Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Countdown to Christmas: Christmas with Paul Winchell (1953)

Before Walt Disney took over the 7 pm (ET) hour on NBC, leading off the network's Sunday night lineup, before Bullwinkle occupied that space, there was ventriloquist Paul Winchell, who had the slot for four seasons before moving to Saturday mornings in 1954.

Paul's self-titled series originally went by the name, The Spiegel Show, for its original sponsor, but then Winchell got star billing during season 2. In season 4, the series was sponsored by Proctor & Gamble, and, the last I checked, they still make Camay soap, although it isn't as promoted as much as it used to. In fact, P & G has sold off a lot of familiar brands, including Spic & Span, Duncan Hines, & Pringles, in recent years.

I'm digressing. Anyway, for seasons 5 & 6, Winchell moved into a morning berth, with Tootsie Roll taking over as the sponsor. This Christmas episode plays like a sitcom, although the audience is, in fact, live. Friday marks the 60th anniversary of this broadcast, which has Paul as an emergency babysitter for a neighbor's daughter, who then spins a variation on Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, built around Paul's dreams of Christmases past & future, with hilarious results.

This is part of a Holiday Classics DVD compilation set released by Mill Creek in 2011, and one of the few to actually include commercials.

Rating: A-.

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