It’s beginning to look… Errr… Not like Christmas. Well not round here anyway. The closest I’ve got to Christmas so far is listening to a few songs and visiting a second rate Christmas market. It will come though… I know this year has been shit for everybody but I highly doubt there’s going be a last minute Christmas cancellation…
OY… You over there with 2016 written on your shirt, put that notebook down and wipe the smirk from your face. Good. Now get out!
Christmas is coming/already here for some people and as well as Turkey and Tinsel and Trees there’s one other thing that Christmas is guaranteed to bring… (Presents? Snow? Nuns? A dead reindeer on the drive?) I mean movies.
Time was movies practically filled the Christmas television schedules. You’d look through the Radio Times or whatever TV listings mag you had… Who am I kidding? It was only the Radio Times… Nobody ever bothered with anything else… And they’d all be there, lined up across all four channels, stacked high from noon to night. There was everything from the old classics which you already had on video to the really old black and white stuff you really didn’t want to watch and first TV showings of practically all the good movies from the year before last. On Channel 4 you might have Sister Act whilst at the same time BBC 1 would be showing Prince of Thieves, ITV would have maybe WarGames and BBC 2 would be going for all out daring with that old Rex Harrison classic, The Ghost and Mrs Muir. Across a two week period you’d be completely spoiled for choice. You’d end up having to video record Prince Of Thieves whilst miserably sitting through The Ghost And Mrs Muir. All four channels would go all out in an attempt to show every film they had the rights to.
Then Sky Movies came along and at first it wasn’t so bad, when they only had one or two movie channels. Most of the time they weren’t showing anything good anyway, they were showing utter shit. The only time I got to watch Sky Movies, anyhow, was on those ghastly holidays to Centre Parcs- I once caught the end of one film, and for some reason I remember it, that had Michael J Fox in it. He was sat by a bed asking someone called Rocky to wake up. The credits featured roles for Rocky, Young Rocky and Old Rocky so evidently it was a film about someone called Rocky. I don’t think it was the awful, shitty Sylvester Stallone Rocky (yes, I, think the Rocky series is shit. Live with it.) I really want to know what it is. It was such a third rate film that I can’t actually find any trace of it although maybe I’ve probably got it completely wrong in my head. That’s not the point… For years Sky sat happily with the main four, later five, channels and for a while the Christmas schedules continued to be wall to wall films and the odd Christmas special thrown in for good measure.
These days things are different. Sky now has a virtual monopoly, they have the exclusive rights to a significant proportion of mainstream movies, and the previously main four channels are now four of many and have to compete with more than just each other. There is also the likes of Netflix and on demand to be competed with. You can watch anything, anytime without having to sit through ad breaks every ten minutes or stay up till one in the morning just because this film about Hereward The Wake is three hours long (Ha ha… Who am I kidding? They’re never going to make a Hereward The Wake movie.) It means that the Christmas schedules are no longer packed with films. They’re full of repeats and reality shows instead, though there are films there.
We don’t really need our films on television these days, not with on demand and Netflix. But it’s a nice thing, at the end of a year when all your hurly burly is done, all your battles lost and won, to sit down with a warm mug of something and watch whatever random crap happens to be on. I can’t remember if it was last year or the year before (might have been the year before) where I ended up watching Mary Poppins only because I’d been watching Saving Mr Banks. I usually end up with some Pixar film on, Up or something, at some point- Christmas isn’t a time for gritty, horrific murder films after all. It’s a time for indulging your inner child and Pixar films are perfect.
But wherever they come from and whatever they happen to be, Christmas is a time for movies. It doesn’t matter that they no longer fill the TV schedules but so long as there always are movies at Christmas I’ll be happy.
Image courtesy of Wikimedia/20th Century Fox