T-McBee’s Top 12 Christmas/Holiday Specials

Christmas_Card

The holiday break has started and there is about a couple of days ’til Christmas. I’m sure anyone reading this are expecting me to plan out a countdown that has something to do with the holidays this year, and they are absolutely right! But what kind of countdown would I do for this special time of year? Presents and giving are great and all, but there’s something about Christmas and holiday specials that keeps me closer to home. This is my first holiday written countdown listing down my Top 12 Christmas/Holiday Specials. Here are the rules:

The time limit of these specials has to be from 30 minutes to an hour. I may accept ones that go over the hour mark if they are a three part special.
I’m not going to add any full-length holiday films. So no Home Alone, A Christmas Story or other films with plots set around Christmas time. Perhaps those films will be saved for a countdown next year.
 I am not going to add any specials by Rankin Bass. I know Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman and Santa Clause is Coming to Town are classic specials that people always watch on Christmas (and don’t get me wrong I like watching them too), though they tend to overshadow other holiday specials that needs more recognition.

And most importantly, the following choices here are all on my opinion. So please have the heart to accept my choices for this time of year and not go trolling on my door. Now let us unveil the surprises and see what’s on the list from T-McBee’s Top 12 Christmas/Holiday Specials starting with number 12.

12. Winnie the Pooh and Christmas Too

Winnie the Pooh from the early 90’s was a big thing for me to watch as a kid and there’s no deny that I’ve always liked to watch it’s 1991 Christmas special during the holidays; Winnie the Pooh and Christmas Too. Winnie the Pooh had other Christmas specials after this one was aired, but for some reason I have a lot of nostalgia with Winnie the Pooh and Christmas Too and it still holds up to be my favourite holiday special from the franchise.

Winnie the Pooh and Christmas Too is a cute story about Christopher Robin and all the characters from 100 Acre Woods writing a letter to Santa just two days before Christmas. They send the letter taking off through the winds toward the North Pole, though Pooh realized he didn’t ask what he wanted. So Pooh, along with Piglet, Tigger, Rabbit and Eeyore rewrite the letter again and upgrading more things on their wish list (Getting quite greedy with the gifts, aren’t we fellas?). When the new letter blew back to Pooh’s house in a day before Christmas,Pooh decides to disguise as Santa to make sure his friends gets the gifts that they’ve asked for and save Christmas in 100 Acre Woods.

Winnie the Pooh and Christmas Too sure has a lovely colour palette in its animation work, making the winter season in 100 Acre Woods incredibly gorgeous to look at. Man, I just love how the animators rendered the skies with this special. I got to admit that its cute plot and witty humour (especially from Tigger) will get more enjoyment from children than the adult crowd, but there is still some great laughs with this holiday special and still shows what Christmas is all about.

Oh by the way, who remembers this intro bumper with Michael Eisner when the special was originally aired?

  Eisner with Winnie the Pooh mascots… Cheesy, but memorable.

11. Merry Christmas Mr.Bean

Growing up in the 90s, Mr.Bean was a TV series that my family and I would watch together and enjoy laughing at Rowan Akison’s funny performances as Mr.Bean. I’ve always had a great laugh while watching Mr.Bean doing his silly gestured comedy and there’s no way that I can’t forget about the TV series Christmas special, Merry Christmas Mr.Bean.

It’s Christmas Eve and Mr.Bean is wandering around downtown at night to get his Christmas ornaments, purchase his Christmas turkey and as usual doing some silly antics. Mr.Bean comes across his girlfriend during the same night, who she expects to get a ring from him for Christmas this year. After some last minute shopping and exploring down town once more, Mr.Bean heads back home where more silly comedy and comical gags heads right away for the rest of Christmas Eve and even Christmas Day.

