Forsooth! A Death Star.

I love Shakespeare. I love Star Wars. Pair the two and you get to witness my happy dance.

An hour ago, I finished reading William Shakespeare’s Star Wars, by Ian Doescher. My local comics shop recommended it to me, and it is well-worth your time!

I know, I know, it seems a bit ridiculous that the two would work together. But they do. Shakespeare’s plays include heroic action, the growth of heroes, twisted family dynamics, hidden motivations, greatly complicated villains, and, oh yeah — comic relief. All elements that are present in Star Wars. As the author points out, George Lucas studied mythology, including Joseph Campbell’s seminal work ‘The Hero with a Thousand Faces’, when writing Star Wars; and in turn, Campbell had studied Shakespeare’s plays when formulating his theories.

So yes, Star Wars as a Shakespearean drama definitely works.

Doescher catches the wonderful cadence of Shakespeare’s plays, both the wording (in, of course, iambic pentameter) and the way in which such plays flow dramatically. I salute him — iambic pentameter is not easy to write, as I recall from my attempts during a high-school English class, and to carry it through for an entire book while remaining faithful to the source material is quite the feat. While you’ll recognize the paraphrasing of a number of Shakespeare’s well-known phrases (‘Now is the summer of our happiness’ ring a bell?), much of the dialogue deals with the expected terminology of my beloved Star Wars Universe — Death Stars, lighsabers and droids, plus the original languages of Jawas, Jabba and assorted aliens. Translating all these things to iambic pentameter cannot have been easy.

I am going to nit-pick one thing. I’m still trying to decide if the phrase ‘set to stun’ properly can be admitted to the Star Wars Universe. A friend who’s a devoted Trekkie objects to its inclusion — actually, the words used were ‘you stole it from us!’ Aside from that one point, though, I honestly just loved the entire book.

Doescher follows the script of the Original Movie “A New Hope” and sets out on the right foot by adhering to a typical device in plays. The action is advanced and explained by the words of the Chorus:

“It is a period of civil war.
The spaceships of the rebels, striking swift
From base unseen, have gain’d a vict’ry o’er
The cruel Galactic Empire now adrift.”

Can’t you just see this onstage? A mixed crowd of Stormtroopers, Rebels, Jawas, standing in the back of a dimly-lit and smoky stage, chanting the lines in unison. The author even catches the stage directions of Shakespeare, also as shown in the first Scene. “Enter REBELS. Many die. Enter STORMTROOPERS and DARTH VADER.” These directions, like those of Shakespeare, convey the events occurring onstage in just a few concise words.

The play — for that is, after all, what this is — features all the characters from the Movie. Luke, Leia and Han, R2-D2 and C-3P0, Obi-Wan and Darth Vader, enter and exit from the stage, uttering the (Elizabethanized) lines we all know from the Movie as well as expanded commentary representing the thoughts and emotions of the characters at key points in the play. Obi-Wan and Darth Vader, in particular, will break your heart with certain statements, the lines poignant and neatly tying back to events in the Prequel Trilogy.

But even more than these insights into the hearts and minds of the key players, setting Star Wars as a play offers the opportunity for the bit and background players to have expanded roles — rebels, troopers and all, they get the opportunity to offer their commentary, their insight, their complaints. (There’s one scene, on the Death Star, that brings instantly to my mind the squabbling of the watchmen in Much Ado About Nothing.)

The best lines of all, in my opinion, are reserved for R2-D2. Now, I love droids, perhaps unreasonably so, and R2 is tied with Dummy from Marvel Cineverse for my favorite. In the movie, C-3P0 and R2-D2 start off the action and true to the script, in the play C-3P0 enters seeking R2, whose first lines are:

“Beep beep,
Beep, beep, meep, squeak, beep, beep, beep, whee!”

To which C-3P0 responds “We’re doomed.”

Picturing this in my head, I started laughing as I heard the distinctive tones George Lucas used for R2’s ‘voice’, and the lovely, modulated, but fussy, responses of C-3P0. And then, I didn’t stop laughing. Why? Because R2-D2 gets real lines!

“This golden droid has been a friend, ’tis true,
And yet I wish to stil his prating tongue!”

My inner fangirl is still squealing. We get to hear R2-D2’s viewpoint on the action, and his counterpart and companion C-3P0, rather than a mere ‘translation’ offered through the voices of other characters.

