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Where does this show rank in your book?
5 stars: "This is the most wonderful thing that's ever happened to me in my entire life!" 22%  22%  [ 4 ]
4 stars: "I haven't been this excited about anything since those self-adjusting squeegees came out." 28%  28%  [ 5 ]
3 stars: "Hey, it's not Shakespeare, but who is these days?" 39%  39%  [ 7 ]
2 stars: "Sentimental hogwash." 11%  11%  [ 2 ]
1 star: "It sounded like...several cats being scorched by a flame-thrower." 0%  0%  [ 0 ]
Total votes : 18
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 Post Post subject: 385: It's a Pokenberry Christmas!
Posted: Sat Dec 23, 2006 6:41 pm 
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It's a Pokenberry Christmas!

It's a cold day... especially in Pokenberry Falls. After meeting with the stingy, self-righteous Barry Lionel, George Barclay trudges home disheartened and worn out. Again and again, he keeps running into the same brick wall: how to pay for the church expenses with his meager salary.

But it's not just money. Attendance is low, his efforts to revive the church have apparently been futile, and the one person who could easily finance the programs George wants to start is not only unwilling to help, but is watching with near delight as the church crumbles. To top it off, treasurer Ellis Birch loses $800 and all but signs the death warrant for the First Chuch of Pokenberry Falls.

Feeling like an utter failure, George finds himself standing on a bridge as he begins to fall for the lie that he hasn't done any good as a pastor, and certainly not since coming to Pokenberry Falls.

Enter Whit and Eugene Meltsner, who have come to Pokenberry Falls with the express purpose of building George up. Eugene, seeing George leaning against the railing, conjures up in his mind an image of George jumping to his doom, and immediately starts racing towards him in an effort to keep his friend's feet firmly planted on the bridge.

When Eugene slips on the ice and tumbles overboard, George jumps in the water to save him. What follows is a wild ride (albeit in a dream) which convinces George that, no matter how much he feels like a failure, he followed God's will in becoming a pastor and moving to Pokenberry Falls, and here he will stay. This resolution is made sweeter when the townsfolk - poor as they are - bring their money to the Barclays to cover the missing $800.

And now, despite the obstinancy of Mr. Lionel, Pokenberry Falls' renewed and restored pastor will again take up the reigns that God has handed him.

Review

When I first listened to It's a Pokenberry Christmas, I didn't like it.

Sure, it was great to touch bases with the much-missed Barclay family, but the constant allusions to a certain movie struck me as cheesy and, in my opinion, rendered the message less inspiring than it would've otherwise been.

I've softened somewhat since then, and while this episode isn't a classic to me, I can certainly see why others would judge it so.

As understandable as George Barclay's internal and external struggles are, they bring to mind a similiar struggle when he was first going into the ministry. Anyone remember George Under Pressure, when he came close to giving up his calling to be a pastor because of the strain it was taking on himself and his family? Not only that, but since the Barclays moved to Pokenberry Falls knowing full well what they were up against, it seems strange that George would confess to Barry Lionel that "why I ever came to this town, I still don't know," and go so far as to wish he'd never become a pastor.

Still, even though this show revolved around George's relearning to look at life through the lens of what God, not him, is capable of, it was a fairly realistic portrayal of the struggles any pastor can be faced with. The acting was top-notch, as usual, and the brother-sister banter between Jimmy and Donna was hilarious. The It's a Wonderful Life references were funny too (it's obvious the writers got a kick out of making this an anything-but-subtle parody of the movie), but in my opinion they detract from the story and result in some cringe-worthy lines.

Overall, however, this two-parter accomplishes everything it set out to do. We, the audience, are treated to an exclusive look at the Barclays' life in Pokenberry Falls, and watch as they overcome the struggles of pastoring a small town where the fruits of their ministry are hard to see.

Odds & Ends

* Poor Connie! While Whit and Eugene are traipsing off to Pokenberry Falls, she is apparently left to manage the shop during the last two days before Christmas - arguably the busiest time of the year!

* In the dream sequence, Ellis is a bum who is looked down on for "stealing all that money from the church," which is baffling since the money had only just been misplaced in the "real" world.

* Since Pokenberry Falls, R.F.D., Ellis has lost his pilot's license.

* George mentions to Eugene the "homeless they fed at the Christmas banquet," but earlier in the show he proposes the idea of said banquet to Barry Lionel, and from the latter's reaction I'm guessing there hadn't been one before.

* Since the bridge Eugene fell off of had railings, it must've been a remarkable feat for him to catapult over the edge after slipping on the ice! ;)

* For a partial list of the It's a Wonderful Life! references, both in this episode and others, click here.

Interview with Dave Griffin

Almost two years passed between the Barclays move to Pokenberry Falls, and It’s a Pokenberry Christmas. Could you explain how you were initially contacted for this brief reprisal as Jimmy, and what your initial reaction was?

