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Favorite Christmas Episodes

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Gary OS, Nov 30, 2009.

  1. Message #681 of 884 Nov 25, 2019
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2019
    Jack P

    Jack P Producer

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    Sort of getting my toes wet. Pre-Thanksgiving I always make sure to catch the 1952 movie "Plymouth Adventure" with Spencer Tracy, Gene Tierney and Van Johnson. Yes, it's an overly simplistic and sanitized depiction of the voyage but its earnestness wins out (great Miklos Rozsa score too).

    I also watched a string of "Tonight Shows" I have spanning November 13 to November 29, 1972 that cover the first of two return visits to New York Johnny did after the permanent move to LA (the other was May 1973; after that the loss of the old studio space to the news division effectively killed the idea of doing any more return visits to NY) since they cover Thanksgiving and the early Christmas season (Lorne Greene, in town to do the Macy's Parade appears the night before Thanksgiving).

    And right now from YT, I've converted and am watching the 1959 Macy's Thanksgiving Parade! Bill Wendell and Gene Rayburn host. Ed Wynn at one point stops by and says he's playing hooky from rehearsing for a live production of "Miracle On 34th Street" that is to air the next night. Looking it up, I see this was "lost" until discovered in the Library of Congress but has not made it out for a commercial release.
     
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  2. moviebuff75

    moviebuff75 Supporting Actor

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    I added the rare SILENT NIGHT, HOLY NIGHT from Hanna-Barbera to my collection this year, as well as A SNOW WHITE CHRISTMAS, A CHRISTMAS WITHOUT SNOW, CHRISTMAS SNOW, THE NUTCRACKER (1993), MR. KRUEGER'S CHRISTMAS, A CHRISTMAS CAROL (1954), Perry Como (1974), and Carol Burnett Christmas dvd.
     
  3. JoeDoakes

    JoeDoakes Cinematographer

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  4. MartinP.

    MartinP. Screenwriter

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    ^^^

    That Get-TV link mentions Crosby hosting ABC's Hollywood Palace. If you'd like to add two Christmas shows to your viewing, look up Hollywood Palace on youtube and you'll find two holiday episodes hosted by Bing, Season 3 Episode 13 (with the cast of Hogan's Heroes as guests!) and Season 7 Episode 12.
     
  5. Jack P

    Jack P Producer

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    Just watched the Christmas episode of S3 of "Barney Miller" and the S4 Thanksgiving episode and they need to be seen in that order at this time of year IMO to be properly appreciated. Both episodes have the conceit of lonely Inspector Luger trying to shame Barney into having him over and the Thanksgiving episode references the previous year's Christmas episode.
     
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  6. Gary OS

    Gary OS Producer

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    Great stuff, Jack. I just love watching most anything Christmas related from that era.

    Gary “my viewing will start in earnest tonight with Miracle on 34th Street” O.
     
  7. Gary OS

    Gary OS Producer

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    Sounds like a great plan, Eric. Enjoy!

    Gary “good additions” O.
     
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  8. Radioman970

    Radioman970 Lead Actor

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    Saw a few days ago, so good. The old guy, the kid, the way it ends.

     
  9. Jack P

    Jack P Producer

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    Toes wet with Wagon Train, S2-"The Mary Ellen Thomas Story" which is only tangentially Christmas. Patty McCormack (getting typecast as a bad girl because of "The Bad Seed') plays an incorrigible girl who befriends a dying girl on the Wagon Train. The Christmas hook is that once it becomes clear she's not going to live more than a couple days, Major Adams decides to have an early Christmas party for her. Her spirits become more brightened when Patty, who has run off, returns. As her friend dies, we do get to hear Robert Horton sing "Silent Night."

    This gimmick of a dying friend getting an early Christmas because she won't live to see it was later recycled in a "Family Affair" episode with Eve Plumb as the dying girl (and ending on a downer note with Buffy sobbing incoherently). Whereas "Wagon Train" would later have a traditional Christmas episode in S3 with the outstanding "The St. Nicholas Story" (written by Jean Holloway who also wrote the great "Season To Be Jolly" episode of "Dr. Kildare") "Family Affair" amazingly never had a traditional Christmas episode in its five year run.
     
  10. Jack P

    Jack P Producer

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    "The Stingiest Man In Town" (1956-Alcoa Presents live broadcast. "Lost" musical version of the Dickens classic for 55 years until a kinescope was found in the private collection of a former Alcoa executive).

    -There have been a number of musical tellings of "Christmas Carol" with the 1970 Albert Finney movie "Scrooge" probably the most famous, but this live TV musical production is probably second overall. When it appeared there was a *lot* of hype and build-up, and a cast album was actually recorded and released before the broadcast! It's kind of amazing to then realize how something like that, owing to the lack of videotape at the time, could not be shown again unless they did another "live" staging in subsequent years, and then end up largely disappearing into the realm of forgotten memory. I remember seeing the 1978 Rankin-Bass animated remake when it first aired with *zero* knowledge of the 1956 TV original and indeed had no knowledge of it until the 90s or 2000s I think.