I won’t mention much more because while the play stays true to the Movie, there are new and unexpectedly enhanced scenes, the iambic pentameter twisting of the dialogue is beautiful, and you really must read this book. Need further incentive? There are lovely ‘woodcuts’ of movie scenes interspersed throughout (Jabba the Hutt. In an Elizabethan doublet and cap!) Although really, would it have killed them to give us one clear close-up of Obi-Wan? We get the back of his head, we get a distant view of his death — come on, what about that iconic scene where he lowers his hood and first meets Luke?

A quick bit of advice. Read the entire book through once. Then, read it again — aloud. Doing so helps you catch the rhythm of the scenes and, if you have a good imagination? Close your eyes and picture our actors walking upon the stage of Shakespeare’s venerable Globe Theater.

Although if you’re reading it aloud, I’d suggest checking whether anyone is around you. An audience of fellow geeks and sci-fi fans is appropriate. A gathering of those unfamiliar with either the Bard or Star Wars might get you, ah, questioned as to your mental health. Particularly if you’re combining words like ‘forsooth’ and ‘Death Star’ in the same phrase.

Upon second thought, that might not happen — the questioning of your sanity, that is. Between the popularity of Shakespeare and Star Wars, I don’t think there are many people around who haven’t heard of one or the other.

Now, go forth and expand upon thy geekly knowledge.


Go and see Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing

If you have the opportunity, go and see Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing.

We caught one of the last showings tonight at the Bryn Mawr Film Institute, and it was well worth it. As usual, Joss stocked his cast with some of his regular actors — familiar faces from Buffy, Angel, Firefly, Cabin in the Woods, The Avengers . . . the list goes on.

The play this time has a modern setting, but except for a few antiquated phrases, the actors treatment of the lines as just everyday dialogue works. And those few phrases that stick out — well, they provoked amusement when juxtaposed with the visual of those scenes. It’s black and white, which actually I liked, as it seemed to lend a greater depth to the whole movie.

It was lovely to see Amy Acker and Alexis Denisoff (my favorite doomed pairing from Angel) as Beatrice and Benedict (you have to see their pratfall stuntwork). Clark Gregg was hilarious as Leonato (especially the scene where his daughter’s getting engaged). Reed Diamond (I loved him in Homicide) is a wonderful Don Pedro, slipping from a playful levity when planning Benedict’s ensnarement into marriage into a grave seriousness at certain scenes when the play descends into Hero’s disparagement and apparent death). And speaking of Hero, I truly enjoyed Jillian Morgese’s Hero, who exhibited more spine at the play’s end than in many other productions.

Altogether a lovely film, the whole audience really responded — and it was great to see half the audience was probably college age or slightly above, as Shakespeare needs to be rediscovered by that generation. A quick review, sorry, but I’ve got work early tomorrow. Go and see it when it comes to your area!

Is Hawkeye in Avengers 2?!?

From an article on the BBC app announcing that Robert Downey Jr. will return for Avengers 2 and 3:

Downey, 48, was one of the main stars of 2012’s Avengers Assemble, which united superhero characters Iron Man, The Hulk, Captain America, Thor and the Black Widow, as played by Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth and Scarlett Johansson respectively.

All four of the stars are expected to join Downey Jr in the forthcoming films.

A statement on the Marvel website said Avengers 2 will feature “favourites from the first Avengers film and new Marvel characters never before seen on the big screen.”

Okay. First, there were SIX superheroes in Avengers — and Hawkeye, played by Jeremy Renner, was the sixth. Suddenly, no mention of him — which is either sloppy journalism or a reason for me to become very annoyed and/or concerned.

Because, second, I’m a Hawkeye fan since forever, and if they add in some new characters and leave him out — well, I’m going to be extremely annoyed, maybe even to the point of NOT seeing the film. Or seeing it only once, on the regular screen, instead of the marathon IMAX, 3D, multiple viewings. And under my new rules of life — possibly not even buying merchandise from the film. Because seriously, life is too short to waste on things that annoy me.

Monstrous Thursdays

I love TCM’s Monstrous Thursdays. Tonight’s features are just what I needed after this crazy week, although one still has to be digitized!

