1. A Bionic Christmas Carol – This 1976 episode of The Six Million Dollar Man does a copy/paste of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol in a way that fits mostly, but not entirely.
Steve gets assigned to investigate a potential sabotage issue at a space-tech factory…on Christmas Eve…
He’s not happy about it, but he goes because that’s his job, I guess. I thought that Oscar Goldman, Steve’s boss, was being set up to be the Scrooge in this analogy, but nope. The real Scrooge is Budge, the owner of the space-tech facility. The show goes to great lengths to illustrate this, including both his adamancy that his employees work on Christmas Day and his shut-down of an employee-funded Christmas tree decoration.
His chauffeur, Crandall (get it?), is Budge’s nephew and is taken advantage of left and right. Crandall insists that Steve spend Christmas supper with his family and takes him home to meet them. The family’s got no tree, no presents, nothing, so Steve does a little Bionic-ing on a nearby, large, not-Christmas tree to make up for it.
The story takes a weird turn when Steve shows up to Budge’s estate and Budge topples over a ledge, landing in Steve’s arms.
The doctor tells Steve and Crandall that, conveniently, due to Budge’s condition he will hallucinate for the next three hours. This gives Steve an idea, and I thought I knew where this special was headed, but I was a little bit off.
Instead of a ghost of Christmas Past, Present, and Future, Steve dresses up as…Santa. He somehow still accomplishes the same thing as Santa Claus that the ghosts do, though, and Budge comes around. He wakes up, dismisses the crew slated to work at the factory that day, and shows up at his nephew’s house with a bag full of toys. Because now he’s dressed as Santa.
Here’s the thing: this is a really lazy attempt at a Christmas episode, but for some reason I was glued to it. There’s just something about The Six Million Dollar Man, it appears, where the premise transcends the lazy plotlines. It’s a pretty tightly-paced show, especially compared to its contemporaries. God bless us, everyone, indeed.
2. Soviet Union Christmas Postcards – Stumbled across some gorgeous Space-Race-Era Christmas cards from the Soviet Union at Flashbak. Definitely hit the link to see them all, but here are my favorites. They’re beautiful and peaceful-looking, sometimes despite their warmongering overtones.
3. Frankie Frank – Did you know that Mr. Potato Head had pals? It’s not a surprise that given his runaway, unexpected success that attempts would be made at doing the same thing with other food items. Heres’ Frankie Frank, the hot dog that you push stuff into.
He wasn’t alone, either. You can see Mr. Mustard Head (?) in the box art, but there were still more! Here’s the rest of the gang.
4. Motown Merry Christmas Medley – There’s something about this 1987 Motown Christmas Special segment that really, genuinely gets me. It starts with Marcia Warfield doing a bit about optimism and hopefulness and then snowballs (no pun intended?) into a really impressive medley. Enjoy Carrie McDowell, Natalie Cole, The Temptations, Ronnie Spector, Darlene Love, The Pointer Sisters, Run DMC, Smokey Robinson and more in true holiday fashion. They really just don’t do it like this anymore.
5. #bringbackmst3k – It’s not every day you get to help resurrect your favorite TV show. I’ve been a fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000 since I was eleven years old, and this show probably shaped my sense of humor more than any other. Through it I gained an early love for old movies, both good and bad, and got a head start on some crazy obscure pop culture references that in some cases I would only understand years later. I still watch the show regularly, and there are still jokes that I get for the first time.
So when series creator Joel Hodgson announced a Kickstarter campaign to bring back the show with a new cast, I was all in. Well, not all; I don’t have 5.5 million dollars on me. But I was in, and I hope you’ll be, too. he’s got an impressive roster lined up this time around with Jonah Ray, Felicia Day, and Patton Oswalt, and it’s looking like the writing will be of the level we’ve come to expect from this show. The Kickstarter’s in its last days, so kick in if you can!
In honor of the show, here’s a 1998 tour of the now-defunct Best Brains studios. Some cool gems in here for fans of the show – the cardboard cutout of Mike from Hobgoblins stands out for me.