Top 12 Christmas specials

Published by siroutlier_tt2i6p on

As a wee lad in that prehistoric time before streaming, one of the huge Christmas markers were the myriad of Christmas specials that were tot appointment viewing. It usually started with the less popular ones and, like a snowball of pure Pixy Stix (aka kid’s cocaine), slowly rolled into the heavy hitters. Looking back with more seasoned, cynical, and senile eyes, these might be at best slightly problematic and at worst, a lawyer’s wet dream. But, at the time, they were straight up naively magical. So, plop down right in front of your computer in your jammies, grab some hot cocoa, and enjoy the top Christmas specials.

12. How the Grinch Stole Christmas! – I might not love this one as much as all the Seussheads, but I still watch it every year. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the message, but the whole postmodern Whoville and its weird geometry just doesn’t scream Xmasy to me. I know this might get me fired, but Scrooge > the Grinch.

The whole thing’s just too culty for my tastes.

11. Emmet Otter’s Jug-band Christmas – Unintentionally hilarious when it’s trying too hard to be sentimental and just plain depressing when it’s trying to be somber, this is a bleak story of how being poor sucks, especially at Christmas. Of course, it’s going for uplifting, but it sticks that landing like Santa hopped up on meth. So, why is it on the list? Two freaking words… Jim Freaking Henson.

The Riverbottom Nightmare Band are the true protagonists!

10. The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special – See, not everything on here is oldfangled school. This is a refreshing story of one space cowboy’s childhood love for Xmas and his friends trying to rekindle it via human trafficking. But it’s okay because it’s Kevin Bacon and that old holiday magic (aka voodoo mind control) helps save the day.

Way better than the Star Wars Holiday Special save for the Bea Arthur as a bartender in the Cantina, of course.

9. Shrek the Halls – This is another fairly new one (time is relative, okay), but enjoyable. Has the signature Shrek silly, sophomoric yet clever humor, kinda like the Simpsons meets… well, the Simpsons. The Simpsons really did run the gamut of humor. This makes you almost want to do Christmas in the swamp. Wait, isn’t that a Hallmark holiday movie?

Lindsay Lohan, Mario Lopez, and Tim Meadows star in Christmas in the Swamp coming next year to the Hallmark Channel.

8. A Wish for Wings That Work – If you missed out on Bloom County, then you missed out on some of the best 80s satire money can (or can’t) buy. The two break outs of the strip, Opus and Bill the Cat, star in something that can only be described as unorthodoxly bizarre. But the quirky characters, offbeat story, and unrefined animation come together to make this an endearing holiday tale.

“A penguin and a cat walk into a self-help clinic…” sounds like it could be the funniest set up for a joke.

7. The Year Without a Santa Claus – aka, “How Mrs. Claus got Santa’s Groove back.” Mrs. C and the whole Heat Miser vs the Cold Miser rivalry saves this otherwise average special. You could tell the Rankin/Bass well was running a little dry here, but they managed to squeeze out one last holiday classic.

These two should be the faces of climate change and star in a new series of hilarious public service announcements. Then, maybe the masses will take it seriously.

6. Toy Story That Time Forgot – Not quite as good as the Halloween special, it’s still top shelf Pixar humor and storytelling. More of an after Christmas special, confirms this franchise can keep going to infinity and beyond. I know this might get me rehired, but Tim Allen’s Buzz > Chris Evans’ Buzz.

Where do they get those wonderful toy… stories.

5. Frosty the Snowman – The science of how Frosty came to life is a bit on the wonky side, but no matter, you can still enjoy this enchanting fast-paced tale as long as you don’t ask too many questions. Like shouldn’t Professor Hinkle be arrested for attempted child murder. I do credit this cartoon for teaching me that possession is nine-tenths of the law.

Punishing attempted murder with homework? This is why Santa will never make it on the Supreme Court.

4. A Charlie Brown Christmas – Preachy all the way home, this somehow remains charming and utterly entertaining. I guess those lovable Peanuts are so relatable, especially that perennial loser Chuck Brown, that it makes their message more palatable. Clever using kids to teach kids what’s really important… well, according to one rich, old white man. I can’t help wondering what they grew up to become? Like, who became a teacher, a musician, a senator, a bohemian, a professional softball player, and an alcoholic.

I guess Linus converts from his pagan worship of the Great Pumpkin to devout Christian in the space of a few weeks.

3. ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas – An underrated gem, you gotta love the catchy tunes in this simple, yet creative yarn. Captures the spirit of Christmas like no other on this list. This one will make you finally utter, “The show was better than the book.”

For an omniscient being, Santa usually comes off as a cotton headed ninny muggins in most of these specials.

2. Santa Claus is Coming to Town – More great tunes, save for that psychedelic sappy one, and inventive storytelling, this is another Rankin/Bass classic. If you want to know Santa’s weird origin story, then this is the show for you. It could use more Winter Warlock. How he’s not a Christmas icon, I will never understand.

Maybe fast forward thru the whole, “If you sit on my lap today, a kiss a toy is the price you pay” song.
  1. Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer – The Grandaddy of all Xmas claymation specials, though the entire North Pole desperately needs Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion training. Even when I was a youngling, Santa came off as a gingerdouche. I guess he was just hangry AF. Still though, this has the best music and is genuinely funny when it’s not being discriminatory.
One of the primary side effects of opioid addiction is weight loss… just saying.


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