There’s something kind of sweet and nostalgic about the return of holiday specials on TV. I remember as a child eagerly awaiting the once-a-year airings of the Rankin-Bass stop-motion specials ("Rudolph" being my favourite) and gathering with my family, cozied up by the tree, watching "The Grinch." But in an age when you can stream every kitschy, kiddie, lousy or classic holiday movie or TV special at the touch of a button, broadcast TV is hard-pressed to offer seasonal goodies that bring in the eyeballs.
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NBC is beginning a new tradition of a lavishly staged live broadcast of a musical production for the holidays, and this year's offering is Peter Pan Live! (Yes, that's their very own exclamation point, right there in the title - are you excited yet?!) Good old high-risk entertainment for the whole family! They started with The Sound of Music last year (can someone please explain how an Austrian family’s struggle to escape the Nazis became a holiday story?) This year, it's Peter, with Alison Williams inhabiting the pointy-toed felt slippers of the Boy Who Never Grew Up. (As for whether she flies as well as Sandy Duncan - well, we'll just have to wait and see.)
Pan's nemesis, Captain Hook, is played by theatre and screen veteran Christopher Walken - and if you've forgotten how that weird cat can dance, I invite you to recall this:
For me, it’s not about which musical they choose or who is starring in it, it’s about revisiting the thrill and danger of live TV. Anything can happen! Set pieces can fall over! Actors can flub lines! Production hands could sneeze audibly during the tender love ballads! In our highly polished, overly made-up, cut and re-cut times, a live, televised production is a warm, fuzzy piece of nostalgia with the potential for - gasp - mistakes. Plus, this is it: once and done. Not re-broadcast, not packaged on DVD: if you miss this (or miss setting your PVR, which is cheating for something like this), you’re not going to be discussing it at the office the next day. It’s gone. Just like TV used to be before your Dad brought home that VCR that was the size of a club pack of tissues and the wonder of time-shifting your TV watching was born.
There’s also something a bit special about recreating that old-time media experience with your family. Live TV events were rare, heavily promoted specials that drew huge audiences (anyone else remember the big reveal of the first artifacts brought up from Titanic in 1986?) Even if it is gathering around the glowing box, it’s a chance to slow down and connect with your family over a shared experience that is a little bit special. Maybe even memorable.
Will you be watching live? Or do you think it’s just another ratings gimmick?
Image source: nbc.com
There are tons of entries in the holiday movie canon featuring reluctant heroes, urgent adventures, and hearts growing three sizes in one day. Amongst the peppermint-wrapped sentiments and life lessons, one thing is certain: there is always family. They’re just not always the nicest people.
YMC rounded up the Top 5 Worst Holiday Movie Families, but just because they’re the worst, it doesn’t mean they’re not worth watching. (Even if it's just to be thankful they're not your family.)
Sure, it’s a hectic house, full of relatives, brimming over with suitcases and cousins who wet the bed they share with you, but COME ON! (Spoiler alert) They forgot Kevin? Even his own mother? A mother who is then is forced to do cinematic penance for the whole film by traveling back in increasingly incredible modes of transport? They forgot a little boy at home and crossed international borders.
Worst. Family. Ever. Except for the next four.
In the beloved holiday classic, the Griswolds are just trying to put together a nice family Christmas. Clark (Chevy Chase) is looking forward to that big, fat bonus cheque and jollying the rest of his clan along on a freezing trip to find a tree, light the lights, and make merry when Cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid) shows up in his RV with his family and their decidedly different sensibilities. (I still think about the scene where Eddie is emptying the RV’s septic tank into the sewer out in front of the Griswolds’ every time I visit a campground.) Of course, this being a holiday film, there are warm fuzzies for Eddie and Clark. Just not during the septic tank "Shitter was full" scene.
When the kids are grown and have moved away, is it hard to recapture the same twinkle the holidays had when they were young? Evidently yes, because the Kranks decide that with their daughter away for the holidays, they won’t even bother, and they spend their whole holiday fund on a tropical getaway. (Grinches reading this right now are nodding their heads and saying “perfectly prudent decision.”)
But when their neighbours notice they aren’t participating in the traditional mega-decoration of the street and their daughter decides to come home after all, everything descends into hiding out, war on neighbours, and quite a lot of yelling - so you know, a typical Christmas scene. Your enjoyment of this pair is directly related to your enjoyment of Tim Allen in general.
Nobody in this kid’s family believes in him. Which is a bit of a problem since they ARE Christmas. Arthur is the clumsy, odd-man-out grandson of the current Santa Claus, but absolutely no one believes he’d ever get to take over the role and wear the big black boots one day. The move itself is absolutely adorable and quite funny, but it takes about 93 minutes for redemption and three generations have to come to their senses about the delightful Arthur. Not very encouraging, Christmases!
All little Ralphie wants for Christmas is the Red Ryder Carbine Action, two hundred shot range air rifle. But all he keeps hearing is “you’ll put your eye out with that thing.” Though his parents seem well meaning, if a bit distracted, Ralphie deals with all manner of problems on his own in the days leading up to the holiday, including homework anxiety, bullying at school, and having his mouth washed out with soap for saying the very adult word he’s recently learned. (Tell me you've changed a tire in the winter without an F-bomb or two.) The kid suffers at every turn and his folks seem generally clueless, and life as a kid in the 1940s seems fairy awful for Ralphie overall. But Dad saves that day with a little something hiding behind the Christmas tree. But still, that living room lamp and the yelling alone allocate this family to the list. Plus - two words - BUNNY SUIT.
Who are your all-time favourite holiday families? Which ones do you love to hate? Which ones would you rather leave at the bottom of the ornament box?
Image Source: YouTube
Just can't live without your very own leg lamp? Lisa Thornbury has the key to a kitschy Christmas.
It looks like Toula Portokalos' dreams will come true again as Entertainment Weekly reports that Nia Vardalos' planned sequel to her hit film My Big Fat Greek Wedding will be distributed by Universal Studios. Toula of course, is the ugly duckling-turned-bride from the film, which if you haven't seen, you must have at least heard about (if you can recall your buzz all the way back to 2002).
We hereby present the Top Three Reasons we're rooting for the sequel:
1) Nia Vardalos: she's just a good ol' Winnipeg girl! If there's one thing Canada does well, it is that we remember and claim our own who have gone on to the bright lights of Hollywood. Also, she truly seems deserving of all her success. And she makes us believe we too could one day sell a screenplay and possibly kiss John Corbett for "work."
2) There's plenty of family to go around: although we met quite a few Portokalos family members, there are plenty of them we can stand to revisit and many, many more lurking in Vardalos' imagination. Just make sure there's still room for Aunt Voula (Andrea Martin).
3) It was actually funny without being disgusting or rude: The film has a gentle, whimsical humour (though yes, it does lean heavily on stereotypes of the titular family) that gets the laughs from rich comedy gold: fish-out-of-water and outlandish characters. I'm no prude, but I could do without a romantic comedy that squeezes laughs from every portion of the human anatomy like they all seem to be doing lately. And where do you go when those jokes seem old hat?
I've long since hung up my "oh no, not a sequel!" argument because it's nearly automatic these days that anything even halfway popular will get another outing. It is still to be confirmed but it sounds like Corbett and the majority of the cast will be willing to come on board. This is one wedding I will be RSVP'ing "will attend".
We talked to Nia about staying in top form.
Speaking of sequels: Is Hollywood Out of Stories?I
Image Source: quickmeme.com