December 8, 2012

Christmas on TV and DVD

As long as there's been television in the U.S., Christmas TV programming has existed, too.  Whether it's specials, or episodes of our favorite shows, if it's been on, the chances are good there's some kind of holiday-themed episode, too.  In 2005, TVShowsonDVD's Barb Chabai wrote:

"Mix a few beloved characters, stir in chaotic forces of nature and add a story arc that ends with the cynic discovering the true meaning of Christmas - and you have all the trappings of a very special, eggnog-flavored holiday episode ... we could always count on our favorite shows to remind us that the spirit of the season was found not in the malls, not under the tree, but on cable."

No doubt, some networks including Antenna TV, RTV Retro Television and Me-TV and maybe even TV Land will be running some classic holiday-themed episodes, but many people will be busy celebrating the holidays with family, opening gifts, etc. so they could miss them.  So I thought this post was much better now than a few weeks from today. DVD is a good option since you can watch before the holidays, but where does one start?

There are a few books, including "Christmas on Television (The Praeger Television Collection)" by Diane Werts, and there's also another book titled "Tis the Season TV: The Encyclopedia of Christmas-Themed Episodes, Specials and Made-for-TV Movies" by Joanna Wilson.  Neither is quite the definitive encyclopedia on the subject, but they're good places to start.  As best I can tell, both are available in Kindle editions, too, so instant gratification can be combined with streaming video for almost instant gratification provided you're willing to pay for it.

But there have also been a few collections of holiday TV on DVD, including Paramount's "Holiday Treats" which had holiday episodes for "I Love Lucy". "The Honeymooners", "The Andy Griffith Show", "The Brady Bunch", "Taxi" and "Family Ties".  There’s a companion set called "Christmas Treats” which includes episodes from "Happy Days", "Laverne & Shirley", and "Mork and Mindy" just to name a few.  Finally, they sell a 2-disc collection containing all of these and a few more episodes I haven’t named.

Shout Factory's "Merry Sitcom" is another collection which has holiday episodes for "Bewitched" and "That Girl" and "The Flying Nun" as well as some older ones including "McHale's Navy", "The Donna Reed Show" and "Father Knows Best".

However, what I believe is the best of the bunch is Warner Archive's "Classic TV Christmas", which is a nice, 4-disc collection which features "Alice", "Eight is Enough" (a 2-part episode, no less), "Welcome Back Kotter:, "CHiPs", "Mama's Family" and some newer sitcoms including "Suddenly Susan" and "Veronica's Closet" as well as a few others.

Collectively, these compilations are good ones to have, although some people prefer having their whole favorite series' for their favorite shows.  Personally, I have a rather extensive TV on DVD collection, but finding those holiday-themed episodes among boxes of discs is sometimes challenging.

TVShowsonDVD has a good resource online with all the Christmas-themed episodes listed by show, which now number 354 episodes as I write this (December 2012).

It isn't quite as comprehensive as it could be -- for example, they list the series and season, but not the discs those episodes are found on, nor the name of the holiday-themed episodes, but it's a good place to start.

  • Absolutely Fabulous, Series #5
  • All in the Family, The Complete 2nd Season
  • All in the Family, The Complete 4th Season
  • Bewitched, The Complete 1st Season: Original Black & White Edition
  • The Brady Bunch, The Complete 1st Season
  • Diff'rent Strokes, The Complete 1st Season
  • The Golden Girls, Season 2
  • The Golden Girls, Season 5
  • Green Acres, Season 2
  • Growing Pains, The Complete 1st Season
  • The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Complete 1st Season
  • MadTV, The Complete 1st Season
  • Moonlighting, Seasons 1 and 2
  • Nip/Tuck, The Complete 3rd Season (Operating Room Packaging)
  • Pee-wee's Playhouse Christmas Special
  • Smallville, The Complete 5th Season
  • Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour, The Christmas Collection
  • That Girl, Season 1
  • That Girl, Season 2
  • Three's Company, Season 2
  • Who's the Boss?, The Complete 1st Season
  • Night Court, Complete 1st Season

  • So there you have my selections.  I'm sharing them now so you can dig them up, order them or assemble your own collection.  Someday, I'll upload my collection someplace on the cloud and be able to create playlists of TV show episodes, but until then, you can simply get your discs out and watch the relevant episodes.

    Seasons Greetings!

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