Well, not every holiday special can be A Charlie Brown Christmas. Here are some of the more oddball programs that gave viewers a reason to say ho-ho-huh?:
5. Christmas Comes to Pac-Land (1982) When Santa Claus (voiced by Optimus Prime himself, Peter Cullen) crash lands in Pac-Man’s neighborhood, it’s up to the residents of Pac-Land to save Christmas, a holiday none of the disc-shaped ghost munchers have ever heard of. Not one of Hanna-Barbera’s finest.
4. A Claymation Christmas Celebration (1987) This special is often written off unfairly as the California Raisins Christmas Special, but in truth the advertising icons only show up for one number toward the end. The rest of animator Will Vinton’s Emmy winner (that’s right, the Raisins won an Emmy) features anthropomorphic animals and objects belting out holiday tunes like “Here We Come A-Waffling.”
3. Denis Leary’s Merry F#%$in’ Christmas (2005) Face it, inebriation and profanity are an integral part of many folks’ holiday celebration, and this gleefully twisted special will warm the cockles of their black hearts. [LINK NSFW]
2. He-Man & She-Ra: A Christmas Special (1985) In this, shall we say, misguided special, He-Man and She-Ra have to play guardian to a couple of Earth kids who somehow get warped over to Eternia, and by the end even mean old Skeletor is feeling some holiday cheer. Man, the ’80s were weird.
1. The Star Wars Holiday Special (1978) Hey, if George Lucas says he’d like to track down every existing copy of this monstrosity and destroy it, it can’t be all bad, right? Yes, it can. The first 10 minutes or so are spoken entirely in Wookie-ese, WITH NO SUBTITLES, getting things off to a nice, utterly unwatchable start. From there we get Harvey Korman, Bea Arthur, Art Carney, and a completely mortified Harrison Ford, who looks like he’s being operated on without anesthesia. But that only shows he’s paying attention. For all the crap we give Lucas for messing with Star Wars, this is one instance where we’d actually be in favor of wholesale revisions.
Photo: Credit: Everett Collection