ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Under-Appreciated Christmas Specials

Updated on November 23, 2014

Under Appreciated Christmas Specials

There is no shortage of Christmas specials on television during the Christmas season. So many new ones are made each year that it is inevitable that some great ones get lost in the archives over perennially popular Christmas specials such as "Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer". With the sheer number of television channels on cable, it is easy to lose track of Christmas specials you do love.

Here are my favorite under-appreciated Christmas specials. The majority of them are cartoon Christmas specials, but there are a few that are not. Many of these titles can be seen annually during the Christmas season as Christmas television programming, but some haven't aired in years.

Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol

"Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol" debuted in 1962 and was considered to be the first Christmas cartoon special on television. The cartoon character of Mr. Magoo dated back to 1949, and was voiced by Jim Backus, best known as Mr. Howell on "Gilligan's Island". Mr. Magoo was known for his nearsightedness, which was fodder for the cartoon's comedy. Due largely to the character's lack of political correctness, "Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol" was not shown on television for years.

"Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol" unfolds as an actual stage performance of "A Christmas Carol" starring Mr. Magoo.

Here are my two favorite songs from "Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol" - "The Lord's Bright Blessing" and "All Alone In The World".

Nestor, The Long-Eared Christmas Donkey - Ears, Nestor!

"Nestor, The Long-Eared Christmas Donkey" is a Rankin/Bass Christmas special from 1977. It is very similar in storyline to "Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer" in that both are animals with unfortunate body parts that subject them to ridicule, but in the end said parts are meaningful to saving Christmas. While "Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer" involved Santa, "Nestor, The Long-Eared Christmas Donkey" involved Jesus.

It is currently shown annually as part of ABC Family's 25 Days Of Christmas programming.

A Wish for Wings That Work: An Opus Christmas Story - Bloom County, Anyone?

Berkeley Breathed wrote the children's book "A Wish for Wings That Work: An Opus Christmas Story" in 1991, centered around his Bloom County/Outland comic-strip character Opus the Penguin. An animated special was released that same year. I have not seen this special anywhere on television in years, and it was only released on DVD in 2007.

This is a great scene where Opus finds a support group for fellow flightless creatures with wings who also have a wish for wings that work.

A Pinky & The Brain Christmas - After Christmas Eve, The World Will Believe In Pinky & The Brain

"Pinky & The Brain" was one of the early shows in the WB Network's primetime lineup. The cartoon was a spinoff from the series "Animaniacs" and centered around a lab mouse, the Brain, bent on global domination and his sidekick, Pinky. Narf! The episode centers around Brain's plan to create a Christmas toy craze involving a doll that he can use to hypnotize its owners en masse. Their trip to the North Pole excites Pinky, since he can deliver his very important letter to Santa in person.

It was in its first season in 1995 that "A Pinky & The Brain Christmas" aired. The episode was rewarded with a Primetime Emmy Award for "Outstanding Animated Program".

Because the only thing better than a television theme song is an episode-specific one, I have the "Pinky & The Brain" theme song from "A Pinky & The Brain" Christmas here. I also have the ending of the episode, which will MAKE YOU CRY.

The Happy Elf

Do I love this mainly because "The Happy Elf" is voiced by Rob Paulsen, the voice of Pinky of "Pinky & The Brain" fame? Possibly. Because they knew that Mickey Rooney should always voice Santa Claus? Possibly. Because the idea of Eubie the Happy Elf bringing Christmas joy to a sad town is reminiscent of Kris Kringle's effort to cheer up Sombertown in the Rankin/Bass Christmas cartoon "Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town"? Definitely!

The Christmas cartoon "The Happy Elf" is based on the Harry Connick, Jr. song of the same name. Harry Connick, Jr also provides the voice for the story's narrator.

Olive, The Other Reindeer

"Olive, the Other Reindeer" first aired in 1999 on Fox. The Christmas cartoon is a Matt Groening production is based on the book by Vivian Walsh. Olive is a dog, voiced by Drew Barrymore, who mistakenly believes she is being called upon to assist Santa Claus when Santa reports that despite an injury to Blitzen that he can successfully deliver the presents with "all of the other reindeer".

Besides all of the name jokes like Martini, the Penguin, I love the fact that Michael Stipe of R.E.M. fame voiced a mean reindeer and then sang a song for the cartoon, "We're Not So Bad" to apologize for his bad reindeer behavior.

In recent years, I have seen this on the CBC (lucky Canucks) and sometimes on Cartoon Network.

Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas

Jim Henson's special, "Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas" aired on HBO in 1977, based on the 1971 book by Russell Hoban. It first aired on broadcast television in 1980 on ABC. Originally, Kermit the Frog hosted "Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas", but he has subsequently been edited out because the Jim Henson Company owns the rights to the characters in "Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas" but sold the rights to The Muppets to Walt Disney. The music was written by Paul Williams in his second outing with a Jim Henson project following his work on the Muppet Show.

