Holiday Specials That Should Make a Comeback
It’s that time of year again! The trees are decorated ever so lovely, Carolers go from house to house serenading the occupants… or annoying depending on your view of it, and television puts on special presentations for the Holiday season. It used to be there were a ton of these that got shown every year on one channel or another, but nowadays it seems like they only make time for the tried and true classics. Those classics are classics for a reason. A Charlie Brown Christmas, Rankin and Bass’ Rudolph, the Boris Karloff version of How The Grinch Stole Christmas, The Year Without A Santa Clause, Santa Clause Is Coming To Town, and more have more than earned their spot in the rotation. However, there are a lot more specials starring our favorite characters or that are brilliant in there own right that just aren’t played on TV as much. So I thought I’d signal boost some of the best of the rest so that everyone might have a chance to put something new in there rotation. You’ll find familiar characters like Scrooge McDuck and Yogi Bear. meet two dinosaurs who try to answer an interesting question, and more let’s get started.
Will Vinton’s A Claymation Christmas Celebration (1987)
The story of two dinosaurs, Rex and Herb, who explain the origin of certain Christmas Songs while arguing what Wassailing in the song “Here We Come A-Wassailing”. Each time they talk about the origins of a song a short interpretation is shown: The California Raisins perform the Temptations’ version of “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer”, Quasimodo conducts the Bells Of Notre Dame in “The Carol Of The Bell’s” While the Dumb Bell goofs off, African American culture is represented in stained glass in a rendition of “Joy To The World”, Walruses try to ice dance to “Angels We Have Heard On High”, and my personal favorite, the Three Kings and their Jazz camels.
The Pink Panther In A Pink Christmas (1978)
I sadly didn’t remember this one until a colleague reminded me of it, too bad because it is Pink Panther at his Fritz Freleng/Blake Edwards-y best. Based in part on O. Henry’s short story “The Cop And The Anthem”-mostly the part where Panther gets himself arrested so he has shelter and a meal-this special follows the Pink Panther as he has many misadventure on Christmas Eve while trying to find food. A simple act of kindness turns out to be the key to get what he needs. Very funny and sometimes moving, it’s a must watch.
Lights: A Fable About Hanukah (1985)
This is a strange one if I ever saw it. Shown a couple of times in the eighties, the reason I remember it is it took the prime time slot once a year on The Disney Channel in the mid-nineties, yet it has been largely forgotten. When trying to research this special all I could find was the special (after quite a search) and barley any information about it. It doesn’t even have an entry on Wikipedia! It is the retelling of the story of the Macabees and the origins of the Jewish Holliday. It has never been reshown as far as I can tell so here it is.
A Flintstone Christmas (1977)
Basically a slight remake of a 1964 episode of the groundbreaking TV show, A Christmas Flintstone tells the story of Fred Flintstone agreeing to become the Santa for a Christmas party held at an orphanage, but he and Barney are sidetracked when they have to fill in for the real Santa. This actually has two songs I really enjoy, Fred’s “It’s My Favorite Time Of Year” and “Hope”. Done while Mel Blanc was still the voice of Barney Rubble, and featuring Henry Corden’s first full appearance as Fred, taking over the role after Alan Reed’s passing earlier in the year. I actually like this more than A Flintstones Christmas Carol.
Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1987)
This one doesn’t require much explanation, Scrooge McDuck stars as his namesake in this adaptation of Charles Dicken’s masterpiece. The really fun part are all the deep cut cameos; Rat and Mole from Wind In The Willows, Willie The Giant as Christmas Present, Jiminy Cricket as Christmas Past, even The Big Bad Wolf and the Three Little Pigs have a small cameo, along with Mickey as Crachit, Donald as Fred, and Goofy as a clumsy Marley.
A Garfield Christmas (1987)
Garfield is one of my favorite characters- I don’t care if you don’t think he’s funny- and witnessing my favorite sardonic cat take on the Holidays with his owner John Arbuckle’s family was a real treat when I first saw it ( this and Claymation Christmas debuted together when I was eight months old, so I wouldn’t remember my first viewing). Filled with laugh out loud jokes- Pa’s retelling of Binky, The Clown That Saved Christmas is a highlight (“And every time Binky would see a kids he’d shout out… hey kids”). It also had it’s tender moments like Garfield’s “talk” with Grandma and the gift of the love letters. I truly love this special.
Winnie The Pooh And Christmas Too (1991)
An adorable Christmas special from the same people who brought us the Winnie The Pooh TV show, with Jim Cummings in his prime voicing Pooh Bear and Peter “Optimus Prime” Cullen as Eeyore, this special will just warm the deep parts of your heart. Winnie The Pooh, realizing he has lost Christopher Robin’s letter to Santa and therefore most of his friends presents after a series of shenanigans, Pooh sets out to take the letter to Santa himself. But of course what his friends really want is to spend Christmas with him.
Small One (1978)
One more and then we can call it good, and why not leave on one of the most emotional of the bunch? Small One is the story of a little boy who must sell one his father’s donkey’s that he is very attached to for one piece of silver. Not wanting to sell his friend to the local tanner, he looks for a good home for Small One, but unfortunately has no luck. Just when things look bleak he meets a man named Joseph who has a pregnant wife and only one piece of silver to spare, and so Small One is rewarded for his friendship with being at the Nativity. Well done and moving, this is one of Don Bluth’s best.
Happy Holidays everyone!