Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows (Part 2)

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And so, we come to the final of the Harry Potter films; Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part 2, the thrilling concluding continuation of The Deathly Hallows Part 1. I still have yet to read the book, but I’ve seen the film for the first time earlier this year. I know, I know, but I don’t need to talk about my admiration with the franchise as it progressed through the years, do I now. It’s all in the previous reviews. Okay, so here we go with the thrilling conclusion of it all (until the Cursed Child of course).

Spoilers in red.

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We pick up from where we left off from Part 1, where Voldemort has just robbed Dumbledore’s grave of his wand. After the credits, we get Snape staring solemnly at Hogwarts students marching through the outside corridor, supposedly knowing the school is about to be attacked. Meanwhile, Harry pays his last respects to Dobby (who was killed in the previous film by Bellatrix). He, Ron and Hermione continue their quest to destroy the remaining Horcruxes. This leads to the trio finally arriving at the school and the final battle begins between the school’s staff/students and Voldemort’s army.

Predictably, I dodged the Deathly Hallows Part 2. A, because I had not seen Part 1 yet, B, I saw the trailer and felt that the shot with Harry and Voldemort falling off a tall building would give away too much of the ending, and C, yes my falling interaction with the franchise. However, I got round to seeing this one earlier this year along with Half-Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows Part 1 and let me tell you, it was worth it. From all the boredom I got from Deathly Hallows Part 1 i.e. the pointless love triangle, the rushed intro and not enough action, Part 2 was a massive improvement. It turns out I just needed to wait for one more film. It does seem dumb to split a film in two, considering that they could’ve cut the romantic stuff and any other scenes that dragged. But the Deathly Hallows Part 2 makes up for it.

There are loads of high points this film brings up, but I’ll try and keep it as short as possible. Let’s start with Snape, because he’s my favourite character and he has such an important role in Deathly Hallows Part 2. When we first see him, he’s staring in space and watching the students. The look on his face tells me that he’s aware of an attack about to happen and supposedly hoping that Harry will survive. Soon, we see him rounding up the students and faculty in the main hall, warning them that anybody aiding Harry will be punished, this going for both students and the teachers. Very dictator-like. Of course, that’s until Professor McGonagal challenges him to a duel and he flees. Then he’s debating with Voldemort on who the elder wand responds to. Voldemort then kills Snape and Nagini (Voldemort’s pet snake, that is) gladly helps. I must admit, when Harry and his friends find Snape and he asks them to take his tears before he dies, I was feeling emotional. And especially when Snape says that Harry has his mother’s eyes. It’s one of them scenes that demonstrates Snape’s secret love for Harry.

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This brings me neatly onto my favourite scene of the Deathly Hallows Part 2; when Harry observes Snape’s memories. We learn from this part that despite Snape’s distaste for Harry’s dad, James, he did fancy Harry’s mom, Lily. But they happened to be placed in different school-houses; Snape in Slytherin, but James and Lily in Gryffindor. It’s no wonder that later in the flashback, Snape’s seen in shock when he finds their corpses in the house where they was murdered by Voldemort and hugging Lily’s body and sobbing. And here’s another thing that seems odd; Dumbledore had wanted anybody who killed him to be Snape. I also like how Snape states that he’s grown to ‘care for the boy’. Turns out Snape wasn’t such a bad guy after all. And you can see why in The Philosopher’s Stone, he was trying to save Harry from Quirrell and in the Prisoner of Askaban, he attempted to protect Harry and his pals from a werewolf.

What else do I like? I’ve always been into war movies and from the start of the battle to Harry and Voldemort’s final showdown really feels like one; lots of massive destruction, so many killings… Speaking of which, I often find myself smiling when Bellatrix attempts to strike Ginny and Molly’s like ‘Not my daughter you b***h!’ and then destroys Bellatrix. And what about when Harry and co save Malfoy and a guy named Zabini from a burning room? Theme of loyalty there, even though Malfoy had made Harry’s life a living hell. What really cracks me up is when Harry and Ron are broomstick-flying to save them and Ron’s like ‘If we die for them Harry, I’m gonna kill you!’. Huh, get it? Too much to say.

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If there are some nitpicks I have with the Deathly Hallows Part 2, one of them is Hagrid’s first appearance in the movie. Harry finds that some of Voldemort’s fellow Death Eaters have caught Hagrid and he’s literally tied up between them. I kind of wanted to see how he got abducted. Maybe that’s what the previous film was missing. Plus it was a bit of a long while before the main trio finally got to Hogwarts, because that is where the real action is. Also, I have to point out the Dursleys’ absences, well, except for Petunia Dursley who appears briefly during the flashback scene. And some of the dialogue is a little corny.

On to the rip…, sort-of rip-offs; remember in Order Of The Phoenix when Harry had sensed where Voldemort’s minions was and what they was planning and I compared it to Captain Scarlet’s sixth sense? Well, there’s bits of that in this one. Okay, they’re more of similarities than rip-offs. Somehow, Snape reminds me of Darth Vader from the Star Wars franchise, i.e. the fact that he kills Dumbledore in Half Blood Prince (just like Darth killing Obi Wan Kenobi), then in this film he kinda rebels against Voldemort and dies, proving his love for Harry, a little like Darth fighting back against the Emperor and sharing his final moment with Luke Skywalker, but obviously different. Apart from that, not much else to point out.

And finally, let’s talk about the ending, yeah, massive spoiler! I know. This is the part a lot of the people have complained about. Personally I don’t mind the ending. I think it’s quite heart-warming and I love the old school score that goes with it. Plus I have nothing against the main characters starting their own families. Some fans are against it, because of how light-hearted it is. Others moan about the fact that Hermione is married to Ron instead of Harry, while Harry is married to someone else. And I can’t believe J.K Rowling apologised for letting it happen. I mean, it’s her creation. She can do whatever the hell she wants with it. Sure, the ending’s cheesy and for some reason, I had a feeling Harry would live anyway, but it’s a nice closing to the Harry Potter series. I can’t think of another way to conclude it.

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My final verdict; forget the fact that the film’s currently in IMDB’s Top 250 Movies list for a moment. Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part 2 is definitely one to check out. Despite its corny dialogue, I like it way better than Part 1. Much less boring, much less b***hing, it’s such a thrilling conclusion! Like I say, I still have yet to read the book, but the film certainly gave me a magical impression!

So that’s all eight Harry Potter films I’ve seen and reviewed. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading them as much as I had fun writing them.

Overall rating: 8/10

Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows (Part 1)

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The Harry Potter franchise nears its end with the first in a two part story known as Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows. This is Part 1. How does it fare? Let’s take a look.

Spoilers are highlighted in red.

Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part 1 commences as a continuation from the Half-Blood Prince. With the help of The Order Of The Phoenix and the Weasley family, Harry, Ron and Hermione set off to retrieve and destroy Voldemort’s remaining five ‘Horcruxes’. During the quest, they come across three objects known as the Deathly Hallows including the Elder Wand, The Resurrection Stone and The Invisibility Cloak, they destroy a few more Horcruxes and teenage-romance bickering occurs within the threesome.

Unfortunately, I’ve only seen the film and I have yet to read the book. I already explained reviews ago about my downhill engagement with the franchise, though I did first watch this film earlier this year following my viewing of the Half-Blood Prince, six years after its initial release. It’s also the third Harry Potter film David Yates directed (the first being The Order Of The Phoenix). I found the Half-Blood Prince to be an improvement to The Order Of The Phoenix, but how’s about The Deathly Hallows Part 1 in comparison to The Half-Blood Prince? Eh,… nah.

Before I progress any further with the review, I question the need to split the story into parts. Look, I know there are such great films that was split into parts, i.e. Kill Bill, and the original book is the longest one in the series, but why not just make the Deathly Hallows into one film? I’m aware that both over two hours long, but come on, Gone With The Wind was four hours long and still enjoyable and so was Lawrence Of Arabia and the Ten Commandments. Oh well.

We’ll start with the good stuff. Firstly, I really admire the last few shots of the film; Voldemort breaks into and raids Dumbledore’s tomb. Then, end of Deathly Hallows Part 1. Tell me that ain’t awesome for a film’s ending! I also like the bit where Dumbledore’s will is discussed. This takes place sometime before the threesome embark on their quest. Each one of them receives a possession from Dumbledore. Harry has the old golden snitch and remembers how he caught it in his mouth during a Quidditch match (see The Philosopher’s Stone). Oh and the bit where Harry and Ginny are snogging and one of the Weasley twins catches them and is like “Morrrrr-ning” is quite amusing. I also forgot to mention Dobby’s appearance, and his final one. Yes folks, ya may remember him from The Chamber Of Secrets where Harry saved Dobby from Lucius Malfoy, thus earning Dobby his freedom. He comes to save Harry and co, but is yelled at by Bellatrix for ‘defying his masters’. This is where Dobby stands up to the Malfoys (“Dobby has no masters, Dobby is a free elf”) and Bellatrix kills him with one throw of her wand while he’s attempting to escape with his friends. Poor Dobby.

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Alas, none of them highlights are enough to save a film from boredom. Unfortunately, during the middle, we have to sit through an over-dragging love triangle between Harry, Ron and Hermione. While we progress through the series, we know that Ron and Hermione are in a relationship with each other and Harry fancies Ginny, but there’s an affair, Ron acts like a moron about it and storms off, so much bickering. It drags and drags and has very little to do with the synopsis, a lame excuse to extend the film’s length and we know they’re going to realise what idiots they was and get back together again. I’ve seen it all before, let’s just say it’s boring! In fact, this is Ron’s weakest performance and most of his dialogue is constant bitching. You can just about replace it with this “neyh neyh neyh neyh neyh neyh!”

I also question the opening scene. We see the main threesome getting ready for their quest. I saw the deleted scenes and I’m surprised they wasn’t included in the final cut. One deleted scene indicates Harry and his aunt Petunia talking about the time when James and Lily were murdered by Voldemort and Petunia’s like; “that night at Godric’s Hollow, you didn’t just lose a mother, I lost a sister”. This indicates that Petunia does have a secret belief in the enchanted world. In another deleted scene, the Dursleys are about to leave Privet Drive; Harry and Dudley make peace with each other, handshake and final goodbyes. Those scenes are powerfully great! I never read the book, but apparently, the book included them. Why did the film have to shorten the opening scene to the Dursleys leaving without much word. I also debate what Hermione does before she leaves. I know by wiping her parents’ memories of her, she’s trying to save their lives from the Dementors, but I still feel disturbed by it.

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We briefly hear that following Dumbledore’s demise, Snape has taken over as the school principal. We hardly see any of how he copes with his new job, which would’ve been really interesting. But the only time we see him is when he’s attending a meeting with Voldemort, the Malfoys and some of the death eaters at the Malfoy Manor, and that’s it. Maybe I’d just have to wait till Part 2.

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And let’s briefly point out the rip-offs; Hermione acts a bit like Mary Poppins. Okay she doesn’t use an umbrella, but have you noticed how small her bag is and how large the items she carries around are? Speaking of Dumbledore and Snape, since Snape killed Dumbledore in the previous film and took position as principal, it seems a bit like in The Lion King where Scar kills Mufasa and inherits the role of the king of Pride Rock. Also, Harry, Ron and Hermione’s wasteful love-triangle plot is soooo Twilight!

If I had a favourite scene, I’d have to give the point to the scene where Harry teams up with his mates and some of the Order Of The Phoenix, followed by a brief flying battle where they fight off some of Voldemort’s minions. There’s a brief moment where Hedwig gets killed, but Harry doesn’t get a chance to mourn her. Couldn’t there be a scene afterwards where Harry gives his pet owl a quick send-off? Also, Moody is reported to have been killed as well. I kinda wanted to see how he died.

Overall, the film is one of the most boring of the franchise. It lacks much of the fun and the love-triangle bit gets entirely in the way. Of course, this is only Part 1 of The Deathly Hallows. There I am thinking; will Part 2 be an improvement? Join me in the next review as I review the final Harry Potter film of all.

Overall Rating: 3/10

Top 12 Festive TV Episodes

Jingle Bells, Santa smells, Rudolph ran away,

Oh what fun it’s been to ride, but Santa’s just crashed his sleigh, Hey!

Hey guys, how’s the Xmas shopping going? Well some of you viewed my personal Top 12 Christmas songs. Now here’s my personal Top 12 TV episodes which are about Christmas. For this list, I’m only going to include one episode per show.

So here’s my Top 12. Why Top 12? Because of Christmas!

#12;

Little Girl Lost – Starsky & Hutch (1976)

We begin this ranking with an episode from the classic 70s buddy cop show.

In this one, Starsky & Hutch are attempting to help a little girl named Molly ‘Pete’ Edwards whose alcoholic ex-con dad has been killed. Worse to come, she is being searched by her dad’s ex-criminal partners.

