Category Archives: Best of Christmas – TV

#1 – Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

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Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966)

Most people that know me personally are not surprised by my choice for number 1 on my list of the best Christmas specials of all time. Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! is a holiday classic of the finest order. Few films and television shows are able to delight all of the applicable senses like this one does. Allow me to list the ways.

First of all, How the Grinch Stole Christmas! was animated and produced by Chuck Jones, one of the greatest masters of the animated short. Jones is known primarily for his work with Bugs Bunny, and when he was tasked with bringing the Grinch to television he brought his A game. The Grinch exudes personality. He’s angry, grumpy, and is delighted with himself while acting out his schemes. He’s his own biggest fan. And that smile! Probably the most memorable part of the special is that moment when the Grinch gets his wonderful, awful idea. There’s a bit of a cat-like quality to his face (Seuss himself remarked it looked too much like Chuck Jones) but also this sort of odd, plant quality as well. He’s much more interesting to look at here than he was in the original book. In addition to the titular character, the setting of Who-Ville looks great and very Seuss-like. Little was lost in translation, and the whole world really pops when it needs to. Voiceless characters like Max are animated beautifully as well. Even though Max never speaks, we always know what he’s thinking and feeling. He’s also the most empathetic character in the film.

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The money shot.

In addition to the wonderful style and supreme animation, How the Grinch Stole Christmas! also features some excellent voice acting and an iconic score. All of the songs are originals which is quite the rarity for a Christmas special. The flagship song is undoubtedly “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch” song by Thurl Ravenscroft in an uncredited role. The song is stretched to cover the meat of the special and it’s up to the task. The lyrics are suitable and the song is incredibly quotable decades later. The uptempo instrumental when the Grinch and Max are racing down the side of Mt. Crumpet is compelling, and the other songs are catchy in their own right. This is a soundtrack I have no problems listening to around the holidays. Rounding things out, Boris Karloff narrates the tale and provides a voice for the Grinch. His depiction is spot-on for the character as he adds a slight growl to his voice when he reads the Grinch’s line. No voice of the Grinch since has come close to matching Karloff’s delivery. June Foray even pops up once again as Cindy Lou Who. Her presence is a small one, but as usual for her, she’s perfect for the role.

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It’s pretty impressive how many creative sequences can be found in this one short.

The special is flat-out entertaining, but it also has the required good Christmas message needed to be a timeless Christmas classic. And here it’s kept to a simple one, which is that Christmas isn’t about the material things but the time spent with family. The Grinch has no family at the start so he can only see the material aspect of Christmas, which he comes to loathe and attempts to steal. Of course, Christmas can’t be stolen and the Grinch realizes that in the end. It’s an easy concept to grasp and it’s told well.

The animated version of Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! is the best way to experience this classic story. The original book is wonderful in its own right, but is less thrilling than its television counterpart and obviously lacks the musical numbers. The feature film is a piece of garbage in which the Grinch character is reduced to a generic Jim Carrey screw-ball. The unfortunate thing is its title is identical to the short’s so it’s easy to get the two confused when looking at a television listing. Since How the Grinch Stole Christmas! is such a classic, it’s featured prominently on television on both network TV and cable. It’s also readily available on DVD and Blu Ray. Next year will mark the special’s 50th anniversary and hopefully it will be properly celebrated on TV just like Rudolph and Charlie Brown have been recently (and maybe it will receive its own line of stamps from the USPS too). Since it’s now Christmas Day, the Grinch has probably already received his last showing on television for the 2015 season so hopefully you didn’t miss it, and if you did, you have a copy to watch today. There’s no doubt in my mind that Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! is the greatest Christmas special ever made. I doubt it will ever be topped.

Thus concludes this top 25 countdown. I hope you enjoyed it and that my rankings didn’t infuriate you too much. I also hope you had a great holiday season and a very merry Christmas. See you in 2016!


#2 – Mickey’s Christmas Carol

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Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983)

Mickey’s Christmas Carol marked the return of the most famous cartoon mouse to the big screen for the first time in 30 years. Once a staple of the cinematic experience, Mickey had been pushed aside for other characters (namely Donald Duck) and live-action features. It had been even longer since Mickey, Donald, and Goofy had all appeared in the same short.

