This year, Amanda and I decided to watch at least one Christmas special each day, starting from the first of December up until Christmas day. We chose which ones largely based on what we already had or could easily find at the library or on television. I had intended to write a blog post with brief thoughts on each one, but procrast - er, didn't find the time until now. So, even though it's weeks late, I still want to write this post!
December 1st - Blackadder's Christmas Carol
I love this one. Basically, Edmund Blackadder - who in most of the rest of the series is an arrogant, sarcastic jerk - is in this special known to be loving and generous. Though I don't want to give away the ending, perhaps you can guess how it ends anyway. This noteably features appearances by the younger Hugh Laurie, Jim Broadbent, and Robbie Coltrane (who, pre-Hagrid, plays a scruffy giant).
December 1st - Christmas in Pac-Land I think this is the only Christmas special (listed here) that we watched online. I thought it might be interesting just because I like Pac-Man in general, but it's really basically a mediocre Hanna-Barbera cartoon in Pac-Man clothes. The big thing though, that I think this special has going for it is that the voice of Santa Claus is Peter Cullen....Optimus Prime himself.
December 2nd - Beauty and the Beast: Enchanted Christmas
It's pretty awful. I had seen it once before, and wanted to sit through it because watching bad movies can be fun, but I ended up regretting it. I think it's worth mentioning, though, that it features something that I would find rare in a Christmas special: a Jewish character! Well, a character who talks like a stereotypical Jewish person, anyway. Does that count?
December 3rd - Good Eats with Alton Brown (School of Hard Nogs, It's a Wonderful Cake, and The Cookie Clause)
Ha! Betcha didn't expect any non-fiction Christmas specials, didja? These are three episodes that will teach you not only how to make egg nog, fruitcake, and Christmas-style sugar cookies, but will also teach you the history and science behind those recipes!
Tidbit: In the DVD "Ask Alton" feature, one of the questions asks about "the actor who played Santa Claus." Alton, slightly puzzled, answers, "That...that was the real Santa Claus."
December 3rd - Mickey's Christmas Carol Why is it Mickey's Christmas Carol? I understand that it needed to be titled so as to separate it from other versions of the story, and Mickey is a favorite character but...as Bob Crachit, he doesn't really, well, do much. The plot affects him, but he does nothing to affect the plot. How about A Disney Christmas Carol or Scrooge McDuck's Christmas Carol?
Anyway, the secondary thing I have to say about this is...it's short. It's a cute interpretation of the book, but squeezing the whole thing into thirty minutes makes it seem very rushed.
Also: Is it just me, or would Peter Pan have made a much more fitting Ghost of Christmas Past than Jiminy Cricket?
December 4th - Emmett Otter's Jugband Christmas Special
December 5th - The Christmas Toy There's not much I have to say about this that Brian hasn't already said. One of the things I really like about this is that it features almost every type of puppetry imaginable: string puppets, hand puppets, hand-and-rod puppets, robotic puppets, and even a strange Barbie-type doll which was ... I'm not even sure how it worked.
Also, this is the only family Christmas special I can think of in which the characters are threatened with the fear of dying. They may be toys, but they know that if they're even seen out-of-place by a human, they're as good as dead. It's surprisingly scary, actually.
December 6th - Futurama (XMas Story, a Tale of Two Santas)
December 7th - Santa Claus is Coming to Town
December 7th - South Park: The Spirit of Christmas
December 8th - Prep & Landing This was the most "fresh" Christmas special I had seen this year, by which I mean I saw it the very first time it aired. It was certainly entertaining and well-made. I like that it featured all-original characters (well, unless you count The Big Guy himself), the jokes and gags were funny, and the story was decent. In fact, I liked it so much that I think the only thing wrong with it was that it was too short. The story picks up quite quickly without taking much time to establish the characters. Because of this, it seemed liked I was watching an episode of a longer series, or the latter half-hour of a much-longer movie. So to summarize, the only thing I didn't like about it is that there wasn't more to like.
December 9th - Christmas Eve on Sesame Street
Tidbit: This one has a definitely Jewish character in Mr. Hooper.
December 10th - Wonderpets Save the Nutcracker!
December 11th - 'Twas the Night Before Christmas [Rankin-Bass]
December 12th - Invader Zim: The Most Horrible X-Mas Ever
December 12th - It's a Wonderful Life
December 13th - Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer [Rankin-Bass], Rudolph's Shiny New Year
December 13th - Robot Chicken (Nightmare Generator)
The only part of this episode that has to do with Christmas is the final sketch (which I believe is called a "runner"), which is a Cold Case-style take on the murder of Santa Claus. Since Robot Chicken is a primarily stop-motion show, it's awfully appropriate that favorite Rankin-Bass specials are parodied.
December 14th - Animaniacs (A Christmas Plotz, Little Drummer Warners, 'Twas The Day Before Christmas, Jingle Boo, The Great Wakkorotti: The Holiday Concert) In "A Christmas Plotz," the plot of A Christmas Carol is retold in even less time than Mickey's Christmas Carol took!
December 14th - John Denver and the Muppets Rocky Mountain Holiday Wait a minute. The title means "holiday" in the British sense, as in a vacation! It turns out that I checked this one out thinking that it was the other John Denver and the Muppets Holiday special.
December 15th - The Little Drummer Boy [Rankin-Bass]
December 16th - Pluto's Christmas Tree
December 16th - Rifftrax Live Christmas Shortstravaganza
December 17th - Muppet Christmas Carol
December 18th - Whose Line is it Anyway? UK Christmas special
December 18th - The Small One
The ending to this one would be more heart-warming and special if it wasn't so darn predictable. So let's see, a boy needs to find a new home for his donkey. I notice it takes place in an Arab setting, around a couple thousand years ago - gee I wonder where they're going with this?
December 19th - Muppets Letters to Santa This year, assuming you got any paper cards or letters, you may have noticed the Kermit the Frog postmark in the corner. Apparently the U.S. Postal Service did that to promote this special, and in exchange, the special has a musical number about how great the U.S. Postal Service is. Yyyyeah. Embarrassing plugging aside, the special tries to be heartwarming and sentimental like previous Henson specials, but didn't really do anything for me. What I did like was the scene in which Beaker shows off a new Muppet Labs invention that grants instaneous wishes, and does so by making a busty lady appear out of nowhere. You go, Beaker! You horndog you.
December 20th - The Year Without a Santa Claus
December 20th - The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause
December 21st - Sonic Christmas Blast
December 23rd - Mr. Monk and the Secret Santa, Mr. Monk and the Miracle
December 25th - Mythbusters Holiday specials More non-fiction goodness! Can a falling frozen turkey kill a small dog? Can the turkey be cooked on a radar dish? Which melts more quickly: a clothed snowman or a naked one? I would tell you the answers to these, but as with any episode I think it's more fun to watch how the question is answered than to just get the answer.
December 25th - A Charlie Brown Christmas