Along with christmas music and lights, those classic holiday specials are my favorite parts about this time of year. This list will be a bit more obscure than my favorite songs list from last week, but if you haven't seen these specials below, give them a try, as some are forgotten classics while others are no longer airing around December. So, here we go:
5. A Garfield Christmas - This was one of many holiday specials my family had on one of our first betamax tapes (we wised up and got a vhs later). My sister and I were huge fans of both the Garfield books, animated specials, and the "Garfield and Friends" saturday morning cartoon, so watching this one was a no-brainer. Garfield's owner, Jon Arbuckle, takes him and Odie to his parent's farm for the holidays. You get alot of great comedy not just with Garfield, but with Jon's family (particularly his father and his grandma).
Favorite part of this special: When they turn the chrismas tree lights on, and the whole family "ooohs" (all their mouths resemble volcanoes when they do this, which still crack me and my sister up). This is rarely shown on TV anymore, but that's what Amazon is for.
4. Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol - Since there have been so many versions of this Charles Dickens classic, it will all depend on what tv special version you enjoyed. For my family, this was our version. Never having been a big Mr. Magoo fan, I was surprised at how much I liked him here. There's happy moments with Magoo Scrooge's present, heartbreaking moments in his past, and actually some great comedy in his future. All these moments are amplified by the great songs featured in this seldom-showed holiday program.
Favorite part of this special: The song and dance performed by three crooks who have stolen a deceased Ebenezer Scrooge's possessions and traded them in for money (yes, that description makes it sound horrible, but trust me and watch it. It's really funny).
3. Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer (Rankin/Bass) - It's hard to believe that 50 years have passed since this stop-motion animation classic debuted. It truly wouldn't be christmas if this special didn't air. You all know the story: Rudolph is ostracized for his glowing red nose, until a storm strikes on christmas eve, and everyone suddenly changes their tune and they ask him to lead Santa's sleigh. Looking through an adult's eyes now, I see alot of cruelty and hypocrisy in the story of Rudolph (and Santa here comes off pretty mean at points), but these specials aren't for adult eyes, they're for kids and the kids in all of us. Not to be forgotten are the memorable songs like "We're a Couple of Misfits, and lines such as "Why weren't you at elf practice?"
Favorite part of this special: More of just a line than a segment, but when Santa tells his wife: "How can I eat? That silly elf song is driving me crazy!"
2. Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas In July (Rankin/Bass) - This is the sequel to "Rudolph," and it included Frosty the snowman and his family, who all performed at a seashore circus during 4th of July weekend. It runs about two hours long and has quite a convoluted plot involving an evil ice wizard King Winterbolt trying to extinguish Rudolph's nose forever, along with subplot of saving the circus by the sea from being sold to a crooked salesman, and Santa and Mrs. Claus being stuck in a summer snowstorm. While most people who have heard of this special don't care for it due to this, I've always enjoyed it due to the explanations the special made for how Rudolph got his nose in the first place (a magical queen of the northern lights), and the "foggy christmas eve" winter storm described in the song (a result of Winterbolt's snow dragons). I always liked little details explained like that, even as a kid.
Favorite part of this special: This is a pretty dark scene for a kid's movie, but when the circus owner destroys King Winterbolt's scepter and he turns into a tree. Yup, a tree. Weird and creepy at the same time.
1. A Muppet Family Christmas - Don't get this confused with other muppet holiday specials, this one originally aired in 1987 and features muppets from all three major programs at the time: "The Muppet Show," "Sesame Street," and "Fraggle Rock." It's a simple but fun story that involves Fozzie bringing Kermit, Miss Piggy, and the whole muppet gang to his mother's farmhouse, which is being rented by Doc and his dog "Sprocket" (from Fraggle Rock). What better set-up do you need for all-around fun? The interactions between the different muppet characters alone are priceless, as are the christmas carols they sing, and the cameo by the late Jim henson at the very end. This one is only available through bootleg, and no cable networks, amazon, or netflix carry it for some reason, so good luck searching for it. If you do find it, hang on to this baby, it's more than worth it watching this hidden gem every christmas!
Favorite part of this special: There's a running gag involving an icy patch everyone slips and falls on when they enter the farmhouse, but my favorite character who slips on it is The Swedish Chef, as his cooking supplies fall on him as well.
And that's my favorite holiday specials list. You should definitely check out these programs, they'll make your christmas just that much more magical.