Ten Classic Christmas Television Specials
Today we’re delving into the classic TV Holiday favorites that hit the air right about December 1st and don’t stop repeating themselves till Christmas Day. These ten classic television programs were made specifically for the season, they ooze Yule and coat us all in their warm, Christmasy glow. So, sit back with a nice hot toddy or some kind of nog and enjoy the wonderment.
10) Mickey’s Christmas Carol – 1983
Take the beloved literary classic, Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’, and get it all Disn-ified, with a heaping handful of Scrooge McDuck as, well, Scrooge, and just about every animated character in Disney history -plus the inclusion of a very faithful adaptation- and you get this annual Holiday classic.
Scrooge: Yes, Isabelle?
Belle: My eyes are closed, my lips are puckered, and I’m standing under the mistletoe.
Scrooge: You’re also standing on my foot.
9) A Muppet Family Christmas – 1987
Jim Henson was absolutely a genius in his own right, and he passed on far to soon. What he left was a legacy of the Muppets; Kermit, Piggy, Fozzy, The Fraggles, Yoda, The Dark Crystal… it’s all just something so amazing. Here we have a very sweet, very funny family reunion of sorts featuring all of the Christmas song favorites coupled with that classic Muppet slap-stick.
Turkey: Where’s my room?
Gonzo: If you’re not careful, it’ll be in the oven. See you at dinner.
8) Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas – ’77
Though this was originally released in 1977, it was a special I grew up with and was aired throughout the holiday on HBO during its early days. Yes, it’s another Henson Masterpiece, but it just had to have a spot of its own as it’s such a treasure and such a great story. It’s so simple as we watch Emmit and his mom, Alice, wonder aloud how they’re going to make each other’s Christmas special, and all it takes is a little heart-felt music. *SOB!*
Wendel: Golly! You got mashed potatoes?
7) Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town – 1970
From here on out, Rankin Bass pretty much has a strangle hold on the classics, and that’s just fine with me. In this awesome piece of Holiday majesty we find a young Santa not quite ready to accept his duties. But, with a little help and a bunch of really cool RB-style stop motion animation, all is well at the end.
Jessica: If the Burgermeister saw you, we would all be in real danger!
Kris Kringle: In danger from toys?
6) Frosty the Snowman – 1969
Oh look! It’s those fine folks at Rankin Bass yet again! This one, however, is fully animated and includes an awesome rendition of Jimmy Durante to boot! We all know the story, but even the classic song doesn’t include a moronic and twisted magician! Well, this toon certainly does!
Santa Claus: Now you go home and write “I am very sorry for what I did to Frosty” a hundred zillion times. And then maybe – just maybe, mind you – you’ll find something in your stocking tomorrow morning.
5) ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas – 1974
Based quite loosely on Clement Moore’s timeless story, in this -guess what- Rankin Bass cartoon, we find a family of mice living in the home of the town clockmaker who is commissioned to make an enormous clock to chime in Santa. Well, thanks to one disbelieving mouse, the clock ends up broken and only by the joy of the Holiday does all work out well in the end.
Father Mouse: Albert.
Albert: Yes, Father.
Father Mouse: We need to talk.
Albert: I said, “Yes, Father”.
Father Mouse: “Yes, Father”, what?
Albert: I wrote the letter. My friends and I, that is. “All of us”.
4) The Year Without Santa Claus – 1974
Wait, is this… Yes! RANKIN BASS! HA! Well, like I said, I could care less of their monopoly on the great holiday shows, and this just proves my point. Santa, voiced by Mickey Rooney, is losing his faith. All it takes is the quick thinking of a few elves, a little reindeer, and Mrs Claus, and those wacky Miser Brothers to make this easily one of the best specials of all time.
Santa Claus: All right. What are you up to?
Mrs. Santa: Up to? Do I look like I’m up to something?
Santa Claus: No, you don’t look like you’re up to something, but whenever you look like you’re not up to ANYTHING, you’re up to something.
3) How the Grinch Stole Christmas – 1966
Gather up a whole bunch of Dr. Seuss, Chuck Jones, voices by Boris Karloff and Thurl Ravenscroft (also Tony the Tiger), and you’ve got a mess of an amazing Christmas Special. Just the song alone is worth the price of admission, not to mention the wonderful animation by the Looney Tunes alum. Outstanding.
Grinch: Pooh-pooh to the Whos!
Narrator: …he was grinchily humming.
Grinch: They’re finding out now that no Christmas is coming! They’re just waking up, I know just what they’ll do. Their mouths will hang open a minute or two, then the Whos down in Whoville will all cry, “Boo Hoo.”
2) Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer – 1964
And the final entry in our Rankin Bass catalog (trust me, there are many more that didn’t make the list), we have the always loved, yearly classical, nearly feature-length gift: Rudolph. Yes, from the Snow Man Burl Ives to the Peppermint-prospecting Yukon Cornelius, this show is something not to be missed.
Head Elf: Why weren’t you at elf practice?
Hermey: Just fixing these dolls’ teeth.
Head Elf: Just fixing…? Now listen, we have dolls that cry, talk, walk, blink and run a temperature. We don’t need any chewing dolls!
Hermey: But I just thought I’d find a way to – to fit in.
Head Elf: You’ll never fit in! Now you come to elf practice, learn how to wiggle your ears, chuckle warmly, go hee-hee and ho-ho, and important stuff like that. A dentist! Good grief!
1) A Charlie Brown Christmas – 1965
What can possibly be said about perhaps the most beloved Christmas of all time. I always knew, as a child, that Christmas morning was just around the corner when the Peanuts gang was on TV. Charlie Brown made interim play director, Lucy and Schroeder arguing over Christmas music, and Linus’ reading of the Story from the Bible… just so beautiful. I can’t wait to watch it.
Charlie Brown: Thanks for the Christmas card you sent me, Violet.
Violet: I didn’t send you a Christmas card, Charlie Brown.
Charlie Brown: Don’t you know sarcasm when you hear it?