Last night, rather than watch another Christmas movie we've seen at least a dozen times, Donna and I turned to Hulu and watched a few Christmas episodes of some classic television series that we hadn't seen. It turned out to be a good idea.
The two highlights were both titled "The Christmas Story." The first was a first season episode of FATHER KNOWS BEST and found the Anderson family indulging Father's whim by driving out to the country to chop down their own Christmas tree, the old-fashioned way. They run into bad weather and must prevail on the hospitality of a kindly old bearded fellow named Nick, who's living in the log cabin they find there. Nick is played by Wallace Ford (FREAKS, Babe Hanson of the MUMMY movies!), who gives a wonderful performance as the stranger who reminds the Andersons of what Christmas is really all about. We also watched another FKB holiday episode called "The Angel's Sweater," which I found less winning but it did have little Kitten (Lauren Chapin, so sweet in the first season) showing off some newly-acquired phrases like "Oh, turn blue!"
Then there was a Christmas episode of LASSIE, in which the heroic collie is hit by a truck while pushing a three-year-old out of the path of certain death. The Martin family and Doc Weaver dote over Lassie, who needs a very risky brain operation to resume her normal functions, which is eventually performed by a specialist on the Martins' own kitchen table as a group of children stand outside with their pets, with an interested newspaper reporter, and the mother whose child ran out in the street, to accompany the surgery with carols. Considering how many more episodes there were, would it really be a spoiler if I told you that Lassie not only survives, but is able to walk outside with her head in a sling to bark them all her thanks for coming out? The episode was directed by Don Taylor, of all people - the former star of NAKED CITY (the movie), the future husband of Hazel Court, and the future director of ESCAPE FROM THE PLANET OF THE APES, DAMIEN: OMEN II and THE ISLAND OF DR MOREAU.
As we head once again into the year-end holidays, Donna and I both want to thank everyone for their continued support of our ventures here at VIDEO WATCHDOG. A new issue will be wending its way to you very soon, so stay tuned to this page for your traditional "First Look."