Christmas Special Winners and Losers

It’s that time of year again when our televisions are tuned to our favorite heart warming Christmas tales. Though I’ve probably seen them all and know a lot of them by heart, it’s still nice to see these classics come on TV, especially now that many of them are being remastered for high definition.

For the sake of this post, I’m limiting it to three each – otherwise my winners list would be way too long. Admittedly, I have not watched a ton of bad Christmas specials, but that’s probably a subject best reserved for its own detailed blog post. Also, you may wonder why I didn’t have any Christmas Carol adaptations on here. A Christmas Carol is the definitive Christmas story, and has its own set of winners and losers. It would not be fair to pick only one for this list. I’ll write up a post about them in the future as well.


How the Grinch Stole Christmas – My personal favorite. Dr. Seuss and Chuck Jones, two of the greatest artistic minds of the twentieth century, team up to produce the definitive Grinch. Nobody cares about the book anymore, and the less we think about the live action abortion, the better. This is one case where an adaptation can transcend its original source. With songs sung by Thurl Ravenscroft and narrated by Boris Karloff, the Grinch is the quintessential tale of Christmas redemption.

Frosty the Snowman – Rankin-Bass produced many holiday specials (a lot would be on my potential winners list) but Frosty is probably my favorite of their animated ones. Catchy songs, clever catchphrases, and a touching story combine to warm even the meanest old magician’s heart.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer – Perhaps the most memorable stop-motion special ever created. I’m not sure what else I can say about it other than it’s probably the best way to get people interested in stop motion animation.


Frosty Returns – An attempt to capitalize on nostalgia. While John Goodman is a passable Frosty, the story has no connection to the original special at all.

Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer – Again, a crass attempt at capitalization. I don’t think there’s a redeeming thing in this travesty of plot holes and embarrassing puns. Couldn’t Grandma have an actual name that wasn’t, you know… Grandma?

The Year Without A Santa Claus – I might get some flak for this, but c’mon, if this didn’t have the Heat Miser/Snow Miser songs, nobody would give a shit. Everything else is terrible, though they did get Mickey Rooney to reprise his role as Santa Claus. It also spawned an awful sequel, too.


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