I just finished watching the original Godzilla. The Americanized version, with Raymond Burr, not the Japanese classic of Gojira. I’ve seen this movie so very many times (I’m a bit of a Godzilla fanatic) — and in fact, I can (and did tonight) recite the dialogue by heart for most of the scenes. As usual, when watching the film, I found myself contrasting the American version with the Japanese original and speculating what the lost scenes, cut from the Japanese film, might have looked like and what they might have added to the story. Or would they have have slowed down the pacing, and ruined the film? Since the cuts have never been found, we’ll probably never know.

The second feature has just started — The Creature from the Black Lagoon. I positively love this film. Yes, the opening is a bit hokey. Yes, as the commentator pointed out, I, you, and the audiences of the 1950’s all know that the monster is nothing more than a man in a good rubber suit. And yet, it’s a truly scary movie — a combination of clever lighting, eerie music and an almost-Hitchcockian suspense in the timing of the creature’s attacks.

The water of the lagoon always seems to be murky, yet the innocent swimmers weave their way through the fronds of seaweed. They swim along, and nothing happens, They go back in the water and nothing happens. And then, suddenly, with no warning, the creature strikes.

Reminds me of scenes from Jaws, and makes me wonder if the creators of Jaws were inspired by Creature?

Later tonight, we get the third movie — It Came From Beneath the Sea. A giant octopus attacks San Francisco. A Ray Harryhausen monster — an octopus with only six arms, well, six that can move, thanks to the limitations the budget imposed on Mr. Harryhausen. And you get a bit of comedy in the movie as well, watching a woman scientist shoot down her interested suitor because he’s interfering with her ability to do Science!

Perfect movies to watch on a stormy night and relax from the week’s stresses! All three being shown on TCM are available digitally, too, and ultimately I’ll add them to my collection. However, the Japanese Gojira is not digitally released — and that one should, and must be, digitized!

Surfing the Star Wars Universe

The wonderful worlds of George Lucas’ Star Wars are a total jumble in my head.

Star Wars, and in particular the Jedi, are a bit of an obsession for me. George Lucas created a world that is ever-expanding at an ever-increasing pace. Fans were sucked into this universe with the first trilogy, accompanied by comics from Marvel and a couple of books, but once the trilogy completed itself, things — stopped. The story seemed over and then, almost tentatively, a book was released that picked up after Return of the Jedi. And then another book, and another, and next things fans knew we were being run over by a veritable onslaught of novels to read. Not just single books, but trilogies, and linked stories, books for adults and for children.

George made another three movies, chronicling the fall of the Old Republic and the rise of the Empire which Luke and Leia and Han defeated. I know that some people hate the new movies; others love them more than the originals. Me? I’m an equal opportunity fan — I adore the classic simplicity and design of the original movies, while cheering the ornateness and broad range of aliens in the prequels. Truth be told, I may be slightly more fond of the prequels — heresy, I know, to many, but hey! There’s a lot more Jedi swinging lightsabers during the romanticized Old Republic era — and as you can tell from the name of this blog, I love pointy things and romance.

Now, of course, with Disney taking the helm of Lucasfilm, fans are promised six or more new movies, another TV show, and yet another expansion of the Star Wars Universe. While I decry the slowdown in the creation of new action figures (hey, Hasbro, I want more Jedi!), I cannot wait to see where Star Wars goes from here.

Meanwhile, as I said, I am a devoted Star Wars fan. In my hunger for new stories, I read fan fiction — there are some lovely, epic-length sagas out there. I have even been known to write the occasional story of my own, in a genre that can only be described as ‘crack’ or ‘cracked’ (how else to classify a story in which Ewoks drive — and crash — a Senatorial pod?).

My desks and computers are guarded by Jedi action figures, while I not-so-secretly plan how to turn my somewhat unartistic talents to making figures of the Jedi who have yet to be modeled by Hasbro. And yes, I am one of those fans who lobbied for an action figure of Jocasta Nu. Gotta love the librarian.

Most importantly, I’ve read all the books and most of the graphic novels that expand on, and fill in the gaps of, the existing movies and the Clone Wars TV shows, so that the narrative created by Mr. Lucas never ends. It seems a new novel comes out every couple of months. Fortunately, I’m a fast reader.