Imagine losing a relative sometime before Christmas due to a certain death. Heartbreaking, ain’t it? One of my relatives lost an aunt several years ago a few weeks before the vacation and it felt tough. Though in actual fact, she died due to an illness. Pete on the other hand has lost a father due to murder by gunshot. Adding to the conflict, Mr. Edwards is an ex-gang member and the murderers are searching for some diamonds which they believe Pete is hiding. We can understand how defensive and rude Pete is when we first see her and how much of a tear-away she is. But of course, she comes from a small and poor family who are struggling financially; which I would presume is why Mr. Edwards turned to crime in the first place. And yes, the fact that the girl calls herself Pete; bit of a tomboy, but what do you expect from someone who grows up with men around her.

I also like the conversation Starsky & Hutch have about their festive plans. Starsky’s getting into the spirits, but Hutch see’s it as overrated and commercialised, though he does gradually change his views through the episode as we see him bonding with Pete. Both cops are sympathetic towards the girl and are against the idea of her going to juvenile hall, since Christmas is coming. I never went to juvenile hall myself, but it seems a bit like prison and it ain’t her fault she’s turned to crime in the first place and Starsky and Hutch are both trying to help her.

As well as some inspirational scenes, we do get plenty of car chases, gunshots, all the exciting stuff you get from an awesome cop show like Starsky & Hutch.

 

#11;

How The Ghosts Stole Christmas – The X-Files (1997)

The next Christmas special is a truly dark and haunting one from the paranormal series the X-Files about two FBI detectives, named Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, who take on some strange cases.

The case that Mulder & Scully take on in How The Ghosts Stole Christmas takes place in a haunted house, after Mulder calls Scully to investigate on Christmas Eve. According to Mulder, the house was run by a couple who apparently died during Christmas 1917, one killing another and the remaining one committing suicide. But as the duo explore further in the house, they realise they may not be alone.

Chris Carter, the writer and creator of the X-Files, certainly went by the book and kept in mind the protagonists’ traits, Mulder as the believer and Scully as the sceptic. We can understand how Scully is reluctant at first, because a, she doesn’t believe much in ghosts or aliens, and b, she was hoping to have a nice peaceful Christmas. But as a detective agent, she can’t get a break. Mulder on the other hand claims that the house has been haunted by the two corpses ever since. And yet, they come across an elderly couple, played by Ed Asner and Lily Tomlin, who are presumably ghosts. Are they really ghosts? Well I shouldn’t give too much detail in case I spoil the ending, but they’re most certainly not exactly the ghosts of Christmas pasts, presents and/or futures.

How The Ghosts Stole Christmas is basically a cross between David Fincher’s Panic Room and House On A Haunted Hill with a bit of Christmas spirit mixed in and one such chilling experience to check out one Christmas.

 

#10;

Christmas – Malcolm In The Middle (2001)

I talked quite a lot about this episode when I ranked my personal top 10 episodes of Malcolm In The Middle. But I shall talk a bit about this Christmas special.

The Wilkerson boys are causing enough chaos to annoy their mom, Lois. Lois, who hopes for a nice happy and peaceful Christmas, announces it to be the final straw and confiscates all the gifts and locks them away, ensuring they stay there until the lads start behaving themselves. Meanwhile, Francis is forced to spend a torturous vacation with Grandma Ida.

The Wilkersons are one of the most dysfunctional families in TV history. You have the boys; Malcolm a grumpy and socially awkward genius, Reese, a simple-minded jock, Dewey, who has a strange sense of imagination and a photographic memory, and Francis, who’s hugely rebellious, and the parents; Hal, a sympathetic guy who’s prone to tantrums, and Lois, a control freak with an anger management problem. And Christmas is one of the most well scripted Xmas episodes. We deal with the family’s scars and scrapes and all Lois wants is for something more positive. She lays down the law and even Hal is proud of her, but the boys worry that this could continue and decide to take matters into their own hands. Meanwhile Lois feels pretty bad over what she’s done.

One of my favourite scenes is when the boys throw baubles at each other which has always tickled me, and that’s when Lois begins to lay down the law.

I had also talked about Francis and Ida’s time together, how they resent each other, yet begin to bond and how he finds that through all the years, Ida did indeed buy the family some gifts, only to stash them away due to past petty offences. The Wilkersons may be dysfunctional, but it doesn’t mean they don’t love and/or care for each other. And without giving anything away, the episode proves so and it does indeed have a happy ending.

 

#9;

Give Or Take A Million – Thunderbirds (1966)

So you think you believe in Santa Claus and that he (or she) uses a magical sleigh and flying reindeer? Well, what if the Santa Claus and the workshop employees were actually a family-run not-for-profit organisation who help people from dangerous situations and own a wide range of cool looking futuristic vehicles?

This one and only festive episode and final episode of Gerry Anderson’s masterpiece in general (if one excludes the CGI remake and them three audio recorded episodes which later got visualised) is told mostly in flashback as International Rescue’s founder Jeff Tracy recounts the time he and his fellow members of IR helped a Children’s Hospital with funding for a new wing. They also arrange to pick up the lucky winner, one of the patients, who will be spending Christmas on Tracy Island. Meanwhile, two thieves named Scobie & Straker plot to rob the vault of a toy store.

Give Or Take A Million may have closed the original Thunderbirds series, but it was an excellent final episode for a show. Here, we begin with a scene where Jeff is dressed as Santa and talking to a boy named Nicky, who’s impressed with how summery the island’s beach is and how wintry the Tracy Villa is. Nicky also wishes to see one of the Thunderbird vehicles launch. The one that does is Thunderbird 3; good choice. Then begins the flashback story of how it all began.

This episode also relates to my personal and sceptical belief in Santa Claus. When I wrote Is There A Santa Claus?, I pointed out that if there was a Santa, that person would use some sort of aircraft, maybe in the style of the Thunderbirds vehicles. What I didn’t point out is that Santa might not live in the North Pole. It might be somewhere around the Pacific, which is where the secret base is located (only we don’t know whereabouts in the ocean it is). Why the Santa Claus business could be International Rescue. I know they usually specialise in saving people’s lives, but Jeff is dressed as Santa and it’s kind of them to help the Children’s Hospital, and talk about Tin-Tin doing some of the Christmas shopping. Many people just assume that Santa’s hometown is the North Pole, that his employees are elves and he owns a flock of reindeer. Gerry Anderson saw it a different way.

I also like how this episode’s written. Yes, there’s an occasional goof, including a calendar mistake; a personal, but minor nitpick, but it’s the smallest of mistakes. Actually, what I’m referring to are certain other scenes; while the two thieves are making their robbery, they realise the heavy weight of the gold bars they’re carrying, while attempting to avoid touch the floor which is triggered by an alarm, and things get much hairier when a pen is hanging over the edge of a shelf (kinda like that Mission Impossible movie). Another awesome plot point in the episode is how much time Brains is spending in the science lab and some of the IR staff are wondering what he’s up to, then thinking; let’s leave him be, he’s probably very busy. This of course doesn’t seem like a festive activity, but that point and the bit where he surprises both Virgil and Tin-Tin and explains that he’s checking the weather, does lead to a festive and beautiful final scene.

 

#8;

Road To The North Pole – Family Guy (2010)

Family Guy has had plenty of Christmas specials and some Road To episodes before this one and I have to say Road To The North Pole is one of a kind, also one of the darkest. Some of you may not agree, but let’s take a look.

Road To The North Pole begins with Seth McFarlene’s dad giving an introduction to the episode’s narrative, which begins with a musical opening where many residents of Quahog are getting into the Christmas spirit and writing their Xmas lists, with Brian questioning the quality and quantity of gifts they’re asking for. Later on, Brian takes Stewie to see a department store Santa Claus, but after waiting in a tremendous queue, ‘Santa’ rudely exits his post before Stewie can get his turn. Furious at the employee’s attitude, Stewie plans to teach Santa Claus a lesson. Brian, who doesn’t believe in Santa, reluctantly takes him to the North Pole. However, once they arrive, the duo discover what a state the real Santa, his reindeer, elves and workshop are in.

Not many people liked this episode when it came out. Part of it is due to its heavy violent content and swearing. But this is Family Guy and it’s always been so violent and foul-mouthed. Plus, it was never intended for kids in the first place. I think the music’s awesome, the story’s awesome, the originality’s awesome and even the messages are awesome. I’ll explain all this one by one.

Road To The North Pole contains two fantastic musical numbers, the first one being All I Really Want For Christmas which I explained about, but somehow feel in the mood to sing along to. It’s also important to bear Brian’s lyrics in mind, since he’s trying to advise his family to go easy on the Xmas lists since one can’t always get everything one wants and that they maybe creating more and more workload, but Peter dismisses them by incorrectly stating that “Christmas is about getting”. The next number is Christmas Time Is Killing Us, which sees Santa and the elves put under so much stress in constructing the gifts everybody around the globe has asked for. That song apparently won an award, but I’m surprised none of them got released as singles, unlike that song from that South Park episode, Mr. Hankey The Christmas Poo.

Speaking of Santa Claus, I love the idea of Stewie wanting to kill him. It’s dark I know, but also amusing. I have yet to see a film or TV episode which has a similar plot to that. I also like how Brian is attempting to talk Stewie out of what appears to be a silly activity by trying to tell him that Santa doesn’t exist. Of course, he eventually proves himself wrong when they do meet Santa. Plus, the idea of Santa being too ill to deliver the presents is also original. Again I can’t think of any other show or film or media product that came up with that idea.

I also have to admit how inspiring the third act is; Brian and Stewie kindly help out with the deliveries, but they eventually screw up when they debate on Santa’s traditions (“you’re supposed to take one bite out of the cookies”) and realise they brought certain gifts to the wrong house. Then when everybody in the world notice the absence of any presents, we get Brian interrupting the news report to state the reason why this has been the cause and stating that each Christmas has increased on greed and Santa has given, but the residents just took. He also suggests that the world’s population cut back on their demands and ask for just one gift each year. Of course, had it not been for the episode’s pure graphic content, this would have been a great message for children (yes, The Animals Of Farthing Wood and Captain Scarlet are rather violent, but they weren’t that graphic). But it’s Family Guy. What do you expect?

Anybody who’s thinking of making a TV Christmas special for kids, this Family Guy ep is worth researching. I of course don’t mean make it that viol.

 

#7;

Holy – Bottom (1992)

Some British readers were probably expecting to see some festive episodes from British comedies. Well now’s your chance since we have an episode from Bottom, a sitcom about two unemployed friends who share a run-down flat, known for its constant slapstick and starring Adrian Edmondson and the late great Rik Mayall.

Holy centers on Eddie and Richie who come across a Christmas miracle. In-between, they present each other with nonsensical gifts, invite their two mates, Spudgun and Dave Hedgehog, prepare a disastrous Christmas dinner and briefly become guardians of a baby who has turned up at their doorstep.

Many Christmas episodes of British sitcoms get so much credit that the viewers seem to overlook other specials outside of that category. Personally I think the majority of those are overrated, especially the ones from the Royle Family. However, one British Christmas comedy special that seems to get overlooked is this episode of Bottom, which is one of my favourite shows.

There are so many classic moments from Holy, it’s impossible to name them all. First of all, the opening; Richie dresses up as Santa Claus and presents himself a stuffed pair of tights (“this is for Richie, he’s been a good little boy”) and Eddie a minuscule sock and Richie finds his gifts are ingredients for the Christmas dinner. Love it! What he gets from Eddie; an empty miniature bottle of Malibu and a play-telescope (made out of a bog-roll and a bit of tissue). Eddie’s gift; a self-portrait of Richie. I also love how conservative, well, traditional, Richie appears towards Eddie and their mates; banning television until the Queen’s Speech and his presentation of the food to the others. And do I need to mention the accident Richie has with the turkey?

I should also mention how Bottom takes advantage of the Christmas spirit. During the third act, we get a mickey take out of the nativity story, starting with the baby’s arrival, followed by Richie attempting to entertain the baby by playing ‘peekaboo’ with the baby-sheet, making him look like the Virgin Mary, and Eddie, Spudgun and Hedgehog, still wearing their party hats, donating their strange gifts to the infant; a box of Terry’s gold chocolates, a Frankenstein mask (which Eddie originally intended for Richie) and a bottle of aftershave called ‘Grrr’. Get it kids? One thing they’re curious about is where the baby came from, but it’s not revealed until the end, which I shan’t talk about, in case I spoil it.

The humour is also very British. We see Richie struggling to teach the others how to play charades and there’s mentioning of Jonathan Ross, Noel Edmonds, The Queen’s Speech and Emmerdale; the episode was made sometime after Emmerdale Farm was changed to just Emmerdale, and some people had not yet got out of the habit of calling it by its original title, a subject Spudgun brings up in conversation.

 

#6;

Yuletide Spirit – The Thin Blue Line (1995)

Another Britcom episode. For those of you who don’t know and not to confuse you with the documentary film, The Thin Blue Line is a cop-related sitcom set in a police station and aired on BBC1 during the mid-90s. One of its main themes saw the rivalry between the uniformed squad led by Inspector Fowler (played by Rowan Atkinson) and the CID led by Detective Inspector Grim, despite being on the same sides of the law. The Thin Blue Line had plenty of laughs, but because it’s also a cop show, also tackled some serious and emotional issues.

Yuletide Spirit begins with Inspector Fowler preparing for an audition for an upcoming pantomime of Peter Pan and his girlfriend Sergeant Dawkins reading in for him. As Christmas nears, conflicts occur when PC Goody gives presents to two of his fellow officers, but accidentally switches them, Dawkins and Constable Habib attempt to aid a homeless woman who’s heavily pregnant and the CID experience trouble with some carol singers who turn out to be thieves.

Yuletide Spirit is such an awesomely scripted Christmas episode and manages to balance the narrative points throughout and there’s so many classic moments. The bit where Goody delivers the presents to Fowler and Habib is comedy gold!; he means to give Fowler a puncture repair kit and Habib some lingerie, but gives them the wrong presents, and to complicate things further, Dawkins thinks that Fowler bought her the lingerie.

I should also mention the scene with the homeless couple whose baby is about to be born. Like Bottom, The Thin Blue Line references the nativity story so well. Once we see Fowler stare at the couple’s baby, he points out that although the police station is not much of a birthplace for a baby, there was another baby who was born at a lowlier place and grew up to do great. Good point and such an inspirational scene. And yes, Goody’s response is hilarious. In fact, everything he does in this episode is hilarious, i.e. the present bit and during the birth scene where Dawkins commands Goody to bring some hot water, but comes back with something ‘more special’ (since it’s Christmas), a carton of Ribeana!

I would say the same thing about Inspector Grim, who’s out-casted Fowler as the villain in the pantomime and obsesses over it while on the trail of the criminal carol singers. Speaking of the carol singers (one of them played by Jake Wood, actor of Max Branning in EastEnders), I love their rendition of Away In A Manger. And talking about the pantomime, I’ve appeared in pantomimes myself and helped out backstage, so you could say I can relate so much to that.

But of course, being a police-officer is tough business, which is why we see the force operating, even on Christmas Eve, in case trouble occurs, i.e. the carol singers. Even Grim can’t get a break. He has the pantomime to think about as well as his assignment and problems do occur when he and Constable Kray go to arrest the carollers… best not say too much.

 

#5;

The Big .22 Rifle For Christmas – Dragnet (1952)

Here we have an episode from another crime related show, this one from the fifties and quite a dark Christmas special.

Detectives Friday and Smith are assigned to search for a missing boy. They soon learn that the boy’s parents gave him a rifle for Christmas and the weapon has been removed from its packaging, becoming clear that he may have used it.

The Big .22 Rifle For Christmas both celebrates the Christmas spirit and brings out an anti-gun violence message simultaneously. It also warns parents to really think about the gifts they buy for their kids. In the episode’s case, the boy gets a rifle and trouble does occur when he gets excited and unwraps the gift sometime before Christmas Day, but then uses it and another kid gets wounded as a result.

A lot of kids want to act tough and want dangerous items for Christmas. It’s understandable, but there are age-restrictions on owning guns, certain gifts must be used in a responsible manner and guns do kill, which is what The Big .22 Rifle For Christmas is trying to point out.

 

#4;

Santaclaustrophobia – Hill Street Blues (1983)

Another crime related show. I know, but let me make clear that the reason for them rankings ain’t because I’m a fan of the majority of crime TV shows. They just happen to have some of the greatest festive episodes the TV industry has to offer.

For those of you who don’t know, Hill Street Blues is an American police drama which was produced during the eighties. It contained such gritty camera-work and some unforgettable characters. It dealt with such tough issues, how the police precinct is operated and it kicked ass!

In the show’s only Xmas themed episode, many events occur; Frank and Fay Furillo’s son, Frank Jr, is scheduled to spend Xmas with Frank (they’re divorced by the way), Det. Washington attempts to make it up to the wife of the liquoir store owner he previously shot during a robbery, the police force hosts an Xmas-themed play for a children’s hospital and Mick Belker goes undercover as Santa Claus.

Christmas can be a nail-biting experience for some people and we can relate to this episode. The fact that Frank Jr is staying with Frank is tough for Fay, considering their previous divorce and divorces can affect people, and we can relate to how emotional Fay is and the way Frank comforts her during their conversation. The same is said for the scene with Washington’s heart-to-heart with the store owner’s wife. We side with both, because the lady’s sad and angry that she lost her husband right before Xmas and Washington killed the guy by accident (as seen in the show’s previous episodes).

Speaking of which, being a cop is tough business. The police are working on Christmas Eve, in case some criminal activity occurs (duh!). I love the introductory roll call which finishes when SGT Esterhaus warns the officers ‘Let’s be careful out there’ and wishes them a Merry Christmas. Plus when the officers including Hunter, Goldblume, Bates, Hill and Renko finish their play, they receive an emergency call and head down hastily to investigate the incident. We do empathise with them, because they can’t get a break.

Hill Street Blues may not exactly be a comedy, but Belker as Santa; gee, that’s an incredibly amusing scene. Imagine having a growling detective dressed as a light-hearted fictional legend. The police’s play is also fun to watch.

 

#3;

Simpsons Roasting On An Open Fire – The Simpsons (1989)

Simpsons Roasting On An Open Fire – The Simpsons (1989)

The famous yellow family’s first Christmas special and their pilot episode too (if one excludes Tracey Ullman’s shorts).

The episode begins with Homer, Marge and Magiie watching Bart and Lisa performing for their school’s Xmas-themed show. Then we see the family doing their Christmas shopping, but Bart’s tattoo gift for Marge causes her to spend all the Xmas savings on a device which removes tattoos. As a result, the family are broke for the vacation. Things don’t look anymore helpful when Homer is refused a Christmas bonus from his workplace and is afraid to tell his family, so he decides to work part-time as a department store Santa Claus.

The Simpsons has had so many Xmas specials. This one in particular is one of a kind. Not only did it begin one of the greatest shows in TV history and I can’t believe how long it’s been in production since then, but it’s one of the greatest festive stories ever told. The Simpsons has dealt with some emotional issues, such as environmental disasters, suicide and xenophobia. This episode is no exception. It sees the family in a financial crisis with very little money to spend on gifts. Personally if I was Marge, I would’ve been more cool about Bart’s tattoo. That way, the Simpsons would’ve been more financially secure, but this is a comedy and Marge is the stereotypically paranoid mother (don’t take that the wrong way moms). In fact, Homer’s boss Mr. Burns seemed very unreasonable to not give any of his employees the Xmas bonus. So it makes sense that Homer works an extra job (i.e. as Santa), but even the staff at the department store don’t pay him enough money.

The episode even questions the gambling system. Since Homer has been paid a terribly low amount, he bets on a greyhound race when he hears that there’s a dog called Santa’s Little Helper, in order to raise more money. For those who have never seen this episode, I’d advise you to skip this paragraph, because there’s a spoiler alert. Homer and Bart are unlucky when the dog they placed their bet on loses (goes to show that only a small percentage of people are likely to win a gambling bet). They then witness Santa’s Little Helper’s heartless owner disowning him. Bart asking Homer if they can keep the dog is a heart-warming moment as is them introducing him to the rest of the family, thus they have a happier Christmas.

Seeing Homer act like Santa is a fun moment, especially when he reprises the reindeer’s’ names “Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Nixon, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Dixon”. I also thank this episode for introducing me to the Batman version of Jingle Bells, through Bart and his fellow 4th-graders singing the song. It’s a lot more fun than the original.

 

#2;

The 1986 Christmas edition – EastEnders

Not many people had had a very merry Christmas every year and this classic episode of EastEnders, which apparently got the most viewing figures, doesn’t exactly bring sunshine, lollipops and rainbows to the vacation.

We had such memorable moments from a lot of the Christmas Day editions to EastEnders, including some jolly moments with Phil Mitchell dressing up as Santa Claus, Billy and Little Mo marrying, the Butchers’ food fight and when Max Branning and his kids had a turkey malfunction and Max was like “we could always have pizza”, some raging moments; Terry Raymond banishing Troy for sleeping with his wife Irene, the 1996 Mitchell dinner table squabble and Trevor Morgan’s ghastly dinner, and some sadness, i.e. Jamie Mitchell’s death. But this edition from 1986 stands out as one of a kind.

This edition features some of the memorable characters; Ian Beale, Dot Cotton, Pauline Fowler, Pat, Den Watts, Sharon Watts, Angie Watts, Arthur Fowler, Pete Beale, Kathy Beale, Lou Beale, Ethel Skinner, you name it. We have the then-teenage Ian receiving a motorcycle for Christmas, Pat spending the vacation with local punk Mary Smith and most of Walford seem to be having fun with some exceptions; Arthur is in a panicking state and Den’s gift to his wife is a set of divorce papers.

The reason for placing this episode on the list is not because it had such high viewing figures. It’s much more than that. If you compare EastEnders to other soap operas i.e. Coronation Street, Emmerdale and (sighs) Hollyoaks (!), it contains totally unforgettable characters i.e. the ones in this ep and storylines. The 1986 Christmas Day ep is no exception. It’s well acted and written and very character driven. Firstly, it came out before I was born, but I managed to catch up with it on YouTube, so bad news out of the way. I’m quite amazed how rarely Ian used his motorbike after this ep, but oh well.

Let’s talk about the most classic scene, when Den announces his divorce to Angie. He doesn’t shout or snap or anything like that. He stays calm, but we know he’s clearly annoyed and he’s speaking in a rather sinister tone. Basically, what’s happening is that their marriage has been falling apart and Angie’s made a fool of herself with her alcoholism which is why Den wants to get rid of her, but Angie hasn’t let him divorce him in the first place which is why she had faked an illness. However, Den is not stupid and has realised that she lied to him. I also love how he smiles and ends his speech with “Happy Christmas Ange” and hands her the gift. We do feel for Angie as well, because she doesn’t want Den to leave him. Though it’s a bit of a jerk move to lie about an illness.

If you thought that Simpsons ep was the only one which tackles financial problems, look no further. Just when you thought things couldn’t get grimmer, Arthur has a nervous breakdown. He’s sitting alone with no lights on and Pauline’s worried about him. Well she would be, she is married to him. What’s happened to him is that he’s attempting to financially secure his family’s future and ensure they have enough money to cover Michelle and Lofty’s then-upcoming wedding, which is why he’s stolen some of the church’s money. You’d be thinking “hang on, ain’t this guy got a job?” Actually no, he was made redundant from his factory job since the show started. It’s no wonder he’s in a state.

EastEnders’ 1986 Christmas special highlights some of the realities of working-class families and how they spend Christmas, some events we can all relate to and empathise with.

 

Before I reveal the number one pick, here are some Honourable Mentions;

Merry Christmas Mr. Bean – Mr. Bean (1992)

The Pageant – Keeping Up Appearances (1995)

A Pinky & The Brain Christmas – Pinky & The Brain (1995)

The Man In The Long Black Coat – One Foot In The Grave (1991)

A Christmas To Remember – Stingray (1964)

Xmas Story – Futurama (1999)

 

And the number 1 Christmas episode is;…

The Night Before Christmas – Tom & Jerry (1941)

I know what some of you guys are thinking. Tom & Jerry? But that’s just a collection of short films. Though when I watched Tom & Jerry, it felt to me like a TV show. There have been over a hundred shorts and ironically, The Night Before Christmas, despite being the third ever episode to be shown, is Tom & Jerry’s only Xmas special to date and the best Xmas special in general I’ve ever seen in my life.

The Night Before Christmas commences with a narrator who briefly recites the first few lines from the famous story of the same name;

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all thro’ the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse

Then enter Jerry, who starts having fun with some of the toys lying around the Christmas tree. However, he mistakes a sleeping Tom for a toy, waking him up and leading to a manic chase around the lounge. The final straw for Tom occurs after an event involving mistletoe and he chases Jerry out of the house, but wonders if it was the right thing to do on Christmas Eve.

This Tom & Jerry short deserved that Academy Award nomination and the ultimate Christmas special I grew up with the most. We had some of the episodes on VHS. This episode was an exception, but I remember it showing a few times on BBC1. Gee, them were the days. It’s also great how they can get a TV festive episode which doesn’t rely much on dialogue. This one is pure-dialogue-free apart from the opening narration and some background carol singers. Tom & Jerry are an awesome example of a silent comedy duo. Sure they would talk now and then, but who needs dialogue when you have the actions.

The Night Before Christmas captures a lot of the Christmas spirit. The fact that it obviously parodies the famous poem by an anonymous author, through the intro, is part of it; the bit where the narrator states ‘Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse’ is interrupted by Jerry’s present. It also demonstrates the fun of celebrating Xmas, through Jerry’s bouncing through the gifts. His fun is scuppered when he accidentally wakes Tom up; Tom of course is hoping for a quiet nap and easily gets frustrated by his friend’s antics and we all want a bit of peace now and then. I mean we wouldn’t want anything rowdy now, would we?

We witness plenty of funny moments, such as; Jerry hiding in a light and Tom attempting to catch him only to electrocute himself, Tom getting punched by a boxing glove in a jack-in-a-box and the mistletoe scene, which I’m surprised didn’t cause much debate. I mean, homosexuality is now widely tolerated, but this was made at the time when there was still a law on such a thing. Though I reckon there was a bit of innocence within William Hanna and Joseph Barbera when they directed this short.

Christmas is of course a time of sharing and being nice to one another. After when Tom shuts Jerry out of the house (and I can’t talk about it without spoiling a bit of the ending), he feels that now he can have a peaceful nonsense-free night. However he still can’t get a break when he hears heavenly choirs sing Silent Night and I have to say, I still get emotional when I see Jerry outside in the snow attempting to get back inside, from that point till the end. Yet Tom starts to feel bad about what he’s done and goes to help Jerry. Then Tom gives Jerry a candy cane inspiring Jerry to fish a mousetrap out of Tom’s milk dish, which was presumably a prank Jerry planned earlier. It does show how much they do care for each other, despite their troubles. And do I need to mention that lovely tune the mousetrap provides? Gee, I so love that ending.

Message for Hanna and Barbera who are probably listening up in heaven. God bless you for giving us the most beautiful festive themed episode ever to have existed, one that’s got something to appeal to all ages. And as Tiny Tim would say; God bless us everyone.

So that was my personal top 12 festive TV episodes. Some of you may agree, some may not, but it’s just my opinion. Do feel free to leave your comments below.

Thank you and Merry Christmas.

My personal Top 12 Christmas Songs

It’s that time of year again as we enter December and Christmas is once again on its way. Which is why this time, I’m reviewing what I personally regard as the best Christmas songs. Last year, it was films, so I thought I might have a go at the songs. So here’s my personal top 12. Why Top 12? Because Christmas is coming!

#12;

I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas – The Three Stooges

I begin this list with an amusing one by a classic comedy group from the golden age of film-making; I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas by The Three Stooges. Shame about Curly though, but with that said, the Stooges sang this version so darn well. It goes to show that just because one’s a comedian, doesn’t mean they don’t have talent in singing whatsoever, ditto Laurel & Hardy, Billy Connolly and the Monty Python team.

As for the song’s subject matter, we’ve all made our Christmas lists in the past and put certain items on them, including pets, And yes, the idea of wanting a hippo for Xmas, oh my god, that’s so funny!

 

#11;

Getting Ready For Christmas Day – Paul Simon

This is one of the more recent Xmas songs (from 2011) and Paul Simon remains as great a music artist as ever, even over four decades since he last performed with Art Garfunkel, hence his album Graceland. It does sound different to many other Christmas songs. I mean there’s no sleigh bells or percussion instruments imitating such a thing, traditional xmas melodies or church bells, but who cares? David Bowie proved that it’s okay to be different. One main difference from Getting Ready For Christmas Day is the awesome guitar rhythm!

 

#10;

Wonderful Christmas Time – Paul McCartney

I’ve got fond memories of this song. Okay, I maybe more into the Beatles stuff than them as solo artists, but this is one of Paul’s best songs as a solo artist. I may not have practised this song all year long, but all they years since I first heard it, I’ve known the lyrics and the impressive synthesised rhythm. It’s truly a memorable one!

What else to say about Simply Having A Wonderful Christmas Time, it’s just great!

 

#9;

Merry Jingle – The Greedies

How’s about a bit of punk rock Christmas music? Well, technically, it’s two bands performing together to form one band, one, a punk rock band, the other, an Irish hard rock/heavy metal band; Sex Pistols and Thin Lizzy, and you get the Greedies. And speaking of combining two things together; they manage to blend two traditional Christmas carols together; We Wish You A Merry Christmas and Jingle Bells and they turned it into an underrated Xmas masterpiece!

My only nitpick with the song is that I would’ve personally preferred the Jingle Bells bit if The Greedies sang the Batman version, ya know, Jingle Bells, Batman smells, Robin laid an egg, the Bat-mobile lost its wheel and the Joker got away. It’s how I kinda remember Jingle Bells, but oh well. it still holds up.

 

#8;

Ring Out Solstice Bells – Jethro Tull

Another criminally underrated Christmas song. Jethro Tull, mainly remembered for their psychedelic/blues/folk material (i.e. Living In The Past), first performed this one back in 1976 and came from the album Songs From The Wood, later appearing on their final album, The Jethro Tull Christmas Album. But the strangest thing is, it never charted. It’s possible that that’s the reason why it seems so overlooked.

Personally, I don’t think the charts should ever have to affect people’s views in music. I suggest you try and get hold of one of them two albums or even a Christmas compilation CD which features this masterpiece. It features a beautiful flute melody from Ian Anderson and piano riff which are enough to sound Christmassy. In fact, I’d also recommend it’d make a great Christmas carol to sing in church.

 

#7;

Christmas Wrapping – The Waitresses

Earlier on, I mentioned a punk rock Christmas song. How’s about a new wave one from the American band, The Waitresses? Christmas Wrapping is one such jazzy yarn, I mean listen to them guitar riffs and especially them sax riffs!

But it’s more than just the instruments that make this song so awesome. The song is sung from the point of view of a woman who gets so stressed during the Christmas period. Patty Donahue starts off by singing Bah humbug! No that’s too strong, cause it is my favourite holiday, which shows that she does indeed love Christmas, but due to all the Christmas shopping and the many invites she’s received, she thinks I’ll miss this one this year, Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas. And while preparing Christmas dinner, she realises she forgot the cranberries (Oh damn, that’s what I forgot!). While rushing back to the shops for the cranberries, she meets the same man who she collided with through the song, who also happened to forget the cranberries, which leads to a happy ending to the song;

Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas, Couldn’t miss this one this year.

 

#6;

2000 Miles – The Pretenders

Another new wave song, 2000 Miles is often considered just a song about a couple of lovers living such a long distance between each other. But this Pretenders classic has appeared on a lot of Christmas compilation CDs and there’s a mentioning of Christmas time through the choruses. Basically, the two protagonists want to spend a Christmas vacation together, but it’s hard for them considering the 2000 miles apart they live from each other and considering how bitterly cold and snowy it is outside.

Robbie McIntosh’s guitar riff adds a magical touch to 2000 miles. The song is dedicated to one of The Pretenders’ ex-members James Honeyman-Scott who died of heart failure at an early age.

 

#5;

Christmas Day – Squeeze

Here’s another Christmas song that doesn’t receive much to any attention. Squeeze’s Christmas Day is a modern retelling of the Nativity story (Mary & Joseph drove into town searching for a place to stay / they tried the hotels, motels, the bed and breakfast), which I believe that, through the lyrics, is so damn creative. I also love how the chorus is constructed; Where would be Christmas be without, Mary & Joseph, Morecome & Wise, Laurel & Hardy, cracker surprise, lights on a pine tree and no after-shave, and not forgetting Jesus who was born on Christmas Day. I find the chorus quite amusing, considering that Glenn Tilbrook mentions the comedy duos i.e. Laurel & Hardy, but also unique and subtle for a Christmas. They often show their material on British TV each Christmas.

One possible reason why this song didn’t sell so well was because it was only released in one country, the UK, and ironically didn’t chart, despite Squeeze’s previous two UK#2 songs (Cool For Cats and Up The Junction). And it’s possible that the mentioning that Morecome & Wise are not so well known worldwide than they are in the UK and therefore the public may have ignored this song. Or maybe that they don’t see the comedy duos as anything to do with Christmas. But so what? It mentions the nativity story, the stuff they show each Christmas, it has them harp riffs at the start and sleigh bells, what more could people possibly want from a Christmas song?

Folk,s we got to turn this around. We got to try and increase the CD / download / whatever sales. Check it out, you won’t regret it.

 

#4;

In Dulci Jubilo – Mike Oldfield

Okay, more of an instrumental a song, but In Dulci Jubilo did use to be a Christmas carol. Years later, we had pop composer Mike Oldfield, best known for Tubular Bells, jazz the carol up a bit and turn it into something phenomenal! I mean, listen to the beautiful melody, two recorders, a kortholt, Mike Oldfield on acoustic and electric guitars, piano and ARP string synthesiser, and William Murray on snare drum. Every time I hear it, it makes me so happy. I can’t think of a better way to describe it!

Try and get a hold of a YouTube clip which features a Top Of The Pops performance from the Pan’s People.

 

#3;

Stop The Cavalry – Jona Lewie

As a kid, I never saw Jona Lewie’s Stop The Cavalry as a Christmas, but considering that the chorus features the line; wish I was at home for Christmas, followed by a synthesised melody and sleigh-bells which add a snowy touch, and considering the opening which consists of a staccato synthesiser and drums also sound snowy, I’m convinced.

Though in actual fact, Jona never intended this song to be a Christmas one. More of an anti-war anthem. It’s set during the First World War and concerns a soldier who is caught in the tension between the West and Soviet Unions and has had to fight, almost every night, down throughout these centuries. Although the protagonist tries to be brave in attempting to ‘stop the cavalry’, it does go to show that war is not only hell, but can also interfere with families’ Christmas vacations (wish I was at home for Christmas). And speaking of cavalries, do I need to mention how atmospheric the trumpet melodies are?

 

#2;

I Won’t Be Home For Christmas – Blink-182

Good old Blink-182. How I love their music and their sense of humour. But those ain’t the only reasons why I place I Won’t Be Home For Christmas at number 2.

I Won’t Be Home For Christmas, not to be confused with a Simpsons episode, is an obvious parody to the classic song I’ll Be Home For Christmas (probably the same with the Simpsons ep). Its narrative follows a guy who lashes out at a group of carol singers for disturbing him and his girlfriend and gets put in jail as a result. In a way, I do empathise with the bloke. I know it sounds a bit Scrooge-like, considering that he claims to be growing tired of all this Christmas cheer and warns people that if they don’t want to get beat down, to just leave the presents and let me be alone and that the carollers don’t bring him joy. But all he wants to do is spend a nice peaceful Christmas with his girlfriend.

Then there’s the next act; the cops arresting the protagonist for snapping at the carollers and nearly beating them up. Yet he questions the arrest (they had an unfair advantage) considering that he didn’t even touch them (the lyrics don’t exactly state that he did). My guess is that he has uncontrollable anger management problems and not everybody who has them issues can help it. Then when he spends his time in jail, he tries to end a package (presumably a present for one of his relatives or friends), but a guy named Bubba (who I presume is a fellow jail-bird) intervenes.

I can’t believe how much I Won’t Be Home For Christmas is widely ignored. Even my family don’t seem to admire it that much and seem to dismiss it. Probably the reason is because it only charted in one country; Canada, at number 1 (lucky position!) and not anywhere else. Also because MSN Canada once called it ‘a high energy of punk war on Christmas’. But I’m sure Blink-182 were doing it, for their sense of humour, something I feel listeners lack. If they overlook it so much in music, what’s with their high admiration on them Christmas specials for them British comedies?

I Won’t Be Home For Christmas is a criminally underrated masterpiece which highlights the reality of things; that not everybody has a very merry Christmas each year. It has a great sense of humour, well thought through storytelling and a splendid tune behind the lyrics.

 

Before I reveal the number one pick, here are some honourable mentions;

It’s Christmas Time – Status Quo

Silver Bells – Perry Como

Merry Xmas Everybody – Slade

I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday – Wizzard

You’ll Know It’s Christmas – Deacon Blue

And One more for the kids;

And my number one favourite Christmas song is;

Do They Know It’s Christmas – Band Aid

Ding Dong Merrily On High! In heaven the bells are ringing!

Some of you are probably smiling about the fact I put such a classic charity song on the very top. Well, as a matter of fact, I’ve loved Do They Know It’s Christmas ever since I first heard it. Maybe it’s because of the Feed The World bit which closes the song. It always brings a smile to my face. I of course am referring to the 1984 version.

But it’s more than the Feed The World bit which makes the song so awesome. Band Aid wrote it for charity for the famine in Ethiopia which was so serious back then and what a stupid cow Margaret Thatcher was to ignore such an issue. Luckily, Bob Geldolf and Midge Ure had a heart and he and his friends saved at least some Ethiopians from hunger. The whole point of Do They Know It’s Christmas is that no they don’t because they’re dying of starvation, which is what they’re trying to get across to the listeners. It still goes on there, but Do They Know It’s Christmas demonstrates how important it is that every person should have the right for a happy occasion. The fact that it reached number 1 isn’t important to this ranking, but it was great that it did, because more money was going to Africa and famine would start to decrease.

Another thing cool about Do They Know It’s Christmas is how Bob managed to get so many famous musicians to participate in the recording; U2, we of course know the line Bono sang, George Michael, Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet, Paul Wellar, Boy George, them two guys from Status Quo, Sting, you name it. And yet, they sang this anthem so darn awesomely! I’d avoid listening to the 1989 version, because it ain’t well constructed as this one.

I’d also recommend having a look at the Live Aid version as shown in the clip above. It may have been a strange time to perform a Christmas song in the middle of the summer period, but of course, Live Aid was a charity concert, also in aid of the Ethiopians suffering from famine, just like the song. David Bowie makes a great start on the song, with Bob singing the next lines. Bono still sings Well tonight thank god it’s them, instead of you. It’s as entertaining as the original recording, which will get you bouncing on your feet.

 

So after reviewing my personal top 12 Christmas songs, here’s to you all, let’s raise a glass for everyone, and to them underneath that burning sun. I wish you all a Merry Christmas!