Friday, December 20, 2019

Yule Logged: Clarence, Unlikely Angel, A Christmas Carol in Color, En Vogue Christmas, A Very Merry Toy Store, The Christmas Wife, The Christmas Trap

Clarence (1990)

Ill conceived follow up to It’s a Wonderful Life focusing on Clarence the angels future adventures. Not good at all.

Unlikely Angel (1996)

Not a huge fan of  Dolly Parton the actress and this tale of angelic redemption is only watchable thanks to co-star Roddy McDowall

A Christmas Carol in Color

Colorized version of the Seymour Hicks led adaptation from…

I’m not usually a fan of colorization but I’ve seen this film so many times over the years it sort of freshened it up and made this year’s watch a bit more interesting.

En Vogue Christmas (2014)

Never was a fan so I can’t say if this is the coolest thing En Vogue could have done or super cringe. It’s not terrible but an En Vogue infomercial doesn’t really do much for me. Bonus points for David Alan Grier though.

A Very Merry Toy Store (2017)

Competition between rival toy store owners gets complicated by a shared nemesis and, inevitably romance.

So it’s pretty good, for what it is, and works as a Sabrina reunion, hart family reunion and has great supporting players like Brian Dennehy, William Ragsdale, Billy Gardel and Mario Cantone.

The Christmas Wife (1988)

Jason Robards and Julie Harris star in this fine TV film about a lonely widower who hires a companion to spend Christmas with him. A simple story, not comedic, not too maudlin, limited histrionics, no cliches. Just a bittersweet tale told with compassion, acted with restrain and grace.

The Christmas Trap (2017)

This is the perfect Christmas TV movie. Ten minutes long. I can’t think of a single Hallmark or Lifetime that wouldn’t benefit from being condensed down to ten minutes. Heck, you could have every movie take place with the characters stuck in an elevator, it would be an improvement.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Jean Shepherd - Christmas Eve 1971 (Classic Radio Broadcast)

Jean Shepherd - Christmas Eve 1971

Fibber McGee and Molly - Christmas 1952 / 1953 (Old Time Radio Christmas)

Fibber McGee and Molly

Christmas 1952 / 1953

Fibber McGee and Molly | Christmas 1952 Two Classic Old Time Radio Christmas Shows

Fibber McGee and Molly Christmas 1953 | 6 Classic Christmas Comedy Old Time Radio Episodes

Yule Logged: Timepiece, Holiday in Your Heart, Mary, Mother of Jesus, George Gently, Mount Pleasant, Worst Week, Fresh Fields

Timepiece (1996)

How did they ever make movies over at Hallmark before they had their cadre of former child stars. soap stars and random local day players? How much better could this Richard Paul Evans adaptation have been if it had starred Danica McKellar, Lacey Chabret, some handsome guy from a random soap, another guy who's had guest shots on Supergirl and Law and Order SVU and that guy who used to play the dad in that show years ago who your pleased to see hasn’t died yet. Instead, back in the nineties they had to suffer with James Earl Jones, Naomi Watts, Ellen Burstyn, Kevin Kilner, and Richard Thomas.

Terrific period melodrama, a prequel to The Christmas Box. My only complaint, it’s not really a Christmas movie.

Holiday in Your Heart (1997)

LeAnn Rimes and Bernadette Peters star in this semi-autobiographical film set against a holiday background.Pretty good, though I never really bought Peters as a country star/

Mary, Mother of Jesus (1999)

Christian Bale likely felt typecast in his role as the Son of God in this imagining of the life of Mary. From the director of such diverse fare as Motel Hell, The Land That Time Forgot and Annie Claus.Also starring Shameless’s David Threfall.

Bale doesn’t show up until about halfway in the film and it's a pretty standard TV movie up until then. Even after the coming of Christian it’s merely a decent, workmanlike effort.

George Gently - Son of a Gun (2015)

A mediocre installment of an increasingly mediocre series.

Mount Pleasant - Christmas Special (2012)

Ensemble comedy/drama. Coming in cold I’m not sure who any one so it takes a while to get acclimated. It feels like one of those shows where everybody’s slightly horrible. Not a fan of the genre. Nice cast though. Happy ending, so that helps.

Christmas Episode or Special? Special

Am I familiar with the series? Not at all, odd for me considering it’s got seven seasons worth floating about.

Is it Christmassy? Sure

Would I Rewatch?  Maybe if I start at the beginning and warm to the characters...we’ll see.

Worst Week of My Life -  Two Days to Christmas / Christmas Eve / Christmas

Not a fan of the series, despite liking most everything else the cast has done.

