There’a new batch of “Holiday” specials every year–every television show that lasted more than one season has a Christmas episode, and celebs and personalities adore putting together hour-long love letters to their own awesomeness and throwing in some X-mas trappings…
Some specials are honestly good–or at least that’s how we REMEMBER them, and no one can tell us different (Rudolph, Frosty, Charlie Brown, Grinch, etc…)
Some suck Santa’s jolly red ass…and others….well, others are just–“special”…
Those are the kind of Holiday specials we’re going to be focusing on today–good or bad isn’t really a consideration, instead, we’re gonna explore specials that being a nerd may not be essential to like, but it’s gonna be a big help. They’re from tv shows or feature characters that are beloved to our community–OR they’re so weird and esoteric that only a nerd would bother finding them, much less watching them.
If you are NOT a nerd (first of all, welcome–nice to see you), please do not be offended if you also like some of these specials–we don’t mean to imply anything.
12. Alf’s Special Christmas
Alf…Gee wilikers are we ever getting mired deep in the 80s-ness! (and stay tuned–it’s just gonna get worse from here 😉 )
The plot of the hour-long special seems to concern the Tanner family’s Christmas vacation to a country cabin. In what sounds like a rip-off of or homage to (depending on how generous you’re feeling) the “Closet” gag in E.T., Alf gets mixed up with a group of toys. From there, he winds up befriending a sick little girl, and the audience goes “Awww!” a lot.
As this was not the series finale, you can trust Alf found his way back to the Tanners, and a lovely sitcom family Christmas was had by all.
11. The Munsters’ Scary Little Christmas
This TV movie featured neither the cast of the original1960s Munsters, nor anyone from the late 80s, in-color reboot The Munsters Today. Apparently the plot involves a number of schemes on the part of Herman and Grandpa to give the homesick Eddie–who hoped to spend the holidays in Transylvania–the greatest Christmas ever. Hijinks ensue, like Grandpa accidentally transporting Santa and his elves to the Munster house. In the end, all is resolved in typical neat sitcom fashion, and the Munsters party down with the Wolfman, Mummy, and Gill-Man.
10. An American Dad Christmas (AKA, “Minstrel Krampus”)
American Dad, Seth MacFarlane‘s second and superior animated series may be a little low on the “Nerd Cred-O-Meter” (patent pending)…
But Krampus, dude….KRAMPUS!
The old German folktale of the demon that accompanies St. Nick on his rounds–and punishes the naughty while the fat man rewards the nice–has become something of a Holiday meme and unofficial icon of Nerd Christmas. These days bad kids only have to fear getting a lump of coal instead of a PS4 if they misbehave–in olden times, unruly youngsters were cautioned that if they didn’t shape up, a hideous man-goat would stuff them in a basket and kidnap them forever (THIS is why I always say villains are cooler than heroes).
Anyhoo, Stan Smith learns that his own father had trapped the Christmas Demon, and he decides to release him in hopes that Krampus can frighten his unruly son into obedience. Ignore the “B” Plot about Hayley buying a tin of popcorn for the family–that goes nowhere…OH, and the whole thing’s a musical, too!
9. Lobo’s Paramilitary Christmas Special
Brought to you by the good people at Fanboy Theatre, this short (about 13 minutes) fan film tells the tale of the Christmas when the Easter Bunny hired the alien mercenary to dispatch Santa Claus: Apparently the other characters of holiday and legend were beginning to resent the big man’s popularity and power.
Anyway, it’s insane, hilarious–and alternates between riotously awful and surprisingly good…Lobo himself is played with just the right combination of gravitas and tongue-in-cheek humor. The whole special is above for your viewing enjoyment. If you only watch one video on this list–let it be this one.
8. A Muppet Family Christmas
Before Jim Henson and co. gave us Michael Caine as Scrooge in A Muppet Christmas Carol, there was this special from 1987 that brought together characters from all 4 Henson television properties: The Muppet Show, Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock, and even Muppet Babies (who appear as actual puppets rather than cartoons).
The story involves the Muppets‘ visit to Fozzie’s mother’s farm, and over the course of the special, nearly every major character from the Muppet “Expanded Universe” makes an appearance.
Unfortunately for those of us who didn’t see the original, copyright issues kept several of the songs that were in the televised version out of most recent home video releases of the special (unless you happen to live in Germany).
7. We Wish You A Turtle Christmas
This 1994 special was live-action, direct-to-video, and–most importantly–came out two years after most 90’s kids stopped playing with TMNT figures.
