Everybody Hates Chris Holiday Episodes: 2005 - 2008

I wasn't watching much TV during the years Everybody Hates Chris aired, and I certainly wasn't tuning in for sitcoms. I hadn't seen a single episode of the show until we sat down to watch these four, and I had no idea what to expect. The title didn't fill me with confidence - it's odd for a TV show to so blatantly parody another currently airing. Without watching more episodes of this and Everybody Loves Raymond, I can't say for certain why Chris Rock chose to take such an obvious swipe at the competition up front. Raymond was a popular show, so Rock may have simply been after publicity. Alternatively, he may have liked the joke or objected to Raymond's somewhat idealistic portrayal of life in the five boroughs. Whatever the reason, I think the name's unfortunate, since it connects Everybody Hates Chris to a far inferior show. This bizarre, quirky show deserves a legacy of its own. Or, at the very least, one tethered to Malcolm in the Middle, a con

Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree (1995)

Relatively unknown Christmas specials are often either terrible or boring, but this one has Muppets! Muppet specials are usually good, right? Not this time. Well, nuts. In truth, this short special isn't terrible, but it is rather boring. The plot is from a book, and I would venture without checking that the book was short and mostly pictures. It follows a mouse family in search of a 'perfect Christmas tree' for their holiday celebration. They choose a section at the top of a very tall tree, but then the whole tree is cut down and they go along for the ride. The big tree is for Mr. Willowby's 'perfect Christmas tree', but it's too tall for the room. The top third or so is cut off and sent upstairs to be the housekeeper's tree. The tree is too tall. The top is cut off and thrown out the window, where it's picked up by some bears for their celebration. Still too much tree. The top of their tree is taken by a group of owls, and the very tip is cut

Get Santa (2014)

This surprisingly intelligent British fantasy opens a few days before Christmas. Steve is being released from prison after serving two years: he was a getaway driver in a botched robbery. All he wants is to spend some time with his son, Tom, who's terrified his father will disappoint him. After a brief argument with his mother, Tom writes a letter to Santa and places it in the fireplace (a British tradition which frankly makes a hell of a lot more sense than dropping it in a mail box). As soon as the room's empty, a gust of wind carries it up the chimney then promptly takes it to the shed behind his house. Because that's where Santa Claus is hiding out. After a test flight gone bad, he was knocked off his sleigh. His deer are lost, and he needs help. Before long, Tom finds him and gets the whole story. Santa specifically wants Steve's assistance - he remembers him from when he was a child and believes he'll be able to make things right. Tom calls his father and

Mickey's Magical Christmas: Snowed in at the House of Mouse (2001)

Oh yay, something else from that dark time for Disney characters I mentioned in the review of Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas . I had always been sort of curious about House of Mouse, the show that this special is spinning out of, because it plays with the idea that all the Disney characters live and work together. (For other spins on this, see Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Bonkers.) However, after seeing it I feel as though I dodged a bullet by avoiding this until now. The set-up is simple: House of Mouse is always a clip-show, consisting of short cartoons bridged by a flimsy frame story set in the nightclub that Mickey and company run. This special is structured the same way. The first half-hour has three shorts, one from 1952 and two from 1999. It's astonishing that anyone was stupid enough to put these disparate pieces of animation together, because the difference in quality was so pronounced. The minute the 1952 piece started (it's one we've touched on before,

Star Wars Snow Globe

We found this at Toys R Us last weekend marked down 50%. Retail price would have been $17, and I'm not stupid enough to pay that much for a stupid musical "snow globe". But $8.50? Now that's just about precisely how stupid I am. You'll not the quotes above around the word, "snow globe." That's because, as far as I'm concerned, this isn't a snow globe. I'd contend that, to qualify for the term, a clear globe must be filled with water and flecks, and that's not what this is. Instead, they've scattered tiny styrofoam pellets that are blown around by a loud fan when this is activated. To accompany the fan, the globe loudly (extremely loudly) plays midi versions of Christmas songs. This comes with ten clips, listed on the back of the package. Unfortunately, that's all it's got - there's no Star Wars music on this thing. That seems like a missed opportunity: my guess is they didn't want to pay John Willia

Christmas Music, the 2015 Edition

Our music buying habits changed last year when Amazon added streaming music to Prime membership. We picked up a couple of new CDs this year, but for the most part new holiday tunes are pulled from digital options. While it's nowhere near as massive as last year's additions, here are the albums I'm listening to, in addition to the 50 or so holiday playlists I've assembled out of the thousands of songs we own or stream. I want to stress that these aren't intended to be full reviews in any meaningful sense: I don't consider myself qualified to review music. Instead, view these as an opportunity to appreciate the depths I'm willing to sink to in order to experience the holiday season. A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector (Various) In today's installment of horrible rich people, we've got this collection of Christmas music produced by convicted murderer, Phil Spector. Spector may be scum, but he was influential scum, thanks to his "W

What's This Under the Tree?

This is unexpected. There's an extra gift here, and it's addressed to  you . I know we usually wait until Christmas, but it says to open now. We probably shouldn't argue. But what in the world could it be? It looks like a book. Only... I think there's more here. I was right! It's a whole bunch of books. In fact, it's ALL MY BOOKS! And you're getting them absolutely free. Well, the Kindle copies, anyway. Hey, what do you expect - paperbacks don't grow on trees. But, from now through December 26th, you can download free copies of  For Love of Children ,  Facsimile ,  A Count of Five ,  Tide of Ice , and  Tending the Fire . Get them now; read them later. And the best part of digital copies is you can keep them and still re-gift them. Just send your friends the links in lieu of a real gift and remind them it's the thought that counts.