Edith Ann’s Christmas (ABC)
1996 | ABC, Tomlin and Wagner Theatricalz, Kurtz & Friends, Los Angeles, California
While it might appear on the surface that this Yule-tide tale strays from the mainstream, it presents positive and especially timely messages of caring and forgiveness. Irreverent and often outrageous, Edith Ann’s Christmas (Just Say Noel) offers an alternative perspective to the emotional landscape usually available in popular entertainment to children and adults. The show revolves around a dysfunctional family, with the main character, Edith Ann, portrayed by the multi-talented Lily Tomlin, (also co-executive producer). In the innovative story, Edith Ann’s rebellious sister Irene defies her parents and then decides to run away. Edith Ann, like her parents, feels guilty about the situation, and frantically attempts to contact Irene. Meanwhile, Edith Ann and her friends are also preparing for the school’s holiday play, a fundraiser for the victims of a recent drive-by shooting, a boy and his dog. Following a creative, updated version of “O, Little Town of Bethlehem” (replete with a heartfelt postscript by Edith Ann), the show’s two main crises are solved. Irene returns home, and the boy recovers from a coma. In a world which often surrounds us with a general devaluing of the human spirit, Edith Ann’s Christmas (Just Say Noel) creates an emotionally complex and deeply empathetic haven where it is okay to confront our vulnerabilities through humor and storytelling. Co-executive producer and writer Jane Wagner contributes a biting commentary about modern America in her script, which producer/director Bob Kurtz brings to life in lovely characterization and animation. For its unique and entertaining display of holiday spirit, a Peabody to Edith Ann’s Christmas (Just Say Noel).
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