Return of the Forgotten Christmas Specials

So, I just realized that I skipped over talking about underrated and forgotten Christmas Specials last year. And that’s a shame because there seems to be more and more of them as time goes on.

As I said some two years ago, we just don’t see proper Christmas specials anymore and the art seems to be dying off. To that end, I’m going to attempt to breath live back into these cheap and cheerful shows and make the holiday jolly again.

Father Christmas

If the art style looks familiar to you, that’s probably because you remember seeing The Snowman once or twice in your life. That movie was directed by Dianne Jackson and she was set to return for this pseudo-sequel. Sadly, she only managed to storyboard the project before falling ill to cancer that would take her on New Year’s Day the following year.

As for Father Christmas, it’s your standard tale of Santa looking to take a much-needed vacation. It’s quite entertaining to see the jolly symbol of the holiday struggle with the usual headaches of traveling abroad and even get tanked on stiff drink (minus the usual trappings of bad Christmas comedy that those words normally follow).

It’s funny, happy, and leaves you feeling great after. What’s not to love?

Will Vinton’s Claymation Christmas

You may be too young to remember the days when variety shows existed and would go all out for the holidays to gather talent from all corners of the world to celebrate. Well, this is the stop motion version of that.

Will Vinton, famous for his work with The California Raisins ( and yes, they do appear in the special), gave us this series of comedy skits and classic Christmas carols rendered in the style that only he could produce. His stylized production may be off-putting to some but are more than made up for with great writing and amazing music.

Plus, if you like this one, Will also did a Halloween special that I may go into next year.

Ziggy’s Gift

You thought I was kidding when I said Peanuts didn’t have the market cornered comic strip inspired specials, didn’t you?

This one is kind of odd but in a charming way. The story is just the titular Ziggy just being the genuinely nice and lovable (but not at all talkative) guy his always is – even as other less wholesome people try to trip him up for their own gain.

There really isn’t much to this show, but then again, there doesn’t need to be. It’s just a series of interconnected events that come together to make you feel really good at the end of the day. And that’s exactly what Ziggy would want.

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Three Criminally Under-Rated Christmas Specials

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.