Monday, December 18, 2006

TV: Ghost of Christmas Specials Past

Matt at asks about neglected holiday specials. Hard to believe any are left, considering that this month ABC Family has blown the dust off lesser Rankin-Bass offerings like Nestor, The Long-Eared Christmas Donkey and The Leprechauns’ Christmas Gold. I know I must have seen the Family Circus show Matt describes, but I can’t remember a thing about it.

I do, however, remember two other such programs. The Bear Who Slept Through Christmas featured the voices of Tom Smothers, Barbara Feldon and Arte Johnson. It was set in a parallel ursine universe, complete with airlines and catchy jingles (“Fly Bear Air to your lair!”). Said universe shuts down entirely for hibernation, but one bear wants to stay up and experience Christmas. He struggles not to fall asleep, meets Santa, and is ultimately given to a little girl as a present even though he’s, you know, alive. I wonder if Stephen Colbert has seen it. The soundtrack includes “Where Can I Find Christmas?,” a song so sappy it could bring a tear to the eye of Vladimir Putin, who would only deny the tear’s existence after dousing it with radioactive polonium. If I sing the opening line in a pathetic voice, Rosemarie is guaranteed to well up and then smack me.

The other is an all-mime version of the O. Henry story “Gift of the Magi.” I’m 90% sure it starred Shields & Yarnell, but I can’t find a record of it anywhere. Maybe it only aired in New York.

Music: Jingle Bell Rawk!

I’ve always thought of Trans-Siberian Orchestra as music to synchronize your Christmas lights to. But this New York Times article set me straight. The brains of the outfit is a product of Flushing, Queens, like Rosemarie. And the core of the group are members of ‘80s metal band Savatage. Behold the video for their biggest hit, “Hall of the Mountain King.” It plays like a Tenacious D NyQuil dream. Awesome!