Crossroads: "Our First Christmas Tree": This tells the story of Reverend Henry Schwan (Don Taylor) who has come to the United States from Europe looking to take over the Ministry of the Zion Church and the struggle he faces trying to convince the townsfolk of the good of having a Christmas tree to help celebrate the Christmas season. The children of the town are all for it and excited to take part in decorating and Church services involving the tree but the townsfolk are dead set against it feeling that worship of a tree will replace worship of God.
Kind of a weird little story but probably relevant to the time in which it is set. Fairly forgettable overall. Lester Matthews appears as Henry's brother Reverend John Schwan whose storytelling is able to eventually win some support for the tree. (Season 2, Episode 12, originally aired December 21, 1956)
Dear Phoebe: "The Christmas Show": Bill Hastings (Peter Lawson) is a newspaper writer who writes a romance column under the name "Phoebe Goodheart". Here he decides to help Joey (George Winslow), a young boy he's made friends with before, after said boy ran away from military school. Also he works at trying to get tightwad boss Mr. Fosdick (Charles Lane) to throw a Christmas party. Eventually we learn Joey ran away because he didn't have a father to take part in father-son activities. Hastings works to track down the Dad hoping for a surprise Christmas family reunion for Joey.
This was O.K. Of course, it seems a stretch in terms of a story today but back in the day, it nevertheless somehow seems to work. It helps that the cast is likable. (Season 1, Episode 16, originally aired December 24, 1954)
Dragnet: "Big Little Jesus": Father Rojas (Harry Bartell) calls the police when he notices that the statue of the infant Jesus has been stolen from the Old Mission Plaza Church. Sgt. Joe Friday (Jack Webb) and Officer Frank Smith (Ben Alexander) work on trying to retrieve the statue before the Christmas service but time and luck aren't on their side. The eventual truth about the statue proves even more surprising.
This episode manages to get across the meaning and true spirit of Christmas. Good acting and storytelling here too. Could be a Christmas classic to some. (Season 3, Episode 17, originally aired December 24, 1953)
Follow That Man: "Petite Larceny": Store detective Mike Barnett (Ralph Bellamy) investigates a series of thefts that occurred near the store Santa Claus. The location of the thefts makes Barnett suspect a child might be involved. Investigation eventually leads Barnett to the carnival world and a magician nicknamed the Professor (Don McHenry).
This episode was a lot of fun to watch. As an audience, we know early the truth about the "child thief" (Athena Lorde) and this leads to some funny moments later on in our story. Margaret Hamilton also appears briefly in a funny supporting role as a victim of the thief named Mrs. Parmalee. (Season 5, Episode 11, originally aired December 20, 1953)
The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet: "A Piano for the Fraternity": David, Rick, and the rest of their fraternity search for an affordable piano for them to use for an upcoming Christmas party. Along the way, they meet a friendly elderly couple named Mr. and Mrs. Stewart (Will Wright & Charity Grace) whom along with their slightly neglected parents, they eventually invite to the party.
This was a really nice little story and it was refreshing to see young people treat everyone nicely and with respect, especially those older. And to see it was also O.K. for older folk to still hang out with younger people and everyone could enjoy music, fellowship, and each other's company. (Season 9, Episode 13, originally aired December 21, 1960)
The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet: "The Busy Christmas": Ozzie volunteers for so many Christmas committees and charitable activities, he can't seem to find the time to hang the Christmas lights or find and decorate a Christmas tree.
This story champions helping and being involved in one's community and also family lending a helping hand wherever possible too. Good spirit and thinking certainly appropriate for the Christmas season. I really, really enjoy these Ozzie and Harriet shows. If only the world was this good-natured...(Season 5, Episode 12, originally aired December 18, 1956) (this was mistakenly listed as "Late Christmas Gift" on the DVD set I have these episodes on).
The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet: "Christmas Tree Lot": David and Rick decide to start a Christmas tree lot hoping the sales will provide them with enough money to buy Christmas gifts. However, things don't go quite as smoothly as Rick and David would like until a neighborhood businessman named Mr. Ferguson (Gavin Gordon) decides to help them out. Some advice from Ozzie also proves quite helpful too with regards to using music to attract a crowd.
This was an enjoyable episode. It does feature some singing from Ricky and Ozzie and has that general Nelson niceness going for it. (Season 6, Episode 11, originally aired December 18, 1957)
The Beverly Hillbillies: "Christmas at the Clampetts": The Clampetts celebrate their first Christmas in Beverly Hills but are confused by the aquatic themed gifts of Mr. Drysdale (Raymond Bailey) and Mrs. Drysdale (Harriet E. MacGibbon)'s high level of concern over her "full-length mink".
This was funny as usual mostly due to the misunderstandings of all involved. Best bit involved Granny and her reaction to her new "washing machine". (Season 2, Episode 14, originally aired December 25, 1963)
The Beverly Hillbillies: "Home for Christmas": The Clampett clan decide to head back to the hills to celebrate Christmas with their kin folk Cousin Pearl Bodine (Bea Benaderet) and Jethro's sister Jethrine (both played by Max Baer). When he learns of this, Mr. Drysdale insists in sending them home via flight leading to some funny misunderstandings as this is the first time the Clampetts ever flew anywhere. Meanwhile back home, Pearl puts forth her best effort to land herself an husband, her target Mr. Brewster (Frank Wilcox) while also trying to elude the unwanted affections of Homer Winch (Paul Winchell).
This episode is even better than the next year's Christmas special, just funnier and it's neat to get some glimpses of the extended Clampett clan and where they originally came from. Benaderet is really good in this episode and frequently steals the show when she's on screen. The flight bits are really fun too. (Season 1, Episode 13, originally aired December 19, 1962)
The Adventures of Robin Hood: "The Christmas Goose": A young boy named Davey (Jon Whitely) along with his beloved pet goose Matilda unexpectedly offend Sir Leon (Jack Watling) who orders as punishment to have the goose cooked for his Christmas dinner. However the boy seeks Friar Tuck (Alexander Gauge)'s help at the trial of said goose. When things don't go as the Friar would like, he seeks the advice and help of Robin Hood (Richard Greene) who teaches Sir Leon a lesson or two about Christmas.
This was a surprisingly good and enjoyable episode. The acting was above par here IMO. A simple but effective tale with a good moral. (Season 3, Episode 13, originally aired December 23, 1957)
Annie Oakley: "Santa Claus Wears a Gun": Annie (Gail Davis) and Deputy Sheriff Lofty (Brad Johnson) are worried when renown sharpshooter Snowy Kringle (Stanley Andrews) arrives in town. While the old man resembles Santa Claus, they've been warned he may in actuality be a crook after the Army payroll. Only all isn't quite as it seems.
This story played out in fairly predictable fashion for me and I could see its twist coming from far away. There's really nothing Christmas themed about this story though aside from Kringle's name and appearance. Otherwise, it's just another by the numbers episode. (Season 3, Episode 27, originally aired December 2, 1956)