MOVIE BUFF-ET: Greatest Christmas Movies Tournament – Part 3: O Tannenbaum TV

 

As a movie buff and a Christmas fan, this truly is one of the most wonderful times of the year for me. There are so many great Christmas-themed films and TV shows, but sadly not enough time to watch them all even if you started now. Believe me, I’ve driven myself crazy trying to do it before.

It’s difficult for me even to pick a top 10. So, I’ve opted for a Top 64, and to make it fun — or complicated — I’ve broken those 64 yuletide classics or near classics into four brackets for a NCAA Basketball Tournament-style showdown to help me select my favorite Christmas films.

Call it Christmas Madness!

The Fayetteville Flyer is running one bracket a day until we reach a final movie.

Today is The O Tannenbaum TV bracket is up, followed by the Egg Nog Neo Classics bracket featuring films from 1960 to 1990. The Mistletoe Modern bracket, featuring movies made since 1990, and the Candy Cane Classics bracket, featuring movies from 1930-1959, ran previously.

The winning picks from the four brackets will meet for a Yuletide Movie Final Four, resulting with the crowning of the Movie Buff-et’s Greatest Christmas Movie for 2017.

In the comments, please let us know what you think. With subjectivity, there is always controversy, just like the NCAA Basketball Tournament.

Which of your favorites were left out? Where did the seeding go wrong? And what would you have picked?

Have fun and share your opinions, but be kind.

Remember Santa is watching!


O Tannenbaum TV Bracket

1. A Charlie Brown Christmas vs. 16. The Simpsons: Roasting on an Open Fire

“The Simpsons” turned all the conventions of sitcoms on their heads with its first episode, which just happened to be Christmas-themed. As iconoclastic as the show seemed to be when it debuted in 1989, that first episode seems sorta sweet today. “A Charlie Brown Christmas” may seem more controversial today with Linus reciting the Nativity Story from the Gospel of Luke. The animation is rudimentary, but is perfect for capturing Charles M. Schulz’s Peanuts on TV for the first time. The wonderful mixture of children singing Christmas tunes against the jazzy stylings of the Vince Guaraldi Trio sets a perfect tone for the TV special.

Winner – A Charlie Brown Christmas



8. Happy Days: Guess Who’s Coming to Christmas vs. 9. The Brady Bunch: The Voice of Christmas
All little Cindy Brady wants is for her mommy to be able to sing in church for Christmas, but Carol Brady is suffering with a tough bout of laryngitis. What’s a little girl to do? Ask a department store Santa to heal her mom, that’s what. You haven’t got a heart if the “Christmas miracle” in this episode doesn’t make you feel warm on the inside.
“Happy Days” ultimately became a silly show when the focus moved from Ritchie and his buddies Potsie and Ralph to Fonzie and then on to Joanie and Chachi, but the first couple of seasons where strong. “Guess Who’s Coming to Christmas” is from the second season and features Fonzie being embarrassed for not having family to spend Christmas with and the Cunninghams finding a way to invite him over without the proud greaser losing face.

Winner – Happy Days: Guess Who’s Coming to Christmas



Bracket Quarterfinal 1: No. 1 A Charlie Brown Christmas vs. No. 8 Happy Days: Guess Who’s Coming to Christmas

A choice between a No. 1 Seed and an No. 8 shouldn’t be this hard, but it speaks to the quality of this bracket’s field. When all is said and done, it wouldn’t be Christmas without good ole Charlie Brown.

Winner – A Charlie Brown Christmas


5. Frosty the Snowman vs. 12. Santa Claus is Coming to Town

Everyone knows the story of how Frosty came to life one day, or at least everyone who has heard the tune or seen this 1967 animated special, narrated and sung by the incomparable Jimmy Durante. “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” is basically the secret origin of good old Kris Kringle, sung and narrated by Holiday hoofer Fred Astair. The stop-motion animated special answers most if not all your questions about the jolly old elf.

Winner — Santa Claus is Coming to Town



4. Twilight Zone: The Night of the Meek vs. 13. Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas
“Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas” is sort of a Muppets take on O. Henry’s “The Gift of the Magi,” but with woodland creatures. It’s probably my favorite thing John Henson produced, including Yoda. The Twilight Zone’s “The Night of the Meek” features a drunken department store Santa (Art Carney) who finds a magical bag that allows him to give a person his most-wanted gift. Sort of a spiritual precursor to “The Santa Clause.” I’ve got to go with another upset.

Winner – Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas



Bracket Quarterfinal 2: No. 13 Emmett Otter’s Jug Band Christmas vs. No. 12 Santa Claus is Coming to Town

Both TV specials overflow with Christmas cheer. Another time and my choice might be very different because I do love all the Rankin/Bass Animagic stop-motion Christmas stories, but not so today.