Mickey’s Christmas Carol was released in 1983 along with the The Rescuers. As shorts go, it’s actually pretty long, which has helped it over the years in being shown on television because it fits easily into a standard half-hour time-slot. Mickey’s Christmas Carol also goes against one of my personal tenants of Christmas specials which is to avoid adaptations of A Christmas Carol and It’s A Wonderful Life. That’s often the path of the lazy, but Mickey’s Christmas Carol benefits as being one of the earlier adaptations, and for some reason, it just works.

The story is obviously familiar to most people. It’s a pretty straight-forward retelling of the Dickens classic just with Disney characters acting out the parts (only the animal characters though, no humans allowed). The cast features the old popular ones of Mickey, Donald, Goofy, and Minnie while also mixing in cameos from The Winds in the Willow, Silly Symphonies, and Robin Hood, among others. This is also the first short to feature Scrooge McDuck as the character he was born to play. He’s voiced by Alan Young, known to audiences as Wilbur from Mister Ed, who has continued to voice the character even into his 90’s. Another debut is Wayne Allwine as Mickey Mouse, just the third voice actor to portray the character. Clarence “Ducky” Nash also gets a final opportunity to voice Donald Duck, before the character would be passed onto Tony Anselmo. As a result, Mickey’s Christmas Carol feels like a really important short in the company’s history as there’s a lot of historical significance that can be attached to it.

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Gets me every time.

All of that stuff is great, but it wouldn’t matter if the story sucked. Instead, the story is told in a brisk, but not rushed, manner. The shots that need to linger, linger, and the ones that can be hurried along are. The animation is vintage Disney, with Scrooge walking home in the snow from his counting house probably my favorite shot. All of the right emotions hit, and Scrooge’s transformation from miserable miser to benevolent boss is done in a believable way. Just try to suppress the lump in your throat when Mickey is seen crying at the grave of Tiny Tim in the flash-forward. That sight would transform any man!

Mickey’s Christmas Carol has a special place in my heart. It was the lead-off special on a homemade VHS tape my mom made for my sister and I when we were really little. As a result, it’s also probably the Christmas special I’ve seen more than any other. Since Disney is omnipresent on television, Mickey’s Christmas Carol is shown quite frequently around the holidays, so hopefully you didn’t miss it this year. It’s also been released multiple times on DVD and Blu Ray, most recently just two years ago. Though if you really want to own a copy of it, I suggest you pony up the extra dollars for Mickey Mouse: In Living Color Volume 2 so you can also enjoy a bunch of Mickey’s other classic shorts.

 


#3 – A Chipmunk Christmas

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A Chipmunk Christmas (1981)

Few properties have managed to return from obscurity like The Chipmunks. They originated in song with “The Witch Doctor” and ended up getting an animated television show. That show faded and their popularity waned, but was resurrected in 1981 with A Chipmunk Christmas which celebrated their popular Christmas song “The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late).” The success of the special lead to a new animated series called Alvin and The Chipmunks and a string of direct to video films. Now the Chipmunks are back as a film property after a long absence and they even have a new TV show. They’re not exactly well received by critics, but kids seem to love them again.

The quality of these various shows and films has never exactly been the best, but the original Alvin Show has some genuine humor which A Chipmunk Christmas gets right. What the Christmas special does better though is add a little heart. The story goes that Dave, the Chipmunks’ guardian and manager, is getting his boys geared up to play a Christmas Eve concert while the boys are more interested in just being boys. That is until Alvin finds out about a little boy Tommy who’s very sick and also a big fan of The Chipmunks. What Tommy wants more than anything for Christmas is a golden Echo harmonica, which Alvin so happens to be in possession of. He sneaks away from a recording session to give Tommy the harmonica, under the guise of saying Tommy won a contest, but Alvin is afraid Dave will be mad at him when finds out he gave away his harmonica. Especially once it’s reveled that Alvin is expected to play it as part of their Christmas Eve show.

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The Chipmunks received a slight redesign for their special, which would be further modified for the TV show Alvin and The Chipmunks.

This is one of those stories where the audience is naturally frustrated because the protagonist has done the right thing but is misunderstood. Alvin becomes consumed with making enough money to buy a new harmonica so Dave won’t know he gave away the original, but Dave just sees Alvin’s schemes from the outside as Alvin being selfish. Since this is a Christmas special, Alvin does eventually find a way out of his predicament when an old woman (voiced by the immortal June Foray, who pops up a lot in Christmas specials) offers to buy him a new harmonica for helping her out. The special culminates with the concert, and the ending has a nice little surprise for the viewer which might be my favorite ending of any Christmas special.

