Dolly Parton has always understood the magic of Christmas. Over the past holiday, The Daily Beast’s Obsessed has reported on the country legend who saved Christmas – multiple times, believe it or not. What can we say, she’s a saint in glittery clothes! Dolly isn’t exactly saving Christmas this year, though. No, she does something much better: she brings back Hannah Montana.
The Dolly Parton Christmas specials feel endless – and thank goodness! — and this year’s edition is no different. Our beloved Backwoods Barbie has been tossing down country Christmas hits to audiences since she was recording in 1994(!). Kenny & Dolly: A Christmas to Remember for ABC. She’s back with the network this year and released Dolly Parton’s Magic Mountain Christmaswhich was supposed to be called Miley & Dolly: A Christmas to Remember.
Dolly Parton’s Magic Mountain Christmas roams Dollywood (Dolly’s amusement park, which hosts a Smoky Mountain Christmas party every year) and the hilarious hallways of 30 Rock as the singer creates her new Christmas special. This new installation in DPCU (Dolly Parton Christmas Universe) makes an interesting decision – everything is meta. We see Dolly filming, along with all the behind-the-scenes drama that ensues as she belts out a happy tune.
The plot of the special is…well, let’s just say our lord and savior Dolly Parton is piloting the madness, and that’s all that really matters, right? No need to focus on the bizarre three-minute monologues, interspersed with frantic 30 Rock staff searching for more iridescent snowflakes. Part of all the hype includes visits from Dolly’s friends (who, for some reason, are occasionally ghosts), including legend Willie Nelson and NBC regular Jimmy Fallon.
Billy Ray Cyrus walks by the show as a ghost and disappears after the two sing their song “Christmas Where We Are” on one of Dollywood’s park benches. Not long after, Cyrus’ daughter Miley Cyrus stops by with her godmother for a quick showstopper, singing Dolly’s hit “Christmas Is.” But before their voices boom throughout 30 Rock, Parton offers her goddaughter some words of wisdom.
“I just wanted to take a minute to tell you something, and I mean it from the bottom of my heart,” says Dolly. Okay, I’ve got a lump in my throat. I love these two ladies so much. “I’m really proud of you. I’ve always been proud of you.”
Dolly continues: “And do you know what touches me the most about all of this? When you had me on the Hannah Montana show me back years ago, you really helped my career!”
Wait a minute. Miley Cyrus, who is only 30, helped out the country legend Dolly Parton with her career? That makes no sense. And yet, Parton puts two and two together to truly celebrate Miley’s career — like any good fairy godmother would.
“You introduced me to a whole new group of fans, boy!” Dolly says. “Of course not everyone is as young as they used to be.”
“Well, you wrote the manual on staying young,” says Miley.
“I have the medical bills to prove it!” Dolly jokes.
I was one of those young fans watching Hannah Montana on the Disney Channel after school. And when I think back Hannah Montana was definitely how I was introduced to Dolly Parton. (Frighteningly, when I was seven, I didn’t know who she was.) Now we’re all here celebrating her new Christmas special together.
If Disney ever decides to reboot Hannah Montana– which seems pretty plausible with its many revivals and sequels – Miley and Dolly will save us all. In the meantime, Dolly Parton’s Magic Mountain Christmas is the perfect, tender reunion to remind us all that the two music superstars have always nurtured each other over the years. This is the best Christmas present ever.
Dolly Parton’s Magic Mountain Christmas Premieres on NBC Thursday, December 1 at 8 p.m. ET. It will also be available to stream on Peacock on the same day.