According to Turtlepedia, the special concerns the Turtles’ quest to find a Christmas gift for Splinter. It’s 25 minutes of shopping and singing: No Shredder, no Foot Clan, no fighting….not even any April!
6. The Pee-Wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special
This star-studded prime-time special from 1988 featured, along with Pee-Wee Herman and his usual cohorts: The UCLA Mens Choir, Annette Funicello, Frankie Avalon, Magic Johnson, Dinah Shore, Joan Rivers, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Oprah Winfrey, Whoopi Goldberg, Little Richard, Charo, k.d. lang, the Del Rubio triplets, and Grace Jones.
The simple–as such specials tend to have–plot involves Santa informing Pee-Wee that his Christmas wish list is too long, and no one else will get any presents if it is filled. It also features the 1936 cartoon Christmas Comes But Once a Year.
5. The Futurama Holiday Spectacular
Originally titled “Holiday Val-U-Pak”, Futurama‘s last Holiday offering consisted of 3 vignettes (much like the popular episodes Anthology of Interest I and II) based on the 3 main holidays of the Futurama universe: The X-Mas segment detailed the crew’s mission to retrieve seeds of the long extinct pine tree from the Svalbard Global Seed Vault (a real place)–with predictably disastrous consequences. Then Bender regales us with the story of Robannukah–which he may or may not have made up on the spot, and if you’re Jewish is either hilarious or incredibly offensive.
Finally, Hermes sets out to obtain real beeswax for Kwanzaa candles from a hive of deadly giant space bees. 3 guesses as to how well that goes.
4. Community: Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas
Abed has begun to hallucinate that he, his entire world, and his fellow study group members are all stop-motion animated puppets in the tradition of classic Rankin-Bass Christmas specials like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Here Comes Santa Claus, causing his friends to, naturally, worry about the state of his mental health….more than usual.
3. A Christmas Dream (The Mr. T and Webster Christmas Special)
Mr. T and Webster (Emmanuel Lewis) had two things in common: They were both huge (metaphorically) at about the same time, and everybody knew the clock was ticking on their proverbial “15 minutes”–after which it’d be another 20 years or so before they became ironically hip.
So–the powers that be did what anyone would do: Stuff ’em both in the same hastily scripted Christmas special, put T in a Santa outfit. Make Webster sad about something, and throw in a magician (David Copperfield) and a ventriloquist (God knows who) to pad out the running time.
2. He-Man and She-Ra: A Christmas Special
It’s Prince Adam and Princess Adora’s birthday–which is basically a device to allow Queen Marlena to mention that the preparation for their party reminds her of Christmas. Apparently, He-Man and She-Ra’s mom is from Earth–a fact that is never explained, and never comes up again on either show.
Orko does something stupid and ends up bringing some earth children back to Eternia. Skeletor and Hordak’s “Big Boss” (who also never comes up again) Horde Prime orders both of them to kidnap the kids–apparently because he fears the power of the “Christmas Spirit” that they possess. Skeletor nabs them…then starts going all sappy and gooey, as all the Christmasness seems to be robbing him of his evil.
Long story short, Skeletor actually ends up saving the day–though he’s glad to learn Christmas only comes once a year, and he’ll be back to his terrible old self soon. Prince Adam dresses like Santa and gives the Earth kids flying belts–which will no doubt end up irrevocably altering the technological development of our civilization once they get back home.
1. The Star Wars Holiday Special
Here’s where the “Love” part of “Only a Nerd Could Love” comes into serious question:
No one likes The Star Wars Holiday Special….and no one SHOULD. Even Lucas has expressed regret over allowing it to happen.
Still, it’s bad in a way that simply HAS to be experienced at least once in the life of every nerd…it’s like a rite of passage. It’s not enough to read what people about it–you have to go through it PERSONALLY to understand. You won’t like it, but for the rest of your life, you will feel a special kind of “esprit de corps” with all your nerdy brethren and sistren who have also endured it.
In a nutshell, it’s the story of Han taking Chewie home to Kashyyyk for the Wookiee holiday “Life Day”….Seriously, any further description and we’ll be here until next Christmas. Just see for yourself. The clip above is merely the old television advert–YouTube (unfortunately?) took down the full special some time ago. But–if you dare–you can find it here on Dailymotion.
PS: If the horror that is The Star Wars Holiday Special proves too much for you, the good people at Rifftrax made a hilarious commentary track for your downloading and listening pleasure–it’ll soften the blow a bit.
Happy and Nerdy Holidays!