    -Comparisons to "Scrooge" would be impossible since the former was for the film medium (though it has been redone for the stage) and "Stingiest" was for the more limited live TV medium and presented like a Broadway musical production. I tend to give the overall score edge to "Scrooge" but "Stingiest" has some great numbers (and it gets an extra point for it's "Birthday Party Of The King" number because "Scrooge" unfortunately has no counterpart to that, and in fact is totally lacking when it comes to just giving us one nod to the origin of the holiday, something it should be said the original Dickens text does not fail to do).
     
  11. Message #691 of 884 Nov 30, 2019
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2019
    JamesSmith

    JamesSmith Screenwriter

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    Guys, do you think the networks will ever want to show the "older" of less known Christmas specials I would love to see again.
    The original "Yes, Virginia. There is a Santa Clause," narrated by Jim Backus, lesser known Rankin Bass specials, the Richard Williams version of "A Christmas Carol", "The Great Santa Switch," with Art Carney. Those programs had heart, and I miss them.

    The video of Noel, narrated by Charlton Heston is way expensive, and I wish was still shown by some cable or network channel.

    New Christmas releases such as The Christmas Chronicles and Klaus, I have not seen at Wal-Mart or amazon, and they may be being kept exclusive by their streaming services.

    On the other hand, Wal-Mart has numerous Christmas specials and cartoons, but I wish they had more older titles. Have any of you noticed this? At my local Wal-Mart there was no new Christmas CD display, and every year there is at least one display with the new holiday releases?

    Any thoughts.

    --james
     
  12. Jack P

    Jack P Producer

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    I forgot to add I did catch "Miracle On 34th Street" on Thanksgiving night.

    Just a couple random ones at the moment to add.

    Car 54 Where Are You? S1-"Christmas At The 53rd"
    Naked City S1-"And A Merry Christmas To The Force On Patrol"
    Medic S1-"Red Christmas"

    The Richard Williams Christmas Carol I know is on YT. I converted my download to DVD and will make room for that later (wish it had been longer than a half hour!)
     
  13. JamesSmith

    JamesSmith Screenwriter

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    What is YT?

    --james
     
  14. KPmusmag

    KPmusmag Screenwriter
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    I think refers to youtube.

     
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  15. JohnHopper

    JohnHopper Screenwriter

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  16. Gary OS

    Gary OS Producer

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    Watched several of the new dvds I've recently purchased with Christmas episodes on them:

    Deadline - "A Story for Christmas", which was a decent enough holiday offering. Nothing to write home about, but not bad either. Concerns a young country girl that's moved to the big city and through a series of events becomes disillusioned about mankind at Christmas. Recommended

    Public Defender - "Socrates", which starred Percy Helton as a man who runs a mission on skid row helping out a young man framed for murder. Strongly Recommended

    Here's Boomer - The pilot for this short-lived early 80's series was set at Christmas time. About a mutt that moves from family to family, similar to The Littlest Hobo, Benji, and the later Lassie years. A small role for Harriet Nelson was nice, but Larry Linville, playing the villain, has one of the worst Southern accents I've ever heard. Not Recommended

    Watched all three of the Adam 12 Christmas episodes earlier this evening. None are outstanding, but they all do revolve around Christmas Eve in particular and have standard plots you'd expect. Nothing like the classic Dragnet episode though, which I'll save for later this month.

    Gary "I have to balance watching only so-so episodes for the first or second time with perennial classics" O.
     
  17. Jack P

    Jack P Producer

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    Glad that Percy Helton did something in a Christmas setting that was more noble than playing a drunken Santa! :) ("Miracle On 34th Street")

    I'm still sticking as is my custom with the lower tier shows first with the big stuff held in reserve for last.

    Cimarron City-"Cimarron Holiday".
    =Aired Christmas Eve but it's really a forced effort as we get the silly gimmick of circumstances resulting in a production of "Christmas Carol" being done in July on "Founders Day" in the town. Dinah Shore, who was married to series star George Montgomery has a quick blink cameo at the end of the episode singing "Auld Lang Syne" with the townspeople (and George as he takes off his Scrooge makeup has a double-take reaction)

    Johnny Stacatto-"The Unwise Men."
    =Not the kind of show that would lend itself to anything Christmas but in this case fellow jazz bandsman, Jack Weston (who is also making money playing Santa Claus on the side) is being pressured by his older criminal brother (Marc Lawrence who was always typecast in these roles) into taking part in a heist. Still, even Lawrence develops a conscience when the thugs he works for start applying too much pressure to terrorizing Weston, and even Cassavetes at episode's end breaks the fourth wall to say "Merry Christmas" directly to the audience.

