Monday, December 7, 2009

How the cable Grinch stole Christmas

I like the word "special." I like it even more when it's used as a noun, as in "Christmas Special." And since we're now fully absorbed into the 2009 holiday free-for-all, I've been doing a little reflecting about how the seasonal television specials have evolved over the years.

Like most of us in our forties and beyond, I was raised watching TV on the floor. It wasn't because our family room lacked furniture; on the contrary, the couch often sat unoccupied. No, the reason I flopped down onto the shag carpet was to position myself as closely as possible to the television dial. No remote, you see. So, back during TV's golden age (the 1970s), immediately after Thanksgiving, every night witnessed an encampment in front of the idiot box, with the main fare offered up by the big three networks: NBC, ABC and CBS.

I classified the holiday shows into three tiers:
Tier 1: Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer, A Charlie Brown Christmas and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. These programs required rescheduling of any other events which may have caused conflicts.
Tier 2: Frosty the Snowman and Santa Claus is Coming to Town. This pair is also very solid, but if you had a dessert potluck to attend, you may choose to opt out.
Tier 3: All of the variety shows offered up by celebrities of yesteryear, such as Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Andy Williams, John Denver or the Osmonds. These usually had more cheese than the log with the crackers on the kitchen counter, and I only watched them in a pinch.

Since my kids really don't observe my old TV traditions, I decided to research what the networks currently broadcast, and there is so much more goodness to be had. TV is just wonderful these days, and these gems only prove the point. Keep in mind, these are actual shows:
-Victoria's Secret Holiday Fashion Show—hmm, seems like it's too cold right now, but, whatever.
-Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July—two words: no way.
-A Boyfriend for Christmas—no comment.
-Holiday in Handcuffs—believe it or not, this is on the Disney Family Channel. Hopefully, it's not based on some kind of Manson family reunion.
-Comfort and Joy—sounds more like an adult diaper ad than a feature-length special.

I guess that's a representative sample. Please...enjoy.


  1. I am at a loss as to what to choose first, now that you have updated my holiday repertoire...hmmm...any way to COMBINE A Boyfriend for Christmas AND Holiday in Handcuffs?? It's worth a phone call to the Family Channel...

  2. My childhood list is exactly the same! Although, on the negative end of the list, I would add that Nestor the Long-Eared Donkey was to be avoided like your life depended on it. And possibly that creepy Little Drummer Boy (I think I've blurred them together in my mind anyway).

    My kids do camp out an arm's length from the TV, but that's because we really don't have a couch. AND I won't let them turn the sound up---that costs money. My older daughter was about five before she learned that TVs came with volume control.