Merry Christmas Mr.Bean is a fun comedy special that doesn’t need so much dialogue to make the viewers laugh.  Many of the jokes are done using actions from the actors with a touch of little dialogue when the joke is needed, i.e. the gag with the massive turkey stuck on Mr.Bean’s head. Speaking of gags, there were many memorable gags that made me laugh pretty hard and some do hold well today, though some of the humour is now a little too silly for me to watch. Plus, I cannot forget that funny ending with the girlfriend’s gift from Mr.Bean. I won’t spoil the ending for you, but I will say it was one hysterical plot twist. People may think Mr.Bean is a selfish jerk if they’re not familiar with the show, I think he just acts like a child in a grown man’s body. Would you really picture a grown adult playing the nativity set around the holidays?

My favourite part from Merry Christmas Mr.Bean. Kind of reminded me of those years where I played around my family’s nativity set and coloured a fuzzy sheep figure in markers.

10. Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Now I know what you guys are thinking. “How can you put How the Grinch Stole Christmas so low on the list?” ,”It’s an instant Christmas classic you Grinch!” ,”You have no soul!”. I got to say that I am not a fan of Chuck Jones’ 60’s cartoon style, but his animated adaptation of Dr.Seuss’: How the Grinch Stole Christmas is the most memorable special that Chuck Jones has ever presented in the 1960s.

“Everybody knows the Whos celebrating Christmas in their Whoville town, including the Grinch’s hate on the holiday and his bitter frown.” Okay I’m not going to do this section in rhyme, so let me move on.

What makes How the Grinch Stole Christmas a memorable Christmas special is it shows that the most bitter individuals can easily bring heart during this time of year. And the Grinch himself is that great example of people turning from bitter to nice on Christmas Day. Plus, I can’t forget about the great singing moments from the Christmas special like the Whoville song and Thurl Ravenscroft’s holiday classic, “You’re a Mean One, Mr.Grinch”. The audio and music surely makes this special extremely unforgettable.

Providing with great acting and perfect narrative rhyming, Chuck Jones’ take on Dr.Seuss’: How the Grinch Stole Christmas is a simple but engaging special that shows a strong meaning of Christmas, even if I think the pacing of the cartoon can get a bit slow in some parts. It may not be a holiday special I will rush to whenever it plays on TV, but I will say it’s worth to watch this cartoon adaptation based on one of Dr.Seuss’ popular stories. It’s definitely way better than the 2000 live-action film adaptation starring Jim Carrey. It had great costume designs and settings, but the film REALLY lacked the charm and spirit that the original cartoon had.

I like you Jim, but I cannot picture The Grinch yelling like a lunatic. Where’s the subtlety?

9. Hey Arnold – Arnold’s Christmas

Christmas specials from Nickelodeon are always fun and entertaining to see, but what about a holiday special that shows a more meaningful way of giving for Christmas in a children’s TV program? I find it very surprising that Arnold’s Christmas from Hey Arnold does a way to show giving a special gift to someone pretty thoughtful in a whole new level.

Secret Santa is assigned at Arnold’s grandparents house, and Arnold has gotten Mr.Hyunh as his Secret Santa. He finds out that Mr.Hyunh had a daughter named Mai back in his home country, though has lost her during a difficult period and hadn’t seen her since. So Arnold, along his friend Gerald, goes to a government agency building and ask a stressful worker named Mr.Bailey to find Mr.Hyunh’s daughter. Mr.Bailey will only find Mai if the boys do his Christmas shopping and get EVERY item on the list. Meanwhile, Arnold’s secret admire and classmate Helga tries to find and give the perfect gift for Arnold.

Arnold’s Christmas from Hey Arnold is without a doubt the most unique and very heart spirited special from Nickelodeon that I have ever seen. The special really shows different perspectives of gifts and giving during the holidays such as Helga searching the expensive gift for Arnold or Arnold giving Mr.Hyunh his only daughter for Christmas. I also find it interesting that the episode has a real time event in the plot of Mr.Hyunh and Mai’s past in the Vietnam War. It’s pretty rare to see content like that in a children’s television program. I also like that there was a sense of dilemma with the characters and plot, which was pretty intense to see Arnold’s gift for Mr.Hyunh feeling impossible to do in the second half of the episode.