    Gunsmoke, S1-"Magnus"
    =Another tale that is more incidental that it's taking place on Christmas as it deals with Chester handling the sudden return of his naive backwoodsman brother, Magnus and learning to appreciate him. Episode is marred unfortunately by giving us James Anderson in the only kind of role he ever seemed to play in his life, that of a wild-eyed crazed fanatic ("To Kill A Mockingbird" was just the latest example of him being typecast in that kind of role). Still, the sacred soundtrack rendition of "The First Nowell" as Doc enters at the end and the friends toast Merry Christmas is a nice ending. And I have to say that Amanda Blake was simply stunning these early years of the show.

    Oh and here's something belated I caught on-line today. The ORIGINAL 1973 broadcast of "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" with CBS intro and ads for Dolly Madison and Coke! The Chicago Museum of Broadcast Communications rotates stuff on-line you can download and they have it.

    https://museum.tv/PP_ONLINE/TV_01599-1.mp4

    And look carefully and you'll also find Perry Como Christmas shows for 1960 (with the real Virginia of "Yes Virginia" fame), 1962 and 1973! Download while you can.

    https://museum.tv/archives.htm
     
  18. Professor Echo

    Professor Echo Screenwriter

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    A bit late and on the periphery of the topic at that, but managed to watch the Thanksgiving episodes for BACHELOR FATHER (streamed) and THE BOB NEWHART SHOW (DVD). In the former, "Bentley's Double Play," S3E11, from November 26, 1959, Uncle Bentley is drafted into helping an ESL night class of immigrants put on a play about the Pilgrims. There is a bit of stereotyping here and there amongst the immigrants, but all are played by foreign actors appropriate to their part and, really, who cares about the stereotyping, the episode is 60 years old. Though it's said in the story that Uncle Bentley has previously helped direct his niece's high school play about the Pilgrims, I'm still wondering why a financial lawyer is in such demand as an amateur theater director, but it's a pretty enjoyable story. Seeing all the different ethnic groups trying to enact the parts played by the Thanksgiving Pilgrims was actually an inspired choice for celebrating the true spirit of the holiday.

    The episode of THE BOB NEWHART SHOW, "Over The River And Through The Woods," S4E11, from November 22, 1975, is often ranked as the finest Thanksgiving show of all time, a genuine classic. For me it still scores lower than the legendary WKRP with the "flying turkeys," but the NEWHART episode is definitely right up there. I'm sure everyone here has seen it, but the story is about Bob electing to stay home on the holiday with Howard, Jerry and Mr. Carlin, all drinking to excess and followed by the hi-jinks therein. I have mixed feelings about drunks being funny, both because the subject itself can be very tasteless and certainly not always funny and also because most actors have no idea how to pretend they're drunk. But this episode does wind up being hilarious and the actors are pitch perfect. Not everyone who gets drunk is an alcoholic and this episode is mostly good natured in capturing the loneliness for some during the holiday season, but also the camaraderie that results from even the most ad hoc gatherings.

    Ok, back on topic and to the other holiday now that it's December. Caught the WKRP episode on DVD, "Bah, Humbug," S3E11, airing on December 20, 1980, and actually was very disappointed by it. The previous season's Christmas episode about everyone worrying over Jennifer being alone during the holidays was very funny and sweet, but this tired rehash of the familiar plot device featuring a regular character dreaming he's Scrooge seemed very stale on all accounts. First of all, having the character of Mr. Carlson suddenly turn rather mean spirited during the holiday season was really contrived as we know he's nothing of the sort. Secondly, jerry-rigging the other cast members into characters from the Dickens classic also never rang true as they didn't bring much from their established show personas to make any impression on their own. The whole thing reeked of rushed desperation, a copy of a copy of a copy of an idea that fails to inject anything interesting or innovative within the individual framework of the show.

    Ok, onward and upward. Watch this space!
     
  19. Jack P

    Jack P Producer

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    I saw that and the previous season's Bob Newhart Show Thanksgiving episode which involved the complications when both Bob and Emily's parents show up and the sniping is heavy between Bob's mother (Martha Scott) and Emily's father (John Randolph). Barnard Hughes as Bob's father gets to set things straight. Ann Rutherford made one of her last performances as Emily's mother.
     
  20. JohnHopper

    JohnHopper Screenwriter

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    A QUICK SELECTION

    The F.B.I.: “Dark Christmas” (1972)
    The Man from U.N.C.L.E.: “The Jingle Bells Affair” (1966)
    The Big Valley: “Judgement in Heaven” (1965)
    The Untouchables: “The Night They Shot Santa Claus” (1962)
    Rawhide: “Twenty-Five Santa Clauses” (1961)
    Gunsmoke: “Magnus” (1955)
     

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