Christmas specials: obscure, common, and weird

Zack Smith has done a deep roundup of the best in Christmas Specials, "with a number of links to unedited versions of lesser-known specials including an unedited MUPPET FAMILY CHRISTMAS with original commercials, a "Shalom Sesame" from Israel with a Hanukkah theme and a British airing of Raymond Briggs' THE SNOWMAN with a live-action intro by David Bowie as the grown-up version of the little boy in the story. The Star Wars special is not in here because, well...the world has suffered enough. Also wrote up a look at the many specials of Rankin-Bass, and how they do or don't tie into one another.

The Spirit of Christmas Specials, Conclusion: Beyond Charlie Brown and the Grinch! (Thanks, Zack!)


  1. What!  How can you write about Christmas specials without mentioning the greatest Santa Claus of them all: Art Carney!  Besides the classic “Twilight Zone” episode “Night of the Meek” he also played both Santa and Cosmo Scam in the very first Muppet special “The Great Santa Claus Switch”.  Not to mention that cinematic masterpiece “The Night They Saved Christmas” with co-star June Lockhart as Mrs. Claus.

  2. I’d like to give a shout out to the Smurfs’ Christmas special.  Gargamel is forced to sing a song about “goodness” (which causes him physical pain), in order to help the Smurfs get rid of some evil guy who might be Satan.  What more could you ask for?

  3. In my country, Christmas Special means that after you’re done stuffing your face with awesome food (preferably prepared mostly by your family and/or friends) and drinking lots of booze, after you’ve sat down for a little mid-afternoon sleep, you wake up and watch the year’s best episodes of Doctor Who and Downton Abbey while trying not to doze off again. Best part of the holiday.

  4. When I was a kid I saw an animated special that featured Jack Frost and the Snow Queen.  Unfortunately, other than remembering that I loved it and would love to see it again, much of it has been forgotten. the only things I remember are that the anmation (perhaps European?) was done in a very angular almost harsh style, and that the whole thing transmitted *cold* very well.  I seem to remember Jack dancing across the rooftops. . . .
    Does anyone know what this half-remembered thing might have been, and if its available anywhere?

      1. Thank you for the reply and for the links. What I remember of the thing did not have that Hanna Barbera/Johnny Quest  look, and the you tube link is unfortunately not it.   

        I will definitely try the reddit page. 

  5. I only saw it recently, but really enjoyed Bill and Opus in A Wish for Wings that Work.  Great story and good animation for the time.

  6. This article barely scratches the surface. There have been dozens and dozens of Christmas cartoons and specials.

    Of course, most are pretty wretched.

    The “25 Days of Christmas” thing that ABC Family Channel runs used to run pretty damn much everything I recall from my kidhood, including the obscure ones (e.g., the story of how “Holy Night” came to be written) and new ones, like “A Cranberry Christmas,” sponsored by a cranberry marketing council (!?!). Now the channel is a lot more selective.

    I’m about halfway through watching “The Box of Delights,” a BBC live-action holiday special from the 80s. Really charming. In the last episode it goes totally freak show, with the villain — an evil magician — consulting the Brazen Head of legend, and raising demons to screw up the weather and wreck railway lines.

  7. Zack Smith almost deserves to have his eye shot out by a Red Ryder carbine-action, two hundred shot Range Model air rifle with a compass in the stock and this thing which tells time…

    Every time I watch it, I’m surprised again and again, by how good and how deliciously loopy this Christmas special is.

  8. The Will Vinton special is great. I mean, really, *really* great. Flawless, beautiful animation and engaging, catchy songs. It doesn’t seem to garner the attention of the better-known specials, but it is easily the equal of many of them. If you haven’t seen it (or don’t remember it), I highly recommend seeking it out.

Comments are closed.