ICFH 2022 Advent Calendar- Day 3
ICFH 2022 Advent Calendar- Day 3
Today we're going to revisit the cathode ray days when Christmas specials beamed into homes and people would huddle in front of their console boob tubes to watch all manner of seasonal nonsense. TV Holiday specials had a basic formula, but they were certainly not all created equally. There can be only one Paul Lynde Halloween Special, if you get what I'm saying. Today we're going back to 1984 for a TV special that seemed twenty wonderful years behind the times.
Warning: Spoiler Alert! Well, I mean, if you want to be surprised by who sings what, you don't want to read this, but that doesn't make a whole lot of sense. You can probably read this without damaging the enjoyment of your first watch.
ICFH 2022 Advent Calendar December 3- Scrooge's Rock 'N' Roll Christmas (1984)
This rollicking Christmas special premiered on December 23, 1984. It's Christmas Eve and Scrooge, played by Jack Elam, is working late. Suddenly, a nameless Victorian teeny-bopper played by Lee Benton rushes in, mistaking his office for an album store. "I'm looking for groovy LPs."
Scrooge has no time for teeny-boppers, LPs or Christmas and tells her to scram.
"Gee, you don't seem to have any Christmas spirit," our young lady says.
Seeing that he is obviously bothered by her presence and is uncomfortable, the girl insists on staying until he shows some sign of having Christmas spirit. She pulls out a magic snow globe, gives it a shake, and in the swirling flakes we zoom into Three Dog Night belting out Rocking Around the Christmas Tree.
This is going to be a long damn 44 minutes.
And so it goes, Scrooge complains that he "don't like no rock 'n roll music" followed by the teeny-bopper shaking the snow globe so Merrilee Rush can appear and sing White Christmas. Scrooge kind of likes that, but the rock music the kids of 1984 listen to (Merrilee Rush?) isn't his scene.
The teeny-bopper introduces a rocker he will like, an unknown talent that is appearing for the first time ever who will soon be a big star. It is a young lady named Bridget. She is a decent singer and has a slight Southern accent, but I don't think she ever became a big star. A casual Internet search comes up all zeroes. There was no Bridget. The Internet has spoken.
It continues in this vein with appearances by Paul Revere and the Raiders (an Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders joke is tossed in like a Mad Magazine Marginal) and then The Association gather at a house wrapped in sparkling garland to sing Home for the Holidays. (This scene looks like something out of the original Silent Night, Deadly Night, also from 1984, and I kept hoping Billy would come crashing out of the garland cocooned house and chop The Association to bits for being "naughty." No such luck.)
Bobby Goldsboro, in a fur coat and solid hair helmet, serenades the snow covered woods with Winter Wonderland.
Back at Scrooge's office, Scrooge confines in the teeny bopper that bullies stole his sleigh when he was a kid and he's hated Christmas ever since. Then Mike Love from the Beach Boys comes in carrying a small tree he calls a Christmas tree even though it's not decorated, thinking it's a record store.
Scrooge smiles. He finally has the Christmas spirit and the teeny bopper has done her good Christmas deed. Scrooge says "God bless us, everybody," and how Jack Elam got that out without cracking up I'll never know.
This is the quintessential cheesy early 80's TV Christmas special. They spent all their money on Jack Elam (and shooting at Big Bear) so they could not afford a Donny and Marie or Charo. Ah, but Three Dog Night and Paul Revere and the Raiders were available.
It was the final offering by director Lou Tedesco, who had a long career directing TV game shows. It seems to be the first in a career spanning this one TV special for writer Rex Sparger.
The lip synching in this thing is awful. It's painful. But probably some people thought is was great when it aired. I'm sure parents in 1984 impressed their kids with stories of how they went to see Paul Revere and the Raiders at a concert in Sheboygan, Wisconsin when they were dating back in college. "That's how hip we were back then, kids."
This is a thick slice of cheese on that festive holiday platter of TV specials and I plan on forcing my nieces and nephews to watch it this year for Christmas. ("This is what we watched for Christmas back when we were your age!")
It was released on Sony VHS. No doubt, VHS collectors would nearly pass out if they found a copy in a thrift store for twenty-five cents today. It also spawned a beloved LP that was sold in mall record stores during the holiday season of 1984.
It is on Tubi. Why aren't you watching it right now?