted by Matt Damon. A 1988 episode hosted by Kevin Kline includes a talk show sketch with Dana Carvey performing as Jimmy Stewart plugging It's a Wonderful Life released on home video. Merry Christmas in July!

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: 1701 press.com

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

1 comment:

  1. A few times watching the movie, our family has commented on how Mr. Potter is just so vile for hiding the money and letting things get so bad. So I can see the value in this cathartic sketch. His valet goon also knows what happened to the cash and kept his mouth shut, too. Jerks.