Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Best Xmas shows, from the woman who wrote the book

Joanna Wilson, author of "The Christmas TV Companion" and "Tis the Season TV," has probably watched more cheesy Christmas shows than anyone on the planet.

She talked with me recently about some of her favorites. All are available in libraries, through Netflix or in video stores. Here they are, in five different categories:

Animated: "A Charlie Brown Christmas." "It’s just got this melancholy flavor to it, and the jazz is great," Wilson says. It also rekindles fond memories: In second grade, she played Peppermint Patty in a school production.

Humorous: Mad TV's “A Pack of Gifts Now,” a parody of “Apocalypse Now” using characters from “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer..” And yes, Santa plays Kurtz.

Strange: "Franz Kafka’s It’s A Wonderful Life." This 1993 Academy Award-nominated short film is "bizarre and it’s strange and it’s charming at the same time," Wilson says. On Christmas Eve, Franz Kafka is struggling to come up with the opening words to "Metamorphosis." Need I say more?

Scary: From the 1972 movie, "Tales from the Crypt," a story called "All Through the House" starring Joan Collins. A woman kills her husband on Christmas Eve. As she's cleaning up the body, she hears a radio report that an insane asylum escapee dressed as Santa Claus is in her neighborhood.

Variety Specials: “The Judy Garland Christmas Special,” circa 1963. “If you ever forget how talented this woman is, she’s there to prove it," Wilson says. "At the same time, there’s just something off about it. You can just feel the tension in the air. Which is very Christmasy too.”
Now you're in a holiday mood? Check out more on Wilson's blog.