I went on a holiday special binge.
It's a Wonderful Life. After a standard youthful period of thinking this was hopeless oldie cheese, I've come to love this movie. I think being a grown up gives you a much different perspective on it, and it's a surprisingly modern movie. Plus it probably comes the closest to making me cry to any movie ever, so it has ascended to the throne of holiday viewing.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. The classic Rankin-Bass tale of misfits and redemption. Re-watched it this year. It holds up. Very creative and watchable. I need Yukon Cornelius to run some meetings at work so we can get some things done. Although we have less threats from Bumbles than he would be used to. If we can keep him focused we can use him.
Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas. Can anyone who has not seen this truly call themselves a lover of holiday specials? Or, really, truly lived? I say no. It's a little obscure these days, I think, but nonetheless glorious. I love this on an entirely different level than I did growing up, when it was just cute and muppets and such. Now: classic old-school muppetry, humor, songs, and terrific characters and story. But what sets it apart from your standard classics like Rudolph is the Riverbottom Nightmare Band, or as they are more simply known, The Nightmare. So there's this big town-wide talent contest. And the principles are all counting on winning it with their heartwarming songs of love and friendship. And you think they're bound to win, maybe in a tie, and everyone will live happily ever after. I won't spoil it, but what no one counts on is a last-minute heavy metal entry that blows everyone off the stage. They'd be awesome on their own, but what makes them perfect is that they COULD NOT BE MORE OUT OF PLACE in this show. Everything else is quiet and simple. Emmet and Wendell repair someone's fence for 50 cents. Ma Otter does laundry for a living using a washboard and tub. They sing simple folk songs. A bullfrog runs the town's most happening (or most hopping, if you will--and I hope you will not) restaurant. Then, there's a heavy metal band. What? I wonder if this was a commentary on the declining standards in music. Anyway, I'd love to post a video of The Nightmare's performance, but these never seem to be available. (Trust me. It is not available. Don't go looking for it, Taylor. You may not like what you find.) The best I can give you is a picture of them in concert:
and a link to a great cover of the song. Look at the picture and listen to the song. Eventually watch the show to appreciate in full.
A Christmas Story. Another one that's even better as an adult. I think I appreciate narration and the father's performance more every time I watch it.
Frosty the Snowman. I haven't seen this one for years, but I'll put it here out of respect.
Christmas Comes to Pac-Land. Santa somehow crash lands in Pac-Land. They don't have Christmas there, but Pacman helps out anyway, despite constant threat of a chomping from the ghosts. Now, I only saw the show once, so I don't remember clearly, but I think the word "chomp" was used in some form (e.g., "I'll chomp you!", "...give him a chomping...") about 8,000 times. I don't recall any of the other episodes of the Pacman cartoon, but I'm going to guess that most of them revolved around him trying to go about his life while evading a chomping. So at least the Christmas special stayed within the scope of the show. I guess what seems weirdest to me is that logic dictates that a cartoon that was made solely as a product spin-off ought to have a holiday like Christmas. Perhaps they didn't want to steer into non-secular ideas and get into Pac-Land's theology.
Family Guy Christmas Episode. I'm no fan of Family Guy but I caught the Christmas episode once. All Peter wanted to do was get home to watch the Kiss Christmas Special, which we saw snippets of throughout the episode. Listen, that's all I need to hear. I appreciated it for what it was.
Curious George: A Very Monkey Christmas. I had high hopes for this, but had never seen the Curious George show. Turns out that it was a little young for me, and that's saying something. I had enough of George about ten minutes in.
The Star Wars Christmas Special. I'll refer you to this table, which I drew up a couple of years ago, for brief discussion. I haven't dared to watch this again. Maybe if it was 24 minutes long or something. But it's not. It's two hours long.
Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey. A totally shamelessly manipulative story about a cute donkey that cries a lot. Nestor is, as the title implies, a donkey with long ears. For this, he is treated as the lowest possible swine, and endlessly berated by every other creature in the barnyard, including the guy who owns the place. (Who, despite the shame, never thought to crop Nestor's ears? This could have saved everyone a lot of trouble.) Nestor is heartbroken and cries. No one is sad. The viewer does not care because the the viewer is trying to be tricked by a minor manipulation of the Rudolph theme. Then some Bible folk buy him because they see his inner beauty I guess. He gets them through the desert because his ears block out the sand. So he's now a hero and everyone loves him. I mean, I'm glad Nestor could help out but maybe Joseph and Mary could have just bought windbreakers and goggles or something. Then Nestor cries in the end because he's so happy all the jerk animals now worship him. Hallmark commercials contain better logic and more emotional depth. They also have just as many songs: one. Except this is a whole show so you have to hear it over and over again as they use it to fill the time. Brutal. Stay away.
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