Top 10 Best And Worst Christmas TV Specials
Iâm sure most people have their favorite Christmas specials, but did you know that most of the five best were made in the 1960s, and all of the worst of the lot werenât? Did you also know that three of the top five were based on songs, the fourth on a book and the fifth on one of the greatest comic strips of all time? In other words, the best ones were adapted from cultural icons. Most of the worst were adapted from flavors of the month.
Please note that this list covers only TV specials, not movies. Also, this is highly subjective; so, if your favorite isnât here, submit your own list or just add it to the comments!
The Best Christmas TV Specials:
A special built around a beloved Christmas song (written by J. Fed Coots and Haven Gillespie and first performed on the Eddie Cantor show), this stop-motion show starred Fred Astaire as the narrator and Mickey Rooney as Kris Kringle/Santa Claus. Itâs been a favorite for three decades.
Ah, Frosty. What a hokey special designed around a silly-but-great Christmas song. Yet, this lovable special actually works and has become a perennial favorite. At the very least, kids of future generations will be introduced to the great Jimmy âthe schnozâ Durante thanks to this special.
Bumbles bounce! Did you know that? I didnâtâAt least not until I first saw this terrific special, which has aired every year (several times, in fact) since 1964, making it the longest-running Christmas special. Itâs based on the 1939 song written by Johnny Marks (Gene Autry turned it into a monster hit). Best parts: Burl Ives singing âHave a Holly, Jolly Christmas,â and the Bumble attacks our heroes at the edge of the ocean. (Hey, when I was 7, that was scary stuff!)
I almost made this number one. The great horror icon Boris âFrankensteinâ Karloff provided fitting narrative and the voice of the Grinch. Quite possibly the most memorable song from any animated specialâor series or filmâis the great ditty âYouâre a mean one, Mr. Grinch.â Best line: âThe three words that describe you best are as follows and I quote: Stink. Stank. Stunk!â
Itâs the granddaddy of all Christmas specials. You have to read the Wikipedia article to get a full understanding of the quirks and low production values that make this special so great. Selections from Vince Guaraldiâs brilliant soundtrack are features of Christmas music every year. And yes, the pinnacle is Linus reciting Luke chapter 2 as being the real meaning of Christmas.
The Worst Christmas TV Specials:
Merry Chri$$$tmas, Charlie Brown. This excuse for a Peanuts special is quite a long way from its magnificent predecessor. Its crass commercialism contrasts sharplyâand drearilyâwith the originalâs quest for the true meaning of Christmas.
AhâŚumâŚyeah. Pac-Man and Christmas. This schlock-fest show was part of the annoying Hollywood trend of âitâs a successful video game/movie/song/catchphrase; so, letâs make a whole series around it!â Some worked (see the Best of list) but most didnâtâand still donât.
Never mind the sordid off-camera antics of Paul âPee-Weeâ Rubens; this special has enough problems. Amid the guest-star turns of Whoopi Goldberg, The Oprah, Joan Rivers, Zsa-Zsa Gabor and Charo, Pee-Wee has to contend with the problem of his âmounting fruitcake collectionâ and Santa demanding that he shorten his wish list! Oh, how terrible.
You have got to be kidding. The king and queen of 1980sâ 30-minute toy commercials, He-Man and She-Ra saved Christmas from the evil forces of Skeletor and Hordak. (Man, I canât even write that without losing IQ points.) Says Prince Adam at the end: âThough we celebrate it and get presents, Christmas is about caring, sharing and goodwill and its spirit is within all of us.â Translation: this hour-long special was designed to make you feel good about asking your parents to buy you more Masters of the Universe toys!
Jefferson Starship! Diahann Carroll! Art Carney! Harvey Korman! Bea Arthur! Donât those names just scream âStar Warsâ?? No? Youâre right. Darth Lucas HATES this thing so much he never wants it released. But it is an absolute must-seeâand not just for the first introduction of Boba Fett (nerd alert) but to see a what looks like an inebriated Carrie Fisher singing one of the most gag-inducing pieces of schlock ever made.
Contributor: STL Mo