For me Christmas always begins when Rankin Bass holiday specials begin airing on television. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty The Snowman, Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town, The Little Drummer Boy and of course The Year Without a Santa Claus (Snow Miser and Heat Miser!), they are Christmas. I love the magic of the cartoons and stop motion animation. I used to think it could only be used at Christmas time, that was it’s magic.
I’m of the age where you anxiously waited for holiday specials to come on TV. Or when there were VCR’s it felt weird to record Christmas specials but if you did you taped over them with Days of Our Lives after the holidays.
It doesn’t feel like Christmas if I don’t see at least one of these beauties.
I love introducing my friend’s kids, my munchkins, to these shows now. I love seeing the sparkle in their eyes as Rudolph’s nose glows so bright, or Frosty runs here and there and everywhere, or Kris Kringle becoming Santa.
The smile on my face was from ear to ear when I first saw Rankin Bass ornaments and costumes and hat and lights at Retro Festive. I know that bringing in these iconic images into your home is just as special as being 8 years old sitting on the floor in front of the TV with a mug of hot chocolate with lots of marshmallows.
When I was growing up I thought I would dislike all black and white movies because I assumed they were boring or about old timey things I wouldn’t understand. Eventually my mind was changed because each year CTV would play It’s a Wonderful Life on Christmas Eve.
It’s a Wonderful Life will celebrate it’s 70th Anniversary this Christmas, having been originally released on December 20, 1946. Despite being a black and white movie, it is now my #1 favourite film of all time.
After watching it year after year I can almost recite the film from memory. In honour of this anniversary, here are some of my favourite things about It’s a Wonderful Life:
1) Violet Bick
I am sure Violet Bick would be considered a real floozy in 1946, I have always considered her a real role model.
George Bailey: Hello, Violet. Hey, you look good, that’s some dress you got on there.
2) The Honeymoon
After giving away all of the money they saved in order to save Bailey Building and Loan, George and Mary are forced to have a honeymoon at home. Their friends Bert the cop and Ernie the taxi driver work hard to make it romantic, even singing I Love You Truly outside the window of the Old Granville House.
3) When Clarence orders a drink
As I previously wrote in this Mulled Wine recipe post, one of my favourite moments is when George Bailey brings his guardian angel, Clarence Oddbody to Nick’s. Clarence orders a flaming rum punch, but quickly changes his mind to mulled wine with very specific ingredients. This is when Nick loses his patience:
Nick: Hey look, mister. We serve hard drinks in here for men who want to get drunk fast, and we don’t need any characters around to give the joint “atmosphere”.
4) George Freaks Out
This is one of the hardest scenes in the film to watch because it is when all of George Bailey’s responsibilities and stresses catch up to him. He comes home to his family, who unintentionally press his buttons until he snaps. HOWEVER, throughout this tense scene, George says something that makes me laugh every time:
Mary: George, what’s wrong? George: Wrong? Everything. Why, you call this a happy family? Why do we have to have all these kids?
5) Clarence Gets His Wings
After Clarence gives George a glimpse into what the world would be like if he had never been born, George sees he really does have a wonderful life. This earns Clarence his angel wings! George discovers this through an inscription Clarence leaves him in a copy of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. When his daughter Zuzu hears a Christmas bell ornament on the tree chime, she says: Zuzu: Look, Daddy. Teacher says, every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings. George: That’s right, that’s right. (He looks up toward the ceiling and winks.) Attaboy, Clarence.
Kristian Noel Pedersen (his real name!) started recording Christmas music seven years ago, after joking about how his name would be perfect for it. He writes and records original indie folk songs, with weird synthesizers and drum machines, about Christmas traditions, shopping, and the winter blues.
What is your favourite holiday movie or TV special? I’m a sucker for 90’s sit-com Christmas specials. My favourites are Boy Meets World’s called “Santa’s Little Helpers” or Family Matters’ “Miracle on Elm Street“. In terms of film, The Santa Clause will always be a favourite of mine, and a seasonal must-must watch.
Does your family have a special or quirky holiday tradition? The only thing that is quirky is how much we see each-other. My extended family used to have a Christmas brunch that ended around three hours before Christmas dinner. We’d literally all go from one house to another. Only to meet up the next day for boxing day dinner, and New Years day dinner. Lots of dinners.
December is a wonderful time of year because that’s when we can all gather around the TV to watch classic Christmas specials and movies like Rudolph, Frosty the Snowman, Home Alone, or The Year Without a Santa Claus.
Movie and TV studios hope for a Christmas miracle when they produce new specials around the holidays. Sometimes they are smashing successes like Elf, and sometimes they are a little forgettable like Frosty Returns.
We have been trying to keep up the new Christmas specials that have been released this year. Before you watch them, here are our reviews!
Warning: Spoiler Alerts, probably
Reviews by Damien Nelson and Danielle LaSage
A Very Murray Christmas
Netflix has been creating amazing original work for years, so it was inevitable that they would make a new Christmas special too. But who knew they would recruit the likes of Bill Murray?
This Christmas special follows Bill Murray as he is about to begin a holiday show at The Carlyle, on live television, during the biggest snowstorm of the season. When the weather keeps Bill’s celebrity friends away, Bill is forced to cancel his show and create a party with the other guests trapped in the hotel.
This is where the storyline ends. Although A Very Murray Christmas begins like a movie, it is essentially a classic celebrity variety show. It features comedy sketches, dozens of surprise cameos, and lots of lovely songs.
It is a hilarious Christmas special, and I think it will age well in the coming years because Bill Murray’s humour is timeless and much loved. The cameos alone are worth the watch! Honestly, do not stop watching until you see Clooney.
I give it 10 Celebrity Cameos out of 12.
The bottom line: Miley Cyrus cannot lip sync. This is actually a good thing!
The Peanuts Movie
I have to admit I was nervous about The Peanuts Movie. After all these years, why mess with a good thing? But I was pleasantly surprised.
The Peanuts Movie is not technically a Christmas special. The film actually follows the Peanuts gang over the course of a school year, so it features many holidays including Christmas.
The script is simple and sweet, and revisits many classic characters without being tedious. The animation is pleasing to the eye, and the voice work is lovely. The only bone I have to pick with this film is that it relied on old one-liners and storylines from other Peanuts specials, instead of creating new adventures for the Gang.
I give it 6 Red Barons out of 10. The bottom line: It is a joyful little film that die-hard Peanuts fans will enjoy no matter what.
For those in search of a new type of Christmas story…look no further! It seems that the once obscure holiday knowledge of Krampus is becoming more and more commonplace.
When his dysfunctional family clashes over the holidays, young Max is disillusioned and turns his back on Christmas. Little does he know, this lack of festive spirit has unleashed the wrath of Krampus: a demonic force of ancient evil intent on punishing non-believers. All hell breaks loose as beloved holiday icons take on a monstrous life of their own, laying siege to the fractured family’s home and forcing them to fight for each other if they hope to survive.
Well, if that doesn’t get you in the holiday spirit, I don’t know what will.
Krampus was co-written and directed by Michael Dougherty, which fits perfectly, as he is probably best known for the film Trick R Treat. Dougherty accomplishes a film that is effectively frightening, and comically amusing when it needs to be. And with a cast featuring Adam Scott, Toni Collette, Allison Tolman and David Koechner, you’re bound for nothing short of entertaining. The whole cast dances the line of comedy and drama so gracefully; it makes for a very enjoyable flick.
I would not recommend this movie for children … unless you really want to keep them in line; in which case, make it a family holiday tradition!
I give it 5 Candy Canes out of 8. The bottom line:This is a seriously fun flick. If you enjoy horror and enjoy the holiday season – this is not one to miss!
Christmas movies always begin nicely. The tree is trimmed, the gifts are wrapped, the turkey is in the oven, the quirky family has arrived, and the magic of the holidays is in the air – but there is one Christmas villain who must turn this wonderful season into a problem!
This December there will be a new film released that focuses on the ultimate Christmas villain – Krampus.
Krampus, starring Adam Scott from Parks and Recreation, Allison Tolman from Fargo, and Toni Collett from United States of Tara, is a live action horror/dark comedy about a modern dysfunctional family at Christmas, and a visit from the horned, ancient monster of European folklore, who punishes naughty children.
In honour of Krampus‘ arrival, we have compiled a list of Christmas villains who give us the creeps!
Scut Farkus – A Christmas Story “Scut Farkus staring out at us with his yellow eyes. He had yellow eyes! So, help me, God! Yellow eyes!”
They wrote a whole song describing how bad this guy was. But the power of a Christmas song also made his heart grow three sizes!
Scrooge – A Christmas Carol “Christmas is a very busy time for us, Mr. Cratchit. People preparing feasts, giving parties, spending the mortgage money on frivolities. One might say that December is the foreclosure season. Harvest time for the money-lenders.”
Since his creation in 1843 by Charles Dickens, the cruel stinginess of Ebenezer Scrooge has been portrayed by Michael Caine, Tim Curry, Alastair Sim, Patrick Stewart, and Scrooge McDuck in countless plays, TV shows and movies. Why has this story been told so many times, in so many ways? Perhaps we all hope to redeem ourselves for past mistakes, just as Scrooge does after seeing the error of his ways.
Heat Miser and Snow Miser – Year Without a Santa Claus “Friends call me Snow Miser, whatever I touch turns to snow in my clutch. I’m too much.”
“They call me Heat Miser. Whatever I touch starts to melt in my clutch. I’m too much.”
The Miser Brothers are not the worst of the Christmas villains, but their refusal to get along and work together really slows Mrs Claus down on her mission to save Christmas.
Harry F. Potter – It’s a Wonderful Life “George, I am an old man, and most people hate me. But I don’t like them either so that makes it all even.”
Mr Potter might be the most frustrating Christmas villain. He is pure evil and treats people terribly, but he never gets what is coming to him. He makes no attempt to become a better person, and George Bailey receives no chance at revenge!
Thankfully the cast of Saturday Night Live found the alternative ending of It’s a Wonderful Life, which seals Potter’s fate!
Professor Hinkle was just about the worst magician in the world, and he was pretty bad at being a villain too. He did try to ruin some pretty fantastic Christmas magic by stealing his hat from Frosty the Snowman and the children, but he was easily thwarted with the help of the Hocus the rabbit. I wonder how long it took him to write “I am very sorry for what I did to Frosty” a hundred zillion times.
Wet Bandits – Home Alone “I think we’re getting scammed by a kindergartener.“
Marv and Harry were small time thieves who thought they would get a big payoff scamming houses during the holidays. Eight year-old Kevin McCallister prevented that with a painful obstacle course. Just when you thought The Wet Bandits couldn’t get any worse, they try to rob a toy store of their charitable work during Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. Thankfully Kevin is there to once again show them what’s what at Christmas!