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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Yes, Virginia gets a no

     CBS showed a new Christmas special this past Friday night called Yes, Virginia, inspired by the true story of a little girl name Virginia who wrote to ask the New York Sun  if the jolly old elf really existed.  It has been adapted many times before, with a variety of results, but the latest certainly falls into the shallow end of the pool.

     To be fair, the animation wasn't bad, and a good voice cast was recruited.  Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother) portrayed the father, while Jennifer Love Hewitt (Ghost Whisperer) was the mother and Alfred Molina (Spiderman 2, The DaVinci Code) was the newspaper editor.  It also had a good message and was loosely based on a part of Americana history.

     But unfortunately, it had many flaws.  Each character was flat and uninspired.  While Virginia could have had depth, instead the viewer had to rely on the Believe Meter on the tower to tell how she really felt.  The bully girl switched opinions as soon as the letter was printed, but didn't seem to feel any point of view with conviction.  The newspaper editor, too, had not only an inexplicable change of heart, but read the reply editorial with such a lack of emotion, it almost warranted turning the television off, not what I expect from a well-known movie star.  Harris and Hewitt, great personalities in their own right, were largely wasted on a few, very short scenes.  Did they just do the parts to support their network?  The story didn't flow well.  It kind of wandered until it had to end because time was up.  Also, what should have been a central character, known only as Scraggly Santa (Michael Buscemi), was largely ignored and forgotten before the end.  His important to Virginia should have obvious, but his once scene where he got to save the day played very dull and uninspired.

     I am not down on Christmas specials.  I love a great many of them, and would highly recommend Disney's Prep & Landing that aired last week.  But this one was only sub par, and will soon be forgotten.

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