TV Guide listed 109 Christmas shows to be broadcast this holiday season. (Golly, I hope I counted correctly. Did I miss something?) I know everyone eagerly awaits their favorites. Here are my mine.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Raindeer. I like to start the season on a light note. I watch Hermie (“I want to be a dentist”) –a discontented Elf, and his friend, Rudolph the –well, you know. They want to be “independent” together. (It’s my second favorite line in all the Christmas TV shows. My favorite line is –wait a bit, you’ll see.) And Yukon “Silver and Gold” Cornelious, The Abominable, and –from the Isle of Misfit Toys— Charlie-in-the-Box. “Who wants a Charlie-in-the-box?” I do, and so do you, right? Will Christmas be cancelled or will Rudolph save the holiday? What do you think, kids?
A Charlie Brown Christmas. Is there ANYBODY who hasn’t seen this show? “It’s not such a bad tree after all, Charlie Brown.” “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.” And, as Charlie’s younger sister reads him her “endless” gift list for Santa, she says: “And if that’s too complicated, just send money: preferably, tens and twenties.” (Charlie moans; and his sister says, earnestly) “All I want is my fair share.” THAT’S my favorite line. And for those few of you who are seeing it for the first time: don’t worry. Everything turns out OK.
A Christmas Carol. Yes, I know there have been many versions of this film. Starring, as Ebenezer Scrooge, Alistair Sim, Michael Caine, Patrick Stewart, Albert Finney, and many others. My favorite stars George C. Scott as Scrooge. Scott is perfect: from a money grubbing b__________, then questioning, worried he’s waited too long, to a believer: “I’ll believe in all 3 Christmases –the past, the present, and the future. I swear it on my soul, Jacob Marley.” He’s a better Scrooge than he was as Patton –and that’s saying something. The location filming –in a town the same age as the story itself – and cast are marvelous. Remember: Edward Woodward as the Ghost of Christmas Present; David Warner as Bob Cratchit; Susannah York as Mrs. Cratchit; Roger Rees as Fred; and, as Jacob Marly: Frank Finlay –who would scare anyone into believing anything. Glorious.
A Christmas Story. Written by NYC’s Jean Shepard, who has a cameo in the film (He says: (To Ralphie) “The line starts back there.”) Yes, Ralphie and all the kids—good and bad, Ralphie’s Mom (Melinda Dillon, the wife in Close Encounters of the Third Kind), Dad (Darren McGavin, check his bio on www.Imdb.com), and grown up Ralphie (check his bio AND picture today in Imdb) –everybody is fantastic. Were your Christmas’ like this? If you have not seen it, do yourself a favor: watch it this year!
Miracle on 34th Street. This is the film that, legally, answers the question once and for all: Is there a Santa Claus? No smoke and mirrors, no magic trick, yes or no. You will like the answer and the way the story unfolds. Acting is fine and the black and white film won’t take away from your enjoyment. Edmund Gwenn won an Oscar for his performance. You will enjoy it, too –even if you could not see it when it was first presented for your viewing pleasure in 1947.
A Child’s Christmas in Wales. This may be hard to find. It was a TV movie (1987) based on the Dylan Thomas poem of the same name. Perhaps a local theater company may put on a production. The story: A family is celebrating Christmas and the young boy doesn’t want to go to sleep. He listens to his Grandfather tell of his Christmas’ of long ago. The Grandfather is planned by English actor, Denholm Elliott (A Room with a View), who is magnificent. A true family movie that will warm your heart and leave a happy tear in your eye. Give it a try. It’s worth your time.
Love Actually. This film is loved or avoided by everybody. The bottom line (IMO): A wonderful Rom-Com well written with a fantastic cast. Worth seeing if only to figure out which group you fall into or watch what seems like every English actor you’ve ever heard, and some you haven’t. Laugh with Bill Nighy (Billy Mack) or cry with Emma Thompson, enjoy the relationship of Colin Firth and Sienna Guillory (you do not know her, but you will remember her), and ask yourself: is that what happens when an X-rated film is made by Martin Freeman (The Hobbit –all 3, and Dr. Watson to Cumberbatch’s Holmes) and Heike Makatsch (try to remember her face). Fine writing and good acting with Christmas as a background for many stories.
Try any of my suggestions if you are still uncertain if you will like any of these productions. You might find a new Christmas pleasure.