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Netflix Wishes You 'A Very Murray Christmas'
December 3, 2015  | By David Bianculli
 

You might expect a Christmas special by Bill Murray to be an entertaining mixture of songs, comedy and special guests – and his new Netflix special is precisely that. But his A Very Murray Christmas is unexpected in at least one respect: It’s irony-free…

Beginning at 3 a.m. ET Friday, A Very Murray Christmas is streamed on Netflix. The streaming service already has presented drama series, and comedies, and even documentaries – and now it’s time for another genre, the holiday special.

A Very Murray Christmas is directed and co-written by Sofia Coppola, who teamed with Murray on Lost in Translation, and presents another story here in which Murray plays someone isolated in an unfamiliar environment. This one starts with Bill Murray and his old friend Paul Schaffer, in his first major TV showcase since Late Show with David Letterman folded, killing time in Murray’s Carlyle Hotel room. A bad snowstorm outside has brought New York to a standstill – and Murray is supposed to host a live TV special downstairs in the Café Carlyle, but the guests can’t get in, and the TV signal may not be able to get out.

It’s understandable, then, that the song Murray sings, with Shaffer accompanying him on the spacious hotel room’s piano, is a bit morose. But that’s only the start of a cleverly structured special that gets more festive as it goes on. By the end, there are production numbers, a neatly appointed soundstage, and a number of guest stars, including Chris Rock, George Clooney and Miley Cyrus.

How A Very Murray Christmas gets from sad Point A to merry Point B is something viewers should discover, and enjoy for themselves. The same goes for the many other guest stars who pop up or pop in.

But what requires a warning, perhaps, is that this is no parody special. It isn’t Bill Murray as his smarmy Saturday Night Live lounge singer. It’s more sincere than that, and even when he and his guests are goofing around, they’re doing so in the spirit of having fun, not making fun.

I reviewed A Very Murray Christmas on today’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross on NPR, and it gives a very good sense of the special, with samples from several different numbers. To sample it, visit the Fresh Air website… or just tune to Netflix. Either way, you’re in for a somewhat surprising holiday treat…

 
 
 
 
 
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