I hadn't realized that it was that long between the episodes. But thinking about it, through the course of my tenure there were many periods of time where I would work consistently for a few months and then not hear anything for awhile; a hiatus of sorts. As far as how I was contacted, it was most likely in the form of me stumbling out of bed to answer the phone, usually while smashing most of my toes on various objects that I couldn't see. (this is due to the fact I am incapable of true consciousness within the first six hours of waking) My reaction was the same as always "Great! I get to see everybody again and have some fun while getting paid for something that I would gladly pay to do." I love-- and I mean LOVE to work with the AIO team. Best team ever!

What was it like to be reunited with the rest of the "family"?

I always loved seeing Chuck. He's one of my ten favorite people in the Western Hemisphere. Carol was always a warm sweet woman and a great actress, but in Clan Barclay mothers tended to come and go, so it was a bit difficult to get too attached to any particular one. I remember it was odd seeing Azure again. We were both twenty or so and it was interesting to see how much we had changed since we last worked. Azure was always a lot of fun and we had a great chemistry. I always felt that we were an extended family of sorts and getting to do that episode was like going home again. But sad as well, we knew that this was going to be the last time we'd be together.

What did you think of It's a Pokenberry Christmas! as a whole, especially its anything-but-subtle spoof of It's a Wonderful Life?

To be perfectly honest I couldn't stand it! One of the things that I loved about getting to be a Barclay was the chemistry of working together in the studio. The writers always gave us wonderful stuff to work with, but I was disappointed that the majority of that story centered around George's character. I seem to recall that I didn't do very much that day, which was always frustrating. It was also, I think, the first time that we had seen the name Whit on a script since Hal had passed and that made it sad, too. I also didn't like the Wonderful Life spoof because I thought it was too obvious. I always liked the references in the names of the characters and thought it was better as a wink-wink nod to the movie. But, I understand that there needed to be some kind of closure for the audience and that was the natural choice. I would have preferred one last road trip. . . (nostalgic sigh)

Finally, are there any memories related to the episode - from its actual recording to any experiences/conversations before and after - that you would like to share?

I remember at the time they were talking about possibly spinning the Barclay's off for their own series and feeling pretty excited about that. But, I knew at the time that it was more wishful thinking than a reality. Nothing like raising one's expectations as high as possible before shattering them:) Although I'm still sitting by the phone waiting for the call! My over all memory of the experience is a rather sad one. I actually don't like to think about it that much. Just knowing that this was the end of a great run really hurt a lot. I think I cried on the way home. It still puts a lump in my throat. To this day, it's the only episode I refuse to listen to. There's some part of me that pretends if I don't listen to it, then it didn't really happen. It's just a really long hiatus, right? Is that the phone? I'll get it!!

And The Fans Say...

Serme Elemmire wrote:
"Since there aren't many episodes with the Barcleys in their new town- I really enjoyed any 'Pokenberry' episodes I hear!

I thought it was interesting how they kept with the theme of Wonderful Life throughout the Barclay seasons. So, it seemed fitting that they had an episode like this. I don't particularly like "It's A Wonderful Life"- just because I've seen it SO many times...

Even through that- since I love Odyssey so much, I thought it was great how they had Eugene come to town, and just the way they played the story out was great. If you didn't know the Barclays were a spoof of Wonderful Life beforehand- it's an interesting episode, because you don't really realize what you're hearing until part of the way through!

Since I haven't heard it in a long time- I don't think there was anything negative about the episode that stood out to me.

I loved hearing about how the Barclays were doing- it was like "Living in the Grey"- it's always nice to hear the appearance of older characters! (speaking of which.... :- )

Maybe someday AIO will introduce another family that is a 'spoof' of something- but until then, we have the Barclays- and "It's A Pokenberry Christmas"

Sarai Binghamton wrote:
I love this episode; this is quite the Barclay venture. It's extremely hilarious - the spoofs were priceless, the acting superb, and even if one hadn't even watched It's a Wonderful Life, one would find everything about it astoundingly funny. It's classic Barclay material, and would be a great addition to anyone's library of episodes. I especially can relate to the episode because my father is a pastor. There are so many times when things overwhelm. There's so much about it that I can relate to, such as uncertainty and having a small church where lots of people can be... well, disagreeable. The message of the episode strikes me as quite timely, tying together the Christmas setting with timeless Barclay appearances (Jimmy + Electric Guitar = Win) and a hope that hopefully no one forgets at this time of year.


Points to Ponder

Why would Eugene assume the worst: that George Barclay was considering throwing himself into the water? And though George denied it later, was there any truth to Eugene's assumption?

Have you ever been in a position like George's, where God has called you to do something that would be impossible to carry out without Him?

How do you think this show compares to other Barclay/Christmas episodes?

Do you think the It's a Wonderful Life spoofs add or detract from the story?

If you liked this episode, was it because of the brief reappearance of the Barclay family, or because of superior writing, directing, and everything else that makes an episode great?


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Posted: Sat Dec 23, 2006 11:54 pm 
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Wow, you sure went all out on this review, Lizzie! \:D/ How wonderful! I loved reading David Griffin's perspective on the ep - that was a good idea! :D

This has never been a favourite for me - it's okay, but not wonderful. I've also never seen It's a Wonderful Life so when I first heard it I had no idea that they were spoofing something. :anxious:

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Posted: Sun Dec 24, 2006 9:07 am 
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I really enjoyed the first 'fan review' it was very insightful..... :-

;)

Lizzy that was absolutely wonderful!! You really went all out!! :)


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Posted: Sun Dec 24, 2006 2:31 pm 
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Mrs. Claus wrote:
This has never been a favourite for me - it's okay, but not wonderful. I've also never seen It's a Wonderful Life so when I first heard it I had no idea that they were spoofing something. :anxious:


It was the same for me...I'd never seen IAWL before, so I didn't get the spoof, but when I watched IAWL for the first time, I kept saying, "This is just like Odyssey!" :anxious:

I used to dislike Pokenberry Christmas because it scared me when George found out that the church was gone...all that scary music terrified me. I was only seven anyways. But now, I like the episode, though it's not one of my favorites.

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Posted: Sun Dec 24, 2006 3:45 pm 
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Serme Elemmire wrote:
I really enjoyed the first 'fan review' it was very insightful..... :-

;)

I have to agree - I thought that it was positively mahvelous, dahling! \:D/ I'm sure that the nice and smart and fabulous person that you're commenting on will appreciate your kindness. ;) The fan reviews were definitely a nice touch!

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Posted: Sun Dec 24, 2006 9:23 pm 
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Excellent review, Liz! I voted 3 stars, tending to agree with your assessment.

What an insightful though somber interview with Dave Griffin. And, wow, the only episode he refuses to listen to...

Quote:
Why would Eugene assume the worst: that George Barclay was considering throwing himself into the water? And though George denied it later, was there any truth to Eugene's assumption?

Perhaps since he simply heard about George's condition and hadn't had the chance to talk with George himself, Eugene failed to make an accurate assessment. Also, Eugene hadn't been around George for awhile, so he may have forgotten something about George's character (unlikely). Who knows how Eugene makes his assumptions? For Part II of the question, yes, there was truth to Eugene's assumption. George hadn't slipped so low he was contemplating suicide, but he was seriously contemplating giving up his work.

Quote:
Have you ever been in a position like George's, where God has called you to do something that would be impossible to carry out without Him?

My first semester of college at a public university was rough, mostly due to two ungodly roommates. My dependence on God was clearly shown, and I spent more time in the Word and in prayer than ever before. He undoubtedly led me through and provided me a solid support network of believers. At spiritually low points, remembering the Lord's faithfulness and caring toward me that semester is a great encouragement. (I now commute to the same college and love it there.)

Quote:
Do you think the It's a Wonderful Life spoofs add or detract from the story?

Heh, I am probably the last person on this board who has yet to see It's a Wonderful Life. I never bothered to research this episode, so I did not know about the references until now. I would tend to say too many references detract, but I will reserve my judgment until after I've seen the film, if I ever do.


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Posted: Tue Dec 26, 2006 8:23 am 
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I haven't heard this show in a while, but I guess I still remember it fondly, just because I was so excited to hear the Barclay's again.

I appreciated the IAWL spoofs, but that was probably in part because, like H Tide, I heard this before I saw IAWL. When I did see the movie and went back to listen to the episodes again, I "got it".

I thought this was a fantastic review, LizzieG. Way to get the interview with Dave! I thought that was a fascinating read. Thanks for doing this for us. :)

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Posted: Wed Dec 27, 2006 9:13 am 
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Wow, LizzieG! What a fabulous job! =D> I feel like I play pool with a celebrity!

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Posted: Wed Dec 27, 2006 9:45 am 
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I voted 5 stars. :D My family loves this episode. :lol: We like It's a Wonderful Life, and the spoofs are hilarious.

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 Post Post subject: Re: 385: It's a Pokenberry Christmas!
Posted: Wed Sep 16, 2009 9:22 pm 
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Very old thread. \:D/ 5 stars from me.

This is probably the best episode ever. It is a perfect remake of It's A Wonderful Life, which is the third best movie ever, according to the greatest movie contest. ;) It had so many good lines, "Oh, Daddy" (Jimmy), being one of them. :yes: Eugene falling into the river was perfect, and it was all-around perhaps my favorite episode! (Perhaps.) :D

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Last edited by American Eagle on Wed Sep 16, 2009 9:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post Post subject: Re: 385: It's a Pokenberry Christmas!
Posted: Fri Apr 01, 2011 11:27 am 
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LizzieG may I use two of your points to ponder on the aiowiki? It's a Pokenberry Christmas, Part 1 and Part 2 are missing discussion questions and they would work perfectly.

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