Joanna Wilson. The Christmas TV Companion: A Guide to Cult Classics, Strange Specials, and Outrageous Oddities. Akron, OH.: 701 Press, 2010.
Christmas TV shows have their own “cult like status”. Being seasonal, they generally air only during part of the year. The holiday tends to increase emotions. Christmas specials watched in childhood are often revisited in adulthood. Christmas shows include those that are been scary / macabre, science fiction, musical varieties, and dark and quirky.
Macabre offerings include “Charles Dicken’s The Christmas Carol” narrated in 1949 by Vincent Price and “Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas”. The author finds “hidden gems” in “Franz Kafka’s It’s a Wonderful Life”.
Science fiction themed shows include the aired only once “The Star Wars Holiday Special” to “Dr. Who” specials to “Santa Clause Conquers the Martians”.
TV variety specials include “The Judy Garland Show” shown in 1963 that featured her children including a 17 year old Liza. Garland appears distracted and flubs several lines while singing. Among shows noted includes “A Colbert Christmas” with Stephen Colbert. “Hidden gems” the author recommends are “The Hard Nut” interpretation of the Nutcracker.
Many animated Christmas satires exist. The 1997 “South Park” is the “most jaw-dropping” of them.
Dark Christmas films include “The Ref” and “Scrooged”. The author recommends “hidden gems” as “The Life of Brian” and The Night of the Hunter”.