Christmas on Television

Christmas on Television

by Diane Werts


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Christmas just isn't Christmas without Christmas on TV. Whether it's the made-for-television specials of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman, a M*A*S*H* Christmas in Korea, Kramer playing Santa on Seinfeld, or the annual holiday disaster on The Simpsons or South Park, television's many representations of this beloved holiday have become as essential a part of our holiday season as lights, gifts, or mistletoe. In this entertaining chronicle of television and the Christmas season, former Television Critics Association President Diane Werts weaves discussion of the many programs that have appeared during the holiday season throughout the years with interviews with writers, producers, and stars. Not only are readers given a chance to re-live their favorite holiday moments on TV, but also to gain illuminating cultural insights into the increasingly strong bond that unites these two American traditions.

Diane Werts's book is the first to cover the entire history of the depiction of Christmas on television, and includes a discussion of programs that celebrate Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and the winter solstice. An introductory overview helps readers to understand the basis on which television's success with the holidays is based, and chronological chapters go on to consider the many different ways in which the season has been celebrated in variety shows, sitcoms, specials, and dramas of the past six decades.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780275983314
Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
Publication date: 12/30/2005
Series: The Praeger Television Collection
Pages: 272
Product dimensions: 6.14(w) x 9.21(h) x 0.63(d)

About the Author

DIANE WERTS initially worked in television as a writer/director/editor for Beyond Our Control, the award-winning Midwest sketch satire of the 1970s and 1980s. Her writing has appeared in TV Guide, The Los Angeles Times, and other publications. She served two terms as president of the Television Critics Association, as well as on juries for the American Film Institute and the Banff International Television Festival. She now works as television writer for New York's daily newspaper Newsday.

Table of Contents


TV Waits in the Wings

The First (TV) Noel

White Christmas

The 12 Kinds of TV Christmas

I'll Be Home for Christmas

(Not) Home for the Holidays

Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire

Here Comes Santa Claus

All I Want for Christmas

An "Old-Fashioned" Christmas

O Come All Ye Faithful

Christmas with a Conscience

A Christmas Carol and It's A Wonderful Life

Hark the Herald Angels Sing

Run Rudolph Run

The 12 Other Kinds of Christmas TV

(A Baker's Dozen) We (Don't) Need a Little Christmas

That Christmas Feeling

TV's Christmas Essentials



What People are Saying About This

Lee Goldberg

"Christmas on Television is the ultimate stocking-stuffer for anyone who loves television. Just about every TV series has celebrated the holidays in its own special way, giving us some of the most memorable, touching, and truly surreal moments in television history. In this book Diane Werts covers holiday celebrations from almost every show, from the obscure (Something So Right and Martial Law) to the cultish (The Man from UNCLE and Xena Warrior Princess), and from classics (I Love Lucy and Twilight Zone) to recent popular hits (The West Wing and Everybody Love Raymond). Her thorough, engaging, and surprisingly touching examination of yuletide television makes for fascinating reading that reveals the surprisingly deep and emotional connection that exists between viewers and the television characters they invite into their homes—especially during the holidays."

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Christmas on Television 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The first thing that struck me about Christmas on Television is that there was another person out there who has as much fondness for old holiday episodes of TV shows as I do. Each year I find myself watching Christmas episodes of TV shows that I do not even watch regularly. This wonderful book from Praeger Publishers and written by Diane Werts is the Holy Grail for fans of holiday themed TV. I don't know if she mentions every Christmas episode of every TV show but I bet she comes pretty darn close. Werts begins with a look at early shows such as Ozzie & Harriet and Father Knows Best, and early specials like the 1953 Liberace Holiday show where he is joined on the set by members of his family...which would become a common theme in many future specials. Rather than just go chronologically through the years Werts takes a different tack, instead looking at these shows through the many different themes that were used over and over through the years such as shopping, decorating, feasting, being away from, or coming home for the holidays. Werts sites an unending supply of examples for the various themes such as the Partridge Family bus breaking down in a ghost town on Christmas Eve in a 1971 show or Tim Taylor being stuck in an airport during a storm in a 1995 holiday episode of Home Improvement. The theme of a working Christmas was explored in a 1970 Mary Tyler Moore show when Mary finds herself alone in the newsroom until the rest of the cast show up to bring the Christmas party to her. One of my favorite themes is the one where Santa is proven to be real. In a 1964 Christmas episode of Bewitched, Samantha takes a little boy (played by Billy Mumy) all the way to the North Pole to prove to him that Santa is real. The same year also gave us the Flintsones show where Fred helped out an ailing Santa by delivering gifts but forgets his own family's presents. The desire for an old fashioned Christmas and lamenting commercialization has been a common theme from the days of A Charlie Brown Christmas right through the 2003 Christmas episode of Bernie Mac. And Dickens' A Christmas Carol has played out numerous times over the decades on shows like The Odd Couple, Sanford & Son, and The Simpsons. Thank God for TV land who runs blocks of these old Christmas shows every year! Of course what would Christmas on TV be without mentioning the great, and regrettably now missing variety shows. Bob Hope did his first Christmas show on NBC in 1950 and continued for over forty years. His most famous shows were those he spent entertaining our armed forces throughout the Korean, Viet Nam, and first Gulf Wars. His 1970 and 1971 specials from Viet Nam are still ranked among Neilsen's Top 30 shows of all-time. Besides Bob there were so many other great variety shows...who can forget the annual Bing Crosby and Andy Williams shows, or even the Muppets. Werts also takes a look at the great animated shows like Frosty the Snowman, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer. While many classic Christmas episodes are forgotten and variety shows are no more, the classic animated specials never get old or lose their luster. Werts' book is filled with a comprehensive bibliography and index making it easy to find your favorite old Christmas episode. There is also a short, but enjoyable photo section. Truly a fantastic book! My highest recommendation! Reviewed by Tim Janson