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Christmas television special

Christmas

Christmas television special

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American television

In American television, a Christmas television special is typically a one-time, half-hour program aired during the Christmas season. Some are extended episodes of currently running television series featuring the regular characters dealing with Christmas. Some specials are of a more variety show nature, featuring celebrities and/or singers and musical numbers and short skits. Many are animated cartoon productions aimed at children, intended to be outgrown by one generation and picked up by a new generation of children.

All such specials are naturally strongly Christmas-themed, but usually forgo the religious aspects of the holiday to concentrate on more general themes of giving, and goodwill towards others. Such secular icons of the season as Santa Claus often figure prominently in these specials as well.

Christmas television specials are also where non-animated characters from other media may first cross over into animation; examples include the Peanuts comic strip, the Bloom County comic strip, and the Dr. Seuss children's book How the Grinch Stole Christmas. The first episode of The Simpsons (1989) was a Christmas special, also known as "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire."

The Rankin-Bass animation studio is well known for its many holiday specials, including the stop-motion Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, which CBS has shown annually since 1964, and the animated Frosty the Snowman.

British television

In British television, a Christmas special is a one-off episode of a regular television series which may not otherwise be running in the winter or even that year, as in Britain television series tend to run on limited schedules of 6 to 13 episodes rather than year-round. Successive series of a program may run in non-consecutive years so a Christmas special may be of a series for which no other episodes have aired that year (or possibly for several years).

A Christmas special may or may not have a Christmas theme and often is not even set during the Christmas season but usually runs on Christmas day itself and is often longer than a regular episode of the series. There are noticeable patterns in Christmas specials, particularly in dramas and sitcoms, whereby the characters either have to endure Christmas Day in a typically unfestive manner (and thus allowing the writers to include plenty of clichés associated with the season), or they are taken out of their environment and go on holiday to an exotic location - an idea which can also occur in spin-off films.

Some examples include:

  • Morecambe and Wise - once something of an institution at Christmas
    The Office specials
    Doctor Who's The Christmas Invasion
    Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends: Thomas' Christmas Party (also aired in the USA)
    Father Ted - A Christmassy Ted (1996)
    Blackadder's Christmas Carol (1989)
    It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
    Only Fools And Horses – Christmas specials (various)
    The Snowman (1982)
    The Vicar of Dibley – Christmas specials (various)
    Wallace & Gromit – A Close Shave (1995)

