Tag Archives: christmas

The Art of the Christmas Special

I’m fascinated with festivals and traditions — it’s something that has always interested me, to the point that I wrote my Honours thesis about religious festivals in Ancient Rome. The history of Christmas, with its hodge-podge of different cultural traditions layered in over so many assumptions and so much storytelling has become something of an obsession of mine in recent years.

I was delighted to find some new TV Christmas Specials to love this year — my favourite genre of holiday media, still competing strongly with Fakey Better-Than-Hallmark Romances on Netflix and Festive Teen Wolf Fanfic.

Old favourites include Miranda, The Vicar of Dibley, AbFab, Community, Parks and Rec, Brooklyn 99, Gavin and Stacey and of course the ultimate retro classics, Blackadder’s Christmas Carol and Bernard & the Genie (the latter is a TV movie, it counts). Plus, you know. Thirteen years of Doctor Who taking on Santa robots and flying sharks.

Upstart Crow, the not-exactly-new-anymore Shakespeare sitcom by Ben Elton, is both educational and entertaining — but its 2017 Christmas Special which I discovered on Australian iView this year is an instant classic! I love how many of the jokes come out of real historical detail, building in so many bits of Elizabethan Yuletide tradition with a bunch of modern smirks to camera. They talk about the Advent fast, the Lord of Misrule, wassailing and of course the twelve nights themselves, which we mostly hear about these days via pre-Christmas sales advertising.

I particularly adored the way that one of the Love, Actually plotlines was woven in, building up to a truly extraordinary scene with Emma Thompson guest starring as a brittle, savage and deeply complex Queen Elizabeth I. More than a sitcom! Those are some of the best lines I’ve ever seen her deliver as an actor.

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Merry Happy Valkyrie!

It’s December and that means my new Christmas fantasy novella, Merry Happy Valkyrie, has been released into the wild!

I’ve been home sick with a cold & a sniffling child since December began, because weather in Tasmania (and Australia generally) has been bananas this spring. It’s nearly summer and we just put the gas heating on because the rain it rains every day! We’re in a drought, so this should be good news, except that last time the rain was this extreme in Tasmania was on the other side of this winter just gone, and I know people who are still recovering from the flood damage.

Funny (peculiar) that my new book is in on the joke (haha as well as peculiar!) that is Tasmanian weather. In Matilda, the fictional town where Merry Happy Valkyrie is set, it always snows at Christmas even though we don’t do that in Australia (except when we do, i say, looking suspiciously at my view of Mt Wellington out the window).

Don’t look for Matilda, it doesn’t exist. The people who live there told me to say that, and they should know!

You can buy Merry Happy Valkyrie from your favourite ebook platform, or direct from Twelfth Planet Press. Read it to find out why Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without dragons.

And check out my guest post at Stephanie Burgis’ blog, talking about my favourite Christmas fantasy and romance stories over the years, across various media. I just remembered that I forgot to talk about Christmas crime. One of my favourite Ngaio Marsh murder mysteries is the one called Tied Up With Tinsel

ROBOTECH REWATCH 31: Christmas is Sadness and Snow

The Robotech Holiday Special will be rewatched after these messages.

If you’re at that slightly exhausted, sleepy & mildly nauseous period that hits after Christmas festivities – or just at this end of the year, frankly – then this is the Robotech episode for you.

EPS_48_3_4146Episode 35 – Seasons Greetings

It’s a very Robotech Christmas! Don’t you love the way I manipulated the reviews to make sure we got this episode this week?

So, Khyron and his amazing friends are hanging out in the Amazon rainforest, because it’s one of the first places to have recovered and therefore there are some trees to hide behind.

Khyron is still crazysauce, in case you were wondering.

It’s Christmas at New Macross City!

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Seven Days of Joyeux: a Musketeer Space novella


It’s festival time on Paris Satellite: that means a seven day whirl of drunken bets, poor decision-making, religious contemplation and tinsel. But mostly, poor decision-making.

Porthos and Athos aren’t going to sleep together, no matter what Aramis says. Aramis isn’t going to marry her girlfriend, Minister Chevreuse, which probably means they’re breaking up. Athos is not prepared to be visited by the ghost of his dead husband. Oh, and the Duchess of Buckingham is totally not going to hook up with the Prince Consort thereby causing an interplanetary diplomatic disaster… right?

When a group of “festive terrorists” start inflicting traditions from a very different midwinter festival on the space station via nano-virus, the Musketeers and the Red Guard are expected to work together to protect Paris Satellite. This isn’t going to end well.

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Post-Christmas Links

Capture_Upload11The turkey has been dinnered, the Doctor Who Christmas Special and the Call the Midwife Special have competed for the title of Most Depressing Christmas Special that Isn’t Set in Albert Square, and the leftovers picnic managed somehow to create an unholy alliance of leftovers which meant we all left with more food than we arrived with.

I guess that means Christmas is over! That would explain why I was yesterday woken up (at 6am!) by a four year old wailing “I miss Christmas!”

Here are some of my favourite holiday-related snippets of web content from the last week.

The latest holiday-themed installment of the occasionally serialised adventures of Supergirl and Batgirl by Mike Maihack.

A wonderful post at Tor.com about scary lady writers from the Victorian era who penned Christmas horror tales.

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Watching New Who: A Christmas Carol

A very interesting Christmas special, as Doctor Who riffs on Dickens. I actually think this is one of the best Christmas specials so far, and certainly the one that takes itself the most seriously (I say this because “End of Time” doesn’t really feel like a Christmas special to me, aside from the original broadcast date which I of course missed). Yes, there are lots of a nice little moments of humour, but this has far more meat to it than the others. It’s very self contained, too, and you can imagine watching this with family members who had never seen Doctor Who, and not having to explain very much – the only vital starting point being that he is a time traveller, which is rather self evident. Because of that It reminded me a little of “The Girl in the Fireplace”, a story that shares some of the same themes – the idea of the Doctor ducking in and out of someone’s life and the way time passes differently from different perspectives.

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Gingerbread Dalek Season

Gingerbread daleks are not just biscuits (or cookies if you are American). “Gingerbread daleks” has become a shorthand for me that conveys a) how ridiculously domestic I get in December, with the crafting and the cookie baking and the menu planning and the (gasp) cleaning; and b) the way that Doctor Who and Christmas have become interwoven over the last few years – in our house in particular.

If Daleks exterminate a forest of Christmas trees, does anyone hear them?

If Daleks exterminate a forest of Christmas trees, does anyone hear them?

It all started with a cookie cutter that my honey made for me by bending a teddy bear out of shape until it resembled a dalek. Talk about the gift that keeps on giving! I can of course make dalek cookies at any time of year, but once you get a chance to make gingerbread daleks at Christmas, believe me, you never go back.

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Christmas Links (and Vids) for 2012

No, I still haven’t managed to watch the Doctor Who Christmas Special! We’re waiting for the ABC screening tonight. Oh, iView, where are you when we need you? In the mean time, to keep the Christmas flag flying until the main event appears on our TV…

Angriest on the best Christmas TV episodes.

Australian Women Writers on 12 Book Blogs of Christmas

Tor.com reviews Emmett Otter’s Jugband Christmas

Nicola Griffith on the art of blowing up Christmas

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