I double-dog-dare ya to tell me your favorite Christmastime shows or movies. The trick is to do it without embarrassment, now that we’re adults and we recognize how lame some of them were.
My wife and I watched a couple of our childhood favorites last night: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman. Sure, both of them required a childlike suspension of disbelief, and a forgiveness of politically-incorrect attitudes; but they also elicited the same kind of nostalgia that we were shooting for.
So, great! Our quest for wistfulness was sated.
But coincidentally, this morning I read Tom Nichols’ article on this subject in Atlantic magazine. He called out some of those old shows for the dreck that they were. And you’ll never guess which two he mentioned, right off the bat!
I shared the article with my wife. Her cheeks were still wet after witnessing the puddle of water that was Frosty after Professor Hinkle locked him in a greenhouse.
We laughed, however, because we knew the article was right. I even recalled wincing when Santa and Donner verbally abused Rudolph for his supposed deformity. That was something Nichols called out in his piece.
But the article wasn’t all negative. He did talk up two classic cartoons that he recommended for adult viewing. They were … [drum roll, please] … A Charlie Brown Christmas and How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
For my tastes, I still love the look of the former and the music. I play the heck out of the jazz soundtrack every year. But the show can be a little slow, downbeat and preachy at the end, in a religious kind of way. Still, it’s must-see viewing at this time of year, if you grew up with it.
The Grinch, on the other hand, is something that I used to like — but I’m up to here with it now (flat palm above my eyebrows).
The article didn’t cover holiday movies, other than to say that the two best are It’s a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Carol (the George C. Scott edition).
The former bugs me because the bad guy, Potter, gets away with his evil deed. He keeps hero George Bailey’s money when it accidentally finds its way into his lap because of the absentmindedness of George’s uncle. And I’ll never view the movie the same way again after an alternate ending that was aired on Saturday Night Live.
In that comedic version, the uncle remembers where the missing money went. George gathers up his family, marches over to Potter’s place, and pounds the crap out of him.
Talk about a satisfying plot payoff!
The shout-out for A Christmas Carol with the actor Scott will please a friend of mine no end, though I am still partial to the more-recent Patrick Stewart version. (Stewart also played Captain Picard on Star Trek: The Next Generation. But that’s not the reason I like it … I don’t think.)
Finally, I have to mention A Christmas Story. It involves the hilarious plotting of a kid trying to get his parents or Santa to get him a BB gun. There’s a great payoff in the end, too, just when you think he’s going to be disappointed. (Sorry for the spoiler.)
Many of the sayings that have entered or re-entered conversational English came from that movie:
- You’ll shoot your eye out!
- Be sure to drink your Ovaltine!
- I triple-dog-dare ya!
And, of course, the title of this article.
A Christmas Story wasn’t around when I was a kid, so it doesn’t hold the same place in my heart as the others — but the comedy has grown on me.
So can you tell me your favorite Christmastime movie or show? I’m betting you won’t admit to one, will you? Better yet:
I double-dog-dare ya!
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