The Chipmunks may have seen their popularity seesaw over the years, but their Christmas special has remained timeless. With their renewed popularity, A Chipmunk Christmas has returned to television after a lengthy absence, though I never came across it this year. The special is widely available on DVD and Blu Ray and can be streamed online for free. This one is a classic that hits all of the right notes by being funny, charming, and has a great Christmas message. Don’t hold those new movies against it.


#4 – A Charlie Brown Christmas

CHARLIE BROWN TRIES TO PERK UP THE FORLORN LITTLE CHRISTMAS TREE

A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)

Old Chuck has been around for awhile now. No one can say his special has failed to stand the test of time. And even so, the origins of A Charlie Brown Christmas are pretty humble ones. Few expected it to be a success, especially after creator Charles Schulz wanted Linus to recite a passage from The Bible on the meaning of Christmas. The production values were low, and basically every voice actor was an amateur, and a kid.

Despite all of that, A Charlie Brown Christmas has been a monumental success. It has lead to numerous other Peanuts themed holiday specials and television shows. It’s soundtrack has been a best seller and its main theme “Linus and Lucy,” composed by Vince Guaraldi, has become the official theme of the Peanuts brand.

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The soundtrack for A Charlie Brown Christmas is almost as famous as the actual special.

The story goes, Charlie Brown is depressed around the holidays because he doesn’t really understand what’s so great about Christmas. Part of that is derived from the rampant commercialism surrounding him and also by the fact that no one seems to like him. Lucy, in a rare moment of compassion, decides to offer Charlie Brown the position of director for their Christmas play. She seems to think the play will direct itself and Chuck couldn’t possibly screw it up. When Charlie Brown arrives at the auditorium he finds everyone is only interested in dancing around and few are serious about putting on the play. Frustrated, he decides to get a tree which just makes things worse, prompting Linus’s famous speech.

Amongst the specials on this countdown, A Charlie Brown Christmas is easily the most secular. It does so without turning off the unreligious, with the biblical meaning of Christmas serving as a reminder that the holiday isn’t all about getting presents and seeing who has the most lights on their house.  Still, I’m sure the devout Christians out there probably appreciate what A Charlie Brown Christmas has to say since most specials ignore that Jesus fellow.

Now obviously the special has become a bit of an ironic one. The primary message of A Charlie Brown Christmas is that commercialism has distorted the holiday’s message, and yet today, few properties have become more commercialized than Charlie Brown. Especially this year when the special celebrates its 50th year. None of this causes the actual special to be any less charming, and I certainly don’t mind the abundance of Charlie Brown merchandise as it’s an easy fail-safe when shopping for Christmas gifts.

As one of the most popular Christmas specials, A Charlie Brown Christmas is featured prominently on television and is also available on DVD and Blu Ray. It was shown this year along with a one hour special celebrating its 50th anniversary. If you missed that broadcast it will be shown again on Christmas Eve on ABC.


#5 – Mickey Mouse: Pluto’s Christmas Tree

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“Pluto’s Christmas Tree” (1952)

A few days ago we looked at “Toy Tinkers” and today we look at its spiritual sequel, “Pluto’s Christmas Tree.” Despite its title, this one is actually considered a Mickey Mouse short (and fun piece of trivia, this i the theatrical short debut of Jimmy MacDonald as Mickey) and not a Pluto one. Like “Toy Tinkers,” it features the duo of Chip and Dale as they try to move-in to Mickey’s house.

The short opens with Mickey and Pluto searching for a Christmas tree. Chip and Dale see the two and decide to have a little fun with Pluto, who ends up chasing them up a tree. Mickey, of course, settles on that specific tree for his Christmas tree and Chip and Dale, electing not try and elude Pluto, go along for the ride and end up in Mickey’s house. Mickey and Pluto decorate the tree and the chipmunks come to enjoy their new surroundings, especially when they find the bowl of nuts on the mantle. Pluto takes note, and unable to get Mickey to notice, ends up trying to evict Chip and Dale himself which results in disaster.

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Dear Mickey’s Christmas Tree, I want to be inside you.

The setup maybe similar to “Toy Tinkers,” but the gags are separate. Pluto, being unable to speak, is easy to feel for because he’s obviously frustrated by his inability to communicate to Mickey that they have a rodent problem. Chip and Dale, naturally, have no interest in leaving the warm confines of the house and refuse to go without a fight. They’re a bit villainous though, and I find myself naturally drawn to Pluto, though the spirit of the holidays would say everyone should coexist in peace. The artwork is excellent, especially the backgrounds. Seriously, the Disney artists convinced me living in that tree would be bliss. It’s funny and cute, and its more inclusive attitude towards the Christmas holiday helps elevate it above “Toy Tinkers” for me, but both should be considered holiday classics.

