Tuesday, December 17, 2013

50 Best Christmas Specials (30-21)

30. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1948)
While we all recognize Rankin-Bass' adaptation as a holiday masterpiece, there was also an animated short from Fleischer.  This is a fun, well animated short film with a very likable Rudolph.  It is not as memorable as the Rankin-Bass Rudolph, but it tells the story in its own way.  If you have ever bought a video/DVD full of public domain shorts or watched a public access station around Christmastime you have seen this short.

29. The Small One (1978)
One of the few good animated efforts from Disney in the seventies and an early achievement of legendary Don Bluth, whose influence seems more present than Disney's.  This is a sweet story of a boy who needs to sell his donkey, of course this being a Christmas short you know exactly where this story is going.  It does tug at the heart strings and the religious scenes are well done.  The short may be a little long, but Disney should still pull this out more often.

28. John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together (1979)
This is of course the special that introduced the Muppets version of 12 Days of Christmas, which I always seem to hear on the radio this time of year.  John Denver is an ideal celebrity host for a Muppet special, even though I am not really familiar with him.  He is pleasant and not afraid to make fun of himself, and shows no ego.  He reacts to the Muppets and lets them be funny.  These are all things that were completely absent from Lady Gaga's recent unfunny, poorly written special.  John Denver and the Muppets also features a fun bit with Miss Piggy.

27. The Night Before Christmas (1933)
This is Disney's sequel to Santa's Workshop.  The best adaptation of Clement C. Moore's classic rhyme that I have ever seen.  The padding added is all fun and moves along with the story.  This is of course one of the best Santas ever animated and it is fun to see him again.

26. Robbie the Reindeer in Hooves of Fire (2000)
This BBC special premiered stateside on Fox Family with its original British voice cast, but was later redubbed with American celebrities on CBS.  Personally I think that the British voices work better, but the American edit is paced a bit better.  This is a very unique special, with a unique sense of humor and appealing stop-motion.  It is not Rankin-Bass stop-motion, which is nice to see as so many specials around Christmas time use stop-motion as an easy reference to classic Christmas specials.  Robbie's animation has its own style.

25. The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus (1985)
It is a shame that this Rankin-Bass special does not have a larger following because it is one of their best.  Instead of being a celebrity driven musical it feels much more like an eighties fantasy, which stop-motion lends itself well to.  This is a fun origin story and features an incredibly likable Santa.  Think it is airing once this year, but should get better treatment.

24. A Death-Defying Decemberween (2008)
I love this cartoon as it shows Homestar's commitment to his delusion with a twist that shows him as surprisingly intelligent for his own unique logic.  Homestar spends the entire short hyping his dangerous stunt that could kill him, the stunt is sabotaged by Strong Bad and the reveal of what happens is hilarious.

23. Blackadder's Christmas Carol (1988)
Just watched this on Netflix for the first time.  I had never seen Blackadder, but this is fairly accessible. Blackadder, in this special, is the nicest man in town who gives everything he has away until a casual conversation with the Spirit of Christmas convinces him that being mean might be better.  There is a lot of clever word play and some good physical humor.  The special is full of British stars including Rowan Atikinson, Hugh Laurie, Stephen Fry and Jim Broadbent.

22. Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice (2011)
A worthy follow-up to its 2009 predecessor.  This is a special about not getting along with your family at Christmas.  It is nice to see conflicts between siblings accurately portrayed.  This one gets pretty touching.  Definitely the best sequel Christmas special that I have ever seen.

21. Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol (1962)
I have read more about this one than I have actually seen.  I like Mr. Magoo, but this has rarely aired on TV while I've been alive.  But from what I've observed this used to be an insanely popular special, it was one of the first.  This is definitely Magoo's best known appearance and is one of the better adaptations of A Christmas Carol.

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