TV Guy – Holiday Programming



Estimated Reading Time 4 Minutes


Here are some trivia tidbits to freshen up your taste for those time-tested Christmas confections:

RUDOLPH THE RED NOSED REINDEER

This stop-action animated classic from 1964 is the longest consecutively running holiday special in TV history. The voice of U.S. folk singer and movie star Burl Ives (Sam the Snowman) may have given the show its star appeal, but the rest of the cast was almost entirely Canadian, led by Billie Mae Richards as Rudolph, Paul Soles as elfin pal Hermey and Paul Kligman as Donner.

HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS

The song “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch” was sung by basso Thurl Ravenscroft, who was also familiar to TV audiences in the 1960s as the voice of Tony the Tiger on commercials for Sugar Frosted Flakes. Ravenscroft was not listed in the show credits. Dr. Seuss was so upset by the oversight that he wrote to every TV columnist in America to personally acknowledge him.


A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS

When they saw the final cut, CBS executives were horrified at the cartoon’s blatant religious content (insisted on by Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz) and the absence of a laugh track. Producer and director Bill Melendez (who also voiced Snoopy) was convinced he had a Christmas turkey on his hands until the critics raved and audience numbers shot higher than a heavenly host.




MR. MAGOO’S CHRISTMAS CAROL

In 1962, composers Bob Merrill and Julie Styne were disappointed when one of their songs was offered too late for inclusion in the cartoon soundtrack. They slipped the song into a musical they were working on. The musical was called Funny Girl, and the song was “People,” which became Barbra Streisand’s first smash hit.

MICKEY’S ONCE UPON A CHRISTMAS

Mickey and Minnie Mouse labour in a warehouse called Mortimer’s; Mortimer was the name that Walt Disney first considered giving his new mouse character in the late 1920s.

THE SNOWMAN

One of the best animated holiday programs ever made, this tale of a boy and snowman who comes to life is entirely silent except for a short opening narration. In the current version, the narration is supplied by Raymond Briggs, author of the book. The original featured rocker David Bowie as the narrator.

A FLINTSTONES CHRISTMAS CAROL

Montreal-born Henry Corden voiced Fred Flintstone in this 1981 animated feature. Corden had played Barbara Eden’s dad on I Dream of Jeannie and the band’s surly landlord in The Monkees.

A CHRISTMAS STORY

This 1983 feature film about Ralphie, a boy who wants a BB gun for Christmas, may have been set in Indiana but the school scenes were filmed at Victoria School in St. Catharines, ON, which is now a women’s shelter. The local museum has props from the film including Ralphie’s broken glasses.

SANTA WITH MUSCLES

Beware this mid-90s Hulk Hogan feature. So horrified was the screenplay’s original author that he sued to have his name removed from the credits.


Here are a few 2008 holiday highlights from Canadian broadcasters*:

YTV

The ‘Retro Christmas’ block, starting at 6 p.m. on Friday, December 14 offers Garfield Christmas, Smurfs Christmas, A Charlie Brown Christmas and A Flintstone Family Christmas. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer airs on December 20 at 6 p.m. and December 23 at 7 p.m. Feature films include Scrooged (Dec.15, 8 p.m.) and Christmas With the Kranks (Dec. 19, 7 p.m.).

TELETOON

Canada’s animation station premieres The Sideshow Christmas, a feature length film about a boy who must come to the rescue after Santa is hypnotized and turned into a sideshow attraction. Other holiday features include A Dennis the Menace Christmas, Jack Frost, and A Flintstones Christmas Carol, plus returning Christmas shows from 6TEEN, Tom & Jerry, the Cosby kids and the Looney Tunes gang.
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