Fresh Fields - A Dickens of a Christmas (1985)

A lovely slice of holiday comfort TV. Not, despite the tile, a Cristmas Carol parody.

Yule Logged: The Christmas Cottage, Holiday Hearts, Christmas at Grand Valley, The Christmas Club, Christmas in Evergreen: Tidings of Joy

The Christmas Cottage (2017)

Dull and predictable.

Holiday Hearts (2019)

Dull, predictable and the lead actress looks as if they’re holding her puppy at gubpint just off camera.

Christmas at Grand Valley (2018)

Dull and predictable despite Danica. And the fact that  Danica McKellar is the highlight of any movie, lovely and bright as she is, tells you how low the standards at Hallmark are.

The Christmas Club (2019)

Less dull, still predictable but with likable, professional, leads.

Christmas in Evergreen: Tidings of Joy (2019)

Inexplicable third chapter in the series opens with a conversation on a train shot in such an awkward manner that I couldn’t believe this wasn’t a student film, a high school student film. The rest is fine, workman like but fine, but that opening is so indicative of the lack of respect for the audience, and Christmas, that these films truly embody. No point trying to get a better shot, money’s tight, though profits are high, time is tight and our audience doesnt care, probbly wont even notice.

And they’re right. And I’m done with these holiday romnces. I’m burned out by the mediocrity, the cynisism behind the sentimentality. I hear Hallmark is moving to make thier films more diverse next year. That’s terific, unless it just means more crappy movies only with more politically correct casting. Bad movies are bad movies no matter who is kissing who under the mistletoe.

If the movies get better I’ll give them another shot, Maybe woke Hallmark will bring an infusion of new, better writers and directors which is what they really need, I don’t have high hopes though.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Yule Logged: 12 Dates of Christmas, Mixed Nuts,The Christmas Chronicles,Holiday Rush, Ghosting: The Spirit of Christmas, Hulu Holiday Scenics

12 Dates of Christmas (2011)

So ABC family could make an entertaining romantic Christmas comedy 8 years ago but the Holiday TV Industrial Complex can”t manage one out of a hundred in 2019.

Groundhog Day riff with Amy a Smart reliving the same blind date over and over again. Good stuff.

My only question involves a tragedy one of the main characters has suffered that could, hypothetically, also have been prevented with groundhog magic, a far more noble miracle than helping a needy lady find Mr. Right but, this is a romantic comedy not Happy Death Day so...

Mixed Nuts (1994)

Manic, occasionally hysterical Nora Ephron comedy, dark comedy, set amongst the denizens of a failing suicide prevention hotline during the holidays. An amazing cast, led by Steve Martin, Madeline Kahn, and Juliet Lewis. Not exactly politically correct but often very funny. And , unlike most other holiday movies for adults these days, it doesn’t hate Christmas.

Not necessarily a holiday staple to return to each season but a nice break from the Bad Santas and  Bad Moms.

The Christmas Chronicles (2018)

Started out with some serious cliche action, Hallmark with production values, then its Cloverfield Christmas before we finally get to Kurt Russell. Sadly were also encumbered with a couple of annoying kids who have to be given a tragic backstory to make them even remotly sypathetic.

Russell is the best part of this and he keeps the thing from falling apart.I just wish he was the star, not the obnoxious kids. A gang subplot is terrible but the decision to use CG aimated characters as elves is nice. Santa channeling an earlier Russell portrayl of a pop culture icon is...something.

The script doesn’t quite match the quality of  the production design and effects, which are pretty much theatrical level, but its a million times better than the rest of the dreck produced in the name of Christmas.

Holiday Rush (2019)

When an NYC radio personality suffers career reverses he decides the only way back to the top is to return to his roots. Jeez, that sounds like ad copy for the flick but it’s true.

A solid dramedy that swings back and forth between corporate drama, far better than typical Hallmark-style,  and family drama with a gaggle of entitled kids. Also featuring nice supporting spots from Darlene Love and Deon Cole

Ghosting: The Spirit of Christmas (2019)

OMG! That was terrible!

Hulu Holiday Scenics

White Elephant Puppy Party (2019)

Dogs, some wearing embarrising holiday clothing, tear apart some gifts. We mostly get to see the puppies butts as thet nose around for the strategically placed kibble.
Still better acting than the average Hallmark.

A Very Kitty Cocktail Party (2019)

Kittens get te embarrising dress up torture this time. They honestly dont seem like thet are enjoying themselves. Still, there having more fun than if they were watching the Hallmark channel.