I see Hey Arnold‘s Arnold’s Christmas as an inspired holiday special for anyone to see. Watching this special always reminds me of the years that my sister and I would think of the most thoughtful gifts to who we care for (mostly our mom) no matter what holiday or special occasion we give that gift to. And still today, we continue to bring meaningful gifts to we love the most.

I think fans or anyone familiar with Hey Arnold will certainly be comfortable watching its Christmas episode. Not sure how non-fans will handle Helga’s Shakespearian dialogue.

Despite her denial and tough personality, but you gotta admit that Helga is a great character from Hey Arnold.

8. Disney’s Small One

The 1978 special Small One is the last animated feature that Don Bluth last directed before he left Disney Studios. This Christmas feature is by far the most heartwarming special I have ever watched that takes place in a biblical setting. Normally biblical specials for holidays like Christmas and Easter aren’t my kind of thing to view, but this one is an exception.

Outside of Nazareth, A boy and his father owns four donkeys to gather wood everyday. One donkey that is old, but playful named Small One always tends to slow down the routine every time by carrying smaller sticks on his frail body. One evening, The boy’s father tells his son that they have to sell Small One by tomorrow night, making the boy and Small One feel very devastated. The boy understands his father’s explanation, though he asks him if he can sell Small One instead. The boy takes Small One to Nazareth the next day, where it leads them to danger and trouble just to find the right owner to take care of free-spirited donkey.

Small One does have a pretty predictable ending (if  you know the biblical stories that are read during this time of the year), but the bonding friendship between the 10 year old boy and Small One is what makes this holiday feature extremely special. Viewers know that these two characters are slowly saying goodbye, but the affectionate results that is presented with these two is what leaves the audience emotionally touched. I’ve only seen Small One twice and it still pulls on my heart strings today. With great animations and a strong heartwarming vibe of hope and friendship, Small One is a special that you should NEVER forget to watch during this time of year… unless you don’t want to feel teary eyed during this holiday season.

A cute musical number that will make you bring out the waterworks. If not, you have no soul.

7. Blackadder’s Christmas Carol

Another TV series starring Rowan Akison also makes it on the countdown, but played as Edmund Blackadder in the U.K. comedy series Blackadder. The series Christmas special Blackadder’s Christmas Carol got my sister and I laughing real hard all the way through the special’s British wit and twist around plot with the series adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

Edmund Blackadder as Ebenezer Blackadder, is the nicest person that gives anything to the common folks in England, though the common people take advantage on both Blackadder and his assistant Baldrick every Christmas. On the night of Christmas Eve, Ebenezer Blackadder is visited by a spirit that shows visions of Blackadder’s past and future, showing his ancestors and descendants wit and cunning ways. Being admired by his ancestor’s motives, Blackadder asks the spirit what would happen if he became like them, which could make Ebenzer Blackadder from the nicest guy to the most heartless man in England.

I like to consider Blackadder’s Christmas Carol as the anti version of A Christmas Carol. Fans of Blackadder will still expect the ruthless personality that Edmund Blackadder has in this Christmas special, along with the shows literal, crude and witty humour, unless you can’t comprehend British sense of humour. Blackadder’s Christmas Carol is provided with some recognizable cast of British actors and great comedy dialogue and moments, like Blackadder’s visions of the future (my favourite part). However, some of its humour can be quite obnoxious or controversial for viewers to watch. There’s even a line that is now edited out on most networks and DVD releases, though sometimes it still airs the scene on some networks and DVDs of the special.

Baldrick’s last line in the following video either upset the Christian community or Animal Rights Activists to make this special slightly controversial.

I was a bit confused with the humour of Blackadder’s Christmas Carol at first, but thanks to an old high school friend who’s family was part British, I understood the jokes better. Then I introduced the special to my sister one day and it’s officially a Christmas special that we would watch together, though I think she likes it way more than I do. If you’re looking for an TV special of A Christmas Carol with a unique twist and British comedy, then I suggest give Blockadder’s Christmas Carol a go.

6.  Kung Fu Panda Holiday Special

Holiday special spin-offs from Dreamwork films tends to become a hit or miss whenever I see these type of Christmas specials on TV. I thought ones like Shrek the Halls and Merry Madagascar were just okay to watch, until I’ve witnessed Kung Fu Panda Holiday and it certainly became the best special that Dreamworks has ever produced for the holidays.

Every year, Po and Mr.Ping would make noodles to the towns folk during the winter holiday. Now that Po is the Dragon Warrior, there’s a chance that Po and Mr.Ping may not be together for this year as Master Shifu assigned Po to be the host of the annual Winter Feast at the Jade Palace. As excited Po is about this news, he also wants to celebrate the Holiday with his father Mr.Ping. Po tries to invites Mr.Ping to be the chef of the Winter Feast by firing the highest chefs in China, though he refuses his offer as he wants to celebrate the holidays like every year. Now Po is at an overwhelming dilemma to prepare the Winter Feast and trying to celebrate the holidays with his dad.

There are many great aspects that makes Kung Fu Panda Holiday a watchable special for the holidays. Like the series full length feature films, this special has outstanding animations, great voice work (surprisingly got the original voice cast from the films to do this), great comedy and well written dialogue. Plus it has really creative visual transitions that were really nicely presented throughout the special, like the segment where Po is preparing the Winter Feast as the host at the Jade Palace and the background is changing from one location to another.

THE FOLLOWING VIDEO MAY CONTAIN SOME SPOILERS

Great transitions, action pack animations and a suicidal bunny… Now THAT is what I like to see during the holidays!

But most importantly, the best part about Kung Fu Panda Holiday is that it shows such a great message, that maintaining traditional celebrations with friends and family during the holiday season is truly a special thing. Po in this special really shows that people should listen to their heart in order to make the right decision for the holidays, which could inspire others to do the same. The father and son bond that Po and Mr.Ping have is the main focus of this special and their relationship to spend together for the holidays is done pretty well without making it pretty hooky like many Christmas specials do. It’s definitely one of the better recent holiday specials I have ever seen.

5. Clone High – Snowflake Day

Okay, this one maybe a cheap pick as this holiday episode from Clone High doesn’t celebrate Christmas what so ever. However, the poking fun of other holidays with a make believe (but weird) holiday called Snowflake Day is what makes this episode intriguingly fun. The episode titled Snowflake Day is by far the funniest and only special from Clone High that got me laughing from beginning to end.

In the world of Clone High, everyone are enjoying their bizarre holiday by eating lamb tacos and wanting spices from ruthless ol’ Snowflake Jake, except for Joan who looses her spirit of Snowflake Day. That is until a homeless woman who’s looks and is voiced by Mandy Moore tries to get Joan back into the Snowflake Day spirit.In another major plot of the episode, Abe tries to find the perfect gift for Cleo, including helping Ghandi to invent a device that could make them rich. There are also minor sub-plots in the episode like  Principal Scudworth writing letters to his close contacts, Cleo planning her Snowflake Day party and JFK producing his Snowflake Day album.

Get a copy of the JFK Sing’s the Er,Ah, Snowflake Day Hits Today!

Despite the episode have nothing to do with Christmas and the minimal screen time Principal Scudworth had, Clone High‘s Snowflake Day is a bizarre but hilarious episode. The episode takes Snowflake Day to be like Christmas for how commercialize this specific holiday is, which is he reason why Joan really despises it. Plus I like how the series manages to continue the character development and story telling of the series plus celebrate the holidays at the same time. However, non-fans maybe quite confused with the series characters and story content if they jump to this episode first, for they will miss a huge chunk of information of the characters’ drama. Also, anyone with a sensitive mind (fans of the show or not) may not want to see Abe getting his cheek cut off from razor blades and kitchen utensils quite often in the episode.

Like The Simpsons, South Park, King of the Hill and other adult animated cartoons, it’s great that another adult animated series like Clone High can celebrate the holidays… but in an oddly different way.

