Showing posts with the label Article

Christmas Past and Future

We're closing out 2022 a little differently than past years, because this one's been different for us. We've done themes before, but not to the degree of this season, where we allowed A Christmas Carol to more or less overrun the blog. I'm covering my thoughts about that in a separate post , so they don't overwhelm everything else, because - even though it might not feel that way - our holiday this year wasn't just  about Charles Dickens. In fact, that wasn't supposed to be the theme at all. Last spring, I had a very different objective in mind: I wanted to check off every full-length Christmas movie made in the 1930s, in part to explore the differences between how those films treat the holidays compared to later movies and television shows. If you were wondering why we wound up reviewing Bright Eyes , Hell's Heroes , Love Finds Andy Hardy , and  And So They Were Married  in rapid succession, well... that's what was going on. But on the way, I also w

Christmas Present

What a year. For us, it's been a journey into the swirling vortex of A Christmas Carol. I posted a new review for an adaptation every day since Thanksgiving this year, which - as you might expect - has adjusted my perspective a bit. I actually didn't quite get to everything I wanted to see. The 1947 Spanish film,  Leyenda de Navidad , continues to elude me - I believe it's the only surviving theatrically released version I haven't been able to track down. If anyone knows a way this can be legally watched, please let me know. There are of course plenty other versions I haven't gotten to, but that's the only one I lost sleep over. I'm sure I'll cover more in future years, but don't expect another Carol-a-day thing in this lifetime. But here at least we've come to the domain of the second ghost, so you know what that means. Actually, do you know what that means? Because there might be some confusion. We haven't talked about it much, but there

So You're Planning to Remake A Christmas Carol...

If you've been following along, you know I've been watching adaptations, remakes, homages, and reimaginings of A Christmas Carol in bulk this year. As you might expect, I've got some thoughts about what makes an adaptation work and what doesn't. I figured I'd pass on my notes to whatever studio executive thinks it's a good idea to remake Scrooge for the [checks notes] I have no idea what number time we're up to. As a sidenote, this article is mainly going to concern itself with adaptations of the original book. I might turn to quasi-sequels like Scrooged and Spirited for guidance, but that's not what this is about. Do We Need Another Adaptation? I thought I'd start with some thoughts on whether there's even a point in doing this again. You may be surprised to hear my answer is, "Maybe." One takeaway from this whole project is that while there are a lot of versions out there, there isn't really a single definitive one that meets all

Why Is The Wizard of Oz Associated with Christmas?

We recently posted a review of The Wizard of Oz , one of two movies we consider "honorary Christmas" films despite lacking actual holiday credentials, but we didn't really investigate why it's associated with Christmas in the first place. Fair warning: the background here is a bit murky, so this is going to involve a bit of speculation when it comes time to connect the dots. That said, I think I've put together a fairly strong case for how an adaptation of a kid's book from 1900 became tangled with the holidays despite having no obvious yuletide connections. I think there are five primary factors at play: the movie's central theme, its star, its signature song, its most obvious imitators, and the decision to air it around Christmas in 1959. Let's start with that air date, because I think it's the simplest connection. Assuming the list on Wikipedia is right, The Wizard of Oz was first aired on television in 1956, when it was shown in early November.

What (Almost) Every Adaptation Gets Wrong About Ebenezer Scrooge

At the moment of writing this, I've seen around three dozen adaptations of A Christmas Carol this year, and while there are numerous aspects that vary from one to another, there's one mistake virtually every version I've come across shares. As you can probably guess from the title, the aspect in question relates to Scrooge himself, specifically in how he's presented at the beginning of the story. With few exceptions, he's depicted as comically mean, a cartoonishly greedy, self-centered man who cares nothing for others. He isn't merely a bad person, but rather he's presented as the worst  human being, the absolute epitome of materialistic excess. And, as odd as it may sound, I think that depiction is a mistake. I don't believe that's at all an accurate representation of the character as he behaves in Dickens's novel. If you're familiar with the book, you're probably confused right now - or perhaps you think I'm confused. You're lik

Musical Versions of A Christmas Carol: An Extended Analysis

You probably noticed that we've been watching a lot of versions of A Christmas Carol. As we went, I started noticing how many musical versions there are. As a lifelong musical theater fan, I'm a sucker for a good musical. Because these are all adaptations of the same story, many use songs in similar places for similar purposes. I find it interesting how these songs can make very different choices, so let's take a few minutes today to explore that together.  I don't remember enough music theory to get too bogged down in whether these songs are necessarily "good" by any specific musical metrics. I'm interested in only a few things:  Does the song support the story, expand the character(s), or enhance the tone? Is it enjoyable to listen to: lyrics understandable and not annoying, tune catchy, performed well?  How do the songs which fulfill the same purpose in the narrative compare across adaptations? Here are the versions of A Christmas Carol I'll be visi

Stave 896: Welcome Back to Christmas

Welcome to year 13 of Mainlining Christmas, the best Christmas media review site on the internet. No, no, that just doesn't sound arrogant enough. How about the best site on the internet? Yeah, that sets expectations right where I want them: on the precipice of infinite disappointment. Regardless, this year we brought a theme: A Christmas Carol. See, in the past we kind of breezed by the seemingly endless sea of adaptations, remakes, and re-imaginings of adaptations of Dickens's classic, reasoning if we'd seen one, we'd pretty much seen them all. But by that logic and the property of identity, we'd also have to acknowledge if we hadn't seen them all, we really haven't even watched one. So I figured I should probably sit down and watch through every adaptation that's been made. Unfortunately, that's not actually possible, as countless versions have been lost, are out of circulation, etc., and we have jobs and a child we need to raise. So I figured I&#

This isn't the Christmas any of us wanted. It's still Christmas.

This was supposed to be the Christmas spent with friends and family again, right? After a year in isolation, this was when we'd all be able to take a deep breath and gather together. Honestly, that was never going to be this Christmas for my family. We've got a toddler, and even before the news the vaccine trials for that age bracket weren't a rousing success, it was clear the timeline wasn't going to line up. Our most optimistic projections would have been having our kid vaccinated sometime in early January. Now we're hoping for late spring and trying not to get our hopes up. But I know those of you without young children (and some with more tolerance for risk) were thinking this was the year you'd be able to celebrate without concern. Big parties, nights out... Christmas traditions. I know a lot of you are doing those things, anyway. And, I mean, I hope you're vaccinated, boosted, and taking as many precautions as you can. I hope Omicron really does turn o

'Tis the Season: A New Medium

We've been reviewing Christmas movies, specials, books, episodes - God, you name it - for more than a decade now, and granted, a lot has changed. Overall, we've seen both an increase in quality and quantity, a wider variety of subgenres represented, and a more global pool of customs being drawn from. But one of the most noteworthy changes in holiday media is one I'm not seeing discussed. I refer to the advent of the Christmas television series or season as a medium. On one hand, this is to be expected. Streaming functions differently than traditional TV. It has different goals and different limitations, and those result in drastically different kinds of programming. Traditional TV favored weekly, episodic stories that could maintain casual viewers: streaming platforms know you can (and generally will) start from the beginning and watch every episode (at least until you get bored). Even shows that maintain weekly releases are typically fewer episodes in length, since the inc