Nick Leshi

Nick Leshi
Bronx, New York, United States of America
December 13
Writer, actor, media professional, fan of entertainment, pop culture, and speculative fiction. Contact for more info.


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DECEMBER 23, 2011 3:57PM

They Don't Make Christmas Specials Like They Used To

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Back in 2009, I listed 12 of my all-time favorite TV Christmas specials.  You know what I'm talking about: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, The Year Without a Santa Claus, fan-favorite How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and all the rest of the best from yesteryear.  Those classics are hard to top, but Hollywood keeps trying.  The recent crop of new specials have been disappointing. 

I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown, which debuted in 2003, could not hope to compete with the legendary A Charlie Brown Christmas from way back in 1965.  Yes, Virginia from 2009 could not capture the simple magic of Frosty the Snowman, which originally aired in 1969.

The recent crop of specials seem to be more commercial than ever, either spun-off from movies, like Shrek the Halls (2007) or this year's Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas, or based on merchandise like greeting cards (Hoops and Yo-Yo Ruin Christmas) or Hallmark toys (The Elf on a Shelf: An Elf's Story).

They seem loaded with over-sentimentality, weak stories, and uninspired characterization, like the recent Jingle All the Way, about a husky puppy looking for a home at a Christmas tree farm.

Am I just being an overly-critical, grumpy, nostalgia-loving grinch?  Do the new set of holiday TV specials have some redeeming qualities that I'm missing?  Or am I correct in my assumption that when it comes to Christmas specials, we've had a bit of a drought on quality shows?

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I completely agree with you - the current wave of Christmas specials lack charm, artistry and imagination. They're all there to sell toys. R.
I agree. And btw, have you ever seen the Carnegie Hall Christmas concert with Winton Marsellis and Kathleen Battle? Do yourself a BIG favor. Go buy the DVD.

and here is a Christmas special I'll beg you to broadcast. See Dear Santa: Please Deliver All My Gifts to “Rocky” in Kind at

Ciao and thanks
Nope, I think you're right. Christmas specials seem so trite and contrived. But, I would imagine one would hold the same opinion of the specials done decades ago by the likes of Andy Williams and others. "The Sing Off" promised a holiday special for their final show which was largely disappointing. Perhaps part of it is that performers seem so reluctant anymore to perform anything other than "holiday" music. Anything that hints of religion seems to be forbidden. More's the pity.
Interesting in that today I pulled out and played my Bare Naked Ladies Christmas Album for the first time this year. It's arguably my all-time favorite right after Fred Waring Christmas. The BNL album has 4 songs on it that are Chanukah themed. Cool.
I had a nice Channukah dinner tonight with my mother-in-law and Christmas Eve we're having Christmas dinner with my family and Christmas morning going to mass with my wife and daughter. Happy holidays to all! Who needs stinking TV cartoons anyway?