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Local TV review: A Why Guy Family Christmas Special (Ch. 8)

Somewhere between lame and likable lies A Why Guy Family Christmas Special.

Its star, Belo8 "Why Guy" Mike Castellucci, strives to both salute and satirize network television's old-school holiday outings. The half-hour outcome premieres on Wednesday, Dec. 19th, at 8 p.m.

Wearing a pastel striped cardigan, Castellucci channels Bing Crosby and Andy Williams while looking more like Don Knotts. He intendedly is far more a well-meaning, bumbling sad sack than a buttery crooner of Christmas standards. It's a fine line between pity and empathy, though. And Castellucci's attempts to impress babes and orchestrate a holiday feast tend to be more painfully awkward than funny.

He's on firmer footing with some heartwarming "Why Guy" stories of real-life Christmas joys. A previously aired piece on Salvation Army bell-ringers is something of a classic now. There also are interesting tales of a Muskogee, Okla. man with an addiction to Christmas inflatables and a Kentucky funeral home director who played Santa Claus to a couple of Dallas kids.

The special ostensibly is set at Castellucci's home, where a small bevy of beauties has gathered at a party he's more or less throwing. Guests drop in, including One Life to Live star Melissa Archer and Top Chef finalist Casey Thompson. Neither is used to particularly good effect, particularly Thompson during a segment built around pork bellies and Castellucci's otherwise bare kitchen.

Members of the Turtle Creek Chorale also drop in to sing a little bit. So does a friend named Roynell -- unfortunately.

This is locally produced programming, though, and Belo8 is just about the only D-FW station doing it outside the newscast realm. It's also home to "Ticket" jester Gordon Keith's weekly talk show. And Wednesday night's Why Guy effort will be followed by Every Little Bit Counts: A Family First Special with anchors John McCaa and Gloria Campos.

Castellucci should be encouraged to try more of these. They're not easy to do, and they can be even easier to criticize. Bravo for putting yourself out there, though. The learning curve won't be quite as steep if there's a second time around.

Grade: C+