Inching towards mediocrity.

Tis the TV season! (Now with too many Jim Carrey remakes!)

It’s that time of year again! Christmas is nearly upon us, and despite what some people might think – I love the holidays.

Sure, it can be a pain in the ass at times. It’s expensive, it’s exhausting, it’s at times downright weird…but it’s Christmas. And it comes but once a year!

And there’s nothing better than sitting back with some eggnog, or some hot chocolate, or a tall glass of wine or a Guinness, and enjoying some of your favorite holiday television moments.

Here are the ten best:

Ten: Santa Claus is Coming to Town. (1970)

I don’t know what to make of this, but I’m including it anyways. I really, truly, honestly do not know what the fuck is going on here. As a child, this special left me confused and, to be honest, a little bit unsettled. As an adult, it genuinely creeps me the fuck out.

Mickey Rooney stars as the voice of Kris Kringle learning the ways of the Jedi Santa Claus in a bizarre tale filled with Nazis, wizards, drug-fueled songs and Fred Astaire. He also sings a song about kids paying to sit on his lap by kissing him.

Christmas, meet the 1970s.

Nine: The Yule Log. (1966-1990)

Ah, the infamous Christmas Yule Log – a Christmas time tradition for those of us in the real world who didn’t actually own a fireplace. No worries! TV’s got ya covered! Just throw it on this random channel and bask in the fake, warm glow of an artificial fire for the next twenty-four hours!

Okay, I’ll be honest…this one’s clearly pretty much just filler.

Eight: A Garfield Christmas. (1987)

I love Garfield. I always have. And I feel no shame in that, despite the fact that its usually not very clever or original and whatever quality creativity the comic may have featured at some point in it’s (long) run was lost some time ago.

But whatever. He’s a fat, sarcastic cat that eats lasagna. What’s not to love?

This was the sixth Garfield animated special produced, and in truth, is the best. It features some decent songs from Lou Rawls, your average fish-out-of-water story (Jon takes his cat and his dog to his parents farm for Christmas) and a great performance by Pat Caroll as Jon’s fun-loving grandma – who shares a surprisingly poignant moment with Garfield. All in all, a pretty decent Christmas outing for the orange tabby.

Seven: Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. (1964)

Another Rankin and Bass production (with more to come), this tells the story of that famous reindeer using the infamous (and potentially creepy) Christmas stop motion puppets we’ve come to love. It also features one of the weirdest set of characters I’ve ever seen. An effeminate elf who wishes to become a dentist; a boisterous, friendly gold-digger; an even more effeminate winged lion thing who presides over an array of misfit toys; and of course the annoying, whiny titular character.

Oh, and Burl Ives as a snowman with a moustache. Happy holidays, everyone!

Six: Mickey’s Christmas Carol. (1983)

If I’m not mistaken, I believe that this is the first time we are introduced to Scrooge McDuck, the greatest Disney cartoon character ever created. (At least in animation – Scrooge has been appearing in comics for decades). He’s cast perfectly here as his namesake, the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge. Let’s face it – Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol has been done to death. Everybody from Bugs Bunny to the Muppets to Jim Carrey (apparently) have covered that ground, so it seemed logical for Disney to throw their hat into the ring. And they do a damn fine job of it, too.

Goofy as Jacob Marley? Pretty solid…though the Muppets kind of did that one better.

Five: Frosty the Snowman. (1969)

Another Rankin and Bass, though this time it’s animated (shoddily) rather than puppeted. Narrated by a cartoon Jimmy Durante (for some reason) this is one of the more surreal Christmas specials – though, to be fair, most of the Rankin and Bass specials are pretty damn surreal. This one does manage to boast one of Christmas’ best villains, though; the dastardly (and inept) magician determined to get his hat back from Frosty at any cost.

“Busy, busy, busy!”

Four: Merry Christmas, Mr. Bean. (1992)

Before he became all Americanized and shitty, Mr. Bean was the man. A petulant, spoiled child trapped in a man’s body, this dude was comedy gold. He didn’t speak much (and when he did it was always mumbled, non-committal sentences) but Rowan Atkinson’s physical comedy gifts easily made up for that. Classic gags abound – from Bean getting his head stuck in a turkey to Bean misinterpreting his girlfriend’s wish list to Bean playing inappropriately with a nativity scene in Harrod’s.

Three: A Muppet Family Christmas. (1987)

Kermit and Co., along with the Fraggles and the Sesame Street crew, descend on Fozzie Bear’s mother’s house to wreak Christmas havoc with gleeful abandon. Fozzie befriends a wise-cracking snowman, a random turkey tries to convince the Swedish Chef to cook Big Bird for Christmas dinner, and general mayhem ensues. Oh, and Jim Henson makes a poignant cameo at the end. Poignant now, because he’s dead, though at the time it pretty much just confused me.

Muppets are man’s greatest achievement. Fact.

Two: How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966)

Boris Karloff narrates this classic. Animated by legendary Looney Tunes guru Chuck Jones, this is a fun, bizarre and insanely stylish release. It’s also surprisingly funny, and full of heart, and that song is legendary.

And let’s all just try to ignore that Jim Carrey abomination while we watch it, okay?

One: A Charlie Brown Christmas. (1965)

The ultimate in Christmasy good cheer. From the all-child voice cast to the jazzy Vince Guaraldi score, this is a yuletide delight that just seems to get better every year. The Peanuts gang tackles Christmas commercialism and tell the true meaning of the season all without coming across as corny or preachy. Not an easy feat, I assure you. And they do it with style and class all the way, with animated style – a style that was forced upon the creators for budgetary reasons, but became a signature and wholly creative look.

And let’s face it – Linus’ speech at the end may just well be the greatest Christmas moment of all time. Y’know…after that whole Jesus thing.


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I just read over this again for the first time in over six months and it made me realize this list might be the thing that makes me like Christmas. Thanks a damn lot.

Comment by Alex James

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