(Soz for the late posting, yr correspondent has completed a GRUELLING 25-HOUR JOURNEY across many time zones including correspondent’s British spouse being detained by US Homeland Security for 2.5 hours of fun! But all HOME SAFE now albeit in an awkward timezone for posting.)

Again the mother of the household is frying latkes in the first scene (we’re 3 for 4 here), again there is an interfaith family (4 for 4), again there is a stilted explanatory “What is the story of Hanukkah?” scene (3 for 4) and holy crap is that Ray Charles? Holy fuck what is Ray Charles doing in this! Oh man! This is already the best Hanukkah ever!

Nasally Jewish Fran and her Anglican English beau Maxwell are MARRIED and PREGNANT and gosh I stopped watching The Nanny much too early when I was younger, obviously, because these developments are all news to me. Max, his daughter and his business partner C.C. are going to a musical preview in Boston to see whether he wants to invest in it or whether his lifetime rival A****w L***d W****r will scoop it.

But oh, no! It’s the first night of Hanukkah! How can you leave Fran alone on the first night of Hanukkah, Max? Sitting at home in an all-leopard-print ensemble (alice band, teakettle and all), Fran kvetches to her mother and her BFF about this gross violation of the family holiday. And while, again, Hanukkah is not such a major festival in the religious sense, the family tradition aspect of home-based holidays is not an unimportant one, and when Fran explains to a helpful passerby nun:

“I’m really upset because my husband isn’t here for the first night of Hanukkah. It’s really important to me, just like Christmas is really important to him. You see, I married one of yours.”

And to be honest, that’s fair enough. Family holidays are important because they’re family holidays, not because of where they fall on the religiousportance scale.

To underline how important the first night of Hanukkah is to Fran’s family, there is a flashback to the 1960s:

This is what everyone in the 1960s looked like and anyone who says otherwise is lying.

Max’s extremely likeable British sister shows up in a fetching cream turtleneck jumper to monotone about her recent breakup and then enthuse over booze: “I’m sorry for making such a scene,” she says, showing no emotion whatsoever, before heading into the kitchen and gleefully shouting, “WOO-HOO! New scotch!” SO SAY WE ALL.

On the way to Boston Max crashes the car, driving offroad into snowy, desolate New England woods. He bravely keeps the heating on, explaining to his passengers that there is enough gas left in the car for one hour before they all succumb to hypothermia and die. But lo! In the greatest DO YOU SEE yet, even though the highway patrol doesn’t find them until early morning, the one hour’s worth of gas has managed to last for a full eight hours!

And once everyone is home safe and the scotch is out, Ray Charles plays “There’s no place like home for the holidays” and all join in the applause, actors and studio audience alike.

It’s cheesy, it’s stagey and yet again TV Jews Don’t Marry TV Jews, but there is at least a jolly, perfunctory reworking of the Hanukkah myth, some fairly thoughtful discussion around why family holiday traditions are important for their own sake, an accurate portrayal of the crucial role of sufficient good alcohol at times such as these, and RAY CHARLES.

RATING: 8/8 miracle candles