As we kick-off the best Christmas specials feature I say we start with something dark and cynical. It’s no secret that most Christmas movies and TV specials are sweet, warm, and offer a heartfelt message about the holidays (usually something about love, sharing, compassion, selflessness, and so on). That stuff is fine in small doses, but after many Christmases it can also become trite.
Moral Orel’s “The Best Christmas Ever” is hardly the typical Christmas special. If you are not familiar with the Moral Orel series, it’s a stop-motion short-form series that aired on Adult Swim from 2005-2008 and sporadically after. It focused on the title character, Orel, a goody goody two-shoes that just wanted to praise God and live by His word. Each episode usually centered around Orel taking something too literally from a church sermon and doing something sacrilegious by mistake only to have his father set him straight in the end with a good lecture and a good beating. The adults surrounding Orel were mostly a bunch of miserable, sinful, hypocrites that rarely practiced what they preached, but Orel remains oblivious to his surroundings.
For “The Most Wonderful Christmas Ever,” Orel hears about the second coming of Jesus during church and that he won’t be happy when he returns, ushering in the Apocalypse. When Orel overhears his parents arguing about his malcontent younger brother, with his dad proclaiming his doubts the kid is even his, Orel mistakenly reaches the conclusion that his little brother is Jesus reborn. Orel’s attempts to welcome the baby Jesus are pretty humorous, but the side story of his father’s depression over his crumbling marriage is some pretty dark stuff.
Moral Orel is basically a satirical black comedy and its Christmas special captures that perfectly. In a world full of terrible Lifetime and Hallmark Channel Christmas movies, Moral Orel is a nice piece of Christmas bleakness that is funny because it’s not like anything else. Even Bad Santa has more Christmas cheer than this one.