Merry Sitcom! Christmas Classics From TV's Golden Age

Merry Sitcom! Christmas Classics From TV's Golden Age
The Christmas-themed episode of a television show isn't a recent invention, as Merry Sitcom! Christmas Classics From TV's Golden Age demonstrates. The shows selected hearken back to simpler times, as cliché as that sounds, which is also reflected in the plots, which tend to focus on finding the real meaning of Christmas and moving past commercialism and cynicism. The two best episodes are the earliest ones on the DVD, dating all the way back to the '50s. Both Father Knows Best and The Donna Reed Show are represented by what can genuinely be called "classic" Christmas episodes that have stood the test of time. The four shows from the '60s are more mixed, but there's only one absolute stinker and most people are aware that The Flying Nun really isn't a very good show. The Bewitched episode is from the very first season and features more of nosy neighbour Gladys Kravitz than usual. In it, Samantha takes a disillusioned orphan up to the North Pole to meet Santa before the obligatory happy ending. The episode of That Girl relies a little too heavily on the charm of Marlo Thomas, as the title character, and Ernest Borgnine carries the weight of McHale's Navy on his ample shoulders in their festive offering. The picture quality is as good as expected, considering the age of the source material. One of the standard issues with older TV shows showing up on DVD rears its head again though: edited, syndicated versions. That translates into scenes starting and ending abruptly, especially on Father Knows Best, and it shouldn't happen. There are a few trailers for other Shout! Factory releases on the DVD, but the main "extra" is a seasonal episode of Window On Main Street, the show that Robert Young starred in following his time on Father Knows Best. It feels a little out of place because it's definitely not a sitcom, having a rather sombre tone. It has apparently never appeared on DVD before, so has some value for that reason alone. Merry Sitcom! is exactly what it states on the front cover and not much else. There are better episodes from better shows that could have made for an absolutely essential collection but this is an enjoyable way to spend close to three hours on Christmas Eve. (Shout! Factory)