Saturday, December 19, 2009

Top 10: Christmas Specials

Every Christmas season people see fit to unleash a slew of brand new made-for-television Christmas specials. These specials often range from the horrendous, to the magical (I would actually say the vast majority are cheesy and horrendous). Of course, there are those small minority that go on to be favorites in the hearts of viewers for years to come.

Kind of on the other side of the coin, there is another kind of television Christmas special, the classic Christmas episode on a TV series. Almost every TV show that has lasted long enough has a Christmas episode. Thus they fall into the same category of Christmas specials, because to some people, like myself, these episodes are just as seminal of an event each and every Christmas as the made-for-TV stuff.

I decided to do the heavy-lifting and try to rank my ten favorite Television Christmas specials of all-time. Let's get started:

10. Frosty the Snowman - One of those greats from my childhood. Frosty is such a lovable story, and the overtly cartoonish animation sells the story perfectly in this special.

9. Mickey's Christmas Carol - Almost everyone has done an adaptation of Charles Dickens' classic, but Mickey Mouse succeeds where many others have failed. Mickey's Christmas Carol has all of the things that make the classic tale endearing, but it does not get bogged down by many of the overtly long middle segments that is often found in other adaptations of this timeless story.

8. Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer - Puppets do make the difference. This was one of the more popular films in this string of Christmas specials. These are easily some of the more recognizable Christmas specials to ever be, and Rudolph leads the charge with his bright red nose.

7. Seinfeld, "The Strike" - Festivus is a legitimate holiday, all thanks to this episode of Seinfeld. It makes you wanna just gather your family around the aluminum Festivus pole and air your grievances. "It's another Festivus miracle!"

6. Lost, "The Constant" - This was a Christmas episode, done Lost style. It is kind of on this list purely by default, cause the only thing Christmasy about this episode is that the episode itself takes place on Christmas Day, but the emotional telephone conversation at the end between Desmond and Penny is genuine Christmas magic if I've ever seen it.

5. Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! - The slippery and slimy Mr. Grinch is one of the highlights of my Christmas season each and every year. The song was catchy, the animation endearing, and the voice-over work astounding and the voice reverberates in your head every time you try to read the book after seeing this.

4. I Love Lucy, "The I Love Lucy Christmas Show" - The episode is kind of just a Greatest Hits of the first five seasons of the show, but it all takes place on Christmas Eve, and the last few minutes where the entire gang dresses up like Santa Claus and discover that one of them is the real Santa is priceless. They started the classic sitcom tradition of Santa visiting the characters, and it has been done over and over again many times ever since, but never as good.

3. Smallville, "Lexmas" - One of my favorite shows of all-time is Smallville, and "Lexmas" is probably one of the finer episodes ever in the show's run. The episode follows Lex Luthor, who gets shot on Christmas Eve and has a near death experience, being given the chance to see what his life will be like if he chooses not to go down the path of villainy and become an honest man. It is a touching story, and not only that, it solidifies why we all love to hate this baldie.

2. Batman: The Animated Series, "Christmas With the Joker" - This one came dangerously close to my number one spot. Mark Hammil shines as the voice of the Joker as Batman and Robin have till midnight to save the Commissioner. It's a classic episode, while not the best in the series, it's just too much fun to pass up, and the Joker's rendition of "Jingle Bells" is so catchy, you'll be singing it for days on end.

1. A Charlie Brown Christmas - How can this one not be on your list? The Peanuts gang unite for the Christmas special to beat all Christmas specials. There is nothing more magical than when Charlie Brown buys the little old Christmas tree, or when Linus gives his speech on the true meaning of Christmas, or the ending when all join in together and fix up Charlie Brown's tree to a chorus of "Hark, the Herald". Charles Schultz was the man.

And that does it. Tune in later on in the week as I will share my list of my favorite Christmas movies of all-time.

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