Tuesday, December 18, 2007

the 12 days of christmas...specials

i dunno about you, but i *LOVE* holiday-themed entertainment. i love christmas music, christmas movies, and the animated christmas shows from when we were kids. i even love the "special episodes" that regular tv programs have...including programs that probably shouldn't have them...like bones! (because christmas & forensic anthropology go together like...well, like two things that really, REALLY don't go together at all...o'course, having said that, i loved the repeat which aired last week AND this year's holiday episode from two weeks ago.)

so i thought it would be fun to make a top ten list of my faves. but then, of course, i couldn't quite narrow it down to ten, so i added a couple extras.

before i begin, let's address something that is bound to come up: no, it's a wonderful life is not on my list. nor is a christmas story. the reason? i don't really care for either of those. i realize it is practically HERESY to say so! i know they are the two most popular christmas movies of all time, and i respect that. i'm not saying they aren't high quality, well-made films. i just don't particularly like 'em. whilst i'm embarking on holiday confessions i might as well also tell you straight out: i *hate* eggnog. (there, i've said it.) yes, as a matter of fact, i AM weird. thank you for pointing that out! (anyone to whom that thought is only now occurring for the first time, i implore you: seek help!)

but here now the list, in no particular order:

sherlock holmes: the blue carbuncle
from the first series of jeremy brett's tenure, complete with the original watson, david burke. it sticks almost perfectly faithfully to the conan-doyle story...which doesn't *entirely* make sense if you think about it too hard...but to me it's the ultimate christmas-themed mystery.

the magnificent bill paterson is a scottish dj who gets dumped by the love of his life a week before christmas. so of course then...as often happens in these situations...he becomes embroiled in a turf war between rival ice cream vendors! bill forsyth, writer/director of gregory's girl and local hero is absolutely on form here, and yet somehow, nobody knows about this film. pity.

the first--and arguably best--of the great rankin/bass stop-motion animation classics. rudolph and i are precisely the same age, having both made our xmas debuts in 1964. (of course there was considerable "pre-production work" involved for each of us!)

you know it and you love it...or not...but either way, there is nothing i can add except, "merry christmas, charlie brown!!!"

imdb says this is from 1989, and i believe them, but i have no memory of ever having seen it aired (before or since) except for one december afternoon, sick in bed, about ten years ago, when it was on cable. it's got all your favorite "muppet-show" muppets, plus the characters from sesame street, and cameo appearances by fraggles, muppet babies, and jim henson. they sing, they dance, they tell jokes (wocka-wocka-wocka!) if you like muppets, you'll enjoy it; if you don't like muppets, i doubt this will convert you.

this was my father's all-time favorite film. and being as he was not really a "film guy", that fact totally stands out in my mind. when i was little, he'd scan the tv guide eagerly starting in late november to see when it would be on. even after the advent of vhs, he still did this. he never wanted or needed to own the movie. he preferred to watch it when it was on television, even if that meant sitting through commercials. of course i was an adult before i really "got" the story. it's the typical 1940's/50's style musical, really, with the advantages of being in glorious technicolor, having an amazing all-star cast, and sporting a score by irving berlin.

this is the 1951 version with alastair sim. of course there are LOTS of versions of this, many are excellent in one way or another, a few are truly appalling (there was a tv adaptation in the 80's, at the height of susan-lucci-mania of which i am still having flashbacks. yikes!) but to my mind, this one is probably the best. for me, it just works, perfectly, in all respects.

some versions of the vhs and dvd have a "making of" special which is truly wonderful. i mean, think about it: chuck jones had the extraordinary vision to choose a children's book which takes *maybe* 10 minutes to read aloud at the very most, and by virtue of adding songs and stretching the action, manages to fill 26 minutes without harming or even "messing with" dr. seuss' original material. genius.

even before he met wes anderson, bill murray could take a film, and by sheer force of his own comedic will, make it good. granted, this baby feels just a teensy bit dated...and it co-stars bobcat goldthwaite for pete's sake!...and yet, i love it anyway, every time.