The story is inspired by the classic O. Henry story "The Gift Of The Magi", and has Emmet Otter and his Ma separately entering a nearby talent contest to win money to buy the other a present.

"Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas" was nominated for four Emmy awards, including Outstanding Children's Program.

A Muppet Family Christmas - They're Weirdoes, But They're Nice Weirdoes

Poor Emily Bear. She was all set to take off to the shore for Christmas. Unfortunately, her son Fozzie Bear thought it was okay to head home unannounced to visit along with his Muppet Show friends. This ABC Christmas Special first aired in 1987. It featured Jim Henson's creations from Sesame Street, the Muppet Show, Fraggle Rock, and even the Muppet Babies. If it is possible to overdose on the Muppets, "A Muppet Family Christmas" would've been when that Muppet overdose took place.

Pee-Wee's Playhouse Christmas Special - The secret word is "year"

Pee-Wee Herman's 1988 Christmas offering, "Pee-Wee's Playhouse Christmas Special" is campy beyond campy. Just watch the opening footage below and look at who his guest stars are! So many of the bits in this Christmas special still make me laugh. The fruitcakes. Dinah Shore singing "12 Days Of Christmas" forever and ever. Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello as Pee-Wee's Christmas card making slaves.

It still amazes me Reba the Mail Lady and Cowboy Curtis both ended up starring on police procedurals. I still get bothered about Cowboy Curtis as Ike Turner.

I am pretty sure this is the only time I've seen Charo guest star on anything that wasn't "The Love Boat". That being said, most of us forget that Charo was better known as a flamenco guitarist before being the "cuchi-cuchi" girl. I've added her performance from "Pee-Wee's Playhouse Christmas Special" of "Feliz Navidad" because it is beautiful. Bonus points for her focus with Pee-Wee Herman running around armed and dangerous.

Song Begins about :40 in

A Christmas Carol: The Musical

The NBC film "A Christmas Carol: The Musical" aired in 2004 and is based on a musical that debuted a decade earlier. There have been dozens of adaptations of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol for the screen, but this one doesn't get the love many of the other versions do. It did, however, get Jennifer Love Hewitt, who sings in the role of Belle. "A Christmas Carol: The Musical" starred Kelsey Grammer, Jesse L. Martin, Jane Krakowski, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Geraldine Chaplin & Jason Alexander.

BONUS: A Muppet Christmas: Letters From Santa

This is a bonus because while I love the Muppets, this did not make my cut for under-appreciated Christmas specials. I do, however, greatly appreciate the fact a musical number from a Christmas special featuring Jesse L. Martin and Jane Krakowski can be vastly improved with the addition of Muppets.

I, along with the Muppets, appreciate the hard work done by the members of the U.S. Postal Service.

What's Your Favorite Under-Appreciated Christmas Special?

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Gayle Mclaughlin profile image


      6 years ago from McLaughlin

      Enjoyed this fun article! Informative and fun! Squid Angel Blessed

    • HomeArtist1 profile image

      Wendy Hughes 

      6 years ago from Charlotte

      WHOA! The Mr. Magoo Razzleberry Christmas vid really betrays an era long gone. I can imagine today's networks pulling the pug on this one!! Youtube has everything imagined, doesn't it? Thanks for a great lens it's obvious that you put your "all" into making it!!



      p.s. Thanks so much for your help on the forums!

    • Iain84 profile image


      6 years ago

      Fantastic - I love Pink And The Brain!

    • garyrh1 profile image


      7 years ago

      Awesome. I haven't seen many of these.

    • theSEOmama profile image


      7 years ago

      I love Christmas specials, especially when they run the older ones from my childhood. My favorite is Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer - not sure if it qualifies for under-appreciated, but it's my favorite none-the-less. I was always fascinated by the claymation as a kid. I've never heard of "Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas" but from your description I'll definitely have to check it out!

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 

      7 years ago from USA

      I had forgotten about A Wish for Wings that Work. I loved that story. Thanks for the memory.

    • yourselfempowered profile image

      Odille Rault 

      7 years ago from Gloucester

      I think you've mentioned all the ones I would have :) Great idea, and lovely lens! Congrats! :)

    • yourselfempowered profile image

      Odille Rault 

      7 years ago from Gloucester

      I think you've pretty much mentioned all the ones I would have :) Great idea, and lovely lens! :)

    • DuaneJ profile image


      7 years ago

      Thanks for allowing some of these specials to re-surface and be recognized.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Nicely done. Thanks for sharing it.

    • katemiya profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      @amkatee: I was referring to the fact that Lawrence Fishburne won an Oscar for his portrayal of Ike Turner in "What's Love Got To Do With It",which still creeps me out all these years later.

    • amkatee profile image


      7 years ago

      Ike Turner was not Cowboy Curtis. Lawrence Fishburne was. Man that is campy and fun! Ha. I love Nester!!

    • emmaklarkins profile image


      7 years ago

      What a great list! I've never even heard of these. I don't have anything to add :)


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)