R2 Entertainment // 1978 // 47 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Cynthia Boris (Retired) // November 7th, 2006
"Rejoice in the true meaning of Christmas with America's favorite entertainment family"
Everyone knows Donny and Marie. But do you know Alan, Merrill, Jimmy, Jay, or Wayne? How about Mama Olive, or Papa George, or brothers Virl and Tom? And if that isn't enough Osmonds for you, how about the Osmond wives and all their kids? That adds up to more than twenty Osmonds! You get them all for one low low price of $12.99. You can't beat a bargain like that.
Okay, I mock, but only because it's sweet, old fashioned, and nice. Really nice. When I was a kid, Christmas variety shows were a big part of the holiday. My sisters and I would gather round the TV and watch these delightful festivals of song led by people such as Bob Hope, Andy Williams, and Gumby (oh, no wait, that last one is...never mind). So I was quick to choose this holiday special for review, and I wasn't disappointed.
Donny & Marie Christmas is a terrific example of the holiday variety show, a genre that has all but disappeared from the TV landscape. What I like best about this particular show is that it doesn't include any guest stars -- just the Osmonds and their families. No high-profile network TV actor is forced to sing Christmas Carols because he's under contract. No fading star is trying to jumpstart a second career. Just the Osmonds (all of the Osmonds), which I must say brought me a bit of a tear. Two of the Osmond brothers, Virl and Tom, were born deaf; a brutal irony given that they're part of a family whose life revolves around music and song. But Virl and Tom are here. You'll even catch them signing a lovely melody as the rest of the family sings.
Most of the show takes place in the "family home" in Utah. Gorgeous, snow-covered landscapes are a large part of the special with several songs being performed out-of-doors. Marie sings "Sleigh Ride" while adorable Osmond babies romp in stiff, restrictive snowsuits and Donny sings a non-holiday tune to his new wife as the snow falls around them.
The music here is a nice mix of traditional, clever, and modern. You get "Silent Night," "Let it Snow," and a fun medley sung by Donny and Marie in a concert setting. Viewers may be surprised by the tune "If Christ Should Come Tomorrow," sung by youngest brother Jimmy, but personally, I found the religious references in this show refreshing. On the "could have lived without it" list is a chimney sweep production number that goes on too long, but it balances with a clever version of "Dance to the Music" that introduces the family and the myriad of instruments they play. The Osmond wives get in on the act with a comical tune that isn't meant to be anything but cute. I even enjoyed the musical mayhem when the men offer to cook dinner.
The one thing that really holds this special together is the sense of love and family you get watching this group on screen. Mama and Papa couldn't be prouder. Babies are bounced and cuddled. Wives lay a natural hand on their husband's shoulders and brothers are...well...brothers.
If A South Park Christmas is your idea of a holiday special then keep on moving, there's nothing to see here. But if you're looking for a wholesome, family special filled with music and love, then you should check out Donny & Marie Christmas.
Review content copyright © 2006 Cynthia Boris; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: R2 Entertainment
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* PCM 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 47 Minutes
Release Year: 1978
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Osmond's Offical Site