Picks and Pans Review: Making a List, Checking It Twice
In this issue we look at the next two weeks on TV—starting with a whole mess of Christmas shows—because next week our annual list of entertainment's best and worst fills these pages. So better not pout. Better not cry. Better not shout, I'm tellin' you why: Santa Critic's coming to town.
A CHRISTMAS SAMPLER
A Muppet Family Christmas (ABC, Wed., Dec. 16, 8 p.m. ET) is the one special of the season that's not to be missed. In fact it's the only one worth watching. The whole Muppet clan—from the movies Sesame Street and Fraggle Rock—gets together on Fozzie Bear's farm. There's plenty of singing for the kiddies, and there's the usual wry humor for the grown-ups—like a turkey trying to convince the Swedish chef that Big Bird would make one juicy Christmas dinner.
After the Muppets trim their tree, change the channel—quick!—before you witness a festival of humiliation called Julie Andrews: The Sound of Christmas (ABC, Wed., Dec. 16, 9 p.m. ET), in which she returns to Salzburg, Austria, site of The Sound of Music, with friends John Denver and Placido Domingo. Fa-la-la-la-lame.
If you watch The Three Kings (ABC, Thurs., Dec. 17, 9 p.m. ET), don't read too deeply between the lines or you will see religion—specifically Christianity—equated with insanity. In this tepid attempt at a heart-warmer, three mental patients—Jack Warden, Stan Shaw and La Bamba's Lou Diamond Phillips—escape their institution on camels and wander through the malls and parking lots of L.A. They believe they are the Three Wise Men, that the Goodyear blimp is the Star of Bethlehem, and that they will find the baby Jesus. As nutty as a Christmas fruitcake and every bit as appetizing.
Not far from the scene of Julie Andrews' Christmas crimes, opera star Frederica "Flicka" von Stade commits musical sins of her own in Great Performances' Christmas With Flicka (PBS, Fri" Dec. 18, 9 p.m. ET). Yes, she has a nice voice. But her overdone arrangements ruin the carols.
The dumbest Yule movie this year: Christmas Comes to Willow Creek (CBS, Sun., Dec. 20, 9 p.m. ET), in which John Schneider and Tom Wopat of The Dukes of Hazzard play warring brothers who drive a truck to Alaska with a green-haired kid and a pregnant woman. Whoever came up with this idea should stay away from the nog.
The sappiest Yule movie: The Little Match Girl (NBC, Mon., Dec. 21, 8 p.m. ET), in which The Cosby Show's Keshia Knight Pulliam sets a wonderful example for children everywhere by playing with matches (albeit magical ones that bring together a feuding family).
And the dullest: A Child's Christmas in Wales (PBS, Wed., Dec. 23, 8 p.m. ET), in which Denholm Elliott recites the Dylan Thomas story—purple poetry never meant to pass through human lips—while we see his words acted out, slowly. Boo, humbug.
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