“Pluto’s Christmas Tree” is actually rather easy to come by. It’s been re-released many times on various holiday collection DVDs and sometimes is shown on television during the holidays. Most recently it was included as a bonus feature on the DVD/Blu Ray release of “Mickey’s Christmas Carol” which has yet to return to “The Vault.” However you choose to view it, I suggest you make the time to watch it this year and every year after.


#6 – The Simpsons: Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire

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“Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire” (1989)

The holiday most often associated with The Simpsons is clearly Halloween, thanks to the annual presence from the Treehouse of Horror series. Which is why I find it funny that the show’s very first episode was a Christmas special (though it should be noted, it was the 8th episode by production order). I can’t think of another long-running show that lead-off with a Christmas special. South Park famously originated as a Christmas short, but that wasn’t its first true episode. “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire” also aired a full month before the show’s second episode so that it could air before Christmas. It was also not written by Matt Groening, or any of the other individuals most associated with the show, but cartoonist Mimi Pond. It was also her only contribution to the show and the only episode from the show to air in the 1980s.

“Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire” succeeds as both a Christmas special and as an introduction for the series. Homer is depicted as a screw-up who wants to give his family a good Christmas, but his miserly boss has decided not to give out bonuses this year. When Marge has to use what little savings they have to get a tattoo removed off of their son, Homer looks to get a second job to pay for Christmas. He doesn’t tell his family and decides to take a part-time job as a mall Santa. This includes a humorous sequence of Homer going through Santa training, learning how to laugh and what to say to bad kids who sit on his lap. His plan blows up in his face though when he receives a meager payout on Christmas Eve. Defeated, he and Bart decide to accompany fellow Santa Barney Gumble to the dog track and wager their bucks on a long-shot, who Homer feels compelled to bet on because of his name:  Santa’s Little Helper. The dog, of course, loses but when his owner kicks him to the curb the Simpsons gain a new pet, and a worthy Christmas present.

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The gang’s all here for the first episode.

It’s a cute story and a good window into what the show is all about when it’s at its best. The Simpsons don’t always catch the best breaks, through some of their own doing, but they find a way to make it work. They’re basically a happy family that cares about one another, unlike a certain other animated TV family. As viewers, we like them, even though we laugh at them. There’s enough pity in Homer’s plight to get a reaction, but not so much that the episode becomes a depressing slog.

“Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire” is still the best Christmas special produced by the long-running series and can be found on the season one box set. It’s also been released on DVD as part of a holiday collection of episodes and is guaranteed to air this season on FXX, along with the other Christmas specials. Just keep an eye out for it if you wish to catch it that way.

 


#7 – Donald Duck: Toy Tinkers

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“Toy Tinkers” (1949)

For the number seven entry I am cheating a little, but only a little. I spelled it out in the intro to this feature, but I am considering theatrical shorts for this feature as long as they’ve basically been adopted by television. “Toy Tinkers” starring Donald Duck falls under that umbrella as it debuted in theaters in 1949. “Toy Tinkers” came during a time when Walt Disney was moving away from the short subject to focus on feature length films and television productions. Pretty much the only character still receiving shorts was Donald Duck, who had usurped Mickey Mouse’s role as lead character for cartoons. Mickey would receive short films here and there into the fifties, but Donald was the only one receiving consistent work.

“Toy Tinkers” is very similar to a later cartoon, “Pluto’s Christmas Tree,” because both feature Chip and Dale. In this cartoon, Chip and Dale sneak into Donald’s house after seeing him chop down a Christmas tree. When they get in they decide to stay due to its warmth and abundance of nuts. Donald, not being the friendliest duck, sees the duo and decides to have some fun at their expense. He even ends up pulling a gun on them after disguising himself as Santa Claus. Chip and Dale, of course, do not take this laying down and opt to fight back. They’ve had a few battles with Donald over the years, and just like in virtually every other one, they get the better of the duck after turning his living room into a war zone.

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Santa Donald: way better than Santa Claus.

