Monday, 20 December 2010

Films on TV for Christmas - 2010

In the same way that I have written about in-flight movies throughout my blogging life, I have done a piece about the Christmas movie choice on British TV for the last five years. I must now reluctantly conclude that the time has come to draw a halt after this last diatribe. For while films on flights still offer the potential of discovering something new, irregardless of the fiendish viewing conditions, the Christmas TV schedules become more of a disappointment year by year. Like a kiddie awaiting Santa, I pant with enthusiasm for them to be published, only to discover that I have already seen nearly everything on offer.

We all know that I am something of a demon and devour as many films as possible day by day, but I do believe that the movies on offer on terrestrial TV must be a lacklustre selection for other viewers as well. If one concentrates on the scant dozen premiere offerings between Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve, the new-to-terrestrial choices are aimed mainly at the young viewer. Fair enough, except for the fact that most desperate parents have probably previously sat through cinema showings of these with their family in tow and have very likely invested in the DVDs to keep the kids amused while they sneak away for a few minutes peace and quiet. I'm talking about the like of"Cars", "Enchanted", "Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian", and "Shrek the Third". The only unlikely-to-have-been-seen offering for children is the rather twee French flick "The Fox and the Child" (BBC2 on the 24th), which may or may not involve reading subtitles!!

For the adults in the household, the feeble selection of premieres includes "I am Legend", "Elizabeth: The Golden Age", and the appalling "Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor". The only newbie I can hardily recommend is "Stranger than Fiction" (Channel 5 on Christmas Day). The rest of the schedules are loaded with the sort of re-runs that have been re-running for years. Granted these include a lot of old favourites, but just how many times does the non-movie buff want to see "Doctor Zhivago" or "From Here to Eternity"? If you do want to revisit some classic oldies, I would recommend "Born Yesterday" (BBC2 on the 23rd), "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon" (BBC2 on the 24th), "Edward Scissorhands" (Channel 4 on the 25th), and "The Man who Would be King" (BBC2 also on the 25th). Also, in the light of the soon-to-be-released remake of "True Grit" by the Coen Brothers, it might be a good idea to revisit the original with the Duke to refresh the basis for comparisons (Channel 4 on the 30th). Of course for sheer confusion, the sequel "Rooster Cogburn" is being shown earlier in the week. Finally to fully participate in the holiday joie de vivre (ho ho ho), do take another look at the Scrooge of all Scrooges, Alastair Sim (Channel 5 on the 24th). Finally, although it is outside my datewise remit and since there is no showing -- there seldom is -- of that Christmas perennial "It's a Wonderful Life", do revisit the original "Miracle on 34th Street" (Channel 4 on the 23rd).

So what will PPP be watching? There is only one terrestrial premiere which is new to me: "From Time to Time (ITV on the 26th), a somewhat dubious Downton-ish period piece. However since I excluded satellite showings from the above selections, I shall watch "Up in the Air", which I've not yet seen, on Sky. Most of that channel's other premieres over the period are already known or hardly worth viewing -- not that that will stop me, and I shall probably take the opportunity of copying "The Fantastic Mr. Fox" and Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland". Elsewhere there are a couple of French films on CineMoi and at least one Bollywood confection on More 4. Of course there's always the DVD backlog to fall back on.

Mind you much of the week will be taken up with cooking, eating, drinking, and generally rejoicing with visiting family, so it's just as well that there is not a plethora of must-see viewing for me in the wishy-washy schedules. Since I am unlikely to find the time to post again this side of the New Year, let me take this opportunity to wish you all a restful and satisfying holiday break and a peaceful and fulfilling year to come.
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