27 December 2008

"On the Third Day of Christmas..." (Evening Edition)

We've been having a holly jolly holiday evening.

First it was "Muppetty." I put on John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together. Classic stuff! Love Miss Piggy's "ba-dum-dum-dum" and "Christmas is Coming" and the sweet "Peace Carol" and the Muppet Christmas story, told "straight" with specially-made Nativity characters.

Next came A Muppet Family Christmas. I actually haven't watched this in years and had forgotten most of the plot. Fozzie Bear takes all his buddies home to his mom's farm for Christmas, not knowing Mom is preparing to leave for Florida and has rented the house to Doc and his dog Sprocket (from Fraggle Rock). Meanwhile, Miss Piggy is finishing up a few publicity appearances and is heading for the farm—in the middle of a blizzard!

This is a novel Muppet special because it features all the different Muppet...families, I guess you'd call it, at the time it was filmed (1987): The Muppet Show gang, the Sesame Street crowd, the cast of Fraggle Rock, and a brief glimpse of The Muppet Babies. It's also infamous because when they released it to video (both versions), they released it in an edited version that cut out at least five minutes of the original broadcast. It's sweet, cute, and very funny to have the Sesame Street Muppets interacting with the rest and staying in character—the Count constantly counts things and Big Bird is reacts as always when the Swedish Chef tries to cook him for dinner.

The last special was Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree, based on the book by Robert Barry and first aired in 1995. Robert Downey Jr plays Willowby, a kindly wealthy man whose request for the perfect Christmas tree provides one for several others, including a cute family of mice. The story features a daffy romance between Miss Adelaide the governess (Stockard Channing) and Baxter the butler (Leslie Nielsen), and is hosted by Kermit the Frog.

Post Muppettry was Christmas night's What's My Line?/To Tell the Truth pairing. Oddly, TTTT had nothing to do with Christmas, but the WML? episode first aired on Christmas Day 1955. I particularly enjoyed this because I was exactly two weeks old the night this was broadcast! How I would have loved to have shown this to my mom and dad again! The guests were a Salvation Army band, a woman who was a regular on the panel of What's My Line? in Puerto Rico, mystery guests Peter Lind Hayes and his wife/partner Mary Healy, and finally a gentleman named Johnny Marks, whose name they didn't recognize! I guess Marks was not all that well-known in 1955!

Mr. Marks, of course, was the brother-in-law of Robert L. May, who wrote the original Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer story, and who wrote the song version of the story, not to mention several other Christmas and other songs featured in the television special of Rudolph. Cool!

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