As far as The Dunciad is concerned, a large chunk of the year passed by without a thank-you-kindly. (Here’s a hint: I’m a lot more mouthy on my Google+ feed, even if you can’t exactly monetize it yet.) There’s no way I’d skip Christmas, though, and although I don’t have a master plan yet, I do have the other Mill Creek holiday collection to pick over, but I’ll introduce you to that sometime in the next few days, as well as a few other dips and dabs sitting on the shelf.
The plan? At the moment, there is no plan. We’re just going to play it by ear, and hopefully use that momentum to get back to the @#$^&*! mystery movies in the New Year! See? I never forget a failure!
Even more amazing was that the show, like many of the programs from what the first generation of television critics called “the Chicago school”, was improvised as they went. While the production team planned out the programs to the extent that musical arrangements, props and costumes could be put together, the dialogue was never rehearsed.
James Thurber, in one of the many celebrity fan letters Burr received over the years, put it best: “You are one of the few people helping to save the sanity of the nation and to improve, if not even to invent, the quality of television.”
The Christmas Episode: “Making a Christmas Tree Stand”. Original airdate: December 20, 1949 live over NBC.
It’s a pretty simple situation, really. Company member Buelah Witch has flown up from North Carolina with a freshly cut Kuklapolitan-size Christmas tree (strapped to her broom, as if you had to ask), and Kukla takes on the task of building a stand for it. But like anything that sounds deceptively simple in print, it’s not what happens, but how it happens.
And it keeps going like that for about six or seven minutes. But Burr knew where he was going, so just relax.
“Where he’s going” is to music director Jack Fascinato’s piano (well, not literally), where they finish the show by singing a few Christmas songs. Roll the clip:
Have I mentioned that I’m totally in love with this show? You’ll might have to watch a few episodes to click with the show’s natural rhythm and sense of humor, but it’s worth doing.
But Don’t Take My Word For It: Well, there are a few complete KFO shows available for streaming on the Museum of Broadcast Communications website (“Collection -> Search the archives”, then register…it’s free), but not this one. This episode, along with 19 others, is on the first Kukla, Fran and Ollie: The First Episodes DVD set, which is available for purchase right now at a reasonable price through Amazon and the Chicago History Museum. Volume 2 (which—who saw this coming—includes another Christmas-themed episode) will be ready to order by the end of the week, and the fact that we can talk about a Volume 2 proves that if you support this type of small label release, they’ll make more. If the result is more vintage stuff to watch, you shouldn’t fight it. If you’ve got a sweet spot for early television, you really should have both of them.
Next: Me trying to figure out where we’re going next…