How to Train Your Dragon Snoggletog Log

Neat animated yule log. Kudos for going the extra mile with multiple character interactions.

Puppies Crash Christmas (2017)

Ah, so the white elephant one is a sequel, that explains alot. This ones better / cuter.

The Gathering (2018)

Yeah, this ASMR thing is creepy and needs to fade away. Even if this video is ironic, just no.

Two Tickets to Christmas Town (2016)

Cute for what it is. What it is is a shot of a toy train circling a Christmas tree. I’ve run this a few times, usually with sound off or very low.

Gingerbread Home Remodel (2016)

First of these I ever viewed. Cute and the background ambiance actally works as background ambiance.

A Very Terry Christmas (2018)

Terry Crews channels his inner Bob Ross.

Library Cheer (2018)

More creepy ASMR.

The Snowman (2016)

Trigger warnings to all of the fans of the ASMR videos - he melts.

Stuck Santa (2016)

48 minutes of Santa dangling

Roast Expectations (2016)

Watch a roast roast.

A Sap Story. (2016)

Slow TV indeed.

Thermostat wars (2016)

Furnace ambiance.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Yule Logged: Good Times, The Miracle on 34th Street (1955), Deck the Halls, Four Christmases and a Wedding, Wish Upon a Christmas, Mike Tyson Mysteries, Lone Ranger, Gunsmoke

Good Times - The Travelling Christmas (1978)

Holiday episode employing the underused “talent show” format to good effect.

The Miracle on 34th Street (1955)

Perfectly fine tv adaptation. I wouldn’t watch it before watching the classic original but it’s got some nice performances and condenses the story without robbing it of its charm,

Deck the Halls (2011)

Wan holiday set mystery that wastes the talents of Kathy Najimi and Larry Miller. Not terrible but nothing worth seeking out.

Four Christmases and a Wedding (2017)

Innocuous holday romance...if you like that sort of thing, you’ll like this sort of thing.

Wish Upon a Christmas (2015)

I’ve apparently, according to Letterbxd, watched this before. I have no recollection of it and it’s not very good.

Mike Tyson Mysteries - The Christmas Episode 

The best part of post modern comedy is if it’s not funny that’s part of the comedy. So I guess this was really, really funny.

The Lone Ranger - Christmas (1956)

TLR and Tonto search for a father whose “gold fever” has estranged him from his family. Not super Christmassy but it’s decent.

Gunsmoke - P.S. Murry Christmas  (1971)

Classic Christmas TV. Jack Elam leads a group of runaway orphans, including Jodie Foster, Willie Ames, and Erin Moran, into Dodge City with their Orphanage’s bitter director hot on their heels. One of the best.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Yule Logged: Silent Night x 2, Seven Brides For Seven Brothers , Sanford and Son, Last of the Summer Wine, Lawrence Welk. Lois and Clark

Silent Night (2002)

From back when Hallmark made actual films. Above average wartime drama starring Linda Hamilton.

Silent Night (2012)

The “true” story behind the writing of the iconic Christmas carol. A nice little film,nothing brilliant but worth a watch if the subject interests you.

Seven Brides For Seven Brothers -  Christmas Song (1982)

Christmas episode of rural family drama from 1982. A bit too much of a soap operator my tastes. Nice cast though including Richard Dean Anderson, Peter Horton and River Phoenix.

Sanford and Son  - Ebenezer Sanford (1975)

Liked Sanford and Son as a kid but it hasn’t aged well. Overly broad "A Christmas Carol" adaptation. The audience / laugh track though every word was hysterical, though.

Last of the Summer Wine - Whoops (1981)

LotSW may be my favorite Britcom of all time. Oh, I know there are better ones out there but, even when I was younger, LotSw just hit the spot somehow. I always hoped there would be an American show that somehow channelled the same energy but there never was.

Lawrence Welk - Christmas 1972

TV the way it will never be again. This sweet, sincere, slightly cheesy  ”take you child to work day”  Christmas episode may be occasionally awkward and under rehearsed but there’s nothing like it in pop culture today and that’s a shame. Welk, and his extended family of performers, was the Bob Ross of musical variety performers, it’s a shame he hasn’t gained the same hipster cred.

Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman - Seasons Greedings 91994)

What a guest cast! Sherman Helmsley, Isabel Sanford, Dick Van Patten, Denise Richards and The People’s Court’s Doug Llewelyn!

So, The Jefferson’s are out to ruin Christmas by turning everyone into greedy kids.

Fun holiday episode of the superhero romantic comedy.