since the re-consitution of doctor who there have been *several* wonderful christmas episodes, but this is my favorite. it's set in cardiff, in 1869, with simon callow as charles dickens ,and an appropriately spooky, ghost-filled plot. what else do you need??! (hint: nothing!)

in this version, rowan atkinson is a victorian incarnation of blackadder who's friendly, unselfish, caring, giving, and kind. thank goodness the spirit of christmasses past & future (as embodied by robbie coltrane) arrives to fix all that!

bernard and the genie
this little gem was written by richard curtis--of love, actually fame (a decent xmas movie as well!)--for british tv in the 1990's. it's basically a modern-day version of aladdin, with alan cumming as the hapless lamp owner and lenny henry as the genie. it is, to my mind, everything a christmas movie ought to be if it possibly can: a little bit silly (ok, quite a bit silly), a little bit sweet, fairly family friendly, and absolutely charming. if i was going to pick one favorite off this list...this'd probably be it.

so what do you like to watch around the holidays?! (tracy, being a trendsetter, has already posted her list over t'weekend!) c'mon...i know there's something to which you know all the words, sing all the songs, and just generally feel "it wouldn't be christmas (or hannukah, or kwanzaa or yule) without............"! SPILL! !!


  1. dh & i LOVE blackadder!!! Never seen a blackadder christmas carol; gonna have to try to find that one :)

    love bones, rudolf, grinch too:)

  2. Loving your list .... it has inspired me to seek out some of them for festive viewing.

    My faves are the Muppets and Alastair Sim ones. Oh how I used to love a good black and white Ealing comedy starring Mr Sim and Margaret Rutherford.

    Honestly, I never realised I was quite this old ..... how depressing. Well, CHEERS, Lauren, THANKS for that!!


  3. well LOL... i forgive you for not liking A christmas story (not my fav either... but its amusing) but i'm going to have to work on it for "it's a wonderful life" ... she said shaking her trendsetting hilighted head....
    some of the ones you have listed i have no idea what they are. perhaps its my feeble old brain :-)
    Now my list didn't contain any kids stuff except Emmet Otter but i guess its cos its a given to watch Rudolph! My lord... who doesnt!?!?!?!? I remember clearly seeing it the first time (and most of its successive runs thereafter) it was ever on TV (yes, honey..... i'm that old. you are one year younger than my little sister...wow...) Also Charlie Brown (Snoopy i love you) and the Grinch (again i'm old enough to recall reading the book before the movie ok... )But i didnt include any animated or otherwise - i really should do a second post LOL... oh yeah.. maybe along with my RICKRACK!!!!!!

  4. Love your list, and we do share a couple in common. The Grinch is #1. My hubby likes the Blackadder shows as well, but I can't make out a darn word they are saying. I guess my British isn't very good, haha. I am shocked though, that you don't like Egg Nog, have you ever tried it with a little rum!! Mmm, that's Christmas!!

  5. Ok, I'll admit that I *do* love The Christmas Story. But I also love The Muppets...at any time of year! :^)

  6. Ok I love your list it cracks me up. Now I Love "A Christmas Story" & I hate the Charlie Brown one...lol.

    I love all the animated clay ones too funny.

    happy holidays!

  7. Hehe...great list, Lauren. :) Merry Christmas!!

  8. Hate Eggnog? Make that two of us! I have never had it...nor do I think I ever will. The thought of raw eggs....ewwwwwwwww!!!!!!!

  9. I'm with you on not caring too much for those Christmas movies. Charlie Brown Christmas is a must in my home! Along with "I Want a Dog For Christmas".
    We also watch all those claymation cartoons about Christmas: Rudolph, etcetera...
    But for me, the holidays isn't just about watching Christmas movies, it's about enjoying some of the classic movies. My favorites being just about any Carey Grant movie and someone who deserves his own sentence: Gene Wilder. LOVE him!


the *BEST* part of blogging is the comments, dontcha think? thanks for taking time to leave one! ~♥~