4. Bump in the Night: Twas the Night Before Bumpy

The claymation TV series Bump in the Night is one of my favourite shows from my childhood and I knew I would still love Bumpy, Squish, Molly and the rest of the gang in their final adventure in a three part Christmas special to end the series called Bump in the Night: Twas the Night Before Bumpy.

Every year, Mr.Bumpy tries to snatch Santa’s bag to get all the gifts and goodies for himself, but fails every time. But this time, him and his pal Squishington (Squish for short) are off to go to the North Pole to grab the bag out of Santa’s Lair. In their absent of  the Cafe Karaoke Bar’s Annual Christmas Pageant, Molly Coddles is taken charge to be the pageant director of the event, which her new nasty attitude gives the others such a stressful time for the holiday pageant. During Bumpy and Squish’s journey towards the North Pole, they encounter new friends, new foes and hardship dangers to get Santa’s sack of gifts. But the most important part of this adventure is, will Bumpy realizes that Christmas isn’t all about the presents?

Despite the repetitive editing in using the same stock of animations and clips from other episodes, Twas the Night Before Bumpy is an oddly fun and whacky special that fans of the show and stop-motion fans will enjoy, especially the scenes where Bumpy and Squishington are inside Santa’s Lair that’s set up like a military facility. There is one scene that spoofs Raiders of the Lost Ark when Bumpy finally reaches closely to the bag. Sure, there are quite a lot of flaws with this Christmas special and I will admit that watching now can drag on at times, but there is still a lot of great memorable scenes and catchy songs that this underrated special has. Though now, I cannot handle some of Sqishington’s over the top yelling and whining in this hour Christmas special for some reason. In a 30 minute episode I can tolerate the character, but not that much in this three part special.

As a kid, I would watch Twas the Night Before Bumpy every year when it used to air on TV during Christmas time and it would always get me into the Christmas spirit. This special is a guilty pleasure for me and it’s too bad that it doesn’t play on TV anymore. However, anyone who owns a DVD copy of Bump in the Night: Twas the Night Before Bumpy can watch it anytime. Now I can smile fully wide anytime whenever I see this musical segment:

The special’s take on “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” with singing military snowmen is one heck of a catchy tune.

3. Any Christmas Episode from South Park

South Park is cannon to have really  funny, yet pretty offensive Christmas specials in some of the seasons. Heck, the series started off as animated Christmas cards in the early 90’s with Jesus versus Frosty (1992) and The Spirit of Christmas (1995). So it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t add a holiday special from South Park on the list.  As a fan of South Park, it was really tough to choose which 30 minute South Park Christmas special was my favourite, so I decided to choose all of them that’ve been aired so far.

From talking pieces of poo to devil worshipping woodland creatures, creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone knows how to make each South Park Christmas episode different from each other, despite the offensive, crude and disgusting humour is not for everyone. But one thing for sure, they can definitely bring “the spirit of Christmas” vibe with the show, especially making Christmas songs that are crude, but memorably hysterical.

THE FOLLOWING SONG CONTAINS MATURE CONTENT NOT SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN OR ANYONE WITH SENSITIVE MINDS

Hey there Mr. Reader! Merry @&^*%$’ Christmas!

The series first season Christmas special Mr.Hankey the Christmas Poo was one of the first episodes that got me interested to like South Park‘s comedy, despite being too young to watch this mature rated show at the time. Then as the years gone by when Christmas hit the calendar mark, I would get so pumped whenever a new South Park Christmas special was aired on television.

Episodes like Merry Christmas Charlie Manson, Mr.Hankey’s Christmas Classics and A Very Crappy Christmas always got me into the Christmas spirit. Other holiday episodes like Red Sleigh Down, It’s Christmas in Canada and Woodland Critter Christmas were the well written and humorous episodes to watch, though it didn’t fully got me into the Christmas vibe like the previous specials had.

But either way, any Christmas special from South Park are a must watch for adult viewers to see during the holidays, though I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone with a sensitive stomach.

