Masterpiece Youtube: Roundhouse Holiday Special

That’s So Jacob Presents: Masterpiece YouTube

Episode 8: Roundhouse Holiday Special, 1993.

Previously, on Masterpiece YouTube, I started a countdown of my favorite Christmas crap on the YouTube. The number one spot on the countdown, I felt, deserved its own entry, so here, for your entertainment, is the Roundhouse Holiday Special that premiered on Nickelodeon in 1993.

For the uninformed, Roundhouse was a magical show I grew up watching on the wonder that was SNICK, or Saturday Night Nickelodeon, aimed at keeping 90s kids like me in front of the TV, out of my parents’ hair (or behaving for the baby-sitter, as the case sometimes was), and to by their tie-in products. Wait…that hadn’t happened yet. That’s right, back in the Golden Age of Nickelodeon (which I could go on and on and ON about how awesome it was despite the fact that I was too young for some of the shows and don’t remember every single one), quality children’s television was not about cleaning out kids’ piggy banks with cheap merchandise or promoting a cult of child celebrities. It was about shows like this one, which were about entertainment and didn’t really ask much of their audience except some laughs. Props and costumes were pretty simple, and, oh yeah, they had an awesome band and a flexible stage space that they name-checked in their theme song, “we can go anywhere from here,” since the interior of the set resembled an actual roundhouse, or a place where train cars of old could go in any direction, symbolizing that imagination can take you anywhere you want to go. Also, it had this cool, edgy 1990s punk-grunge vibe that made middle-class suburban kids like me feel a little bit cooler for watching it.

Even though it only ran for a few short seasons and I don’t remember that much of the content from the original episodes, Roundhouse had it all. It was a sketch comedy show peppered with songs and dance numbers that revolved around a meaningful theme, like being the new kid in school, or dealing with your family. It had a pretty solid cast of talented teens/twenty-somethings. Some of them were very talented actors, others sang awesome original songs, and almost all of them had some crazy hip-hop moves; most were your classic triple-threat. Realization: maybe this is why I went into performance. But, anyway, the cool/sad thing about the show was how most of the actors faded off into nothingness or went behind the camera – cool because they are probably living healthy, fulfilling lives, but sad, because we never got to see most of them again. A few standouts include Dominic Lucero, who tragically passed away from lymphoma before the show finished taping, and Crystal Lewis, who tragically exited the cast after the first season in order to pursue a career in gospel music, which was highly successful, according to Wikipedia. There were no DVDs of the show ever released, so it’s unsure whether future generations will ever get to enjoy it, and coming across any record of its existence on the Internet is pretty rare.

I came across not only a clip, but this full episode on YouTube, and the memories came flooding back to me; the holiday sketches that appealed to people from many different backgrounds, the pop culture references, and of course, one of the most amazing songs ever written. There are a few misses in these twenty-five minutes of wonder, like the toilet-seat sketch, which I didn’t find particularly funny, but it’s mostly hit after hit…just watch, it’ll be the most productive half-hour of your day. Or at least the cleverest.

Some highlights:

  • The constant meta-references to the nature of the television show and of sketch performance in general, as well as poking fun of the holiday madness that has only ballooned in recent years.
  • Julene Renee as a perky infomercial for Skidmark Cards, and for Holi-dazed and Confused, “…HARPS OF GOLD!”
  • The fabulous one-liners of perpetual TV mom Shawn Daywalt (examples: “Oh, right, and he’s at home watching the Stooges,” “I believe they prefer to be called Alfresco-Americans,” “I’m not a mom but I play one on TV.”
  • Doctor Dreidel!
  • It’s a tree topper and a dessert topper!

And the ever-popular “World, Be Still,” AKA the best non-denominational Christmas song of all time. It’s awesome and amazingness and wonderfulness all in one.

“World, be still, find peace tonight/love reveal your perfect light/One hand is reaching out in hunger/one voice gives a tiny sigh/it joins with others in the thunder/of the silent battle cry/one candle lighted from another/one voice cries out for peace/one hand extended to a brother/world sings in sweet release/World, be still, find peace tonight/love reveal your perfect light/Come, children of every nation/find the peace in your own way/light candles in celebration/to the light of the dawning day/mean streets of crime for assistance/in a language born of pain/hear the bells of freedom in the distance/singing out this proud refrain/World, be still, find peace tonight/love reveal your perfect light/One hand is reaching out in hunger/one voice gives a tiny sigh/it joins with others in the thunder/of the silent battle cry/one candle lighted from another/one voice cries out for peace/one hand extended to a brother/world sings in sweet release.”

It just goes to show you that not all of Christmas is crap, that there is still some goodness in the world, in this life, even when sometimes I wish I could just be like –

“Reprise the theme song and roll the credits.”

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