Thanksgiving was just the start of the Holiday TV & Movie specials season. Now we’re into the full swing of Christmas-themed specials as regular shows in the US take a break and something has to fill all those broadcasting hours. So we give you the sequel…Holiday Specials II: Santa’s Back!
These movies, classic TV specials and Christmas-themed episodes warm our hearts, make us laugh and remind us of the true spirit of the holiday. They are perfect for a cold winter evening of entertainment…Happy Viewing!
IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946) – Watching Jimmy Stewart realize the true value of community, friendship and Christmas spirit is essential viewing to get into that holiday spirit. Fun fact: this movie was a flop at the box office, but got a boost in popularity on TV when it was broadcast coast to coast by CBS and in other parts of the world by the US State Department. It’s now the must-see-every-year, sentimental favorite of Christmas movies.
A CHRISTMAS CAROL (Various) - Charles Dickens immortal classic is truly the king of all Christmas tales and it’s been made into tons of TV specials, made-for-TV-movies, musicals and theatrical releases over the years. On TV, you can check out serious adaptations like the animated version from 1971, the George C. Scott from 1984 and the Patrick Stewart from 1999; and for some fun, the Muppets, the Flintstones, Mr. Magoo, Mickey, Bugs Bunny and even the Smurfs have taken on Scrooge in TV specials. Some of the best film versions are: SCROOGED (1988) – Bill Murray skewers Dickens and network TV specials about Christmas. Brilliant satire with a heart. A CHRISTMAS CAROL (1951) – starring Alistair Sim in his most memorable role and in what critics consider the best of the movie adaptations. And if that’s not enough, you can check out some of the weirder stuff like the graphic novel “Batman: Noel” , the special episode of Doctor Who “A Christmas Carol” and the play “A Klingon Christmas Carol” based on Star Trek’s made-up Klingon language.
A CHRISTMAS STORY (1983) – “You’ll shoot your eye out!” FRA-GI-LAY – It’s Italian!” Just two of the classic, oft-repeated lines from A CHRISTMAS STORY. An 80s classic, only the most cold-hearted can watch as 8-year old Ralphie struggles against parents, teachers, bullies and even Santa himself in his quest to get the ultimate gift. This one will leave you smiling.
THE POLAR EXPRESS (2004) – Visually beautiful adaptation of the classic Christmas book of the same name, THE POLAR EXPRESS is a modern holiday treat. Tom Hanks stars in and narrates the tale of a boy and a magical Christmas train that goes all the way to Santa’s HQ at the North Pole. One of the first films to be made entirely using full motion-capture CGI, THE POLAR EXPRESS is a treat to watch with loved ones.
NATIONAL LAMPOON’S CHRISTMAS VACATION (1989) – One of the few sequels that is as good as the original, if not better. This time around visiting relatives (Randy Quaid gross as ever), bad bosses, and a crazy squirrel turn the Griswold’s family holiday into a disaster. Check out Julia Louis-Dreyfus in a pre-Seinfeld role as the bitchy next door neighbor.
LOVE, ACTUALLY (2003) – Romantic, sweet, sentimental and festive…all sum up of one of the best holiday movies of the new millennium. Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson, and Emma Thompson lead an all-star cast as we all discover that Christmas is really about love, magic and watching Hugh Grant dance.
HOME ALONE (1990) – A huge BO smash when it came out, this instant classic was written by the great John Hughes and turned Macaulay Culkin into a star. It also made us laugh out loud as we watch Kevin beat the pants off two of the dumbest burglars of all time, of course he secretly misses his family…try not to cry at the end.
DIE HARD (1988) – Not your typical Christmas movie, true – but it all takes place during a Christmas party! At it’s core, DIE HARD is about a guy who is just trying to spend some time with his family for Christmas when he gets interrupted by a bunch of bad guys. So sit back and watch John Maclane kick some ass and take a sip of eggnog every time you see a holiday reference.
A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) – The true granddaddy of Christmas specials, this classic has won an Emmy Award. It’s the second-longest running Christmas special and its jazz soundtrack by pianist Vince Guaraldi went triple platinum in the US. Christmas just isn’t complete without Chuck and that sad little tree.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966) – Forget the Jim Carrey movie, if you want to see the magical Dr. Seuss story jump off the pages, check out the original TV version. You’re a mean one Mr. Grinch, indeed, if you don’t get a warm fuzzy feeling from watching this.
Friends “The One With the Holiday Armadillo” (2000) – A classic holiday episode from everyone’s favorite friends. Heartwarming and, of course, funny, this episode finds Ross trying to tell his son about Hanukah. Naturally, the only costume he can find on Christmas Eve is – The Holiday Armadillo! But then Joey and Chandler show up wearing Superman and Santa costumes, respectively… mad cap comedy ensues as Ross tries to weave Supes and Santa into the Hanukah story.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964) – Stop-motion was huge for holiday specials back in the day and Rudolph is one of the best. And even though it’s a little dated looking, the emotional impact and child-like joy remains, which explains why this special has been broadcast every Christmas since 1964, making it the longest-running Christmas special. Based on the famous song, Rudolph’s big moment will have you cheering the little reindeer that saves Christmas.
Star Wars Holiday Special (1978) – This special is so bad, it’s good…okay, it’s just bad. This crazy mishmash features the first appearance of Boba Fett, Carrie Fisher singing the STAR WARS theme (yes, there are apparently words), and performances by Jefferson Starship, Diahann Carroll, Art Carney, Harvey Korman and the least Star Wars-of-all: Bea Arthur! Never heard of it? No wonder, George Lucas hates this special so much that he’s tried to erase it from memory for years – it only exists thanks to VHS recordings made off-the-air from its only airing on November 17, 1978.
Seinfeld “The Strike” (1997) – One word…Festivus!