Wednesday, December 23, 2020

The Man With the Bag

Began a lovely day with breakfast and Christmas Eve on Sesame Street. Everyone in the neighborhood is excited for the big holiday...except Big Bird. Oscar the Grouch told him if they can't figure out how Santa gets down those skinny New York chimneys, no one will get any presents! Big Bird, Kermit, Snuffleupagus, and one of the kids spend their day trying to figure out how he does it. Meanwhile, Bert and Ernie give away the things they love most to get gifts from Mr. Hooper and Cookie Monster attempts to write Santa, only to eat his writing utensils.

Headed out shortly after the show ended. I left a little bit early to buy parchment paper at work before I started. Needless to say, the Acme was very busy two days before one of the biggest holidays of the year. People are starting to think of what they're eating for Christmas dinner now, even if it's not going to be like usual. I did do some sweeping inside and gathered recycling towards the end of the night, but I was mainly outside, rounding up carts and enjoying a sunny, breezy, fairly warm day.

Ran into trouble with Uber going home. I think I took the wrong car. No wonder the guy didn't recognize my name when I got in. It took me at least five minutes or more to get a car at all by rush hour. I should have realized it when he didn't know which way to go. It was dark by then, I was dead tired, and I can never tell one car from another. At least I did eventually get where I was going. 

When I got in, I went straight into writing. Tom Kennedy's crew wears sheets to pass as ghosts. Bart Braverman complains that they look more like sheets than ghosts, which leads ship's doctor McLean Stevenson to joke about someone accidentally dumping them in the laundry. Sharon Farrell shushes them, reminding them that they need the disguises. 

Broke for dinner at 6:30. Tonight's Match Game '74 episodes is one of my favorites from that year. Charles Nelson Reilly was late from getting a new toupee (or "getting his hair nailed on," as the others joked), so their boss Mark Goodson sat in for him during the first question. (And did very well, too!) They also had questions about what Charles dresses as for Halloween (and a couple of ribald answers from those who knew him well!) and an Audience Match that was Betty ___. (And no, the contestant didn't go for the obvious answer that was sitting right in front of her.)

Switched to Ernest Saves Christmas as I made Chocolate-Peanut Butter Swirl Fudge. Ernest P. Worrell (Jim Varney) loves Christmas in his native Orlando, Florida. He's surprised, then thrilled when a man climbs into his cab claiming to be Santa Claus (Douglas Seale). Santa is in Orlando to find Joe Carruthers (Oliver Clark), a former children's show host he believes will be the perfect replacement for him. Trouble is, a smarmy movie agent (Robert Lesser) got to Joe first and is trying to push him into doing a holiday slasher movie. There's also Harmony Starr (Noelle Parker), a runaway teen who perpetually lies to pretty much everyone. Even after Ernest rescues Santa from prison, they still have to convince Joe to take over the role and retrieve the reindeer and sleigh with the help of two sarcastic elves.

This is a long-time holiday guilty pleasure of mine, and by far my favorite Ernest movie. My sisters and I watched it a lot in the late 80's-early 90's during December. If you love Ernest too, or also remember those frequent cable showings, you'll want to give it a try. It's one Ernest's best vehicles.

(And we'll see how the fudge came out tomorrow. It was still a little soupy when I put it in the fridge to set. Oh well, if it doesn't come out, I have plenty of other things to give.)

Watched the original 1947 Miracle on 34th Street on Disney Plus when I went online. We move from warm Orlando back to chilly New York City for another story on the existence of Santa. Macy's manager Doris Walker (Maureen O'Hara) discovers Kris Kringle (Edmund Gwenn) when he volunteers to replace her drunk Santa in Macy's Thanksgiving Parade. He goes over so well, he becomes the Santa at Macy's store as well. Kris really does believe he's Santa Claus. Most people think this is just a harmless fantasy, but Doris, who has taught her daughter Susie (Natalie Wood) to believe only in facts and what she can see, and obnoxious store psychiatrist Sawyer (Porter Hall), are more concerned. Kris eventually moves in with Doris' neighbor, lawyer Fred Gailey (John Payne). When Kris ends up on trial for lunacy, Fred is the one who defends him...and sets out to prove to Doris, Susie, and all of New York that there's a little holiday magic in everyone at this time of the year.

Gwenn won a supporting actor Oscar as one of film's most memorable Santas. His chemistry with deadpan little Wood is a delight to see. I also love the supporting cast, including Thelma Ritter as a frazzled mother in Macy's, Gene Lockhart as the judge covering the trial, Jerome Cowan as the district attorney opposing Fred, and William Frawley as the judge's political advisor. Their cynicism balances the more idealistic aspects of the script and keep the proceedings from getting too sugary.

I enjoyed the I've Got a Secret Christmas episode I watched Sunday night so much, I did another one after the movie ended. This episode from 1964 was the first with new host Steve Allen. Though we do have kids here (including an all-kid musical group with unusual instruments), my favorite guests were the Salvation Army choir who did an awesome number with tambourines. 

Ran "The Monkees Christmas Show" after tonight's Match Game '90 YouTube premiere. This was one of the less-strange episodes of the Monkees' wild second season. The groovy quartet thinks they're being hired by a wealthy lady to play for a party. They end up watching over her nephew, a spoiled and neglected boy who claims Christmas is little more than tinsel and commercialism. Their attempts to prove otherwise prove disastrous to their heads and wallets...until Mike Nesmith figures out what he really needs. 

Here's more groovy vintage Christmas specials to tide you over until the big day!

No comments: