THE THROWBACK MACHINE: It’s a TV Christmas special that kills time! | Return machine
Longtime Throwback readers with fond memories, rejoice, for here’s something I ran out of space for in a vacation column from last year, the 1984 NBC TV special “A Christmas Dream. “with Mr. T and Emmanuel Lewis.
One is a big tough guy and the other is a cute little boy? Add a little Christmas magic and you surely have something to occupy the kids for an hour, right?
But all the ’80s kids sitting in front of the Curtis Mathis who wanted to see Mr. T try to take down Airwolf by shooting Webster from a cannon mounted on the A-Team van were going to be mightily disappointed with this sugary TV candy. where, in a move that wouldn’t even sound like a 4-H club skit. These two don’t even play themselves.
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Instead, Mr. T is a New York Santa Claus named “Benny” who takes it upon himself to win the $ 1 donation from a small child wandering the streets unsupervised who doesn’t believe in the magic of Christmas. because he’s a key kid whose parents bought him a skateboard even though he’s afraid he might fall from it.
“I’m not going to lose this one,” Mr T growls into a phone at the “coming soon” premiere, with all the harsh gravities of criminal drama he can muster, even though he doesn’t say not actually that line anywhere in the stage. Weird, because this line effectively portrays Mr. T as a Buckaroo Banzai-style convenience store that has “connections” all over town if he needed to, say, disrupt a human trafficking network run by Adam Ant, d ‘stopping drug dealers on speedboats with Edward James Olmos, or… take Webster to FAO Schwartz so we can go “aww” while he puts on big cowboy hats.
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It’s at FAO Schwartz, where Tom Hanks got zapped by Photon pistols in “Big”, where magician David Copperfield just hangs out in the “magic department” and performs a trick that I remember seeing when I was a child where he pushes a cigarette in a neighborhood. What I couldn’t remember is that he turns on the store and shoots just to prove it’s real.
And guys, this is pretty much the last bit of cheerful, pure “cutie” you’re going to get out of it, because after that this special hits dying skates with a blah Hansom Cab all the way to Rockefeller Center, a full performance. ice skating, a backstage Hangout with Willie Tyler and Lester, and a real Mr. T mannequin that’s probably still stored in the basement of NBC’s archives next to that orange robot from “Riptide”.
Meanwhile, your kids, who are desperately waiting for the firepower of 1984 pop music from maybe, say, anyone involved in “Do They Know It’s Christmas,” are instead being treated with the tips. from Maureen McGovern’s Broadway, just so you can watch them all lose interest in that set of cars under the sofa they never touch.
After a Nutcracker-themed encounter with the Rockettes so boring that I dozed off trying to think of something funny to say about it, we finally get to this big party with the friends Mr. T n ‘keep on talking, where he recounts his own hard-scrabble, The Christmases of his youth on wellness, a time when (ahem) “If you wake up on Christmas morning and find your parents alive… Merry Christmas. ” Someone’s got a punch on the horn for that one.
Mr. T then takes Lewis as if he’s a Cabbage Patch Kid for a version of “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” that goes beyond “cute” in surreal realms, as he dances like a wind-up toy, eyes clearly locked on her offscreen dance teacher the whole time.
We cut the ad to see Mr. T, Mohawk finally bared from underneath his knit cap, wearing a beige suit as he took a seat on a crowded stage to, and I’m not making it up, run a show. for kids choir as he tells a story about what happened on another very important night, a long time ago… the time he fought Rocky Balboa. OK, that’s not what he said, but I guess he needed a producer in his headset reminding him to keep him holy.
And folks, if you’re looking for a Nativity story that’s, let’s just say, off the beaten track, well, go ahead; although the kids sitting on the floor look terrified, and why Mr. T continues to rub his hands like someone has just put a juicy T-bone in front of him will remain a mystery.
McGovern once again, for a steamroller on “O Holy Night,” a song where all those god-oh-night gods can really come out from under you if you let them, and she really leaves them, before Lewis perches next to it. of Mr. T as a human puppet and chirps a piercing “Silent Night” that makes Alvin and the Chipmunks sound like Motorhead.
Finally his parents show up, or at least actors playing his parents, and the kid leaves, but not until he finally handed over that dollar and Mr. T made a joke about it that I don’t understand. because it looks like he skipped a line.
Even more than the Kenny, Dolly and Carpenters Christmas specials before this column, “A Christmas Dream” really left me a little depressed. Even those previous specials all had albums they were promoting and had a sparkle of wacky humor. But why is there something like this other than to fill time? No child would be fooled by this.
I can only hope that in 1985 NBC came together for a special Christmas where Remington Steele helped Punky Brewster learn the true meaning of Christmas by teaming up with Stingray and the Misfits of Science. Ahh, we can hope. Or should I say, dreaming.
“The Throwback Machine” is a weekly article that reviews items of interest found in the JG-TC’s online archives. For questions, comments, suggestions, or his “Song of the Day” recommendation, contact him at [email protected]