“Dolly Parton’s Mountain Magic Christmas” debuted on NBC, telling a fictional story of Parton and her friends preparing to put on a network television special. Parton, in a news release, called it a “show within a show.” It included appearances by Zach Williams, Jimmy Fallon, Willie Nelson, Billy Ray Cyrus, Jimmie Allen and Miley Cyrus. The fictional comical story takes place at her real-life theme park, Dollywood, in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
“When it’s time for her big special to air, a renewed and inspired Dolly goes rogue and shows the world that the real magic of Christmas lies in the hearts of the children we all once were, the realization that Christmas is about the people we share it with and how her faith remains the common thread between Christmases past, present and future,” the network said.
Reviewer Rae Alexandra said the special is “completely bananas,” because Parton often talks directly to the television audience and plugs Dollywood and her Imagination Library while singing and dancing. But it also includes plenty of faith material, she said.
Parton shouts, “Jesus Christ is born!” and the crowd responds, “Hallelujah! He is born!” She sings, “He’s alive, and I’m forgiven / Heaven’s gates are open wide!” Parton and Williams team up for “There Was Jesus.” In the final minutes, she tells the audience, “God is good, and God is love.”
“I was blown away,” Williams said. “Because when you think of that song, you don’t really think of it being a Christmas song, but the message in it and what we celebrate at Christmas is definitely Jesus. For me, it’s kind of been the gift that keeps on giving.”
Williams said he has a lot of respect for Parton.
“Everybody in the world is trying to get a piece of her attention, but somehow she manages to make whoever she’s talking to feel like they’re the most important person in the room,” he said.
–Dwight Widaman MV