I am, though, also a bit of a confused reader. I’ve read the comics and books as I got to them, not as they came out — and not in any particular chronological order. So I jumped from Luke wandering the galaxy with his son in search of the lost Sith tribe back to the pre-Republic era of Revan and then forward to the adventures of Padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi. I cruised through the rise of the Empire with Darth Maul and then surfed back and forth between the battles of the Clone Wars and the battles against the Yuuzhon Vong.

My head is a giant bin filled with names, places, events and relationships, and while I know who goes where and why, I feel like I’ve missed something in my scattershot approach to reading the novels. So, for relaxation, I’ve decided to start re-reading the novels in chronological order. Fortunately, there’s a list so I don’t have to go crazy trying to figure out what juvenile book fits where between the adult and graphic novels.

I’m in no particular hurry; I’m doing this because I want to savor, slowly, a world I fell in love with years ago. I’ve started all the way back at the beginning with, fittingly, the latest book, “Into the Void.” I plan to read for at least 30 minutes a night, just to relax. Thirty minutes, for me, can translate into several chapters. Wonder if I’ll reach the end of the Universe before the end of the year?

Santa TCM grants half a wish . . .

A month or so ago, I requested that The Glass Key and several other movies, long unavailable on DVD, be released digitally.  TCM has given me half my wish — and released them on DVD this week.

The Glass Key, Dashiell Hammett’s commentary on election corruption, which starred Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake, is part of a 3-movie compilation released by TCM.   Dark Crimes gives us The Glass Key, another Ladd-Lake film noir, The Blue Dahlia, and Phantom Lady, a wonderful old classic about a man accused of murdering his wife, whose alibi witness cannot be found as he does not know her name.  Filled with  twists and turns, it’s a movie I’ve not seen for close to a decade, and one which I cannot wait to watch again!  However, I can’t help wondering why TCM didn’t include the third Ladd-Lake film, This Gun for Hire, instead of Lady.

I still want TCM to partner with iTunes/Amazon and release these movies digitually, or go off on their own and provide an MP4-type service so those of us who love classic Hollywood films can have them on our laptops.   But I am extremely grateful to TCM for finally releasing them on DVD.   Now if some of my other (obscure) favorites would receive the same treatment!

Digitize The Glass Key!

The Glass Key is a wonderfully dark film that must be digitized – especially since it is not available as a US-format DVD or even a VHS tape.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m in the process of bringing all my entertainment into digital form, to take with me when traveling and eliminate some of the clutter in my home.  Unfortunately, these three films, which include one of my Top Ten movies, are not available digitally.

Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake starred in three classic gangster/noir films This Gun for Hire and The Glass Key in 1942, and The Blue Dahlia in 1946.  (The pair also starred in Saigan in 1948, a ‘doomed romance’ film, and guest-starred in three other films.)

This Gun for Hire set the tone for the pair – while they would be romantically interested in one another, they never got together until the end of the film (if then).  Something, someone – or both – always stood between them.  In Gun, Ladd played a hired killer named Raven, a cold and heartless man.  By the movie’s end, he’d come to feel something for Lake’s character, enough to spare people and extract a confession from his bosses (rather than just kill them in revenge) – because she asked him to do so.  And in Dahlia, Ladd’s character returns home from war to find his wife is cheating on him, was responsible for the death of their son, and is mixed up in crime.  He meets Lake while leaving his wife – unaware that she’s the estranged wife of one of his friends.  When his wife is murdered, he becomes a suspect, and things play out from there.

Both of these movies are well worth viewing, but for a variety of reasons, Key remains my favorite of the trio.

The Glass Key, like so many other wonderful books and films (like The Thin Man) was written by Dashiell Hammett.  The Ladd-Lake version was its second filming – I’ve not, as yet, managed to see the original version from the mid-1930’s.

The plot revolves around an election (timely, yes?).  Paul, a political boss, falls in love with Janet, the daughter of an ‘honest’ man running for governor.  By a strange coincidence, his sister is also in love – with Janet’s brother Taylor, who is deep in debt to the criminal running the city.

For love, Paul decides to ensure her father wins the election – and to also ‘clean up’ the city, removing his protection from the criminal.  However, Ed, his lieutenant, suspects that Janet is simply making sure her father wins the election by playing along with Paul – and he’s proven right when Janet becomes interested in him.

