MPI // 1969 // 124 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Dennis Prince (Retired) // November 13th, 2008
"...from all of us here to all of you there, we wish you happiness, peace, and much, much love."
Her sentiment is more than sincere as Doris Day turns to the TV audience to extend her holiday wish for the rest of us. Unfortunately, over the course of the five years that The Doris Day Show had aired, the program was anything but calm. Nevertheless, MPI video offers this special holiday-themed collection of episodes from the series, presented for those eager to curl up with some vintage programming for the seasons. Careful, though, because return visits to the eggnog bowl yields a different taste than the cup previous.
Doris Martin is a widow who, in 1968, moved herself and her two boys, Billy and Toby (Philip Brown and Todd Starke) to the Northern California ranch home of her father, Buck (Denver Pyle, The Dukes of Hazzard). Doris is dutifully employed at Today's World magazine, assistant to the Editor, Mr. Nicholson (McLean Stevenson, M*A*S*H). Alongside her in the office place are writer and self-proclaimed ladies' magnet, Ron Harvey (Paul Smith, Mr. Terrific) and best friend, Myrna Gibbons (Rose Marie, The Dick Van Dyke Show). Doris is a new girl for a new world and, although she's anchored by traditional values, she's eager to find her way in the hustle and bustle of the San Francisco cityscape.
Although all five seasons of The Doris Day Show have been released to DVD, this new Doris Day: Christmas Memories plucks the series' three holiday episodes to make up this special release. While fans and the mildly curious often rarely take offense to an obviously redundant offering, this particular three-episode collection shows up as a sort of unintended accuser that asserts the show truly suffered from a lack of identity. Yes, as you join Doris for three Christmas outings, the changes in setup and setting are arguably stark to behold.
The Yuletide festivities begin with the Season Two episode, "A Two Family Christmas," originally broadcast 12/22/69. Doris has been asked by Mr. Nicholson to please keep this year's holiday party under control, explaining how the previous year's event digressed into a mess of too much spiked punch, too little inhibition, and very little cheer for the Chief Editor, he who had to fend off inebriated affronts. Meanwhile, Doris has been actively inquiring whether Mr. Nicholson, Myrna, and Ron have holiday plans, welcoming them to Buck's ranch for an old-fashioned family Christmas. In the end, Doris is able to wrangle the office staff and is surprised with her three officemates seemingly ditch their previous holiday plans to join Doris and family for real holiday cheer and merriment.
Next, in Season Three's "It's Christmas Time in the City" (aired 12/21/70), Doris is brimming with holiday spirit, now living in San Francisco in a beautifully bedecked apartment with her family. Unfortunately, building scrooge, Mr. Jarvis (Billy De Wolfe, Frosty the Snowman's Professor Hinkle), finds the whole matter noisy and unnecessary. As Doris fends off Jarvis' complaints over her apartment Christmas party, the grouch melts when he overhears their caroling, soon to be found shoulder to shoulder with them in an uplifting change of heart.
Last up is Season Four's "Whodunnit, Doris?" (aired 12/13/71), a real odd duck as far as holiday fare goes. In this episode, Doris is inexplicably without her family of the previous three seasons. That's right -- gone are Buck, Billy, and Toby, a strange change to the series setup that culminated, without backstory, at the start of the season. This, of course, makes it difficult for Doris to host an old-fashioned family Christmas this time around. Writer Gary Belkin explores the next best holiday plot device: a murder at the hands of Santa. What?! Oh yes, this year's cup of eggnog is served along with Doris witnessing a murderous Santa and sustaining a threat at gunpoint herself from the bearded barbarian. In a word: mistake. Sadly, this "holiday" episode brings the whole package down with a thud.
Each episode is presented in their original 4:3 full frame broadcast aspect ratio. The image quality is very good, the original elements being rather clean. There is the presence of some film dirt and damage but it's infrequent and non-disruptive to the image. Audio is presented in a clear Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono track, a bit prone to high-end hiss but not too distracting. This disc also features a new audio commentary track by Ms. Day (along with a pestering Jim Pierson) on "It's Christmas Time in the City." A nine-minute black-and-white newsreel features Day in her efforts in Toys for Tots and Gift Lift programs. Day sings two Christmas carols in the audio only Highlights from Radio feature. Wrapping up the package are a collection of promos and sponsor bumpers from the original broadcasts.
In all, Doris Day: Christmas Memories is a decent bit of holiday nostalgia, although the third episode is best left roasting on an open fire. Other than that, there's undeniable charm to the content and those who adore Ms. Day will surely want to include this collection within their libraries.
Not guilty but definitely on the receiving end of a wagging of the finger for the "Whodunnit, Doris?" episode.
Review content copyright © 2008 Dennis Prince; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 124 Minutes
Release Year: 1969
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Audio commentary
* Vintage Doris Day newsreel footage
* Doris Day radio holiday highlights
* "Silent Night" music montage
* TV promos
* Network bumpers