In more pressing and recent local matters, readers of the Spokesman-Review's Letters to the Editor page were rocked by the story of the atheist police chaplain who got Spokane to take the crosses off everyone's chaplain badges. I myself was moved by this tale of courage, of one man standing up to many against something that he knew in his heart was wrong -- a man who took matters into his own hands and beat the system. I asked myself what I could do, as a humble television writer, to aid this visionary along with other freethinkers like him? The answer was clear: Plot out a course of high-quality Dec. 25 viewing that would steer clear of crosses, trees, and any other Christ-related imagery. Because, really, no one should be compelled to see that. Great plan, except the only things on TV on December 25th Day are parades and reruns. I was about to give up when I saw Rocky IV was playing twice on Versus (a channel, I must admit, I'd never heard of). It was like a winter solstice miracle.
Rocky IV is definitely one of the best holiday movies of all time, even though it might not even take place during winter. (There's a lot of snow, though, which is almost the same.) When Rocky makes his "Anybody Can Change" speech at the end, even non-believer Gorby Gorbachev is moved by some sort of holiday spirit to give a standing ovation. And then the Berlin Wall exploded.
Also, Rocky is Catholic. Merry Christmas, suckers.
I hope that this show -- the first descendant of Meerkat Manor -- is the beginning of a trend where the endpoint is critters completely replacing humans on reality TV. There's a joke in here someplace about the Hollywood writers' strike and monkeys at typewriters but I can't find it. (Friday, 12/21, 8 pm, Animal Planet)
Stephen King's The Stand
This is a holiday tradition in the making, so gather the whole family for eight hours of Old Testament-style religion at the end of the world. King's precursor to the Left Behind series features Gary Sinese, Rob Lowe, and about a thousand celebrities making cameo appearances, including God. (Sunday, 12/23, 3-11 pm, Sci-Fi)
In Search of Christmas
Historical speculation about the origins of Christmas, including the theory that Mary was impregnated by a Roman and an attempt at a scientific explanation for the Virgin Birth. If you bought The Da Vinci Code, this just might change the way you think about Nativity scenes. (Sunday, 12/23, 5 pm, History Channel)