Day 6

The best, worst and weirdest Christmas TV specials of all time

Holiday season is a time of togetherness, and that often means watching TV — featuring a rotating cast of holiday guests like the Grinch, Charlie Brown and Clark Griswold. Our Day 6 TV panel delivers a guide to the best, worst and the weirdest Christmas TV programming out there.
Our panel talks about — and takes on — some of the most revered holiday TV programming of the past 60 years.

It's officially the time of year when we welcome awkward claymation, melancholy cartoon characters and variety show trainwrecks into our homes and hearts.

But isn't kind of strange that we watch 75-year-old movies and 50-year-old televisions shows at Christmas time?

We thought it was — so we assembled a Day 6 panel to discuss the best, the worst and the weirdest Christmas TV specials have to offer.

Screenwriter Denis McGrath, Canadian Press TV writer Victoria Ahearn and TV columnist Bill Brioux joined Day 6 host Brent Bambury to share their highlights.


Not much love, actually

Denis McGrath considers A Charlie Brown's Christmas as the Goodfellas of holiday specials; it's a must-watch every year and sometimes a must-watch multiple times.

"If it's on, it doesn't matter where it is in the show, I have finish it," he says.

He also says that while the TV special remains the same, he is different every year — and that is what makes holiday programming so special.

"When you come back to them, you've been around the sun one more time. You're a little bit different, so when we watch them, it sparks a feeling about how much we've changed."

McGrath has a lot of love for Charlie Brown and Rudolph, but not as much for one of the most popular holiday movies of the past decade.

"I think the people who like Love, Actually are the saddest, most deluded human beings. They can't be saved," he says. "It's the death of hope. No one good in that movie gets anything good."

Victoria Ahearn disagrees. She says the film has redeeming qualities, including the performances of Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson.

"That scene when she's in the bedroom crying to the Joni Mitchell song "Both Sides Now" — I have a lump in my throat every time."


She wrapped up the damn cat

Unfortunately, Love, Actually didn't  make Ahearn's must-watch list; but 1983's A Christmas Story did.

"Who can forget Peter Billingsley playing the boy who wanted a BB gun and that leg lamp? It's a classic, and it's a slice of North American life that was very real," she says.

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation and Gremlins are also on her list.

From the zany aunt who wraps her cat; to the brother from out of town who pretty much ruins everything; to more reflective moments, Ahearn says they offer more than just laughs.

As for Gremlins, it's not really a Christmas movie; but it is set at Christmas time and it's just awesome fun.

Bewitched by special episodes

Speaking of suspicious green creatures, Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Stole Christmas tops Bill Brioux's holiday viewing list.

"I just think that was a great convergence of talent. Dr. Seuss, Charles Schulz was this great animator, Maurice Noble was the background guy and Boris Karloff who just killed it as the voice of the Grinch."

How The Grinch Stole Stole Christmas turns 50 years old later this month, but according to Brioux, it still feels new.

"I don't know why, but it seems new every year. It doesn't seem to age as much Rudolph, which looks sort of 'stop-motion-y' now. Still charming nonetheless."