Happy Friday! The Thanksgiving turkey is probably still living on as leftovers of some sort. Perhaps the tree is up and the shopping is underway – ’tis the Season!!
With the advent of the age of television, holiday traditions have changed to include gathering around the television or computer or tablet to watch Christmas movies and television specials. There are a many classic, memorable ones as well as a lot of not so classic, quite forgettable ones. Some of my favorites, not necessarily in any order, are: It’s a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Carol, Charlie Brown Christmas and How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
Even some of the holiday commercials were classic. I still insist that Charlie Brown is not the same without the Dolly Madison commercials. I also miss the Norelco commercial with Santa sledding on the electric razor – “Noelco – even our name says Merry Christmas.”
We are just one week removed from Thanksgiving and already the holiday specials are in full force. This Christmastime, look beyond the old standards. Take a few moments to study your channel guide you might uncover some new gems or you might stumble across some of those specials that are better left buried. Here are a few that many have tried to forget:
A Very Brady Christmas (1988) – They managed to get everyone back from the original cast except for Cindy and Sam the Butcher (actually a butcher not a deranged killer in a hockey mask). Apparently Mr. & Mrs. Brady cannot agree on a vacation plan, so they decide to use the money to bring everyone together for Christmas. Unfortunately they have all grown up and their adult problems can no longer be resolved neatly within a half hour. The plot thickens more than Alice’s Thanksgiving gravy when Mr. Brady learns that a ruthless businessman he designed a building for has cut corners resulting in the building collapsing and trapping two security guards. Mr Brady, of course, manages to free but the trapped guards but becomes trapped himself. But these are the Brady’s so eventually everything works out, only now it takes two hours. The joyful end has them all singing “O Come All Ye Faithful.”
A Claymation Christmas Celebration (1987) – the special is co-hosted by Rex, an intellectual tyrannosaurus and Herb, a dimwitted styracosaurus with a voracious appetite. The dynamically opposed duo carry on a running gag about wassailing while we are entertained by walruses singing “Angels We Have Heard on High” as well as Wise Men and their doo-wopping camels singing “We Three Kings.” All this leads up a crescendo as The California Raisins present their rendition of “Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer.”
Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer (2000) – would we really expect much from a thirty minute cartoon based on this song? Somehow Santa is still a good guy even though he does run over Grandma and abducts because he doesn’t know who she is (pretty much destroys your confidence in accuracy of the naughty/nice list).
Christmas Comes to Pac-Land (1982) – If you can make Christmas specials based on songs, why not try a Christmas special based on a TV Show which was based on an arcade video game! Perhaps the not so veiled message of this one was just go out and purchase Pac-Man related merchandise as gifts for everyone.
Instead, Santa crash lands in Pac-Land, and Pac-Man and his friends have to help Santa get back on the road (the sky?) to deliver those all-important presents. The ghost monsters obviously make an appearance, there’s lots of snow, presents are mentioned over and over, and we get to see Pac-Man in a winter scarf and hat.
Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964) – If you are looking for the holiday equivalent of Plan 9 From Outer Space, this is the movie for you! When Kimar and the other members of Mars’ ruling council can’t make their children happy they have a meeting with the ancient, mysterious wise man, Chochem who provides a solution, kidnap Santa Claus from Earth. Not only do you get Santa and Martians, but it has a groovy soundtrack – hurray for Santy Claus! You will want to look away, but it is so bad you will watch it to the very end.
Star Wars Holiday Special (1978) – With renewed interest in the Star Wars franchise and a new movie coming out this month, one might think it would be a good time to dust this one off and air it again. Don’t count on it. This one was so long ago and far away that some will question that it ever existed – which is exactly what George Lucas is wishing for. The show was broadcast in its entirety only once and somehow I managed to miss it during my freshman year in college. Chewbacca and Han Solo visit Kashyyyk, which is Chewbacca’s home world, to celebrate Life Day. We get to meet Chewbacca’s family (did you ever wonder if he had a family?): his father Itchy (no, really), his wife Malla, and his son Lumpy. Of course any Star Wars special has to include some trouble caused by the Empire. But the “highlight” has to be the poor acting and bad singing from the original Star Wars cast. Yoda might say, “Search the web and find it, you will.”
Thought for the Week
Whatever else be lost among the years,
Let us keep Christmas still a shining thing;
Whatever doubts assail us, or what fears,
Let us hold close one day, remembering
Its poignant meaning for the hearts of men.
Let us get back our childlike faith again.
~Grace Noll Crowell