Christmas TV History is a five-part audio series created in July 2019. There are five installments: an introduction, the history of Christmas animation, the history of Christmas TV movies, yuletide variety specials and episodes, and Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol adaptations. Why these topics for the episodes here? These are the most discussed formats and topics that I’m asked about. I hope you find them satisfying.
I've been working on finalizing the expanded and updated, 2nd edition of the encyclopedia Tis the Season TV coming out next year. I’ve been researching and writing about Christmas entertainment for nearly twenty years. It’s one thing to gather data for the encyclopedia and another thing to synthesize the information. I’ve never been in a better place to share what I’ve learned.
I’m also a firm believer in examining popular culture—most importantly here, Christmas entertainment—so we can better understand ourselves through the stories we tell and connect with. Considering there are thousands of Christmas episodes, specials and TV movies, and so little scholarship on it to this point, I can say it is a body of work that is under-appreciated despite the big business the TV and film industry knows it to be. Looking back into the history of television, I can clearly see that yuletide programs have been a part of every format in TV, proving that Christmas TV History is TV history.
I’m also doing this audio series as a first step toward writing about Christmas TV History for a collection of essays that will eventually be published in print as well. The written essays will be much longer, have more depth, and refer to more examples—but starting the conversation in these fairly short, 30-minute audio episodes allows me to share some of this information now.
More installments are possible in the future—I can certainly discuss the history of sitcom/comedy Christmas episodes, theatrical-release Christmas movies, interesting adaptations of O. Henry’s “Gift of the Magi,” all 20 Rankin/Bass animated Christmas and New Year’s programs—the potential list goes on and on. If you like this series, feel free to drop me a line and suggest a potential topic for a future installment.