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'Greetings From Tucson' takes a holiday detour with Los Lobos

The band behind the show's soundtrack joins the on-screen action as the sitcom's family toys with its neighbors.

December 13, 2002|Scott Sandell | Times Staff Writer

Have Los Lobos become just another band from East ... Tucson? Well, not exactly, but for the purposes of tonight's episode of "Greetings From Tucson" at 9:30 on the WB, it is.

The group -- whose projects have ranged from its 1978 debut album of Mexican folk music, "Just Another Band From East L.A.," to a hit single remake of Ritchie Valens' "La Bamba" -- has provided the soundtrack for the series since its premiere in September.

But tonight it goes in front of the camera, in the role of "needy band looking for a garage in which to practice on Christmas Eve."

Little do the members know how needy they are, for they have been led into the household of Joaquin Tiant (Julio Oscar Mechoso), who's suffering from a serious case of short-man's syndrome and the bah-humbug blues. Before long, he's calling them "los losers" and teaching them the finer points of Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On."

But that's not all Joaquin is contending with. There are the annoying carolers; his 15-year-old son, David (Pablo Santos), who wants to go on a ski trip with the girl next door, Sarah (Sara Paxton); and Sarah's horridly clueless white-bread parents.

Indeed, much of this holiday episode revolves around the hoodwinking of those parents into thinking there is a "Mexican Christmas" with all manner of strange customs. Joaquin's daughter, Maria (Aimee Garcia), talks of the "Christmas bandit" who shoots jumping beans from pistols. Joaquin's Irish American wife, Elizabeth (Rebecca Creskoff), dryly asserts that she's "converted" and tells of Senor Muerte, not Santa, delivering gifts from his donkey cart.

In some respects, this episode can be a bit one-note and not much different from your standard holiday sitcom fare.

But it is refreshing to see something that's long been missing from prime time: the portrayal of a middle-class Mexican American family.

And if all else fails, there are a few minutes of Los Lobos' tuneful work.

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