Will Bing and David make the list?
Do you even care?
We'll see. I feel fairly qualified to build this compilation since I've been watching this stuff for fifty years now (Yeah, still freaking out quite a bit about that number.).
This roster is heavily back loaded with shows from the Sixties and Seventies. It seems like they were more popular back then since we had access to a mere fraction of today's channels and we were afforded one chance to see each show—no VCRs, no DVRs, no TEVO, no Tebow.
I'm not positive about which program I watched first, but I'm thinking it was shown on a Jetsons-type black and white console. My dad, always a proponent of sweet audio/video setups, had perched it in the southwest corner of the living room. I vaguely recall sitting cross-legged on the braided rug, my chubby proboscis glowing in the Zenith's mutating rays.
But anyway, enough about me, let's talk about my list.
Here's how I ranked the top ten Christmas specials, including made-for-TV movies. As always, my opinions are just that—facts, so feel free to reply with your own memories or ego-maiming criticism of this list.
10) The Andy Williams Christmas Specials—not a huge production, just a guy and his family crooning holiday hits in a cozy domestic setting. Fire up the cocoa and put on your dicky.
9) The Bob Hope Christmas Specials—Loved them for one reason: each member of the College Football All-American team would walk individually onto the stage in full uniform, at which time Hope would make a wisecrack. He'd say something like, "Joe here weighs two-hundred-and-seventy pounds. The last time I saw a guy his size wearing tight pants, it turned out to be my mother-in-law in some hip huggers!"
Too bad his mother-in-law would have been about a hundred and sixteen.
8) Santa Claus is Coming to Town—Mickey Rooney provided the voice of Santa. This drama-infused nugget gave us an early glimpse of a young, ginger-haired Kris Kringle and his fiery courtship with Miss Jessica, the future Mrs. Santa Claus. They were crazy about each other from the getgo and as much as we don't like to think about it, I don't think they "waited."
7) Frosty the Snowman—this show made the top ten due solely to the brutal revenge exacted upon evil Professor Hinkle. Delicious.
6) The Bing Crosby Christmas Special—of course this made the list. By the way, this was Crosby's last television appearance, and he had actually died before it aired.
5) A Matter of Principle—I know you've never heard of this Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, but do yourself a favor and check it out. Set in snowy, rural Virginia, it stars Alan Arkin as Flag Purdy, an obstinate and semi-abusive patriarch of a large family who seeks redemption. A young Virginia Madsen plays his independent-minded daughter.
4) Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer—come on, admit it—Clarice was hot. Kind of like Betty Rubble is hot in a cartoon human way, Clarice is hot in a cartoon deer way.
3) A Charlie Brown Christmas—I loved all the Charlie Brown specials because kids were the only characters, they faced adult-type problems and solved them without adult assistance.
2) A Christmas Story—Darren McGavin is simply brilliant as the bumbling and cursing, yet warm, father. My family and I quote lines from this movie throughout the year, and by the way, I never thought the meatloaf and mashed potatoes looked all that nasty.
1) How the Grinch Stole Christmas—not the Jim Carrey hack job, but the 1966 animated masterpiece. Dr. Seuss' writing coupled with Chuck Jones' directing was like Joe Montana to Jerry Rice. Genius.
I just realized that since it was made in 1985, A Christmas Story is the most recently produced show on the list. Apparently I'm an old dog, since fresher specials like Fruitcake Boss or Sixteen, Pregnant and Christmas Shopping came along after my holiday soft spot had closed.