(12/04/08 Update: I'm currently cleaning up the dead links in this article. You can also link
Ahh Christmas. The tree, the stockings, the mistletoe and - of course - the holiday television programming.
Some of my fondest Christmas memories were spent in front a of television watching such classics as the animated Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer or one of the myriad versions of Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol'.
So without further ado, I am presenting you with my big, big list of holiday specials. I've tried to categorize the list into subsections to make it a little more bearable and consumable. The list is in no particular order, though the first section, 'essentials', are (in my humble opinion) the cream of the crop. I should also note that I've only included programs for which I was able to find online videos so you'll notice some glaring omissions (like 'A Christmas Story' and 'Miracle on 34th Street).
In any event, here's wishing you a great Christmas. Now sit back and dig into some of the best Christmas content on the web...
If you can only watch a couple of holiday specials, these are the ones to watch. This is the proverbial 'hall of fame' of Christmas programming.
Stop-Motion Animation (Claymation)
There aren't too many specials in this category, but the legendary Rudolph the Red Nosed Reinder (listed as entry #3 in the "Essentials" section) make it necessary to call out other specials in this genre. There's something about claymation and Christmas that seem to go hand-in-hand.
Versions of 'A Christmas Carol'
There have been so many versions of this Charles Dickens classic that it warrants its own section in this article. Here are just a few of the adaptations (all animated, I might add):
The sitcom is another mainstay of Christmas. Year after year television sitcoms revel in the same, recyled holiday plots. Of course there are some original bright spots (like 'The Office' and Seinfeld's classic 'Festivus' episode).
Christmas music is an integral part of Christmas. Sure some of it is cheesy and way too corny, but I generally enjoy Christmas music in reasonable doses. Here are some of my favorites. My all-time favorite clip is probalby the improbable duet between David Bowie and Bing Crosby from a 1977 Christmas Special.
Miscellaneous Specials & Documentaries
This is a mish-mash of some different Christmas programming that I didn't know how to categorize otherwise. Still, you'll find some interesting (non-animated) stuff.
Of course, with all that Christmas television programming there's bound to be an equal amount of holiday-themed advertising. Here are some of my favorites. I'm partial to the Hershey's Kisses commercial.
Of course, not all holiday specials are created equal. Folks have create a lot of horrible Christmas programming over the years. I'm not about to subject myself to watching or cataloging all of them, but here are a few to get you started. But note that you have been warned - these will have you crying out: "oh the humanity" before too long.