My dumb Christmas mini-project is pretty simple: Right now on my desk, courtesy of the $5 bin at Walmart and the good folks at Mill Creek Entertainment, is 21 hours worth of what could very well be called "Christmas TV classics" if we're going by the box, or "a bunch of public domain TV episodes which at the bare minimum have a Christmas tree in there somewhere" if we're going by what's listed on the box. The truth, of course, lies somewhere in between, and that's one of those things we'll just have to discover together. Here's the deal: I'll be doing somewhere in the neighborhood of one hour a day until we either run out of shows or run out of Christmas, whichever comes first. If we do come up a little short, there's also a few other dollar store classics to get us the rest of the way.
The most obvious question you could pose to all of this is "Dude, Thanksgiving's still a week and some change away, why are you starting now?" The obvious answer is "Because SHUT YOUR STINKING TRAP, that's why!" But honestly, the head start (as little as it is) is just to give me some breathing room in case I temporarily conk out. Look at the date on my last post here. Obviously I need some advance time before I inevitably let you down.
Anyway, here's what we're up against. Because I'm anal (the bad kind of anal, as Ron White once put it), I filled in the broadcast dates as best as I could from online episode guides and the IMDB, but a few are guesses since not all of these shows used real episode titles in the first place. I'm correcting these as I go along, so this post will change a lot before we're done.
- Adventures of Robin Hood: The Christmas Goose (s3, ep13; 12-23-1957)
- The Bob Cummings Show (Love That Bob): Grandpa's Christmas Visit (s2, ep14; 12-22-1955)
- The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show: Gracie's Relatives (s2, ep7; 12/20/1951)
- Captain Gallant of the Foreign Legion: The Boy Who Found Christmas (s1, ep36; 12-25-1955)
- Dragnet: The Big Little Jesus (s3, ep17; 12-24-1953) , The Big .22 Rifle for Christmas (s2, ep7; 12-18-1952 (usually titled "A Gun For Christmas")), The Big New Year (s4, ep12; 11-11-1954)
- Date With The Angels: Santa's Helper (s2, ep14; 12-13-1957)
- Lux Video Theatre: Holiday Affair (s6, ep13; 12/22/1955)
- Family Theatre: A Star Shall Rise (12-25-1952)
- General Electric Theater: Fred Waring Christmas Music (12-19-1954)
- ...and the now-inevitable Video Fireplace.
- The Beverly Hillbillies: Christmas At The Clampetts (s2, ep14; 12-25-1963), Turkey Day (s2, ep10; 11-27-1963), Home For The Holidays (s1, ep13; 12-19-1962), No Place Like Home (s1, ep14; 12-26-1962)
- The Jack Benny Program: Reminiscing about Last New Year's Eve (s4, ep6; 12/27/1953), Christmas Shopping With Jack (s8, ep7; 12/15/1957), New Year's Variety Show (s7, ep8; 12/30/1956)
- Sherlock Holmes: The Case of the Christmas Pudding (s1, ep23; 4/4/1955)
- Gruen Guild Playhouse: Joe Santa Claus (s1, ep13; 12/20/1951)
- Racket Squad: The Christmas Caper (s3, ep15; 12/25/1952), Blessed Expense (s3, ep11; 11/20/1952)
- Dear Phoebe: The Christmas Show (s1, ep16; 12/24/1954)
- Telephone Time: A Picture of the Magi (s3, ep16; 12/24/1957)
Halftime Special/Unadvertised Surprise: Yes, Virginia, There Is A Santa Claus (12/6/1974; not on the Mill Creek set)
- The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet: The Lost Christmas Gift (s3, ep10; 12/24/1954, listed on the disc as "The Late Christmas Gift"), Busy Christmas (s5, ep19; 12/19/1956), The Christmas Tree Lot (s6, ep14; 12/18/1957), The Girl in the Emporium (s9, ep7; 12/14/1960), Piano for the Fraternity (s9, ep12; 12/21/1960)
- Colgate Comedy Hour: Christmas 1952 (12-14-1952; Abbott and Costello)
- Petticoat Junction: Cannonball Christmas (s1, ep14; 12-24-1963)
- The Paul Winchell Show: Holiday Show
- The Scarlet Pimpernel: The Christmas Present (5/11/1956)
- The Red Skelton Show: Freddie and the Yuletide Doll (12-19-1961), The Cop and the Anthem (s5, ep12; 12-20-1955)
- The Doctor: A Tale of Two Christmases (12-21-1952)
- The Christmas Carol (1949, narrated by Vincent Price...and yes, that's the name listed on the title card of the film)
- The Ruggles: Christmas Eve (c. 1948)
- The Ray Bolger Show (a.k.a. Where's Raymond?): The Christmas Show (12-24-1953)
- The Liberace Show: The Thanksgiving Show, The Christmas Show
- The Adventures of Long John Silver: The Orphan's Christmas (s1, ep15; 12/23/1958)
- Meet Corliss Archer: Christmas Presents (s1, ep39; c. 12-24-1955)
- Annie Oakley: Santa Claus Wears A Gun (s3, ep27; 12-9-1956)
- Screen Writers Playhouse: A String of Blue Beads (1953)
- Dupont Theater: The Blessed Midnight (1956)
- Four Star Playhouse: The Answer (s3, ep13: 12/23/1954), The Gift (s2, ep14: 12/24/53)
- General Electric Theater: A Child Is Born (12-23-1956) (The last four are all covered in The Final Four post.)
These probably won't be obsessively crafted write-ups, but there will hopefully be enough details that you won't feel completely lost. As for the "gap plugging" entries...well, we'll get to those when we get to those. Just you wait...even I was surprised what a buck gets you when you lower your expectations.
Stay tuned...for CHRISTMAS!
(A proper disclaimer inserted on December 23rd: I am not employed by or otherwise connected with Mill Creek Entertainment, and the usage of their cover art above should not be construed as an endorsement on their part. It's just there as an illustration of my "source text". I'm just a guy who paid his money and took his chances.)