Naturally, something happens – Taylor is murdered, and Paul is the prime suspect.  The criminal tortures Ed to get him to reveal information.  A possible witness to Taylor’s murder is himself murdered, there’s a suicide, the criminal is killed by his own hired gun.  In the end, the murderer is revealed – the ‘honest’ candidate for office killed his own son.

No one in this movie seems to be completely free of corruption – or without a redeeming quality.  Paul and Ed run the elections – and try to do the right thing for love and loyalty.  Janet lies to get her father elected – and yet cannot continue to do so because she loves Ed.  Paul’s baby sister, the criminals – they all have good, and bad, qualities.  Even the ‘honest’ politician, who could have kept silent, confesses to save his daughter, who was arrested for her brother’s murder.

There are so many twists to the plot that it’s a movie that requires close attention – and when you play that much attention to a movie, you spot something new on each viewing.  And so it is with this film – each time I watch it, I catch a look I hadn’t noticed before on an actor’s face, a slight change in camera angle that adds nervousness to a scene – even a subtle vocal inflection that changes the meaning of a throwaway phrase uttered by a character.

Of course, watching this film is difficult, if not nearly impossible for many.  It was released only for a limited time on VHS tape.  There is a DVD available from Amazon – but it’s an import with foreign language subtitles locked onto the screen, and according to the reviews I’ve read, those subtitles block some of the action in critical scenes.  If it ever was released as a US-format DVD, it’s certainly no longer being listed for sale anywhere that I’ve found.  Gun is available on DVD, while Dahlia appears to be in the same fix as Key.  And none of them are available by digital download.

I do have a copy of Key’s VHS tape, but, as we all know, tapes wear out.  I was able to burn a DVD of Gun and Dahlia when they were shown on Turner Classic Movies, but Key has not turned up on TV as yet (or if it did, I missed it!).

Meanwhile, I watch my tape sparingly, and continue to hope for the digital release of The Glass Key, as well as This Gun for Hire and The Blue Dahlia.  Movies I love, watch often — and want to keep instantly available.

The Thin Man and its sequels

The entire series of Thin Man movies should be made available digitally.  Having just the first three movies on iTunes and Amazon doesn’t cut it for me.

The Thin Man and its five sequels are one of my cherished holiday traditions.  I pick a day between Christmas and New Year’s and curl up on the sofa in my pajamas, indulge in homemade cream of wild mushroom soup, sugar cookies and hazelnut caramel macchiatos, and spend 9+ hours watching Nick and Nora run rings around the crooks, the cops – and each other.

The original film, The Thin Man, was loosely based on a book by Dashiell Hammett.  Its heroes are Nick and Nora Charles, a ‘retired’ private investigator and his heiress wife, played by the wonderful William Powell and Myrna Loy, along with their Fox Terrier Asta.  Nick spends his time telling people that he can’t investigate a murder because he’s too busy seeing that Nora doesn’t lose any of the money he married her for.  Nora spends her time maneuvering Nick into investigating the crime.   The film is now listed on the National Film Registry and recognized as a classic by the American Film Institute.  Pretty impressive for something filmed in less than two weeks and meant to be just another “B” movie production utilizing two of the studio’s popular actors.

(For the five people out there who may not already know this, Nick Charles is not the Thin Man of the title.  The Thin Man is actually a character introduced early in the film who turns out to be the victim of a murder, although we don’t discover that plot twist until quite late in the movie.  The studio kept the title in the sequels to make it easier to attract viewers.)

Powell and Loy are Nick and Nora Charles.   They snark, snipe, crack jokes, drink, play tricks on one another and the police and, somehow, in the middle of all that fun, they manage to solve a crime or two.  Yes, the movies are a bit formulaic.  The supporting cast tends towards stereotypical characters (misunderstood gangsters, stuffy socialites, clueless detectives).  Occasionally an actor doesn’t just chew the scenery, he or she devours it and spits it back out.   The characters (especially Nick and Nora) spend an awfully lot of their time drinking.  And every movie ends with the traditional murder mystery trope of the ‘gathering of the suspects’ – where something someone says or does provides Nick with the last clue needed to solve the crime.

