Monday, December 21, 2015

The Donna Reed Show — 'A Very Merry Christmas!'

Note: In March 1963, Bob Crane made his first appearance on The Donna Reed Show as Dr. Dave Blevins. This one guest appearance led to his being cast in the semi-regular role of next-door neighbor Dr. Dave Kelsey, officially launching his acting career and preparing him for the future. Bob thought highly of Donna Reed, who often coached him as an actor and offered him advice during Hogan’s Heroes. When asked about what he thought of Donna, he said, “She was marvelous. I learned everything I know in the business from her.” (For more about Bob Crane’s role on The Donna Reed Show, click here.) Although Bob did not appear in the Christmas episode, we have chosen to take this opportunity to honor The Donna Reed Show with a post about her holiday episode, "A Very Merry Christmas," as part of Me-TV's "A Very Merry Blogathon," hosted by the Classic TV Blog Association. This post is written by guest author Jude H. Cormier, owner and manager of the We Love The Donna Reed Show Facebook page. Thank you, Jude, and Happy Holidays to all!


The Donna Reed Show — 'A Very Merry Christmas!'

by Jude H. Cormier

When one thinks of the Christmas holiday, especially the televised version of it, you have the expected pitfalls and trappings. The Donna Reed Show’s “A Very Merry Christmas” (which is, in fact, the series’ lone holiday episode) has these things delivered in a warm and funny package. Scenes of Christmas cards dangling, sermons about the commercialism of the holiday, jokes about how awful everyone thinks fruitcake is, especially as a gift, are presented in typical, but still amusing fashion. The madness of shopping for gifts that are bound to be returned seem quaint, even by the late 1950s standards. 

What really sets this episode apart is the discovery that the children’s ward of the hospital (where Dr. Stone works and Donna Stone volunteers) seems to have been overlooked among the rush and bustle of doing “Christmas.” Donna is just appalled that no one seems to be doing anything for the children. Enter the wonderful Buster Keaton, who, as the hospital custodian, has been secretly doing it for years. Donna offers her assistance, much to the protest of her own kids, who can’t bear the thought of their own plans being interrupted.

In true heartwarming fashion, Donna’s family pulls through and brings gifts and decorations to the hospital. We all know Donna Reed for her wonderful contribution in the movie It’s a Wonderful Life, but this episode of her sitcom is just as good in her repertoire for delivering the message of Christmas.

So gather up the family around the cozy fire, pass the sugar cookies, enjoy mugs of eggnog, and yes, a slice or two of the dreaded fruitcake, and make it “A Very Merry Christmas” for at least 30 minutes.