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Melinda Dillon

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  • TV Picks: 'A Christmas Story,' a 'Lucy' memory, snowy 'Lilyhammer'

    TV Picks: 'A Christmas Story,' a 'Lucy' memory, snowy 'Lilyhammer'
    24 hours of "A Christmas Story" (TBS, Tuesday and Wednesday). Jean Shepherd's hardy holiday classic turns 30 this year. (I will pause for those who need to sit for a second in order to take that number in.) Adding tradition to tradition, TBS will again air the film for 24 hours straight, 12 times in a row, beginning at 8 p.m. Christmas Eve; some brave souls may take this as a challenge -- a triple-dog-dare challenge. (Anyone up wrapping presents at 4 a.m. should at least appreciate the company.) Like many of the most enduring cultural artifacts, "A Christmas Story" is made from humble stuff, with quiet genius. Peter Billingsley, put on Earth for the role, plays Ralphie, a surrogate for Shepherd's childhood self, whose only desire is a Red Ryder BB gun with a compass in the stock and this thing that tells time; there is none of your supernatural seasonal special-effected stuff here, only Ralphie's occasional daydreams and Pascal's-Wager, back-pocket belief in Santa Claus. His parents, played by a smartly teamed Darren McGavin and Melinda Dillon, are unglamorous, exhausted, unfussily loving. Although wreathed in nostalgia -- the story takes place somewhere around 1939, 1940, as near as I can figure -- it might be a story of anyone's childhood or Christmas. Director Bob Clark (whose previous big hits were "Porky's" and "Porky's II," confoundingly) keeps things straightforward and simple, and works at a child's-eye level, just as Shepherd's narration avoids adult hindsight/insight.