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Hello, everyone, and welcome to the new! I’ve been working on my Reel to Reel movie studies for about a year and a half now, and I decided it was time for the project to have its own home on the web.

If you’re new here, allow me to explain. Reel to Reel is an ongoing movie project. I love movies, friends, and I love stories in general, and over the years I’ve become deeply interested in the themes and tropes that make up all stories. All storytellers, I believe, draw from a common well, a sort of universal pool of ideas, fears, hopes and desires that come together to create fiction. Each storyteller has his own personal pool of course, made from his own experiences, culture, and dreams, but ultimately, everyone who wants to tell a story is influenced by those stories he or she has been exposed to in the past, whether they intend it or not.

With each Reel to Reel movie study, I create a course of films that fit into a specific genre or theme, then one at a time I watch them and write my thoughts on them here for you. It’s not exactly a review, although I do tell you what I like and don’t like about each film. More than that, though, I look at where the ideas in the story came from — recurring threads that different filmmakers pick up on and twist in their own ways, recurring character types, morality plays, and other things that we’ve all seen a thousand times when watching movies… there’s nothing here you haven’t noticed yourself. I’m just trying to put it all into words and maybe think a little bit about where it all comes from and why. After each study is complete, I take some time to do some rewriting, polishing, and expansion (by adding a few more movies), finally releasing the entire study as an eBook.

As of this writing, on Christmas Day 2012, I’ve finished three studies and released the first as a book, Mutants, Monsters and Madmen (a study of horror movies). I’m planning to import all of the previous articles from my personal blog at and re-present them right here, so keep your eye on the category list and tag cloud to see what’s currently available. Then, in 2013, I’ll release the eBook of Reel to Reel 2: Lunatics and Laughter (a study of horror/comedy films) and Reel to Reel 3: The Christmas Special, and I’ll start to work on Reel to Reel 4, the theme of which I have not yet chosen. Keep in mind though, friends, that I’ve got a full-time job and other obligations as well, so I’m not promising any specific schedule at this point.

What I do promise is to not let this page go dead in-between movie studies. Even when I’m not immersed in a theme, I watch a lot of movies. So check here periodically for other pieces — reviews and other geek punditry about new movies, old movies, upcoming movies or movie news that I feel like sharing thoughts about.

Thanks for reading, friends… and welcome aboard.

The Christmas Special: An Introduction

Once again, my friends, the Christmas season is underway, and that means it’s time to immerse ourselves in the sort of cheerful yuletide content that we all love. There are Christmas books, Christmas movies, Christmas music, Christmas food (oh… oh dear Heaven the Christmas food…) but there’s one entertainment medium that, as far as I’m concerned, Christmas dominates like no other.

The television Christmas special.

Let’s think about it here. Think for a moment about what a TV special is – a short film made for the small screen. It’s not long enough to block out the two hours for a legitimate TV movie. It’s not necessarily part of a regular TV series, although it may be a spin-off, reunion show, or a backdoor pilot for one. Sometimes the characters are familiar, sometimes they’re one-off visitors, sometimes they’re telling a timeless story and sometimes they’re giving us something new.

And I don’t know about you guys, but the vast majority of the great television specials that linger in my mind are Christmas specials

Oh sure, there are a few Halloween greats, the odd Thanksgiving or Valentine’s Day yarn, but let’s be honest here. During those golden days when the word “SPECIAL” would spin out at us from our TV screens to announce the next thirty to sixty minutes of CBS would not be our regular programming, we were hoping to see Rudolph, or Frosty, or Charlie Brown putting up his sad little Christmas tree.

So this year, I’m giving my month of December to a discussion of 25 of the most memorable Christmas specials, at least as far as I’m concerned. Interestingly, this project has proven to have the opposite problem of this Halloween’s comedy/horror project, in which I simply couldn’t find very many old movies to discuss. This time around, the closer we get to the present day, the harder it is to find a truly great special. I managed to scrape up a few, but we’re still going to spend most of the month without getting past the 80s. I also tried to restrict myself to just one special per franchise, although there are countless Muppet, Sesame Street and Peanuts films I could have gone with. And I also refused to go with any of the endless reiterations of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, not because I don’t like them, but because there are so damn many of them I rather think it would be fun to do a Reel to Reel project someday looking exclusively at those films.

So come back tomorrow and we’re going to begin, appropriately enough, with the first great special from the good people at Rankin/Bass productions. We’re traveling back to 1964 to spend some time with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.