As the old saying goes, it’s the most wonderful time of the year.
But besides the cheer, sparkling lights, and the such, what else is wonderful?
One thing I love about this time of year are the Christmas specials on television. From Rankin and Bass to Jim Henson, this season is pluck full of great specials. And though I own many of these specials on DVD, I still look forward to watching them on network television as it’s a throwback to childhood. These shows are fantastic.
With that in mind, I went digging and have come up with my eight favorite Christmas specials. I’ve tried to keep them in the animated/Muppet genre, so there’s no “Christmas Story” (after all, I don’t want to shoot my eye out with the Red Rider BB gun!), or Miracle on 34th Street etc.
Instead, these are those classics that last all of 30 or 60 minutes (including commercials). (Note: Some of these videos from YouTube are not allowed to be embedded, so when you hit “play” it will ask you to go to the YouTube site to watch. If you click the link, it will open a new browser).
8. How the Grinch Stole Christmas
This is a classic (the animated one, not the Jim Carrey one)! The meanie green Grinch looking to take away Christmas from everyone in Hoo-ville! And he nearly succeeds, too! Alas, there’s a heart growing and a happy ending in this Dr. Seuss tale!
7. A Charlie Brown Christmas
I am a massive Peanuts fan. And I like pretty much all Peanuts-related shows. So this is no different. As normal, poor Charlie Brown can’t seem to get anything right, can he? But it is Christmas time, so things are bound to change.
6. ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas
I love this special. If you watch it on network TV, some of it is now chopped. (Commercialism at its finest!) Alas, I have the video finally, so I can watch it from beginning to end. This one is all about trying to make amends with Santa after some local letters ticked him off. It takes you through the work of clock maker Joshua Trundle and his attempt to make Christmas good again!
5. Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town
Rankin and Bass are synonymous with Christmas specials, and this is one of their big ones. It’s the story of Santa Claus and how he came to be. It’s filled with great music and a good story. The sounds of Fred Astaire singing during this special is worth it on that merit alone. It’s a good one. Enjoy it! (This clip takes about 10 seconds before you start hearing sound).
4. Frosty the Snowman
How many of you have no idea what that means when I mention Frosty? If so, make sure you watch this Christmas special, immediately. It’s a timeless classic and well worth the watch. Another Rankin/Bass classic and narrated by Jimmy Durante.
3. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
Misfits. Flying deer. A bumble.
What’s not to like?
Rudolph is a classic in every sense. And this is one that I have to watch every year, no matter what. From dentistry among elves to the Island of Misfit Toys, this is one of my favorites.
And… Burl Ives. Perfect. Have a Holly Jolly Christmas, folks.
2. The Year Without a Santa Claus
It’s shocking how many people tell me they have not seen this one. It’s one of my favorites for sure. It’s a well-done Rankin/Bass production with fantastic music and an entertaining show. It’s about Santa being sick one year and needing to cancel Christmas. What will happen?
I love the songs in this movie. And Mickey Rooney voicing Santa Claus? Awesome.
However, I’d be remiss to just post one YouTube video for this one. Because as great as the show overall is, having the Snow Miser and the Heat Miser are great. And their songs midway through are tough not to share. So, the first video is my favorite song from the show and the second is the Miser Brothers.
1. Emmet Otter’s Jugband Christmas
“Look at the birds up in the trees…”
“We’re not birds, we’re a jugband!”
I love this special. It’s been my favorite since the 1980s when it used to play on HBO all the time during this season. Now, thanks to DVD, it’s something I own.
If you are a fan of the Muppets, you should like this. It’s a Jim Henson production. The music is grand. I love the story. Some of the lines are highly laugh-out-loud funny.
This is a must-watch for me every year. Hopefully it’s the same for you or will become that way!
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