Monday, November 24, 2008

TV Review: "A Colbert Christmas"

I very rarely schedule "appointment television" for myself. I'm either reading, doing schoolwork, or at the computer. Last night, however, was an exception. I was writing an E-mail around 8:30 when I suddenly realized, "A Colbert Christmas is on tonight!"

I had to stop what I was doing, since I couldn't remember if it was on at 9 or 10.

It turned out to be the latter.

I went up to the bedroom, snuggled under the covers, and turned on Comedy Central. I caught the last ten minutes of the Jeff Dunham Christmas special. I was bummed that I missed most of it; I saw him in person when I was a sophomore in college. He came to the Quick Center for the Arts to do the Harvest Weekend show, and he was an absolute riot.

Anyhoo, back to Colbert. At the beginning of the special, you can clearly see that Stephen Colbert is lampooning, as only he could, the classic Perry Como/Andy Williams Christmas specials of yesteryear. (For those of you in my generation, those are the specials they run in PBS retrospectives each season). So our friend Stephen is prepping to leave his mountaintop cabin to go down to New York to film his Christmas special when--gasp!--there's a bear outside! Loyal fans of The Colbert Report know of Stephen's hatred and fear of bears. (Are they On Notice or Dead to Me right now? I, sadly, have not been able to watch The Colbert Report regularly for a while).

So what is Stephen to do? Elvis Costello is the special guest star, and they're already filming the dancing reindeer! (Which are actually goats with antlers!)

Fortunately, Stephen has beaucoup visitors to his mountainside cabin. First to arrive is "country music superstar Toby Keith!" (Cue the applause track! This special makes affective use of both fake applause and the laugh track.) Toby's hunting in the woods when he decides to pay Stephen a visit. They talk about how more people say "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas" these days, and Toby decides to put his lament to song. It's a very musical tribute to the "War on Christmas."

Willie Nelson makes an appearance too. I won't give too many details of what he does, but I will say this: Willie claims he's so high, Stephen's hallucinating.

Jon Stewart stops by to ask Stephen, "Can I interest you in Hanukkah?" Forest ranger John Legend arrives next, and sings what has got to be the sexiest song ever written about...nutmeg. Nutmeg, you say? Trust me on this. It'll be on iTunes tomorrow if you wanna make the investment.

This was a great hour of appointment television for me. Some of the musical numbers, all original (except for one), dragged on a little long, but the lyrics were very clever. (Especially "Another Christmas Song.") It's a great combination of cheeky retro humor affectively blended with present satirical wit. (Witness the two stockings hanging over the fireplace. One says "Stephen", the other says "Colbert.")

Finally, A Colbert Christmas has a very clever ending. I won't spoil the surprise. Do Stephen a favor and buy it for yourself!

No comments: