Thursday, December 16, 2010
Excerpt from "Tis the Season TV, The Encyclopedia of Christmas-Themed Episodes, Specials and Made-for-TV Movies" by Joanna Wilson
To Purchase Go to: http://tistheseasontv.com/
Shirley Temple Storybook
“Babes in Toyland”
Shirley appears with her own three children as the Storyteller of this classic tale. This luscious musical production is the familiar story of Jane and Alan running away from their wicked uncle and his three henchman to find adventure and safety with the Master Toymaker in the land of toys. Temple also appears as Floretta, the gypsy witch. Temple sings the wonderful Christmas classic song “Toyland” at the beginning of the program and the story culminates with the song performed again by the entire cast.
Special guests include: Jonathan Winters as Uncle Barnaby; Jerry Colonna as Gonzales; Joe Besser as Rodrigo; Carl Ballantine as Gonzorgo; Michel Petit as Alan; and, Angela Cartwright as Jane.
The Shop Around the Corner
1940 dir. Ernst Lubitsch
This timeless romance is broadcast every Christmas on television. This version is set in Hungary, where co-workers at a leather-goods store make each other miserable, bickering on the job. What antagonists Klara and Alfred don’t realize is that they have been falling in love with each other, corresponding through romantic letters they unknowingly exchange in response to a personals ad in the newspaper. Alfred begins to suspect that Klara may be his pen pal but keeps the knowledge to himself, not wanting to disappoint the woman he loves. The romance climaxes at Christmas, the store’s busiest time of the year.
The cast includes: Jimmy Stewart as Alfred; Margaret Sullavan as Klara; Frank Morgan as shop owner, Hugo Matuschek; and, Sara Haden as Flora.
The timelessness of this romantic comedy can be seen in its several successful remakes including 1949’s “In the Good Old Summertime” starring Judy Garland and 1998’s “You’ve Got Mail” starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.
Shower of Stars
“A Christmas Carol”
This Emmy award winning, live program features Fredric March as Scrooge and Basil Rathbone as Marley’s Ghost. This version of the story offers the highest of television production values, was originally televised in color, and includes brief musical entertainment throughout the story that freshens the familiar tale.
The story airs in a hour’s length, so Scrooge’s visit to his Christmases past eliminates his childhood to focus on the party at Fezziwig’s and Scrooge’s experience of Christmas Future includes a brief scene at the cemetery. But the spirit and emotion of the original story remains clear even if Scrooge’s motivations for his transformation are too brief.
If you look closely, you’ll recognize a very young Bonnie Franklin in long braids, playing the role of Cratchit’s daughter, Susan. Queenie Leonard plays Mrs. Cratchit—she played the same role in 1949’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ on TV as well. Though this originally aired in color, the remaining kinescopes are all in black-and-white. Master composer, Bernard Herrmann, was nominated for an Emmy for Best Original Music for his participation in this production.
Shrek the Halls
2007 dir. Gary Trousdale
The original voice cast from the Hollywood blockbuster movie series returns for this TV special. Shrek had never cared much for Christmas before but now he feels he wants to make Fiona and his children’s first Christmas a perfect one. The ogre follows all the descriptions in the book he buys about the perfect holiday but when Donkey and their friends show up on Christmas Eve, he is ill prepared to host his friends. After a loud, chaotic party Shrek loses his cool and throws his friends from his home. Unfortunately, Fiona and the children leave as well!
The best part of this TV special are the various adaptations of the story ‘The Night Before Christmas’ told from the unique perspectives of each of the characters, including Donkey, Puss in Boots, Gingy and eventually even Shrek’s version.
The voice cast includes: Mike Myers as Shrek; Eddie Murphy as Donkey; Cameron Diaz as Fiona; and, Antonio Banderas as Puss in Boots.
See also: ‘Merry Madagascar’ for another Dreamworks animated TV special based on characters from their hit movies.
Sid the Science Kid
“Sid’s Holiday Adventure”
Sid explains that in his house every year they celebrate three holidays: Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. The family usually spends their time in the backyard where its always sunny and warm. But this year, the family is going to celebrate the holidays with an aunt in Minnesota where its typically snowy and cold. So Sid asks the question: What’s the big idea with cold weather? In school he learns about temperature and thermometers.
1990 dir. Robin Crichton
This hour-long, live action TV special is narrated by actress Lynn Redgrave. It is the story of how Franz Gruber and Joseph Mohr wrote the song “Silent Night” for their Christmas Eve church service.
However, the song became popular throughout the region, Europe and eventually the rest of the world because of a special church mouse named Nonny. Nonny loved the song and shared it with other church mice in the region who incorrectly attributed the song to A Nonny Mouse (anonymous). That is, until the mistake was corrected and Gruber and Mohr were correctly identified.
Music in this special is provided by: Bambini di Praha; the Kuhn Chorus; Musica Bohemia; the Prague Orchestra; and the Czech Film Symphonic Orchestra.
2002 dir. Rodney Gibbons
This TV movie is based on a true story that took place during the Battle of the Bulge in the Ardennes Forest, Christmas 1944. Frau Vincken and her son Fritz flee their home in the city for their hunting cabin in the woods during the fierce battles near the end of World War II. On Christmas Eve, so close to the front lines of battle, three American soldiers, lost in the woods, burst into the cabin looking to escape the snow. One of them is seriously wounded. Frau Vincken agrees to offer them hospitality as long as they lay down their weapons. The Americans agree to trust her until three German soldiers also arrive, seeking shelter! Frau Vincken convinces everyone to abide by one night of peace but it is one long, tension-filled Christmas Eve for everyone. And, what will happen on Christmas day when the soldiers have to leave the cabin?
The cast includes: Linda Hamilton as Frau Vincken; Matthew Harbour as Fritz; and Romano
Thanks so much for sharing this with us, Joanna!
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