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Yule Like This, Too: David Letterman's Almost Annual Holiday Show
December 23, 2011  | By David Bianculli

I should have put this in tonight's Best Bets, but it deserves its own special place anyway. Tonight (Friday, Dec. 23) on CBS's Late Show with David Letterman, it's the 2011 edition of Letterman's always wonderful, tradition-filled Christmas show.

Darlene Love, once again, will sing "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)," Jay Thomas will tell his Lone Ranger story and, with Letterman, try and knock a giant meatball off the top of a Christmas tree.

Every year I watch Letterman and company recreate these traditions, it makes me smile. Widely...

This odd, oddly endearing TV tradition began in 1986, started being an annual event in 1987 (a nod to my college journalism professors, who drilled into me the fact that you can't have a 1st Annual anything), and broke its streak in 2007, the year of the most recent writers' strike.

Here's what I wrote on TV WORTH WATCHING then, about this wonderful tradition and the fact that it was about to become a temporary victim of the strike. It ran on Dec. 13, 2007, in BIANCULLI'S BLOG.

After the Christmas No-Show of 2007, Letterman and company returned, in fine form, in 2008. Here's my BIANCULLI'S BLOG that ran on that occasion, exactly three years ago today. Read it HERE.

And now, tonight at 11:35 p.m. ET, it all happens again, with David Hyde Pierce as an additional guest. But I'm there for the regulars.

For this particular David Letterman and Paul Shaffer TV tradition, all you need is Love.

And Jay Thomas...

Here's a fun CBS preview of the rehearsal and background of this special Christmas Late Show program --




Eileen said:

I'll be there. Love Darlene Love, and Jay Thomas and the Lone Ranger story just get more endearing as the years go by.

I'm glad you posted your previous commentary, and that you reminded us to tune in tonight. I consider this a personal annual tradition.

I really wish Letterman would go back to doing his yearly anniversary special as they were terrific, and a wonderful showcase for not only singers but all kinds of oddball skits. Was it something to do with his switch from NBC to CBS that stopped those? I really can't remember now what transpired, but it was a solid gold hour of tv viewing.

So until Late Show decides to have another Anniversary Special, I'll be more than happy to share Christmas with them.

To David and all our illustrious critics, and all of the commenters on TVWW, a very Merry Christmas and a happy & health New Year.

[Thanks so much, Eileen. Right back at ya. And your "Love Darlene Love!" opening statement -- it should have been my headline. - DB]

Comment posted on December 23, 2011 1:10 PM

Neil said:

That's a wonderful little video. And this is a great tradition that Letterman and crew have fallen into over the years. I suspect that Dave invests more in this one episode of his program than in the others they produce during the year, and it's one of the only times during the year that he lets his guard down while the tape is running.

I wasn't aware until listening to Shaffer on this video that he has a speech impediment. I always assumed that when he pronounced "s" as "sh" (ex: Paul pronounces "see and "she" similarly) it was an affectation, but now I realize that's his natural speech.

Thanks, DB, for clueing us into this tradition in one of your first blog entries back in 2007. Until reading it, I hadn't been aware this was an annual event.

[My pleasure, truly. Watching it, as well as spreading word about it. - DB]

Comment posted on December 23, 2011 2:53 PM

sanford sklansky said:

Here is the first time Darlene sang. What a difference from now.
[At this point, Sanford forwarded a video that was so cool, I decided to share it with all of you as its own, special, Christmas blog.

Thanks, Sanford! -- DB]

Comment posted on December 23, 2011 11:24 PM
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