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'The Great Christmas Light Fight' is TVWW? Yes. It's 2020 and We Need Fun
December 9, 2020  | By David Hinckley  | 2 comments
 


When the boss, David Bianculli, launched a website called TV Worth Watching, he did not think it would feature programs like The Great Christmas Light Fight, which returns to ABC Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET.

But then, Mr. Bianculli also wasn't thinking that, like much of America, he would spend 2020 confined to his home by the coronavirus.

Life sometimes throws us curveballs, is all I'm saying, which is why I would suggest this might be a year to consider The Great Christmas Light Fight.

For those who like television that's artistically rich and addresses the human condition, this won't twinkle to the top of the list.

But as something that's just good goofy fun and provides a shot of uplifting cheer in a year that's offered too little of that, it's not a bad way to spend a chilly evening.

The Great Christmas Light Fight, almost as much of a TV institution by now as A Charlie Brown Christmas, sends hosts Taniya Nayak and Carter Oosterhouse all across the country to visit homeowners who overdecorate their houses and property – that is, way overdecorate – with not a whisper of an apology.

We're talking here about the kind of displays that take down power grids and give a luster of midday for blocks around.

The family judged the winner of this competition gets a $50,000 prize, which will probably cover about one week of the electric bill.

The hosts have the drill down to a science. A crowd of neighbors and friends assembles outside the target house, and Taniya or Carter pulls up to a cheering ovation. The creators explain their goal, and the display is unveiled, after which we get a tour covering some of the more exotic elements.

Like most people, the contestants have some interesting and heartwarming backstories. Mr. Trevisano, from St. Louis, recounts being raised among seven children by his mother after his father was killed in Vietnam. Christmas displays were one of the things that made his childhood happier, and now he and his own family are passing it on.

Their theme is "Teddy Bear Christmas," with more than 100 bears in his house's windows. He and his son spend some 200 hours, he estimates, putting it all together every year.

He mentions that on one of the setup days, his phone recorded him taking more than 24,000 steps.

A team of brothers in Wilmington, Mass., creates a whole street of housefronts, like a Hollywood set, with each lit in a different holiday color scheme. It's a destination for visitors.

The Wilmington house, like almost all the other entrants, doesn't look like it has strings of lights. It looks like it has blankets of lights, an effect achieved by spacing the lights an inch and a half apart. Fun fact.

Some of the contestants enhance the unveiling of the display with fireworks. Some of the displays have animatronics and other moving parts. The Reynolds family, in Utah, puts lights on the winter vegetables in their garden. You've never seen a turnip this festive.

The Great Christmas Light Fight is what the TV biz called "unscripted programming," which puts it into the reality genre. But unlike so many reality shows, this one doesn't sell humiliation or heartbreak. It doesn't end with anyone getting fired or rejected. In the colorful world of overdecoration, where those who whisper the word "excess" reveal themselves as Grinches, everyone here is a winner.

As a footnote, incidentally, The Great Christmas Light Fight, for obvious reasons, is filmed a year ahead. So what we see now is the 2019 season, which explains why people are crowded together, and there isn't a mask in sight. A muffler or two, maybe, but no masks.

This could present a challenge for the 2021 season, but we can be sure ABC and the display families are doing whatever is necessary to make sure 2020 can provide a bright Christmas.

It's not Masterpiece Theater. But it's upbeat and quite heartwarming, in a year when baby, it's been cold outside.

 
 
 
 
 
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2 Comments
 
 
Nancy Port
Was this filmed in 2020? No masks and lots of hugs???
Dec 18, 2020   |  Reply
 
Linda Donovan
Nancy and Marcia -- The show was shot during the 2019 Christmas season (not enough time to shoot it and get it on the air the same year). Next year's show, if there is a "next year's show," will have quite the challenge to overcome.
Dec 28, 2020
 
 
 
Marcia Huffman
I SEE NO MASK OR MUFFLERS SO BY CHRISTMAS 10 PEOPLE OR MORE WILL BE SICK everyone is hugging GOOD LUCK
Dec 18, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
 
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