9 Weird, Forgotten Holiday Specials Part 2
Christmas specials have been airing, every year, for well over fifty years. Every year, even before the advent of VHS, On Demand, and YouTube, we could count on watching Linus explain the true meaning of Christmas, the Grinch’s heart growing three sizes and Rudolph being ridiculed and shunned over his birth defect. But, for every one of those enduring classics, there are dozens of holiday specials that DON’T get aired anymore on TV. Usually, but not always, for good reason.
We’ve already looked at numbers 1 through 3 on the list, which you can check out here. Let's begin!
#4.) Nestor, The Long-Eared Christmas Donkey (1977)
For us, there’s only one Christmas donkey.
We’re Dominick people and always will be. “Nestor, The Long Eared Christmas Donkey” came from Rankin/Bass, the same animation group that brought us "Rudolph", "Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town", "The Year Without a Santa Claus" and other classic, stop-animation holiday specials.
I’m not saying they were running out of ideas by 1977 but judge for yourself: does this synopsis sound at all familiar?
An animal is born with an unusual body part that sets him apart from others of his species. He is the object of ridicule to his peers and eventually, because of his anatomical abnormality, he is out on his own in a ferocious blizzard. Eventually, he becomes the hero of the story thanks to his abnormal body part.
If you think I’m talking about Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (or Dirk Diggler) then you, sir or madam, did not read the title of this entry. It’s Nestor! He’s a donkey, not a reindeer and he has very long ears instead of a red nose.
It actually seems like a mashup of Rudolph, Dumbo and The New Testament.
#5.) The California Raisins Christmas Celebration (1987)
OK, fine. It was actually “A Claymation Christmas Celebration” and the California Raisins were only one segment. AND it won an Emmy Award.
1987 was a unique year in that it was the only year on record when stop-motion animation was both outdated AND extremely cool. This was thanks to the California Raisins who were that year’s hottest stars from a television commercial. So, it would be like if, in 2018, they did a whole Christmas special based around the characters from the Bud Lite “Dilly Dilly”-verse.
#6.) Pee Wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special (1988)
Some of the forgotten Christmas specials on this list are forgotten because they were horrible. Not so for this gem of a primetime special from 1988.
This hour-long special features Pee Wee and all your Playhouse favorites: Miss Yvonne, Globie, King of Cartoons and even Cowboy Laurence Fishburne.
Also, some of the biggest celebrities of the eighties like Magic Johnson and Whoopi Goldberg as well as star who were already past their heydays (Annette Funicello, Zsa Zsa Gabor). This lead to some timeless lines like, “Sorry, Oprah, I’ve got to hang up. I’ve got Doris Day on the other line.”
This special was genuinely funny and I think it deserves to be reaired. For some reason, they stopped airing it around 1991. I can’t think of a single reason for that decision, though.