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Bill Murray Stars In Netflix Holiday Special: 'A Very Murray Christmas'

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Bill Murray Stars In Netflix Holiday Special: 'A Very Murray Christmas'

Television

Bill Murray Stars In Netflix Holiday Special: 'A Very Murray Christmas'

Bill Murray Stars In Netflix Holiday Special: 'A Very Murray Christmas'

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/458426991/458426992" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

A blizzard shuts down New York and Bill Murray worries no one will show up for his TV special. Directed by Sofia Coppola, the show features George Clooney, Rashida Jones, Amy Poehler and many more.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Now let's go from the entertainment of politics to some holiday entertainment. NPR TV critic Eric Deggans reviews Bill Murray's "A Very Murray Christmas."

ERIC DEGGANS, BYLINE: At times, "A Very Murray Christmas" can't decide if it wants to reinvent the style of old school TV Christmas specials or skewer them into oblivion. Bill Murray begins by referencing two of his best-known roles, the aging movie star from "Lost In Translation" and Nick the lounge singer from "Saturday Night Live."

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "A VERY MURRAY CHRISTMAS")

BILL MURRAY: (As character, singing) I'm going to go disappear.

DEGGANS: Wearing an undone bow tie and a lot of melancholy, he stands in a suite at the Carlyle Hotel and delivers a pretty straight version of Christmas blues. His old SNL pal Paul Shaffer provides the piano.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "A VERY MURRAY CHRISTMAS")

MURRAY: (As character, singing) Christmas blues.

DEGGANS: Before long, we learn why Murray's singing the blues. He's obligated to host a live Christmas special with his celebrity pals, but a blizzard has shut down New York, and no one has shown up. His producers, played with frantic perfection by Amy Poehler and Julie White, don't even think Murray's buddy George Clooney will come. And then the phone rings.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "A VERY MURRAY CHRISTMAS")

MURRAY: (As character) Please be George.

JULIE WHITE: (As character) Oh, please be George.

MURRAY: (As character) Come on, George.

AMY POEHLER: (As character) Oh, my God. Is it George Clooney?

MURRAY: (As character) Hey, man.

POEHLER: (As character) Is it George Clooney?

WHITE: (As character) Tell us.

MURRAY: (As character) How did you get this number? Don't ever do this again ever, my sister.

POEHLER: (As character) Family's important.

DEGGANS: This is the unpredictable course charted by "A Very Murray Christmas." Like its star, the show veers sharply from basking in classic showbiz rituals to overturning them. One minute, Murray tries to flee the show and bumps into Chris Rock on the street, begging him to join the broadcast.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "A VERY MURRAY CHRISTMAS")

CHRIS ROCK: (As character) Are you in it?

MURRAY: (As character) We just started, yeah. I'm the only one.

ROCK: (As character) So you're doing a live special in the middle of the biggest blizzard of the year. That is so you, Bill. That is so you.

MURRAY: (As character) But now you're here.

ROCK: (As character) Yeah.

MURRAY: (As character) And it's us.

ROCK: (As character) No.

MURRAY: (As character) Yeah.

DEGGANS: Before long, the two are on camera in matching sweaters singing the saddest Christmas carol you've ever heard.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "A VERY MURRAY CHRISTMAS")

MURRAY: (As character, singing) Let us bring him silver and gold.

ROCK: (As character, singing) Let us bring him silver and gold.

DEGGANS: One of their scenes together may be the first time I've ever heard the F-word used in a Christmas special. Things go better when Murray tackles "Baby, It's Cold Outside" with a waitress from the bar at his hotel, played by singer-songwriter Jenny Lewis.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "A VERY MURRAY CHRISTMAS")

JENNY LEWIS: (As character, singing) I really can't stay.

MURRAY: (As character, singing) Oh, baby, don't hold out on me, please.

LEWIS: (As character, singing) Oh, but it's cold outside.

MURRAY: (As character, singing) But it's cold outside.

DEGGANS: This is about as traditional as "A Very Murray Christmas" gets. Otherwise, the special plays to Murray's current status as an icon of unpretentious celebrity. In real life, he might crash a wedding or read poetry to construction workers. In this special, he gets a busboy to sing a Christmas carol and teaches a fighting couple to care about each other again. It doesn't make for the most entertaining holiday special, but as a quirky Christmas card from the patron saint of down-to-earth stardom, it's not half bad. I'm Eric Deggans.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "A VERY MURRAY CHRISTMAS")

MURRAY: (As character, singing) Just hear those sleigh bells jingling, ring, ting, tingling, too. Come on, it's lovely weather for a sleigh ride together with you. Outside the snow is falling, and friends are calling...

UNIDENTIFIED SINGER: (As character, singing) You-hoo (ph).

MURRAY: (As character, singing) Come on. It's lovely weather for a sleigh ride together with you.

INSKEEP: Sleigh ride together with NPR News.

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