Back in October, we here at RevPub shared are favorite Halloween specials. In the spirit of that, we decided to share our favorite Christmas/holiday specials as well. Though Halloween still has most of our favorite specials, Christmas isn’t entirely left out and can produce some great, memorable moments as well. Here they are:
Will Vinton’s Claymation Christmas Celebration (1987): This is one of the most memorable from my childhood, though I only remember seeing it once, maybe twice. It was the height of claymation in the 80s after the California Raisins hit it big in their TV commercials. I loved this special — doo-wop, camels, the self-striking bells, and the “wassailing” lyrics runner. Of course my favorite, being the person I am, were the dinosaur hosts, Rex (the actor sounds like he’s doing a George Plimpton impersonation) and Herb the Styracosaurus. I just rewatched it for the first time in probably over 20 years, it’s still a great show.
A Garfield Christmas Special (1987): I still love all things Garfield. While this one has a more sappy ending than most Garfield stories (even the orange feline himself acknowledges it!) it is still one of my childhood favorites that still holds up. From the “gift that keeps on giving,” to the “doc boy, doc boy, doc boy” runner, and of course Odie’s gift exchange. Even the music’s good! I hope they still show this one every year!
Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire (1989): It’s not the strongest episode of the veritable TV family, but it was the first time they broke out from shorts on the Tracy Ullman Show and had their own 30 minutes to fill. It’s still a great episode, and because it’s early in their lifetime, it feels more like an animated sitcom than a zany cartoon. The voices are still works in progress and the animation a little primitive, but it’s still a great show and takes you back to the basics of what made the Simpsons a hit.
MST3k Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1991) and Santa Claus (1993): I have distinct memories of watching these two episodes on Christmas Eve night during that “can’t sleep” phase of Christmas. Martians is completely absurd but perfect for riffing, and contains a number of hilarious runners, my favorite being “head butt” when the martians touch heads. Santa Claus is a goldmine of humor, from the creepiness of Santa’s cloud-spy lair, his horrible laughing reindeer, and the weirdo antagonist, “Pitch” the devil. It also has a quote that sticks in my mind, “Santa has the power to reverse film!”
Futurama Xmas Story (1999), A Tale of Two Santas (2001), Futurama Holiday Spectacular (2010), and the holiday song in Bender’s Big Score (2007): ALL of Futurama’s holiday episodes are brilliant shows about the nature of the holidays. They are also so dark that even the creators comment during the audio commentaries “wow, we shouldn’t have been able to air this!” But they are so wonderful. Where else can you see a robot Santa who judges EVERYONE to be naughty and tries to gun them down? Or Hanukkah Zombie (voiced by Mark Hamill) or Kwanzaa Bot, voiced by effin’ Coolio! (who’s been giving out the same book What the Hell is Kwanza? for 647 years!) Watch them with a sense of humor and they won’t disappoint.
Honorable Mention: AVGN’s Bible Games (2006), Bible Games II (2009), and Bible Games III (2012): I found the first of these episodes RIGHT after I found AVGN. They are some of the best and most entertaining Internet videos out there. They have throwing baby Moses in the water, “Sunday Fun Day,” and the great word search in the Game Boy version of the King James Bible. Definitely give them a watch to lighten the holiday mood!