That’s right, I said Christmas… not holiday. That may cause your head to explode but screw it, Christmas is awesome. Christmas brings out the best in all of us… even in the programming world. A good ol’ fashioned Christmas Special is a jewel in the pocket of any network. Despite how fake and forced television Christmas Specials are, they still deliver a package a warm fuzzies to your core. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, congrats! You have no soul, now go back to hell with those dark spirits from the movie Ghost.
I got the idea for this blog post was after watching The Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job Chrimbus Special. There’s a perfect yin/yang balance of charm and wit in creating your own Christmas-like holiday, complete with carols and customs. Tim and Eric take the cake in 2010 by creating their own holiday, “Chrimbus.” The most unique tradition of the fictitious holiday involves perfectly trimming one’s Chrimbus bush in order for presents to be inserted by Mr. Winter. The Cartoon Network special features an all-male dance troupe performing in leotards, catching eyes with their aqua garland nipples and armpit hair. By this point, I know it sounds insane but screw you, I was charmed to death by it and my daughter could not look away either.
In the year 2008, we find A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All! on Comedy Central. Similar to Tim and Eric’s special, host Stephen Colbert pushes the DVD version of the special throughout the entirety of the program. Chocked full of musical guests, most noteworthy is John Legend singing a sexy Christmas tune called “Nutmeg.”
CBS gave a Christmas special to their number one kid program in 1988 called Pee-Wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special. It has been quite a while since the special had been debuted and since has aquired quite an obituary of stars featured in a blog post I wrote last Christmas called Pee-Wee’s Christmas Special Obituary. I an all-star guest line-up along with the show’s talent array of puppeteers, the program still holds its own against the Christmas specials of today.
I probably didn’t watch this next special on its original air-date since it debuted the year I was born. However through the magic of reruns and betamax tapes, an early Christmas tradition was to watch HBO‘s Rich Little’s Christmas Carol. The 1978 special featured a cast consisting of only master impressionist Rich Little as he played every character in the Charles Dickens story.
Reaching a year back before the year I was born, we find another HBO Christmas special. 1977’s Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas was a marriage between the Muppets of Jim Henson and the songs of Paul Williams. Originally adapted from a 1971 children’s storybook, an otter and his widow mother sacrifice the own livelihoods in a chance to win a talent competition. In case you feel like checking it out, I don’t wanna ruin the ending but lemme say that it’s a moving tale and the music is pretty damn catchy. I haven’t watched it in at least 20 years but I could probably sing the chorus of at least two songs from the Christmas special.
What’s beautiful about art is that it always evolves, as will the Christmas Special. As long as there’s Christmas, there will be creative geniuses to tweak and twist these classic formulas to debut memorable programs that Christmas nerds (like yours truly) can pass down to generations to come.