Friday, December 24, 2021

Power Rankings: Networks/Channels by Christmasness

Which TV channel or network feels the most Christmas-y to you? Actually, let me rephrase that: Which one felt most Christmas-y back in the day? Before Hallmark Channel and Freeform turned over their entire daily lineup to the holidays, what station just felt the most festive? Here is my own very personal list:

1) CBS: There was a time, many years ago, children, when CBS was not the Old Folks' Network, or at least it had stuff for the kids as well. It carried the best specials: Rudolph, Frosty, Grinch, and Charlie Brown--and it even helped usher in the season by showing The Wizard of Oz each Thanksgiving. CBS was the network that seemed to run most of the Rankin-Bass classics. It was the clear #1 network of the season. 

And of course there's this:

2) WPIX 11: In addition to running the Christmas episodes of The Odd CoupleThe Honeymooners, and The Twilight Zone, the independent New York station was part of the SFM Holiday Network, making holiday weekends seem special with fancy presentations of Danny Kaye movies and specifically seasonal works. I believe I first saw syndicated specials like Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol and Yogi's All-Star Comedy Christmas Caper on this channel.

Of course, March of the Wooden Soldiers was a PIX tradition for years, the station ran some great Christmas ads like Crazy Eddie's spots, and there was the classic Yule Log each year!

3) NBC/WJAC: NBC was a respectable second among the broadcast nets, running Chipmunks, for one thing, which I enjoyed. It also presented a Bob Hope hour each holiday season. For me one of the big signs that Christmas season was underway was the arrival of the 1950s interstitial segments that would pop up in commercial breaks on local affiliate WJAC: Suzy Snowflake, Frosty the Snowman, and Hardrock, Cocoa, and Joe.

Seeing these made me feel, oh, yeah, it's on! Plus NBC was my go-to for Macy's Parade coverage, which helped kick off Christmas season each Thanksgiving. I just liked NBC best for some reason, so an NBC Christmas episode meant more somehow.

4) HBO: The pay cable network felt like one of the biggest players of the season for me, likely because it seemed to play the same specials over and over again.  In particular, I remember Rich Little's A Christmas Carol and Emmett Otter's Jug Band Christmas being staples of the network's lineup in December, and the repetition of the shows themselves and the promos made it feel like the holiday season.

5) ABC: I know that ABC did show Christmas specials back in the day, but I don't have many vivid memories of them. They did have some of the big Rankin-Bass specials, and they also showed Emmett Otter. ABC can't be ignored given its showings of John Denver, Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town, and many other animated and variety specials. I just don't have a strong association of it as a network with the holiday. I watched a lot of ABC Saturday mornings and daytime, plus Afterschool Special, so I must have received some Yuletide feeling from it.

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