“Toy Tinkers,” as the name implies, features lots of toys and gags centered around them. The tamest moments of the short feature Chip and Dale interacting with these toys in an innocent and curious way. The toys also play a vital role to the combat sequences that follow where pop guns, trains, and wind-up cars are put to use. It’s a clever little short that’s plenty charming. It doesn’t really feature much Christmas spirit, but makes up for it with its use of timeless characters. Seriously, if you can’t enjoy a Donald Duck cartoon then we can’t be friends.

“Toy Tinkers” can be found on the Chronological Donald Volume 3, a collection of Donald Duck cartoons that is long since out of print and mighty expensive on the resale market. There is a holiday DVD from about ten years ago that included it which is much easier on the wallet, “Holiday Celebration with Mickey and Pals,” if you wish to seek it out. The Disney Channel will sometimes slip it into its programming during December as well, especially if they need to fill some small gaps in programming, but you’ll have to keep your eyes peeled to find it. If you wish to make it easy on yourself, pretty much every old Disney short can be found on Youtube. Since the company isn’t actively trying to sell them, they must not care about their availability online.

 


#8 – South Park: Mr. Hanky, The Christmas Poo

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“Mr. Hankey, The Christmas Poo” (1997)

You can always count on South Park for something perverse, and it doesn’t get much more perverse than a talking piece of Christmas shit. South Park has made quite a few holiday specials, and no holiday has received more attention than Christmas. South Park’s Christmas specials contain some of the usual suspects like Jesus and Santa Claus, but creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker apparently felt they needed their own Christmas mascot so they created Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo.

Mr. Hankey is the star of the show’s very first Christmas special which aired during the first season. Mr. Hankey is presented as a benevolent spirit of the holidays who packs more Christmas cheer into his tiny, little body than any man, woman, or child. Mr. Hankey is the star of the episode, but the plot centers around Kyle who feels left out at Christmas because he’s apparently the only Jewish kid in town. His mother flips out at Mr. Garrison for casting Kyle as Joseph in the school Christmas pageant which snowballs on Garrison as everyone apparently has a problem with some aspect of Christmas. The Jews want to ditch the nativity, the Christians want Santa out, the hippies want to stop the slaughter of trees, and so on.

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Mr. Hankey in Mr. Mackey’s coffee is probably the best gag in the entire episode, or worst, depending on your point of view.

Meanwhile, Kyle views Mr. Hankey as the solution to the town’s problem because he brings presents to all good girls and boys (so long as they eat their fiber), regardless of religion. It’s just that few in town are willing to embrace a piece of crap as a new Christmas mascot. Kyle starts seeing Mr. Hankey everywhere as a personified dookie with a Santa hat, which leads to some disgusting but hilarious gags, while everyone else just sees a regular old mookie-stink. Kyle ends up getting committed, only for the kids to find out Chef believes in Mr. Hankey, and the special actually wraps up in a pretty typical Christmas special sort of way, when you ignore the talking poop.

It’s funny, it’s ridiculous, but South Park actually does a pretty nice job of highlighting how non-Christian kids must feel at Christmas time. There’s a heart here, which is part of the humor as Parker and Stone prove to the viewer that we too can love a piece of poo. “Mr. Hankey, The Christmas Poo” can be found on the season one box set of South Park and also the “Christmas Time in South Park” DVD, which I reviewed previously. The special, along with every other South Park Christmas special, is almost certainly guaranteed to air on Comedy Central this year so check your local listings if you want to catch it. And lastly, every episode of South Park is available to stream on hulu if you want to watch it that way.


#9 – A Flintstone Christmas

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A Flintstone Christmas (1977)

It may have been considered a slight when I passed over The Flintstones for inclusion in my top ten animated television shows, but maybe a 9th place finish here will take away some of that sting. The modern stone-age family has been around a long time, and while their profile has certainly diminished over the years, The Flintstones are still pretty well known.

Basically every time I have chosen to talk about The Flintstones on this blog it has been related to one of the Christmas specials, and in particular, A Flintstone Christmas. A Flintstone Christmas came after the show stopped airing new episodes and is essentially the episode “Christmas Flintstone” re-done as an hour-long television special (for more on that, check out my review last year of A Flintstone Christmas Carol which also includes “Christmas Flintstone”). It used to be that you could count on seeing the special re-air every year on either Cartoon Network or TBS but that hasn’t been the case of late. So like yesterday’s entrant, A Garfield Christmas, A Flintstone Christmas is in danger of becoming kind of an unknown Christmas special.

