Not being a celebrant, Christmas doesn’t hold much interest for me; the only thing of note that I associate with it is, of course, the Doctor Who Christmas Special, which I am eagerly awaiting. Not that all of those have been fabulous, but they’re at least entertaining, and they come in the middle of a long television dry spell, which makes them all the more welcome.
Something about Christmas seems to drive television creators and Hollywood in general to produce some of the most bizarre, inane, and utterly mystifying works of entertainment one could possibly imagine. Saccharine and filled with horrible narratives about deserving poor people is to be expected, of course; there’s a reason A Christmas Carol is performed worldwide every year and usually broadcast in at least one form on most television networks. But it’s more than that: in some cases, there seems to be a genuine desire to turn viewers off a beloved franchise or series with some nauseating glop that must have gone through approval from a whole slew of producers before it hit the airwaves. Really, one wonders if they sit around the production room asking each other how they can make viewers hate a franchise.
I probed the depths of awful Christmas specials to turn up five doozies for you, dear readers, as a cautionary tale so you know what to avoid when you’re skimming the television schedule. These aren’t so bad they’re good, they’re just bad, and you should wisely skim past them if you see them on offer. Consider the suffering I have undergone for you to be my own personal gentile mitzvah.
Christmas Comes to Pac-Land is an example of capitalism at its finest. The producers were clearly determined to profit from a well-known franchise, exhibiting a behavior that continues to be prevalent today. If something’s generating lots of money, the logic goes, the more tie-ins and spin-offs, the better, because apparently some things will just keep generating money like magical bags of holding that yield fistfuls of coins when turned upside-down and shaken briskly.
You don’t really need to know about the plot, because, really, think about this: This is a Christmas special based on a video game that involves chasing around a screen eating little dots. And while the game is fun, and a classic of the genre, this is stretching it rather a lot.
I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown is like the producer’s answer to its wildly successful and much-beloved Christmas special, A Charlie Brown Christmas. The first ‘Peanuts’-themed animated special was a huge success and it continues to be watched by people crowding ‘round the television with care every December, but this…definitely does not belong in that category. It’s a bizarre meander through consumerism and greed as Rerun demands a dog for Christmas and everyone around him says he’s not responsible enough. There’s more, but it doesn’t really make any sense, and it’s a fantastical butchering of all that ‘Peanuts’ supposedly stands for.
Many people wisely don’t acknowledge its existence. Notably, it was produced after the death of Charles M. Schulz, the creator of ‘Peanuts,’ who undoubtedly rolls over in his grave every time it’s aired. One suspects that if her were alive, he’d long for the ability to quietly erase it from existence, but, barring that, one can only hope that the people in charge of his estate sleep poorly every time this excrescence hits the airwaves.
A Very Brady Christmas is in the pointless and just kind of tragic reunion show category, in which viewers are subjected to the grown-up Bradys. I may be in the minority here, but I never liked The Brady Bunch much to begin with, and it didn’t age well. Why on Earth anyone would want to see the characters as boring adults with adult problems is beyond me; especially since, much as in the original show, much of the drama was based on utterly mundane and uninteresting ‘problems’ that seemed far abstracted from the reality of many viewers.
Bizarrely, the special initially got a very positive reception, which was used as grounds for a spin-off television show, The Bradys. It aired for six episodes, which ought to tell you something. Namely that the original idea was bad.
A Chipmunk Christmas manages to be a synthesis of everything one loathes about The Chipmunks and Christmas specials. The special features a heroic little sick child, a magic harmonica, bizarre dream sequences, and of course miracle cures. It’s possible everyone involved in the production was under the influence of something throughout the process, or maybe everyone really did think this would be a fantastic idea. In which case I am deeply disturbed.
Naturally, the special spawned a soundtrack album, turning into the gift that keeps on giving. And yes, it made it to gold status, because apparently there really is no justice in the world, despite the cries of tormented record players everywhere.
Finally, The Star Wars Holiday Special is such a unique entry that it almost deserves to be put in a class by itself; it’s so bad it’s infamous, and may possibly be the worst holiday special ever made. Notably, George Lucas had very little to do with it, and is reportedly so unhappy with it that he wishes he could destroy every copy in existence. It aired a grand total of once, but thanks to the Internet, if you’re determined, you can track down a copy for your viewing pleasure, if you dare.
It features an assortment of bizarre cameo appearances, an utterly odd plot, and more. The premise involves Chewbacca and Hans Solo traveling to Kashyyyk to celebrate ‘Life Day,’ the, er, Wookie version of Christmas. They get caught up in a sweep for members of the Rebel Alliance that almost threatens to ruin
Christmas Life Day. Stormtroopers are involved. Much like them, you’ll be left wondering if you were tricked by the time you reach the end.
Should you be determined to venture into these dangerous lands, be warned that Carrie Fisher claims to use her very rare copy to drive guests away at the end of the night when they refuse to leave after parties.