But it’s the lines, the interspersed character scenes that provide a setting for Powell and Loy’s comedic timing and wonderful chemistry to shine and make these films pure fun.  The first movie takes off at the Charles’ New York holiday party, filled with gangsters and reporters, socialites and sportsmen.  There’s a cute bit where a crying gangster tells Nick he wants to call his ‘Ma’ – then uses the Charles’ hotel line to call San Francisco because he doesn’t have a nickel.  A trunk call to San Fran back in the ‘30’s was – expensive.  Contrast that light-hearted soiree with the nervous but still funny dinner party at the end, where Nick manages to confuse the police and all the suspects gathered at the table.  “Waiter, will you serve the nuts?  . . . I mean, will you serve the guests the nuts,” says Nora, after one of Nick’s more shocking pronouncements.

The tone stays constant throughout the sequels.  In After the Thin Man, the pair return to California to find that opportunistic partygoers have invaded their home on the pretext of giving them a welcome home party — only no one actually knows Nick and Nora.  Meanwhile, poor Asta has been two-timed by Mrs. Asta.  The evidence?  A black Scottie puppie in a litter of tricolor Fox Terriers – and the neighbor’s Scottie crawling under the fence for a clandestine visit.  During this movie, Asta works as hard to protect his home from that Scottie as Nick does to dodge Nora’s exceedingly stuffy relatives and friends, including Jimmy Stewart!

By Another Thin Man, they’ve added toddler Nicky Jr. to the mix.  The family pays a visit to the man who’s kept Nora’s fortune safe, her father’s old business partner.  This installment features so many wacky characters — the gangster who says he dreams of people dying and they do, the housekeeper who responds to all problems with “Oh that’s all right think nothing of it!”  And while Nick’s gangster pals throw a crazy birthday party for Nicky Jr., Nora’s busy doing some detective work of her own – getting the scoop on Nick’s former girlfriends!

I haven’t, as yet, purchased these three movies in a digital format, because movies 4 through 6 are only available on DVDs.  When I want to watch Nick and Nora, I want to watch all of Nick and Nora, without having to switch formats midway through the marathon.

Shadow of the Thin Man revolves around a race track murder.  This movie has one of my favorite scenes from the whole series — Nicky Jr. putting his father on the milk wagon, loudly demanding that his father “Drink Milk!”  “Drunk dear?”  Nora asks as he chugs the glass of ‘awfully white’ stuff.  “I keep seeing purple cows,” he responds.  The dairy industry missed an advertising opportunity there.  Nick and Nicky Jr. ride a carousel while Nora passes Nick notes on the case.  Nick, now dizzy after numerous trips in a small circle, staggers off the carousel and hugs a nearby lamppost.  Asta hugs the fire hydrant.

In The Thin Man Goes Home, we finally get to meet Nick’s parents, a respected doctor and his good-hearted wife (in the book, Nick’s a self-made son of a Greek immigrant).  Poor Nick has some relationship issues to work through with his father, not to mention a crime to investigate that could impact his father’s livelihood.  I crack up every time Nick tosses Nora to the wolves at a fund-raising dance, while he runs off to investigate.  And I love Nora’s soliloquoy before the gathered suspects of the ‘payoff’ at those gatherings, where someone usually tries to shoot up the room while she ducks and hides.  Plus there’s the priceless look on two of Nick’s shady friends when Nick’s mom offers to make them cocoa!

Finally, the last film, Song of the Thin Man, set in the mid-40’s era of jazz bands.  Nick and Nora pick up a musician sidekick to help them solve the crime — his nervous reactions to everything that happens contrasts beautifully with Nora’s confidence in handling criminal events, after all the experiences she’s had with Nick as a husband.  There are over-the-top scenes of a wake for a murdered bandleader and gatherings where the Charles’ attempt to pose as musicians.  The series ends in style, as Nick and Nora host a gathering on a high-class gambling ship with all the suspects and Nora provides the crucial clue to solve the crime – but not until after she mistakenly thinks that Nick’s considering buying her a fabulous diamond necklace!

TCM could make a fortune selling these films and so many others to us in an MP4 format that could then be imported into our players of choice.  Price them reasonably, throw in the trailers, and they might just cut back on some of that ‘illegal’ downloading they’re so worried about!  Meanwhile, I’ll keep hoping to see a complete series available sometime soon, while safeguarding my discs for this year’s holiday viewing.