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Sunday, December 17, 2006

Christmas, TV, and track

I just watched "A Charlie Brown Christmas" on TV. It's really amazing; even though the show is 41 years old, the only out-of-date items in the whole thing are the jazz-trio soundtrack and the debate about whether or not Christmas is too commercialized (by now everyone has given up all hope--and it's really weird to see Charlie Brown's overtly religious message of austerity and humility sponsored by the ultimate soul-less entity, Wal-Mart).

The more I think about it, the more I believe the 1960s and 70s had to be the best time for children in this country, and Christmas-time is no exception, as the "golden age" of Christmas specials started with the Peanuts gang (1965) and extended just into my age bracket with Little House on the Prarie's "Christmas at Plum Creek" (1974). After that, things went decidedly downhill; the Dayton Daily News ranks the worst of all time, with nine of the ten released between 1978 and the present. (If "ALF's Special Christmas" doesn't make the cut, you know they're really bad!)

So you've got kids. And you've gone to see truly terrible Christmas movies with them, and if you see one more maudlin holiday show on TV you're going to lose it, go all Henry Rollins on the neighborhood and crucify your neighbor on his front door with nails from his well-stocked garage. And you're a track fan, too. What are you going to do?

A decent show produced within the last few years is Robbie the Reindeer in Hooves of Fire. It won't be on TV this year, but you can buy in on DVD or VHS. Created by Aardman Animations, the geniuses behind Wallace and Gromit, it stands up well to the repeated viewing you'll be forced into. Cut to the good parts: Robbie, son of Rudolph, competes in various running/jumping/throwing events at the "Reindeer Games". Christmas stuff? Who cares, this is track!

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