Thursday, 23 December 2010

A Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night

This will almost certainly be my last post before the day itself, so it just remains for me to wish you all - family, friends, followers and readers from around the world(!) - compliments of the season, a very Merry Christmas and a happy holiday.

It has become something of a little tradition with me to have a mini-marathon of Christmas-themed episodes of my favourite TV programmes in the days running up to the 25th. So to finish up with here is a run-down of my pre-Christmas viewing thus far:

The episode of A Nero Wolfe Mystery, the much underrated adaptation of the Rex Stout novels that ran for far too short a time between 2001 and 2002 (plus the pilot in 2000), entitled Wolfe Goes Out. Interestingly in the original North American airings it is actually shown as two separate episodes - Door To Death and Christmas Party - but for the European version they were spliced together and some previously unseen footage added in the middle to provide a seamless transition. I love this series; there are some great ideas for men's - and ladies - fashions, there's a brilliant use of colour and Maury Chakin and Timothy Hutton are perfect as Wolfe and Archie Goodwin. That it was cancelled after only two seasons, is barely shown in the UK and is not available on Region 2 DVD is an absolute travesty.

Anyway, putting that aside, my next treat was The Blue Carbuncle, the Christmas episode of the 1980s Granada TV adaptation of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Starring the incomparable Jeremy Brett this is a smashing story, with a delightful Victorian Christmas ambience.

For a bit of light relief I turned to a series of Laurel & Hardy shorts, beginning with their most well-known Christmas-themed film, Big Business. For those of you not familiar with the plot, our heroes are Christmas tree salesmen plying their trade in sunny California(!). They fail to sell a single tree and end up involved in a running battle with one particularly reluctant customer, which ends in destruction and hilarity.

In The Fixer-Uppers Stan and Ollie are Christmas card salesmen who, in their own inimitable fashion, try to help one female customer win back her husband, only for after several funny misunderstandings to end up facing him in a duel!

The films Below Zero and Laughing Gravy make no mention of Christmas but are set in the winter and do feature a lot of snow! In Below Zero the Boys are buskers trying to make a dime or two in the freezing conditions, before the chance discovery of a dropped wallet and a run-in with a cop leads to predictably side-splitting results. The wonderfully-titled Laughing Gravy has Stan and Ollie in all sorts of trouble as they try to hide the existence of Stan's pet dog of the title (and what a great name for a dog!) from their landlord as a blizzard rages outside.

Laurel & Hardy also posed for several publicity shots with a Christmas theme. Here are a few:

Starting shortly on Channel 4 (2:20pm) is the original 1947 version of Miracle On 34th Street, so that's another Christmas classic taken care of - I shall certainly be settling down to watch that. The 1994 remake, which is quite decent, is on ITV1 tomorrow at 12:55pm as well.

Then tonight I shall finish off with Hercule Poirot's Christmas, the 1995 Christmas episode of Agatha Christie's Poirot, starring the peerless David Suchet. Tomorrow morning I'll be off to the family pile to spend Christmas with the old folks, so whatever you may be up to may your Christmas bring joy, happiness and good cheer (plus plenty of food, drink and presents of course!) and I'll be back before the New Year.


  1. A very Merry Yuletide to you Sir! Looks like you have a treat lined up for your peepers!

  2. Oh, I do love the gloves Poirot gets from Japp in Poirots Christmas! Must get out the dvd, me thinks... And a very Merry Christmas to you to Mr. Tups x

  3. happy holidays and enjoy your marvellous viewing materials!

  4. I'll be watching all my Ealing comedies in front of a roaring fire, with a G&T and box of violet and rose cremes! What bliss!

    Have a very happy Christmas.


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