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Reblogged from sonnetscrewdriver :
Asked by geekykristie:
What is on your Christmas Must Watch List? BONUS CHALLENGE: Put them in order of personal importance.
I have quite an extensive list of media I always consume in the run-up to Christmas, including books, comics and BBC Radio 4 sitcoms and comedy panel games. But a lot of it is stuff I sit down and watch on a screen. So then, counting down to number 1:
The Terry Pratchett’s Hogfather TV Movie
I’ve been reading Hogfather every December since it came out when I was in school, and the year this was first broadcast, it was on a channel we didn’t get (and still don’t), so my cousin recorded it and somehow, through arcane means that were probably not, strictly-speaking, legal, burned it onto a DVD for us. We bought the official DVD release as soon as we could, mind. Like all of the Discworld movies, there are some iffy casting decisions, and even well-cast actors make artistic choices that they probably should have been talked out of (Marc Warren freely admits to watching Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka and thinking “Ooh, that’s good, I’m going to steal that”) but still. It’s live-action Discworld on the telly. Eleven-year-old me would have hit the roof.
I defy anyone to dislike this movie. It’s Bill Murray, Bill Murraying it up for all the world to see. There’s a psychotic fairy and a taxi-driving ghost and a drunk Bobcat Goldthwaite with a shotgun. I’ve loved this film since I was too young to be watching it. Love it.
The Twilight Zone: The Night of the Meek
I LOVE this episode. There’s just something so powerful and moving about the idea that someone, after discovering an artefact with the power to give the owner anything they want, would use it entirely for the benefit of other people. The first time I watched it, I was both loving it and practically sick with apprehension, because I was waiting for a dark twist. Which never came. Way to fake me out and play with my expectations, Rod Serling.
Generosity and kindness are the two best traits our species has going for it, and it’s nice to see that get the unironic celebration it deserves.
Miracle on 34th St
The original, not the remake. I love Dickie Attenborough, Lord knows I do, but Edmund Gwenn does such a fantastic job of portraying everything you could possibly want Father Christmas to actually be like. The day the courtroom scenes do not have me in floods of tears is the day I get put to bed with a shovel.
South Park: It’s Christmas in Canada
It’s South Park doing a Wizard of Oz parody. I can’t not love it. But it has a nice message about family being more than just whose genetics you happen to share.
Also Scott the Dick is one of my favourite South Park characters.
Santa Claus the Movie
This one gets a free pass for the nostalgia factor, because it was on EVERY Christmas when I was a kid. But it has a wonderful leading man, as well as Dudley Moore as an elf and John Lithgow at his most arch as the villain. And I mean arch. If he was any more arch, if you cloned him you’d have a McDonald’s sign. Love love love.
Morcambe and Wise
If I have to explain this, you probably don’t know who Morcambe and Wise are, and I fear I lack the necessary skill with words to provide a description that even comes close to doing them justice. Just take my word for it that they are Very Very Funny.
Hey Arnold!: Arnold’s Christmas
Hey Arnold! was one of my favourite shows growing up, mostly because it was willing to deal with some fairly big stuff without resorting to needlessly oblique bullshit, and I respected that. This episode is no exception, dealing as it does with the idea of parent/child estrangement. And Nancy Spumoni snowboots.
Mickey’s Christmas Carol
I love Scrooge McDuck. That’s coming as a surprise to precisely no-one. Also, fun fact, the visions of Hell at the end FUCKING TERRIFIED ME AS A CHILD. And became my default perception of Hell. If I go there and the devil doesn’t look like Big Bad Pete, that’s gonna take some getting used to. Still, I imagine searing, never-ending torment will help take my mind off it.
The Box of Delights
Every year we watch this in the week leading up to Christmas, watching the final episode on Christmas Eve. It’s a wonderful story, with ingenious effects and a brilliant cast. And, along with The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, is one of the main storyarcs in my Season 6b of Doctor Who, both in terms of the thing itself and how it reinforces my belief that the Doctor is Gandalf. I believe this pretty much solely because one of its main elements is Patrick Troughton with a big grey beard. Because I am an idiot.
And, at number 1…
The Muppet Christmas Carol. I wasn’t able to watch it one year and the level of wrongness I felt that Christmas can only be described as Lovecraftian. It’s just the best. Best everything.
The reason I think it works so well is because Michael Caine’s performance as Scrooge is, for the most part, completely straight. A lot of the time it feels like he’s wandered in from a totally different adaptation and it works PERFECTLY, because Scrooge’s role for much of the narrative is the outsider.
The first time I watched it as an adult, it was an entirely different and emotionally-harrowing experience, which peaked during the song ‘When Love is Gone’ during the Christmas Past segment, because I abruptly realised that it’s the first time in the film that Scrooge sings. Prior to that, musical numbers happen around him, which only serves to emphasize his otherness. His presence in those scenes is a void. Even in ‘Marley and Marley’, a song specifically directed at him, Scrooge continues to speak his lines from the book. A cardinal element of the world of the film, practically one of its physical laws, flows around him like a stream around a stone.
In ‘When Love Is Gone’, he only sings a couple of lines, but that first time I watched it as an adult who’d sat in on some Film Studies classes, it was like a punch to the stomach because I felt that it was meant to signify a sudden erosion of the barrier Ebeneezer Scrooge had felt the need to erect between himself and the rest of the human race. Same goes for when he allows himself to have a bit of a dance during the Ghost of Christmas Present’s number ‘It Feels Like Christmas’. It’s more of the barrier crumbling. And when he sings his solo number on Christmas morning at the end of the film, he’s dancing on the wreckage of the barrier, because he’s become a fully-integrated part of his world in a way that I don’t think that other adaptations of the Dickens story are able to convey as cogently as this one, as well as the idea that a person should not, even cannot, allow hardship and heartache to turn their thoughts towards the idea that they are somehow seperate from their fellow human beings, because once you’ve done that…that’s kind of it. You’ve forfeited your own humanity. Here there be monsters.
Ultimately, much like It’s a Wonderful Life, the story of A Christmas Carol is of a man being shown his life from an external context in order to allow him to learn something important, which in this case is Scrooge regaining his humanity the hard way, and the most powerful and effective portrayal of that message is in a Muppets film.
I can think of no better testament to the talent, passion and utter devotion to the craft of storytelling that has always been one of the hallmarks of the Jim Henson company.
The Muppets Christmas Carol IS Christmas. Accept no substitutes.
Reblogged from mysticorset :
Reblogged from sonnetscrewdriver :
Years ago, Charlie Brooker did this thing where he went to the US and showed an audience of volunteers episodes of UK TV shows that would never be sold to American networks. Things like British soap operas and cheap documentaries about the police - shows where British and…
but we should get rid of the sonic screwdriver…
I have quite an extensive list of media I always consume in the run-up to Christmas, including...
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