This holiday settle in front of the TV with the California Highway Patrol, a Mypos immigrant and other wacky friends and co-workers in this wonderful 4-Disc Collection of Vintage TV Series Christmas Episodes. The yuletide season doesn’t mean less work for Dr. Kildare and Dr. Gillespie and for Jon and Ponch of CHiPs. A prized medallion is passed around as a gift in The Courtship of Eddie’s Father. Menorahs, mistletoes and Balky Claus – festive traditions of all kinds are celebrated on Welcome Back, Kotter and Perfect Strangers. The season is nearly ruined twice: on Eight Is Enough the Bradford family’s presents are stolen and Alice gets stuck in a Christmas blizzard. Mama’s Family debates the fate of Mama’s present, a goose. Keep it as a pet or eat it? The staffs from Veronica’s Closet and Suddenly Susan find Christmas with their co-workers to be the most challenging time of the year. So gather ’round and savor this classic compilation filled overflowing with holiday spirit!
The perfect collection to throw on while decorating the tree or to watch with friend or family, the Warner Archive’s Classic TV Christmas Collection features several episodes of television of years past.
It’s a mixed bag, but I’d imagine that part of the sales plan is to include series episodes (or series themselves) not currently available on dvd. Among the offerings are:
- Dr. Kildare – An Exchange of Gifts 12/24/64
Thinking he’s about to die, a derelict alcoholic gives away his life’s hoardings.
- The Courtship of Eddie’s Father – Gifts are for Giving 12/23/70
What goes around comes around when Norman’s prized medallion circulates among the cast. Although not a Christmas episode per se, this story, originally aired two days before the holiday warmly illustrates the pure joy of giving.
- CHiPs – Christmas Watch 12/15/79
Christmas season doesn’t mean time off for Jon and Ponch when thieves steal a 500 year-old bell from a community church.
- Eight is Enough – Yes Nicholas, There is a Santa Claus – Parts 1 & 2 12/14/77
The Bradford’s Christmas is put on hold when all the family’s presents are stolen.
- Welcome Back, Kotter – Sweathog Christmas Special 12/15/77
Mix merriment, mistletoe and menorahs and whip up a Christmas party with the Sweathogs.
- Alice – A Semi-Merry Christmas 12/18/77
Alice, Tommy, Flo, Vera, and Mel spend Christmas together snowbound in a semi trailer.
- Perfect Strangers – The Gift of the Mypiot 12/16/88
Balki ruins Larry’s holiday mood by inviting his lonely boss, Mr. Gorpley, to the their Christmas Eve party.
- Mama’s Family – Mama Gets Goosed 12/20/86
Mama frets about cooking a live goose for Christmas dinner.
- Veronica’s Closet – Veronica’s Christmas Song 12/18/97
Veronica and Olive audition to sing at a Christmas concert at Lincoln Center.
- Suddenly Susan – The Walk Out 12/19/96
When Jack doesn’t hand out Christmas bonuses, the staff goes on strike.
There are two things about this collection that make it stand out. First, it’s nice to have a number of examples of television series in the collection, albeit a single holiday episode, but since most are standard fare, I probably don’t need a Dr. Kildare or Veronica’s Closet box set.
Second, three series on this set really stand out. Welcome Back, Kotter has always been a favorite and despite the holiday show presented being primarily a clip show, it does well to illustrate the Marx Bros. inspired antics and chemistry of the Sweathogs.
A very pleasant half hour was spent with Bill Bixby and Brandon Cruz in The Courtship of Eddie’s Father. I used to watch this in syndication growing up and although visually and culturally the show might seem dated, the connection and performance between father and son is fantastic. This episode also features regular characters Uncle Norman and Mrs. Livingston and features a ridiculously talented Jodie Foster in a guest appearance. This show needs to be released to the Warner Archive a.s.a.p!
Finally, the two part Eight is Enough episode really has some great performances of the ensemble Bradford family, with some really great acting from Willie Aames and Betty Buckley. When the series premiered, actress Diana Hyland was cast as the Braden mother, Joan. The actress filmed four episodes of the series’ first season before becoming ill and eventually passing away. Her death was written into the show and Buckley joined the cast in the second season as the girlfriend (and eventual wife of Tom Bradford (Dick Van Patten).
The two-part episode focuses on Tom trying to make sure that the family’s first Christmas without Joan is special, but not before a thief steals the family’s tree and gifts. One package was found hidden, a Christmas gift to middle son Tommy (Aames) from Joan which she had purchased before her death and put aside for him. Amid the laugh track (one of the only hour long shows to have one), Aames and Buckley share some really emotional scenes with Tommy dealing with the loss of his mother and Buckley trying to make a connection with him through his anger. A fantastic episode and a perfect example of why this series should be on dvd.
This release is highly recommended and a perfect gift for any nostalgic geek or couch potato.