Today, we’ll be rounding out the trifecta of Christmas cheer with one last look at an aspect of the holidays that we all share.
It’s kind of sad that we don’t see any more Christmas specials on television. Instead, we just get the same string of Harry Potter movies that we get on Halloween and Thanksgiving.
Back in my day, we got a flood of great shows and movies around this time of year. So, in an attempt to reintroduce variety, please accept this short collection of Christmas specials that time has seemed to forget.
A Wish for Wings That Work
Peanuts wasn’t the only comic strip to get a holiday special; many people tend to forget the often politicized Outland whose most recognizable character – Opus the Penguin – got a book that was adapted for T.V.
Opus laments the fact that he was born a penguin as this means he’s a bird that can’t fly. After making a wish for fight capable wings to Santa, he starts on a journey of self-acceptance and pride in who he is.
The special features amazing visuals and gives its cast tons of personality via the political and social commentary that Outland was known for. What’s more, it also features amazing voice talent and direction – including an appearance from the recently and dearly departed Robin Williams as the disgruntled kiwi George.
This special teaches the lesson that Mick Jagger taught before it: “You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometimes,… you’ll get what you need.”
The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus
There have been a lot Christmas stories that attempted to revise the origins of Santa, but this one is my personal favorite.
This retelling paints the joyful holiday figure as the adopted child of immortal forces and follows his literal fight for the right to spread happiness.
As to be expected from the man who created the world of Oz, this story is grand and fantastical in scope. Combine this with the nostalgic twinge of that classic Rankin/Bass animation, and the special is a real treat.
There is a traditionally animated revision of this movie for those who hate on stop-motion animation, but I actually recommend the original for its more epic scale – especially the climax that plays out like a battle ripped straight out of one of The Lord of the Rings movies.
The Stingiest Man in Town
Another thing we aren’t lacking in the Christmas department are versions of A Christmas Carol. But, if I had to choose one, this would be it.
In the past, I’ve voiced a displeasure with musicals, but this one isn’t bad and is actually quite well written and performed. Part of that may be due to the fact that it was adapted from an original Broadway musical.
This special, although it skips over or rushes past a few iconic moments from other renditions, does so in order to expand on and focus on others. This helps us to better see and appreciate Scrooge’s transformation into the good man we know he’ll become in the end.
I could never actually choose one version of this classic, but this one is absolutely worth seeing.