The story for A Flintstone Christmas revolves around Fred and Barney filling in for Santa Claus. Fred is supposed to play Santa for his work’s Christmas party, but when the real Santa gets injured on Fred’s roof (sound familiar?) Fred has to put on the Sant suit and fill-in. Barney tags along as Fred’s elf, and the two stumble their way through the night. At one point they lose all the presents and have to head back to the North Pole to get more, but this serves as a way for the show to present Santa’s work shop and his many elves.

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When Santa gets hurt, it’s up to Fred and Barney to make sure Christmas goes on without a hitch.

There’s a few original songs thrown in to liven things up. They’re actually not too bad and it’s kind of nice to not have to hear the same public domain songs over and over. The only one I don’t care for is the overly sappy song that revolves around Pebbles waking up on Christmas morning. Fred (Henry Cordon) has some singing parts that can hardly be labeled as singing, so those songs are kind of lousy as well. All in all though, the music gets the job done.

The animation is pretty standard Hanna-Barbera stuff and doesn’t look all that different from the show. It’s probably slightly better and there’s some very minor visual effects at work in some places. It’s really only noticeably better if you watch this special and then watch an episode of the show. Unfortunately, there aren’t any great dinosaur gags to speak of, which was a major part of the show’s charm. It would have been fun to see some odd dinosaur appliance incorporated into Santa’s work shop, but oh well.

A Flintstone Christmas is kind of hard to come by these days. Since it’s not shown on television anymore, the only way to see it is either online or by purchasing the special on DVD. For some reason, A Flintstone Christmas Carol appears to be the special of choice that gets peddled around each holiday season while A Flintstone Christmas has been relegated to Amazon’s manufacture-on-demand printing service. As a result, the DVD release is as bland as it gets, though it does also include the 90’s special A Flintstone Family Christmas, which actually isn’t that bad. It’s a really fun special though with a premise that would clearly be ripped-off down the road. There’s some laughs and nice Christmas sentiments tossed-in and it never feels overdone. Hopefully A Flintstone Christmas will eventually find its way back to television where it belongs this time of year.

 


#10 – A Garfield Christmas

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A Garfield Christmas (1987)

We’re rounding into the home stretch as coming in at number 10 is A Garfield Christmas. It seems odd to use a running analogy when describing Garfield as one wouldn’t choose him to handle the last leg of a relay race. Garfield is essentially a typical cat personified. His gluttonous, slothful, behavior is really only barely exaggerated beyond that of a normal house cat. He’s sarcastic, possessing a dry wit, though he also does have a little prankster in him where Odie, the dog, is concerned. His owner, John, apparently knows his cat’s thoughts as the two pretty much are able to communicate with one another even though Garfield, being a cat and all, can’t actually speak.

In the 80’s, Garfield made the move from the comic strip to television in the form of multiple specials, most being well received and even Emmy award winning. The success of these specials is likely what led to the creation of the cartoon series Garfield & Friends. In A Garfield Christmas, John packs up the car and takes his pets to his family’s farm for Christmas. Garfield would much prefer to hang back at the house with his nice, warm, bed and has little use for Christmas cheer (though he’s down with the food and presents). He’s able to find a kindred spirit in Grandma when they arrive at the farm, who also seems to detest the mushy aspect of Christmas. The rest of John’s family is just as enthusiastic about Christmas as he is, with both John and his brother Doc Boy essentially reverting to a child-like state of being for the holidays.

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Looky what he can do!

It’s the Grandma character that steals the show. Her vibrant personality is offset by a quiet sadness as she reveals to Garfield that Christmas is the time of year that makes her miss her late husband the most. It’s a simple plot device but one that’s extremely relatable for most people (and if not, it will be someday) which is what makes it so effective. Garfield is able to do a nice thing for Grandma, which is what brings about the feels in this Christmas special. Garfield isn’t really associated with warm-heartedness, but it works here. The special isn’t just one big love-fest either as it’s still pretty funny and quite entertaining.

The special is over 25 years old and is starting to show its age. The Garfield strip had its own look and personality which translated well to animation and is something age will never take away. It may be old, but it’s still nice enough to look at. The audio, both the voice cast and music, are well done and one of the special’s strengths. Being that the special is old and the Garfield character isn’t as popular as he used to be, it’s not often shown any longer on television, which is a real shame. It is available on DVD as part of a Garfield holiday collection that I fully recommend as both the Halloween and Thanksgiving specials are pretty good. It’s also probably really cheap and the best way to make sure A Garfield Christmas is a part of your holiday this year.

 


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