Since this is the Christmas season – with the big day coming up tomorrow – I felt compelled to write a blog about my favorite Christmas-themed movies and TV shows. Invariably, I’m gonna leave something out, but I’m gonna go for broke and shoot for what I remember. With that in mind…
I really love this underrated gem of a movie. Bill Murry stars as Francis Cross, a snooty TV executive who uses his perch to shape the network in his image, including having a commercial for “A Christmas Carol” – here dubbed “Scrooge” that would literally have the power to kill people. When he meets his traveler in the vein of his former boss, he realizes he’s about to meet his Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future. When they meet, it is a roaring success of cinema. The movie has comedy, heart, and a bit of soul. The movie also stars Karen Allen, Alfre Woodard, John Forsythe, Carol Kane, and Robert Mitchum, with a score by Danny Elfman. Be on the lookout for a young Regina King as well.
I’m not afraid to admit I like this movie, the glaring deficiencies notwithstanding. Macaulay Culkin is in the lead role as Kevin McCallister, a precocious eight year old who is reluctantly getting ready to go to Paris with his family to celebrate Christmas. During an incident that got him banished to the attic, he gets left behind while the rest of the family leaves for the airport. As is to be expected, Kevin acts a fool for a while until he realizes how much he misses his family. To make matters worse, a couple of criminals have targeted his house as a prime looting spot. With the police inept (read the article I linked above), it’s up to Kevin to defend his home. The movie also stars Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern, John Heard, Catherine O’Hara, and John Candy, with a score by John Williams.
A Charlie Brown Christmas Special
There are several classic TV shows that I watch without fail, and this is one of them. Charlie Brown is unhappy with how commercialized and secularized Christmas has become and feels a sense of sorrow. After talking to Linus and Lucy (also the name of a great jazz tune by Vince Guaraldi), he decides to become the director of a school play. The directing is a mitigated disaster, because the play’s participants are more interested in commercializing the play. To try to get in the Christmas spirit, Charlie Brown decides to go get a tree, ignoring the suggestions of the rest of the kids. The story eventually comes to a head when an unexpected force helps everyone to realize the true meaning of Christmas.
Doctor Who Series Two, Christmas Special: The Christmas Invasion
This had the privilege of being the first true episode that introduced David Tennant as the Doctor. This story involves the Sycorax invading planet Earth by taking control of 1/3rd of the population with blood control. The eponymous Doctor is unmistakably absent through most of the episode, as he is recuperating from a regeneration gone wrong. He gets better, of course, but for a while there, it looks bleak for the planet. As this is his first appearance, you get a humorous bit where he tries to figure out exactly who he is and what his personality will be. This episode also stars Billie Piper, Camille Coudri, Noel Clarke, Penelope Wilton, and Sean Gilder.
Doctor Who Series Four, Christmas Special: Voyage of the Damned
This episode took place after the Doctor left Earth after Martha Jones decided to leave the TARDIS after the events of Last of the Time Lords. His TARDIS gets rammed by what appears to be a luxury liner bearing the name of the most ill-fated ship in history: the Titanic. Upon further review, he sees that the ship is actually a spacecraft named the Titanic. Once on board, he meets a waitress named Astrid Peth, whom he tells that he is a stowaway, but she decides not to turn him in. While schmoozing around and causing his traditional form of mischief, the ship is attacked, and it’s up to the Doctor to save them all. This episode also stars Kylie Minogue, George Costigan, Russell Tovey, and Bernard Cribbins.
Doctor Who Series Four Specials, Christmas Special: The Next Doctor
After leaving his last companion behind after the events of Journey’s End, the Doctor ends up in 1851 on Christmas Eve. After figuring out when he is, he hears cries for help. He meets Rosita, and another man claiming to be the Doctor. Together they try to stop a Cybershade, but are unsuccessful. Later on, they break into a house of a recently deceased man, and discover that the Cybermen are back in force. The Doctor not only has to stop the army of Cybermen, but he also has to unravel the mystery of the new Doctor. This episode also stars David Morissey, Velile Tshabalala, Dervia Kerwin, and Neil McDermott.
So, there you have it. Like I said, these are my favorites, and most of these will be watched at some point tomorrow. If I missed your favorites, take comfort in realizing what I named the blog post; your mileage will vary. Also, I probably forgot some of my own favorites, so there.