Monday, December 08, 2008

Favorite Christmas TV Specials

I'm big on Christmas traditions, and one in our house is that each December we pull out our rather large collection of Christmas movie/TV Special videos and DVDs. So here, in no particular order are my favorite Christmas TV specials.

A Charlie Brown Christmas - while I'm not really ranking these, if I were, this would definitely be number one. Lovable cartoon icon, innocence, great message. It's all there. Linus pretty much rocks, and seriously...what would Christmas be without the whole Peanuts gang doing their dance? No Christmas season is complete without this one.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer - Rankin-Bass broke new ground with their "animagic" animation technique and produced quite a few Christmas specials. But I think this one is the cream of the crop. Gotta love the Island of Misfit Toys (with it's Charlie-in-the-box) and "Hermey wants to be a dentist!" And of course, don't forget the Bumble. Other Rankin-Bass productions worth mentioning include Frosty the Snowman, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, and The Year Without A Santa Claus. All are worthy of being on this list.

Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas - What's not to like about this one? A classic story with a timeless message of redemption. (And while this TV special is worth watching every year, feel free to skip the Jim Carrey movie of the same name. Just awful.) Watching the denizens of Whoville confound the Grinch is just priceless.

Dave & Goliath Christmas - OK, so this one is a bit cheesy, but I have fond memories of watching Davey & Goliath as a kid. In this Christmas episode, Davey can't find the "Christmas spirit," despite all of Goliath's best efforts. Just a nice, heartwarming episode.

Then of course there are Christmas episodes of regular TV series. Love the Christmas episodes of Everybody Loves Raymond (second only to the classic Thanksgiving episodes!). Christmas episodes of WKRP in Cincinnati also stand out in my memory, as well as Newhart

So what are your favorites. Remember, I'm looking for television specials and shows here. Not the movies that repeatedly show up on television. We'll discuss those in a future blog.


Jeff said...

Totally with you on Charlie Brown, and Grinch -- If nothing else, you gotta love the eyebrows on Chuck Jones' characters!

Anyway, I have to add to this list Christmas Eve on Sesame Street, with Big Bird freezing his "giblets" on the roof, continued evidence that "Hooper's Store" was named for a wonderful character, and Cookie Monster eating the typewriter.

Also, I don't remember hardly anything else from it, but the California Raisin's Christmas Special stuck in my head for no other reason than one of the main characters waddling down the street, Eggos in hand, warbling, "Here we go a-waffling, a-waffling along..." Memorable Christmas magic in my book.

And, gotta say, I still miss the breathless anticipation that I always got when I got to stay up past my bedtime and saw this on the TV...

Jeremy Bentley said...

Claymation Christmas. That's what you're talking about. It was Christmas Special hosted by a Clay Tyrannosaurus and Triceratops, and one of the features was the California Raisins singing the motown version of "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer." Totally awesome Christmas special!

Ken said...

You guys are scaring me with your memories of these things.

star4586 said...

SO, creepy that I also have the memory of the "waffling" song on the Raisin's special and that's pretty much all I remember from it.

All about Charlie Brown, Christmas Story (if I would be allowed to have it on all 24 hours it's on I would)and It's a Wonderful Life. The Sound Of Music isn't a Christmas movie, but it's always on this time of year so I consider it to be part of the Holiday.

I remember the worst Christmas ever...when I was 4 or 5 and my parents were having a party the night Rudolph was on. It didn't come on till 9 and they wouldn't let me stay up to watch. I was the saddest kid in the world that night and I don't think I've forgiven them for that.

Anonymous said...

Davey & Goliath will be worth hunting down. I don't think I've ever seen them.

Like Jeff, I am with you on Charlie Brown and Grinch. I think that I, too, prefer Rudolf to Santa Claus is Comin' to Town, but the animagic is wonderful.

"A Claymation Christmas Celebration" is one of the best. In addition to the Raisins' Rudolf, the icedancing walrus couple and deep-voiced camels are not to be missed.

The opening scene to "Christmas Eve on Sesame Street" is a gut-buster for me. The gang is in an ice rink and decides to play "crack the whip." Oscar gets grabbed onto the very end of the whip. The way it's shot, it's one of the top Muppet comedic moments ever.

Atop my list is "A Garfield Christmas." All-around awesome, especially when Jon and Doc-Boy get Dad to read "Binkey: The Clown Who Saved Christmas."

"A Muppet Family Christmas" takes second place for me--the crew spends Christmas at Fozzie's mom's farmhouse, and Sesame Street and Fraggle characters get in on it.

"Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas" is a clear exception to the rule that books are worse than their film/TV adaptations.

I would also add to the list "Emmet Otter's Jugband Christmas" and "Mickey's Christmas Carol." I fondly remember an animated "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" featuring clock-making mice, and "Santa and the Three Bears." This year I discovered "Fat Albert's Christmas Special," which has its moments.

OK, so I'm a little into this Christmas special stuff. I have to say, I've always loved the TV specials WAY more than any of the movies.

Anonymous said...

I meant to say, "...books are BETTER than their film/TV adaptations."

Ken said...

Thanks for the comments, even though Jamie sorta bent the rules and included some movies, rather than just TV shows....yeesh. Silly Jamie.

Jeremy Bentley said...

For your viewing enjoyment, here is the intro to the Claymation Christmas special, with the Waffling:

The Tyrannosaurus host (Rex) was the prim and proper "straight man," with his Odd Couple counterpart Herb (the Triceratops) "the funny guy". Rex keeps trying to correct singers who can't get the word "wassail" right, and by the end pretty much goes nuts.

I think that is one of my favorites. Not as awesome as Rudolph, though. You really can't beat that holiday special, in my book.

And in my searching, it appears someone was kind enough to post the entire Claymation Christmas online:

Part One:

Part Two:

Part Three:

jamiebentley said...

Yeah. I will admit that I ignored the "TV" part, but all those movies are on TV more often than the TV specials, so I think they count more :)

Ken said...

Oooh. Just remembered another one. We have a VHS with and "I Love Lucy" Christmas special. Some really funny scenes, including one where they are trying to trim the Christmas tree. Great stuff. Trivia for you here...Little Ricky gets his first drum set in that one. The actor who played Little Ricky was Keith Thibodeaux, who later grew up to become a real drummer for the Christian rock band David & the Giants. Now you know!

Jenny O. said...

So, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is my most memorable Christmas TV special. I'm pretty sure I can quote it front to back.
My family even has this thing where we quote the line "It sticks out like a blinkin' beacon!" whenever someone is wearing something ugly, bright, over-the-top or if we are ragging on someone about their nose... It sounds cruel, but its all in good fun.

Anonymous said...

Wow, that's some trivia there, Ken. I never was into David & The Giants (miraculously enough), but their name did inspire me to dream of growing up and creating a rock band Daniel & The Lions.

Chet said...

I cast a vote for Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol, which had some great songs by Broadway writers Jule Styne & Bob Merrill. First came out in '62, and proved itself a classic. There's a big fat entry in Wikipedia if you want to learn more, and it's been released on DVD individually, but also as part of "The Original Christmas Classics," which includes 7 Christmas specials, most of them Rankin-Bass: Rudolph, Frosty, and more. Well worth getting if you like that Claymation crappola...