Winner – Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas


Bracket Semifinal 1: No. 1 A Charlie Brown Christmas vs. Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas

Both Christmas specials have similar somber tones. The puppetry of the Henson product is far stronger than the animation of Schulz’s classic characters, but there is just something so right about the Peanuts Gang and their views on Christmas.

Winner – A Charlie Brown Christmas


6. The Andy Griffith Show: Christmas Story vs. 11. South Park: Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo
I laughed so hard I couldn’t breathe the first time I saw the faux commercial in Mr. Hankey’s debut episode, but with the loss of the shock value over years, I’m just not feeling Mr. Hankey today. However, “The Andy Griffith Show’s” Christmas episode, with the gang thwarting the plans of the Scrooge-like department-store owner Ben Weaver, just warms the cockles of my heart.

Winner – The Andy Griffith Show: Christmas Story

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YvYeOxWvBkI
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SCWa4Y0lmcA


3. How the Grinch Who Stole Christmas vs. 14. The Office: Christmas Party
“The Office” was a great show and “Christmas Party” was a fine episode, but take a story by Theodor Seuss Geisel and have Boris Karloff (Frankenstein) narrate it. That’s a stone solid Christmas classic.

Winner – How the Grinch Stole Christmas


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FFIf4c7YBWM


Bracket Quarterfinal 3: No. 3 How the Grinch Stole Christmas vs. No. 6 The Andy Griffith Show: Christmas Story

Dr. Seuss, no doubt, created magical worlds with wonderful characters, and the Grinch is among the best, but those early episodes of “The Andy Griffith Show” are so delightful. The whole idea of having Christmas at a jail house is so novel, and the fact that nasty old Ben Weaver, the richest man in town, commits a petty crime just to be locked up so he can partake in the festivities is perfect:

Winner – The Andy Griffith Show: The Christmas Story


7. The Little Drummer Boy vs. 10. A Year Without a Santa Claus
“The Little Drummer Boy” is perhaps the darkest of all the Rankin/Bass stop-motion animated Christmas specials, telling the story of an orphan boy who played his drum for the new-born Christ child. There is more violence and realistic danger in it than in the other specials. That made it stand out to me as a boy. However, “The Year Without a Santa Claus” is one of the brightest and most comical of R/B’s Christmas shows with the Miser Brothers — Heat and Cold — battling for supremacy. Growing up in the South, the special stood out because one of its conceits was to bring a white Christmas to Dixie.

Winner – A Year Without a Santa Claus



2. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer vs. 15: The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus
“The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus” was the final Rankin/Bass Christmas special in 1985, and it was an adaptation of “Wizard of Oz” author L. Frank Baum’s 1902 children’s story. In it, Santa Claus grows up among immortals in a fairy land similar to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Hobbit” or something out of a Dungeons and Dragons fantasy role-playing game. Except that Baum thought of it first. All that said “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” was the first of Rankin/Bass Christmas special, and to my mind the very best.

Winner – Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer



Bracket Quarterfinal 4: No. 2 Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer Vs. No. 10 A Year Without a Santa Claus

Without the magic and charm of “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer,” there never would have been “A Year Without a Santa Claus,” which is my second favorite of the all the Rankin/Bass specials.

Winner – Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer


Bracket Semifinal 2: No. 2 Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer Vs. No. 6 The Andy Griffith Show: Christmas Story

Both of these shows helped shape my view of Christmas from a very early age, and both carry a message of kindness, generosity, and love that make Christmastimes so special, but Rudolph has given so many children their first glimpse into and true understanding of the myth of Santa Claus. That, to me, tops the antics of Andy, Barney, and the gang. Winner: Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.


Bracket Final: No. 1 A Charlie Brown Christmas Vs. No. 2 Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

I have struggled with deciding which one of these two wonderful Christmas specials is better since I was a child. No doubt, Rudolph was my favorite as a boy, but over the years, “A Charlie Brown Christmas” has grown nearer and dearer to my heart. While both have useful underlying messages, there just seems to be more depth with the Peanuts gang.

Winner – A Charlie Brown Christmas


All the other brackets

Part 1: The Candy Cane Classics bracket, (movies from 1930-1959)
Part 2: The Mistletoe Modern bracket (movies since 1990)
Part 3: The O Tannenbaum TV bracket (made for television)
Part 4: The Egg Nog Neo Classics bracket (movies from 1960-1990)
Part 5: Yuletide Final Four & The Movie Buff-et’s Greatest Christmas Movie of 2017