The TWILIGHT ZONE episode The Night of the Meek is a Christmas perennial for me, though the permutations in streaming offerings mean that instead of watching it on Hulu or Netflix I wound up buying the episode on Amazon. Ar Carney plays a drunken department-store Santa (“I either drink or I weep, and drinking is so much more subtle.”) fired on Christmas Eve, returning to his poor, miserable tenement neighborhood … and finding a sack that enables him to give everyone any gift they ask for.Serling was a master at giving tormented losers a happy ending and the show makes the miserable, rundown setting look genuinely miserable, giving the miracle that much more punch. And Carney is a better dramatic actor than I think he usually gets credit for. “Yes I’m drunk — intoxicated with the spirit of Yule!”
Ordering and viewing that episode took longer than expected so I wound up watching THE NIGHT THE WORLD EXPLODED (1957) to fill the time. When a series of disastrous earthquakes rock the world (literally — we’re told the world is tilting on its axis, though little is done with that aspect) a brilliant geologist and his lovesmitten assistant discover it’s due to a mineral that grows and explodes when exposed to air (“There are 111 known elements — I think we’ve found 112.”), reminding me of the superior Monolith Monsters. Unfortunately this movie is a slow, talky production with lots of disaster stock footage, though running little over one hour forces it move faster than 1965’s talky Crack in the World. “We’re faced with the greatest emergency man has ever known — we don’t have time for red tape.”
The CLAYMATION CHRISTMAS SPECIAL is apparently not a perennial for most people as I couldn’t find it anywhere but YouTube. But I love the dramatization of multiple Christmas carols, the search for the meaning of “wassail” and the fact it’s a Christmas special narrated by two dinosaurs. The ending scene with the California Raisins was meant to cash in on their popularity back when they were a new advertising gimmick; while they’re now otherwise forgotten, they fit perfectly with the rest of the production. “I told you there was a Christmas song about snacks!”
The first time I caught JINGLE JANGLE: A Christmas Story (2020) I didn’t care for it but thought it might have been my mood at the time (I don’t remember whatever was harshing my mellow though). Apparently it was, because I rewatched it and thoroughly enjoyed the story of genius toymaker Jeronicus Jangle (Forest Whittaker) losing his career, his family and his love of his craft thanks to scheming automaton Ricky Martin; when Jeronicus’ granddaughter comes to visit, can she turn things around? Charming; Phylicia Rashad plays the grandmother narrating the story. “The square root of possible is the summation from one to infinity.”
By contrast UNACCOMPANIED MINORS (2006) fit my mood perfectly — I needed a talking lamp and the story of four kids running wild in a snowbound airport while the PO’d Authority Figure tries taking them down required nothing more than an occasional glance at the screen. And I didn’t give it that many glances, though in fairness, I am not the age to be the target audience.
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