It’s that time of year when TV stations start airing their annual selection of Christmas specials. Well, OK, technically that “time of year” started the day after Thanksgiving; I notice some of the cable stations such as ABC Family are going into absolute glut mode already. The production of Christmas specials seems to have taken a minor nosedive from the 1990s onward, though there have been a few produced in recent years (often as an easy way to get further use out of 3D models from animated movies). But there is no shortage of Christmas specials when we turn our eyes to the past. There are dozens, possibly even hundreds of specials — and I’m only counting actual TV specials, not episodes of TV series, not movies, and not even TV movies (for the record, I’m drawing the line at one hour.)
I haven’t seen every Christmas special made, of course. And I hope to be able to watch some more this season and in seasons to come. But I’m comfortable enough with what I’ve seen to pick my top ten. Continue reading →
With the Christmas season comes TV specials, and while the 90s seemed content to just rehash a few of the classics, the 2000s and onward have seen an upsurge in new specials. Most of them are unabashedly for children, and that’s as it should be. Most of them are also unabashedly just an attempt to get a bit more use out of the 3D models created for movies that have nothing to do with Christmas, and I’m not so sure how to feel about that. While two of the best Christmas specials were based on already-existing franchises (A Charlie Brown Christmas and A Garfield Christmas), I’m not sure the sentiment of the season translates so well to a fantasy land (Shrek the Halls) or animals several millennia before the birth of Christ (Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas). Of course, Ice Age has always had chronological irregularities (Dawn of the Dinosaurs?), and as I said, these are meant for kids, and kids will enjoy them regardless of any logical flaws or lack of narrative integrity.
With all that, it’s nice to have a new Christmas special that is its own thing, actually built around Christmas, and which acknowledges with a wink and a nod that adults will be watching it with their kids. I don’t have a kid, but my inner child is alive and well, and often demands cartoons, and I enjoyed the original 2009 Disney cartoon, Prep & Landing. Two years later, they’ve made a second full special, Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice, and I thought I’d check it out. Continue reading →