The home of Critic, Writer and Film-maker: Liam Walters

Screen Daze – Christmas Special

Christmas Specials – Written By: Liam Walters

So now December is upon us, I think its fair to say that television is also beaming with the Christmas spirit as well. Then again, it has been since about Halloween, with many adverts having already started advertising Christmas gifts and offers. Now don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas just as much as anyone else, maybe more than some (I even have a tradition where on the last week before Christmas at college,(now university), I’ll wear a Santa hat to all my lessons and activities).

Back to the television, Christmas time is quite a special time for it. It gets a much larger audience than any other time of the year, and so makes a special effort to put on interesting, and relevant thing. And what could be more relevant at Christmas… than Christmas. And so a lot of shows decide to create a ‘Christmas Special’.

This is what we’ll be looking at today. The television shows, films and adverts of the Christmas season. So break out the sherry and the paper hats, help Santa out the chimney then sit back and relax as we leave grandma to get run over by a reindeer, and jump into the Screen Daze Christmas Special on Christmas Specials.

So for me, personally, when I think of Christmas specials for television shows, I tend to think of one programme in particular..: Doctor Who. Starting from the new serial of the long running TV Sci-fi drama, Christmas 2005 rolls around, and still excited from the, lets say, regenerative cliffhanger of the new series, viewers around England sit in anticipation, as the newly regenerated ‘Tenth Doctor’ comes literally crashing into the show.

Unfortunately, viewers would have to wait a while to see their hero in action, as due to the effects of regeneration, he was put out of commission whilst something hovered over London, which, unfortunately wasn’t a jolly fat guy in red (Who had instead came the night before, though replacing the jolly with a deadly spinning Christmas tree).

But, soon enough, the new doctor finally revealed who he was, to us the audience, to the characters in the show, and even to himself. And since then, the doctors had many Christmas adventures; fighting a giant spider, riding in the Titanic (in space), facing a giant Cyberking in Victorian London, and going head to head (and head, head, head, head… 6 billion times over) when the Master returns home in time for the Christmas dinner. This, however, would be his final confrontation, at least as he was. After a fantastic and deadly battle, which he returns victorious, he has to give up his life in a heroic sacrifice, emerging from it with the regeneration process having started.

So with this Christmas coming, we will be seeing Mr. Smith deal with a Christmas adventure. We have, already though, seen the 9th doctor in a Christmas adventure (although not actually released at Christmas) when he encounters Charles Dickens and the ghoulish Gelth.

Films are a different thing. Not many films actually go out their way to make a Christmas special of themselves, but there are still a few franchises out there who have done it. The most notable one would the be infamous Star Wars Holiday Special. Whilst I would love to dig into this, I neither have it or watched it, and more importantly, only seen four out of the six main films, and nothing of the expanded universe.

But, that’s okay, because I have a nostalgia-fest of a festive film..: All Dogs Christmas Carol. Now I admit, It has been a long while since I last watched this film… The professional thing to do would be to have gone out and searched for the film, to watch it and then comment on it… But I’ve never claimed to be a professional now have I. (Just to prove it, here’s a smiley =D )

Anyhow, I don’t think I need to go too much into this anyhow. By the title you can at least guess that it is an adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. The adaptation comes from the ‘All Dogs Go To Heaven’ animated film series.

All in all, if you’ve watched some of the original films, this is a great and humorous adaptation and if you have watched it when you were younger, then its a perfect film to mix the feelings of nostalgia and Christmas.

Now, how can I talk about Christmas without talking about Christmas Adverts. Now I’m older, I can tell christmas is coming when the shops start selling advent calendars on Halloween… I can also tell because of the date, obviously, but I’m talking more about the signs of Christmas…

As a child, I did of course go to shops, but mainly, I knew it was Christmas when the Christmas adverts starting to play on the television. The main three that usually gave it away was the Coca Cola and Toys-R-Us adverts. And a little later, Park Catalogue.

I think a lot of us know the Coca Cola advert. It’s snowing and we see some lights in the distance. We hear jingles and people chanting before seeing houses. Then the Coca Cola trucks, that look oddly like a train come by and everyone is happy to see them. This is the advert that nearly everyone knows and recognises.

For a while, the advert was replaced with another Christmas related one, where you saw Santa hand a child some coca cola and we then see the child grow older until he has his own child. This one was alright, but compared to its predecessor, it just couldn’t hold a Christmas candle to it. The people complained, and, Coca Cola did the honourable thing, and gave us back the advert that ran deep in our hearts, letting us know that Christmas has finally arrived…

The Toys-R-Us advert was another one that ran deep into my youth. I still, though vaguely, remember the opening, where we would be flying through a snowy winter night until we saw the comforting bright lights of the Toys-R-Us sign.

What was weird, is that I, nor my family, ever really shopped at Toys-R-Us. I was never really bothered by it either, I was more excited for the advert than I was with the deals or toys they were trying to sell me, because, as before, I associated the advert with Christmas, and not that it was actually trying to sell me.

Lastly, was the Park Catalogue adverts. Now I’m not sure when these actually started, but I still remember them being a sign of Christmas. I think part of the reason these adverts stuck with me was because I was always confused by them. It would be November 2003, but they would be advertising for Christmas 2004, and I was just never sure if they were doing the confusing new year thing or whether they were actually trying to sell presents over a year in advance.

So that’s my Christmas special… Or is it… Well.. It isn’t… Not yet. I think I should make a special mention. After all, this is a Screen Burn Christmas Special, so how could I not mention this.

Its Christmas 2006… The family are ready for a nice shows about Christmas TV… But instead they get something much better… Charlie Brooker’s Screen Wipe Christmas Special.

All I will say is this… Go find it and watch it… And Enjoy

What are your experiences with televisual christmas? Comment below!


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