The Christmas four-part mini series - The sixteenth door

When I was a child, we were always looking forward to the time before Christmas and the legendary "Weihnachtsvierteiler" (Christmas four-parters) or, how they were called officially, "Abenteuervierteiler" (adventure four-parters).
They were 16 mini series produced between 1964 and 1983. German producer Walter Ulbrich had the idea for the ZDF (one of our TV channels at the time) series and also to get French producers on board, so they could tackle classic adventure stories in a more detailed way than movies.

In Germany, we only had three TV channels at the time which didn't broadcast around the clock, so TV was still special (and of course black and white for a long time). The four-parters were a highlight of the year. Can you imagine us kids waiting impatiently for the next part of Robinson Crusoe (the first one), Treasure Island, Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn (those two are my favorites), The Leatherstocking Tales and more?
The first ones had a narrator which allowed to explain some things further or quote from the original novels, but over time this was seen as old-fashioned. I actually liked it.

Retro is popular and so are the four-parters, some more than others (because, let's be honest, some are better than others), and they are still available on DVD and sometimes for streaming via the ZDF media library.
I still watch Treasure Island regularly, it's definitely part of that childhood Christmas feeling although a tropical island admittedly doesn't seem to be very Christmassy.

Do you have a personal Christmas TV tradition?


  1. What an interesting tradition - the 4 parters! But I understand why you like them. Very cool! (Ha! And I’m old enough to remember black and white TV, and stations that went off the air at midnight.)


    1. Today Treasure Island is on TV!
      So funny you say that about stations that went off the air. We had three channels when I was a kid and the third one often just looked like snow. Once we had an old newspaper volume at work because we were looking for something and a young co-worker was completely surprised about three channels until midnight. "Three channels?? In all countries??" It still makes me laugh thinking of her face.