Sunday, December 1, 2013

10 Christmas Holiday Programs

It's that holiday season again.  It comes once a year, but it almost seems like it never really ends.  Maybe some time in mid July, but for the most part, you are either preparing for, or recovering from, the Holidays.  Of course if you are a child, then the Holidays only mean that you are about to partake of one of the 4 paydays afforded you as a child. 1. Christmas, 2. Easter (candy only), 3. Halloween (candy only) 4. Birthday.  The great part about being a kid is that these things just happen to you.  And it seems that everything around you changes to accommodate the holiday you don't understand why, but it's pure magic. When I was a boy during Christmas, a big part of the magic was the TV programming.  There was no on demand, there was only TV Guide.  If you missed it, you were a year away from the next broadcast.  In no particular order.

10 - Frosty the Snowman - The non-secular show. By non-secular I mean that it had no specific affiliation to Christmas whatsoever.  A story about a dumb snowman and his magic hat.  It always seemed to air at Christmas time, even though it might have been better suited around February when there are no holidays of note and just winter.  It seems that it had a sprig of holly around the title, I guess that was enough to tie it into Christmas.  More than it has in the song certainly.  Yet that song would also make it's way into the grade school program.  Still I would watch it and any other special show that came up and it occupies my memories with the sounds of Happy Birthday!

9 - Rudolph - One of the greats.  Rudolph has always been around and it took me quite a while to realize that Rudolph was not one of the initial reindeer.  The outsider, the underdog, the hometown boy makes good.  The ultimate story of triumph over adversity.  That's what this story wanted to be and to a great part was.  Misfit toys, Dental Elves.  This show had it all.  This was the first show that I remember seeing in stop motion.  It had such a weird look to it, I loved it.

8 - Santa Claus is coming to town - Another stop motion great, the story of Santa Claus.  It featured a red haired guy named Kris Kringle that looked quite a bit like Glenn Campbel.  He had to figure out a way to get toys into kids away from the watchful eye of the dreaded burger meister meister burger.  Well you know the story, because you've seen it as much as I did. More fun stop motion. In fact, after this show, any other show that used similar stop motion techniques would immediately bring Christmas to mind. Defrocked winter wizards were the most compelling part of this show for me.  It taught me that once you no longer have evil in your heart, you have no power for your magic.  I'm not sure if that's a good or bad lesson, they didn't really elaborate.  It also contained a great song that was non-Christmas.  Put one foot in front of the other.  yay!

7 - Year without a Santa Claus - This had less to do with Santa and more to do with two warring factions of the weather world Heat miser and Cold miser.  They had the same song but switched the lyrics to suit their specific climate.  'They call me heat miser...whatever I touch...melts in my clutch...I'm too much'  Loved that song.  Apparently they called a truce long enough to allow snow in southtown U.S.A.  I think it's somewhere in Alabama. It's been remade a few times (the song) so I think more than just me liked it. Had they remade the show for current times.  I think they would be called the climate change brothers. Stop motion again, but worth watching every year.

6 - The Grinch who stole Christmas - The great Boris Karlof narrated this show about whos in whoville.  These are the same whos that Horton had heard.  Boris also voiced the menacing Grinch.  Classic show animated by Chuck Jones of Looney tunes fame.  This show was just about the spirit of sharing and community.  Not heavy handed, just fun.  I loved the dog.  The who carol made up in who language was also nice. Little Cindy Lou who.  The cutest little slug you ever saw!

5 - A Cricket in Times Square / Very merry Cricket - This one didn't show up as often but I saw it enough times and had memories attached to it, that it made sense for me to add it since this is my blog.  I was supposed to be doing forgotten homework when this show came on (also animated by Chuck Jones).  Rather than do that I sneaked to the edge of the door frame to watch the show.  Followed by a zip back to my desk to pay small attention to the assignments that I still don't remember.  Well my dad caught me and closed the door.  I received a well deserved scolding.  For that reason I still remember this show.  Otherwise, I'm not sure it comes on that much anymore.

4 - Star Wars Christmas Special - Speaking of never comes on.  This show was a bomb from the get go.  I remember seeing it when it aired and MAN was it a stinker.  Just horrible.  You can find it online for viewing if you have a strong enough constitution.  This must have been a part of a contract or something because nobody looks too happy to be in it.  Give the Wookies their due.  Apparently they had Wookee Christmas.

3 - The Little Drummer Boy - This is really the only story that speaks directly to the story of Christmas by inserting the drummer boy heard in fictitious song into the Nativity.  Another stop motion animation in the same style as Rudolph and Santa.  This song made famous by the Von Trapp Singers.  Yes, THOSE Von Trapps.  Had quite a bit of play in the 50's.  The show itself kind of creeped me out for reasons unknown.  I think it was because they painted a smile on the kid and made him drum.  That painted smile reminded me too much of clowns.  I think it's safe to say that everyone hates clowns.

2 - A Christmas Carol (1971) - Charles Dickens wrote the definitive story about Christmas spirit in the Christmas Carol.  It has been made many times.  The only reason I choose this model over the myriad others is because it was perfect in my memory.  The Muppet Christmas Carol holds a very close second and still a dear place in my heart.  Were it not for that strange love song and reprisal in the middle of it, it might have gained first.  The animation from 1971 was something I stumbled upon and didn't see it in the standard weekend nightly holiday schedule.  It would come mid day on a Saturday but I still remember the feeling of it.  Even when it was happy, it couldn't quite get away from the Dickensian England that engulfed it.  It had all of the elements of the story that you needed in a format digestible by a kid.

1 - Charlie Brown Christmas - Charles Shultz didn't even like this show!  He thought it was really poorly animated.  Yes, it probably was.  The cartooning itself wasn't what I would call polished.  My kids to this day will take all of the flaws in the cartooning of all of the Peanuts specials and make fun of them.  But the voice acting by those kids and the music by Vince Guraldi propel this into my favorite Christmas program bar none.  The story itself seems so somber.  It's as much a story about fearing that you will outgrow Christmas as it is a celebration of the Holiday.  I love it as much as an adult as I loved it as a kid.

In 15 days I'll stumble across the deadline with another list of 10 things.  You'll probably be too busy to read them, but stop by for a cup of hot chocolate!  Holidaze are upon us.  Don't allow the trappings that surround the season become more burdensome than the Holiday warrants.  Often it's more than enough to just be together for the holidays.


Michael said...

Ah, now that was "must see tv". I still remember scouring the paper, working out the holiday schedule, and protesting vehemently if mom and dad had any trifling that would interfere.

Anonymous said...