Dolly Parton’s new Christmas special is full of reminders that the season is all about Jesus and that we should rely on God for all of our needs. But while religious themes abound, the star-studded show is also a a bit of a hodgepodge. In it, Parton periodically breaks the fourth and even sings a song telling the devil to “go to hell.”
“I hope that I haven’t crammed God or Jesus down anybody’s throat,” says Dolly Parton as the special concludes. “I hate that when it happened to me back [in the day], but it is the season.”
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Dolly Parton Shares ‘Mountain Magic’ of Christmas
“Dolly Parton’s Mountain Magic Christmas” released Thursday on NBC. A description on NBC’s website calls the special “a modern-day movie musical about the making of a network TV special.” That is, it is a musical special about the making of a musical special. The show tells the “frenetic backstage story and delightful on-camera results of Dolly’s desire to uplift an exhausted world’s spirits by sharing the unique ‘mountain magic’ she has always found in and around Dollywood at Christmas.”
As Parton’s crew works to achieve her vision, they face challenges to the Christmas spirit that include their set falling apart, their choreographer leaving, and infighting. But all involved finally arrive at a successful “opening number” on the big night—although the true success is what Parton and her crew learn along the way.
The show features songs from stars including Jimmy Fallon, Miley Cyrus, Jimmie Allen, Willie Nelson, Billy Ray Cyrus, and Zach Williams. The latter three men take on the roles of three “wise men” who give Parton guidance throughout the show.
One of the first musical numbers of the special is a rendition of “Go Tell It on the Mountain,” in which Parton announces, “Spread the word! Jesus Christ is born!” She later sings, “He’s alive and I’m forgiven, heaven’s gates are open wide.”
Later in the show, as crew members spar over differences of opinion, Parton observes that while they are all attempting to lift people up, Satan is trying to tear people down. She then launches into a song called “Go to Hell,” in which her backup singers are dressed as choir members and she interacts with a man portraying Satan.