America’s favorite Christmas tradition is now on DVD! Families have gathered around the TV to enjoy Stephen Colbert’s Christmas specials every year since 2008. Now you can experience the joy over and over! Join Stephen and his friends – Toby Keith, Elvis Costello, John Legend, Feist, Willie Nelson, and Jon Stewart – for a yuletide evening of song, dance and nog-induced dementia.
Self-proclaimed as "the greatest newsman-hosted holiday special since ‘A Walter Cronkite Tet Offensive,’" this fine, foolish and sentimental musical special is better than an Oreo with a cookie in the middle. ‘Tis not the season to be bloviating. It’s a kinder, gentler Stephen Colbert, of Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report, clad in homey blue jeans, red turtleneck and a (basic) cable-knit cardigan who welcomes viewers to his mountain cabin. Will a marauding bear at his doorstep prevent him from getting to his New York studio to film his Christmas special? It certainly doesn’t prevent inexplicable celebrity drop-ins by country music superstar Toby Keith, country music legend Willie Nelson, indie folk darling Feist and even "ageless icon of generosity and joy Santa Claus (George Wendt)." It’s all merrily "cheesy, crass and a commercial travesty" in the time-honored tradition of network holiday specials, and Colbert delivers with a smile, a song, and the Jonas brothers falling through ice to their dooms (mercifully offscreen). The closest A Colbert Christmas gets to a political statement is Keith’s rowdy anthem that takes aim at the "atheists and judges" who have declared "war on Christmas." The rest is mostly inspired holiday jeer. Highlights include the opening meta showstopper, "Another Christmas Song," and Jon Stewart’s charmingly hesitant ode to Hanukkah ("a sensible alternative to Christmas"). Less appropriate for young ones are Fourth Wise Man Willie Nelson’s ode to the "wonder weed" he gifts to Baby Jesus, and John Lennon’s randy celebration of, um, nutmeg. With such DVD extra features as three mock-alternate endings (the best echoes the classic Twilight Zone episode, "Time Enough at Last"), a bonus Christmas song (a country-style weeper, "Cold Cold Christmas"), an onscreen live-action advent calendar (a daily Colbert greeting), and even a books-roasting-on-an-open-fire Yule log, A Colbert Christmas is the gift that will keep on giving for seasons to come. --Donald Liebenson