About Christmas TV History

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Christmas in July 2018: Craig

from the "Alfie the Christmas Tree" segment in 1979's John Denver & the Muppets: Christmas Together

Christmas in July 2018: Craig of Weird Christmas tumblr

1) Name your favorite Henson's Muppet Christmas program and why.

John Denver and the Muppets. HANDS DOWN THE BEST OF ALL OF THEM! Why? Because it's a great mix of muppet silliness with John Denver doing his best to be as sincere as possible about Christmas. Is there a better tear-jerker than "Alfie the Christmas Tree": " So in your Christmas prayers this year, Alfie asked me if I'd ask you / to say a prayer for the wind, and the water, and the wood, / and those who live there, too." I love it because the really sincere songs on the album and in the special, like Alfie and "When the River Meets the Sea" aren't specifically religious but are more about the sentiments of the season. And, I'll admit, it's the one album my parents always put on when we decorated the tree and put up the decorations. It's not Christmas until I hear that. (And, ok, if I'm putting on my "Weird Christmas" hat, then I probably would have said that Elmo Saves Christmas is the best, just to be contrary.)

2) Which decade produced the bulk of your favorite Christmas entertainment?

The 50's and 60's. That was when you got the full front assault of schmaltz mixed with the last time you really got the darker mood of Christmas that was left over from earlier times. Think of the scariness of the Rankin/Bass specials that are supposed to be creepy, or the older versions of A Christmas Carol that really play up the evil and the maliciousness of the regular world. Once you hit the 70's and 80's, I feel like things often get a bit more straightforward on average. There are still oddities, but the things that make you cock your head and wonder what was going on in their heads...that's from mid-century.

A Cosmic Christmas from 1977
3) Imagine the entertainment behind your ideal Christmas Eve dinner. Name the appetizer, entré, and dessert.

To start, we have to go with a delightfully terrifying film from the 40's called Christmas Toy Shop. It starts with a useless dad trying to sneak in a Christmas tree while the kids sleep. But the kids wake up to find a blearily weary Santa who tells them all about his toy shop. But the cartoon describing this is intensely disturbing as the toys start to fight and break apart. It's just all around awful. (Rifftrax did a great take on it.) The main course would have to be Santa Claus Conquers the Martians because it just makes sense. (I think you see a MST3K theme going here.) And, for dessert, we'd watch a special that Joanna introduced me to called A Cosmic Christmas. I just seriously need some ancient aliens in my Christmas stocking.

Also, if we're talking actual Christmas dinner, mine's pretty straightforward: tamale appetizers, tamales for an entree, and a sweet tamale for dessert. Tamales are Christmas. When I moved up north, I had to learn to make them for myself or else Christmas wouldn't come.

4) What Christmas episode, special or movie doesn't exist--that you wish did? Feel free to get creative.

I wish the Battlestar Gallactica reboot from the SyFy Channel had done a Christmas special. That wouldn't have made sense because they lived in humanity's past (yes...look it up) and never had Christianity. But I don't care. I want to see Starbuck and Adama singing Christmas carols while wondering if Santa is a cylon and if they'll have to kill him before his gifts turn everyone else into brainless robots.

The Mystery Science Theater 3000 version of 1959's Santa Claus.
5) If one Christmas movie, special or episode was to be selected for a time capsule to opened in 1,000 years, which title do you think should be included?

Santa Claus, the Mexican movie directed by Rene Cardona. But the MST3K version, not the regular movie. The insanity of the movie itself will mess up future historians who try to understand either the Santa tradition or Mexican traditions. And the MST add-ons will not only add to that confusion but also let people know that we never intended our most deeply held beliefs and traditions to be taken seriously. Or something. Mainly, I want to inspire confusion.


  1. those are certainly some interesting choices. I wish the original Battlestar Galactica had a "holiday" special more in lines with the Roman Saternalia.

  2. I'm with Jennifer--I like your idea about a holiday episode for "Battlestar Gallactica." There are far weirder things that have already made! Thanks for participating Craig :D