Monday, December 3, 2012

Favorite Christmas TV Specials & Movies

                 My favorite is A Charlie Brown Christmas 


                        The Year Without a Santa Claus


                    Top 10 Favorite Christmas TV Specials

                                                                By DAVID WEINER


                                                       1.   A Charlie Brown Christmas

 Can Charlie Brown find the true meaning of Christmas? Depressed by the over-commercialization of the holiday, the bald-headed kid decides to direct a Christmas play about the Nativity, but there's one ingredient missing: The perfect tree. Featuring Snoopy and all your favorite Peanuts characters -- plus that amazing, jazzy score by Vince Guaraldi -- A Charlie Brown Christmas initially aired in 1965, the first-ever Peanuts primetime special.

                                                  2.  Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Arguably the most popular kiddie Christmas TV special ever, this Rankin-Bass masterpiece about "the most famous reindeer of all" tugs at the nostalgia heartstrings with its title tune, memorable stop-motion characters (from Yukon Cornelius and Hermey the Elf to the Abomidable Snowman -- "Bumbles bounce!") and universal themes of misfits finding friendship. The show first aired in 1964, and has become a perennial favorite ever since.

                                                   3. Santa Claus is Comin' to Town
The Rankin-Bass favorite first debuted in 1970 and celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. Dutifully answering practically question a kid might have about Christmas traditions and why Santa Claus does what he does, the stop-motion-animated special pits a young St. Nick (voiced by Mickey Rooney) against the nefarious Burgermeister Meisterburger and Winter Warlock (later tamed with the gift of a Choo-Choo) as he works overtime to deliver toys to a town where all playthings have been outlawed. Fred Astaire narrates and sings the title tune.

                                        4. Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Exquisitely narrated by Boris Karloff, Dr. Seuss' humbug homage to the true spirit of Christmas is especially memorable for its hand-drawn animated characters by Bugs Bunny/Looney Tunes artist Chuck Jones. Determined to steal every Christmas present and trinket from the denizens of Whoville with the help of his reluctant pooch Max, the cold-hearted Grinch poses as St. Nick to do the dastardly deed. Despite succeeding at the task, he learns that Christmas "doesn't come from a store," and perhaps it "means a little bit more." Featuring the song You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch (sung by Thurl Ravenscroft, the voice of Tony the Tiger), the special originally aired in 1966.

                                                           5. Frosty the Snowman
"Happy birthday!" The animated Rankin-Bass tale (their first to use traditional, hand-drawn animation) of an ordinary snowman brought to life with a magic hat is based on a 1950 Gene Autry tune. Frosty befriends the young schoolgirl Karen and the two must evade the greedy Professor Hinkle, who wants his magic hat back. When Frosty melts at the end, so does every kid's heart. Narrated by Jimmy Durante, the special first aired in 1969. 

                                             6. Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol
The Charles Dickens holiday classic tale gets the Mr. Magoo treatment in this 1962 animated adaptation. Framed as a Broadway musical starring Magoo (voiced by Jim Backus), the story casts the near-sighted character as Ebenezer Scrooge, visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future. This special is the perfect way to introduce kids to the Dickens tale without creeping them out too much by the various spirits of Christmas. 

                                            7. The Year Without a Santa Claus

See what happens when you don't believe in Santa Claus? In this Rankin-Bass stop-motion animated favorite, Santa gets a cold and feels seriously unappreciated, so he decides to take the holiday off. The plot thickens when the reindeer Vixen is impounded in Southtown and the mayor demands snow on Christmas day to prove that Santa, his elves and reindeer are real. Enter Mrs. Claus, who recruits the Heat Miser and Snow Miser to save the day. Mickey Rooney once again provides the voice of Santa in this lively 1974 special.

                                                         8. The Little Drummer Boy

 Another Rankin-Bass gem, this 1968 Christmas special, inspired by the popular Christmas Carol, tells the story of a misanthropic young shepherd whose life is changed when he learns to play the drum and meets the Three Wise Men on their way to Bethlehem. Accompanied by his faithful animal companions, he plays his drum for the Baby Jesus since he has "no gift to bring" … "that's fit to give our king." Sorry, the title tune here is not a duet by Bing Crosby and David Bowie.

                                                   9. Twas the Night Before Christmas
Another traditionally hand-drawn animated Rankin-Bass special, this musical finds the town of Junctionville in jeopardy of missing Christmas when a curmudgeon declares that Santa doesn't exist and they're taken off his Christmas Eve route. A clever clockmaker hatches a plan to lure St. Nick with an enchanted song when the clock strikes midnight, but a book-smart mouse named Albert throws a wrench in the plans. The special, which first aired in 1974, is narrated by Joel Grey and is based on the famous poem.

                                                          10. Yes, Virginia

Is there a Santa Claus? The most contemporary special on the list, Yes, Virginia is inspired by the true story of a New York Sun newspaper editorial back in 1897 that famously replied to an eight-year-old girl's letter, Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. Featuring the vocal talents of Jennifer Love Hewitt and Neil Patrick Harris as Virginia's parents, the CGI-animated special debuted in 2009. Another animated special with a similar theme, Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus, debuted in 1974.

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