Examples of American Christmas television specials

  • A Christmas Carol (1938 film) with Reginald Owen
    The Shop Around the Corner with Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan (1940)
    Holiday Inn (film) with Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire (1942)
    Christmas in Connecticut with Barbara Stanwyck and Dennis Morgan (1945)
    It's a Wonderful Life with Jimmy Stewart (1946)
    Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
    The Bishop's Wife with Cary Grant, Loretta Young and David Niven (1947)
    The Lemon Drop Kid with Bob Hope (1951)
    Bob Hope Christmas Special (1953)
    White Christmas (film) with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye (1954)
    The Honeymooners: Twas the Night Before Christmas" (1955)
    I Love Lucy Christmas Show (1956)
    Happy Holidays with Frank and Bing starring Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby (1957)
    The Andy Griffith Show: Christmas Story (1960)
    The Bing Crosby Christmas Show (1961)
    Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol (1962)
    The Bing Crosby Christmas Show (1962)
    The Beverly Hillbillies: Home for Christmas (1962)
    Judy Garland Show Christmas Special (1963)
    The Dick van Dyke Show: The Alan Brady Show Presents (1963)
    The Promise (1963) [narrated by Bing Crosby
    The Beverly Hillbillies: Christmas at the Clampetts (1963)
    Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964, Rankin-Bass)
    The Bing Crosby Christmas Show (1965)
    A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
    Bob Hope Christmas Show (1965)
    The Hollywood Palace with Bing Crosby (1965))
    How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)
    The Hollywood Palace with Bing Crosby (1966)
    The Bob Hope Vietnam Christmas Show (1966)
    The Hollywood Palace with Bing Crosby (1967)
    The Little Drummer Boy (1968, Rankin-Bass)
    The Hollywood Palace with Bing Crosby (1968)
    The Bob Hope Christmas Special (1968)
    Bing and Carol Together Again for the First Time (1969) Bing Crosby, with Carol Burnett
    Frosty the Snowman (1969, Rankin-Bass)
    The Bob Hope Christmas Special: Around the World with the USO (1969)
    Bing Crosby's Christmas Show (1970)
    Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town (1970, Rankin-Bass)
    Scrooge (1970 film) with Albert Finney
    The Bob Hope Christmas Special (1970)
    Bing Crosby and the Sounds of Christmas (1971)
    The Homecoming: A Christmas Story (The Waltons)(1971)
    The Bob Hope Vietnam Christmas Show (1971)
    The Andy Williams Christmas Show (1971)
    A Christmas with the Bing Crosbys (1972)
    M*A*S*H (TV series): Dear Dad (1972)
    Bing Crosby's Sun Valley Christmas Show (1973)
    Twas the Night Before Christmas (1974, Rankin-Bass)
    Christmas with the Bing Crosbys (1974)
    The Year Without a Santa Claus (1974, Rankin-Bass)
    Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus (1974)
    Little House on the Prairie (TV series): Christmas at Plum Creek (1974)
    The First Christmas: The Story of the First Christmas Snow (1975, Rankin-Bass)
    Merry Christmas, Fred, from the Crosbys (1975) Bing Crosby, with Fred Astaire
    John Denver's Rocky Mountain Christmas (1975)
    The Bing Crosby White Christmas Special (1976)
    The Waltons: The Best Christmas (1976)
    Perry Como's Olde English Christmas (1977)
    Bing Crosby's Merrie Olde Christmas (1977) with David Bowie
    The Bob Hope All Star Christmas Comedy Special (1977)
    The Waltons: The Children's Carol (1977)
    Three's Company: Three's Christmas (1977)
    Eight is Enough: Yes Nicholas, there is a Santa Claus (1977)
    Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas (1977)
    The Fat Albert Christmas Special (1977)
    The Carpenters at Christmas (1977)
    Raggedy Ann and Andy in: The Great Santa Claus Caper (1978, directed by Chuck Jones)
    The Star Wars Holiday Special (1978)
    A Special Sesame Street Christmas (1978)
    The Pink Panther's Christmas (1978)
    Perry Como's Early American Christmas (1978)
    The Carpenters: A Christmas Portrait (1978)
    M*A*S*H (TV series): Dear Sis (1978)
    Bugs Bunny's Looney Christmas Tales (1979)
    Perry Como's Christmas in New Mexico (1979)
    John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together (1979)
    An American Christmas Carol with Henry Winkler (1979)
    Perry Como's Christmas in the Holy Land (1980)
    The Bob Hope Christmas Special (1980)
    The Osmond Family Christmas Special (1980)
    Yogi's First Christmas (1980)
    M*A*S*H (TV series): Death Takes a Holiday (1980)
    A Chipmunk Christmas (1981)
    Perry Como's French-Canadian Christmas (1981)
    The Bob Hope Christmas Special (1981)
    George Burns' Early, Early, Early Christmas Special (1981)
    M*A*S*H (TV series): 'Twas the Day after Christmas (1981)
    Christmas Eve on Sesame Street (1982)
    Little House on the Prairie (TV series): A Christmas They Never Forgot (1982)
    The Smurfs' Christmas Special (1982)
    Christmas Comes to Pac-Land (1982)
    John Denver and the Muppets: Rocky Mountain Holiday (1982)
    Mickey's Christmas Carol (1983)
    A Christmas Story with Peter Billingsley (1983}
    The Best Christmas Pageant Ever with Loretta Swit (1983)
    A Christmas Carol (1984 film) with George C. Scott
    Little House on the Prairie (TV series): Bless All The Dear Children (1984)
    Bob Hope's USO Christmas in Beirut (1984)
    Santa Claus: The Movie with Dudley Moore and John Lithgow (1985)
    He-Man and She-Ra: A Christmas Special (1985)
    The Bob Hope Christmas Show (1985)
    The Christmas Gift with John Denver and Jane Kaczmarek (1986)
    The Christmas Toy (1986)
    The Golden Girls: 'Twas the Nightmare Before Christmas (1986)
    Bob Hope Winterfest Christmas Show (1987)
    A Claymation Christmas Celebration (1987)
    A Garfield Christmas (1987)
    Julie Andrews: The Sound of Christmas (1987)
    A Muppet Family Christmas (1987)
    Bob Hope's USO Christmas from the Persian Gulf: Around the World in Eight Days (1987)
    The Brady Bunch: A Very Brady Christmas (1988)
    Bob Hope's Jolly Christmas Show (1988)
    Pee-wee's Playhouse Christmas Special (1988)
    National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989)
    The Golden Girls: Have Yourself a Very Little Christmas (1989)
    Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire (1989)
    Home Alone with Macaulay Culkin (1990)
    Shining Time Station: 'Tis A Gift (1990)
    Roseanne (TV series): Santa Claus (1991)
    A Wish for Wings That Work (1991)
    Winnie the Pooh and Christmas Too (1991)
    Bob Hope's Christmas Cheer from Saudi Arabia (1991)
    The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
    Home Alone 2: Lost in New York with Macaulay Culkin (1992)
    Rugrats: The Santa Experience (1992)
    Inspector Gadget Saves Christmas (1992)
    It's Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown (1992)
    Roseanne (TV series): It's No Place Like Home for The Holidays (1992)
    It's a Wonderful Tiny Toons Christmas Special (1992)
    Hope for the Holidays - A Bob Hope Christmas (1993)
    Roseanne (TV series): White Trash Christmas (1993)
    A Flintstones Family Christmas (1993)
    The Santa Clause with Tim Allen (1994)
    A Flintstones Christmas Carol (1994)
    Perry Como's Irish Christmas (1994)
    Rocko's Modern Christmas: Can't Squeeze Cheer From a Cheese Log (1994)
    Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree (1995)
    A Pinky and the Brain Christmas (1995)
    The Nanny: Oy to the World (1995)
    The Vicar of Dibley: The Christmas Lunch Incident (1996)
    Roseanne (TV series): Home for the Holidays (1996)
    The Munsters' Scary Little Christmas (1996)
    Sonic Christmas Blast (1996)
    Arnold's Christmas (1997)
    Jack Frost (1998 film) with Michael Keaton and Kelly Preston
    The Vicar of Dibley: Winter (1999)
    Olive, the Other Reindeer (1999)
    The SpongeBob SquarePants Christmas Special (2000)
    The Fairly OddParents in: Christmas Every Day (2001)
    A Very Special Family Guy Freakin' Christmas (2001)
    Charlie Brown's Christmas Tales (2002)
    It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie (2002)
    Rugrats: Babies in Toyland (2002)
    I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown (2003)
    The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius: Holly Jolly Jimmy (2003)
    A Rocket Xmas (2003)
    A Johnny Bravo Christmas (2003)
    ChalkZone: When Santas Collide (2004)
    My Life as a Teenage Robot: A Robot for All Seasons (2004)
    All Grown Up!: The Finster Who Stole Christmas (2004)
    Ed, Edd n Eddy's Jingle Jingle Jangle (2004)
    Billy and Mandy Save Christmas (2005)
    Danny Phantom: The Fright Before Christmas (2005)

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Christmas Guide, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

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