Tuesday, December 14, 2021

This Day in TV History: You're gonna have so much Christmas, it's gonna be coming out your chimney

What a night of holiday festivities it was 40 years ago on this date! All kinds of yuletide goodies awaited prime-time viewers Monday, December 14, long as they weren't watching ABC.

8:00 P.M. brings a dilemma that used to drive me crazy as a child: Competing Christmas specials! CBS leads off the night with the Rankin-Bass classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. That's a must-watch in any household of which I am part and has been for decades. It's certainly easy to skip the new That's Incredible on ABC.

But NBC isn't making it easy, beginning its night with a rerun of Casper's First Christmas.  All right, that's not essential. But next up is the debut of A Chipmunk Christmas! This Bagadasarian/Chuck Jones special doesn't have the esteemed reputation today that the Rankin-Bass ones (OK, most of them) do, but I watch it each year with my kids, and it's become a perennial for me.

So why in the world would two networks do a kid dirty like that and put cool Christmas specials on at the same time? Sure, I realize that there are only so many weeknights in the month of December, and you only get one 8:00-9:00 hour in each one of them, but it still seems cruel in a pre-VCR (let alone pre-DVR) era!

Things shake out a little after that. ABC has Monday Night Football, the Falcons and the Rams. So that's there for all the Steve Bartkowski fans. CBS settles into normalcy with new episodes of its regular Monday shows MASH, House Calls, and Lou Grant.

NBC, though, continues the seasonal fun with A Bing Crosby Christmas, a compilation of past specials featuring the legendary singer (Oh, it was tempting to write "crooner"), who died in 1977.  And then at 10:00, it's another new one: Mac Davis Christmas Special. The Pointer Sisters and the Commodores join Mac in the next-to-last of his many Christmas shows.

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