2. A Charlie Brown Christmas

Watching Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus, Lucy and the others from the Peanuts comics has always been a franchise that I’ve always adored when I was a child. Charles L. Shultz’s The Peanuts looks like a series that no one would watch with its simplicity hand drawn visuals and wooden voice acting, but somehow the tone of the series surprisingly works and somehow appealing like its first animated Christmas special A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Many viewers are familiar with A Charlie Brown Christmas as being one of the most  iconic specials to be aired during the holidays like Dr.Seuss’: How the Grinch Stole Christmas and the Raskin/Bass specials (i.e. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer). However, this specific special has a more interesting meaning to look upon on, about a boy named Charlie Brown who’s feeling depressed during this time of year and seeing Christmas to be over-commercialized.

There’s nothing too much happing in the first act of the special. That is it’s until the second half where Charlie Brown is assigned to be the play director for the school’s nativity act, all thanks to Lucy’s advice and her psychiatry business. Charlie Brown is unable to control the play at times and the kids’ insulting words towards him when he and Linus brought a withered Christmas tree. This makes Charlie Brown spurt out “Doesn’t anybody know what Christmas is all about?”

 Linus will answer this question for you Charlie Brown.

Whenever I watch A Charlie Brown Christmas, I realize that it tells the true meaning of Christmas in the most simplest way without acting completely cheesy. Charles L Shultz had a huge difficult time to have this special air on CBS in 1965 and I feel like that reading the making of of A Charlie Brown Christmas is a miracle special to Shultz and the other people who were in production of the special. People loved it, Critics liked it and without everyone’s love for this special, A Charlie Brown Christmas probably wouldn’t see the light of day.

It’s not my number one favourite special, but I think A Charlie Brown Christmas deserves to be in the top 5 (or even top 3) of countdowns that are counting down Christmas and or holiday specials.

1. A Mickey’s Christmas Carol

As a fan of Disney’s animations and animated features, there’s no way I can’t forget to add A Mickey’s Christmas Carol as being one of the first and memorable TV holiday specials from my childhood. It’s great to see Mickey Mouse, Scoorge McDuck, Goofy and other recognizable Disney characters to play a part of the character roles in Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol in less than 30 minutes.

A Mickey’s Christmas Carol tells the the most important part of the Charles Dickens tale in less than half and hour, which is shocking to see that Disney pulled it off quite well since it’s pretty hard to tell a classic tale in that time limit and in animation. The Disney cast and cameos as their roles in this adaption of A Christmas Carol were mostly spot on and it was great to see obscure characters like Scoorge McDuck, Willie the Giant (Fun and Fancy Free) and the Rat and Mole (The Adventures of Ichabod and Mister Toad) to appear in this special. the animations were really good too, but don’t expect anything high quality like Disney’s full-length feature films.

I find every aspect in A Mickey’s Christmas Carol extremely memorable with it’s visuals, music and heart felt fun moments that is enjoyable for everybody. My favourite scene would have to be when Scoorge McDuck (as Ebenzer Scoorge) visits the ghost of Christmas Future and seeing Mickey Mouse (as Bob Cratchit) emotionally holding a small cane in front of Tiny Tim’s tombstone. This scene always make me silently touched whenever I see it. There are other great moments from the special like Goofy (as Jacob Marley) sneakingly haunting on Scoorge McDuck up the stairs or Scoorge McDuck’s past of his young self at Mr.Toad’s (as Fezzwig) Christmas party. Man! I can really continue talking all about the moments from A Mickey’s Christmas Carol, but I’ll stop right there.

Hearing its intro song always gives me a heartwarming vibe of Christmas. Kinda get’s me teary eyed every time I hear it.

People had nitpicked about A Mickey’s Christmas Carol and expected more from the special, but since this special holds so dear to my heart and is a Christmas special that I have watched with my family, sister and relatives, I had to place it number one on this list. Now, I wish everyone this year a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanza, Jolly Snowflake Day and most importantly, Happy Holidays!

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