Entertainment

Christmas Specials We Never Want to See Again

'Star Wars,' 'The Brady Brunch' — and three other highly forgettable entries

“Oh, the weather outside is frightful,
The TV screen’s not always delightful.
For as long as we all have known,
Some Christmas specials should ne’er be shown!”

Hollywood spends most of the year trashing Christians and insisting that people say, “Happy holidays!” Yet for some bizarre reason, it then chooses to embrace Christmas in every way possible when December rolls around.

Maybe the problem is using the word “very” in the title of every Christmas special?

The obvious reason is to capitalize on holiday-themed content. What makes little sense, however, is why Hollywood doesn’t capitalize on providing respectful content the rest of the year.

Then again, it’s the cynicism associated with a revenue grab that has resulted in some truly horrible Christmas specials. Here are a few that were big letdowns and that we hope are never aired again.

‘A Very Murray Christmas’ (2015) 
Who doesn’t love the affable Bill Murray? He’s a wonderful actor, a gifted comedian, and, as of October, a very happy Chicago Cubs baseball fan. Yet this Netflix special simply isn’t funny. The blame here falls on co-writers Sofia Coppola and Mitch Glazer, the latter of whom wrote another Murray flop, “Rock the Kasbah.” Glazer is a solid writer, and Coppola did a terrific job with Murray on “Lost in Translation.” It seems everyone was just trying too hard.

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‘A Very Brady Christmas’ (1988)
Maybe the problem is using the word “very” in the title of every Christmas special? Anyone who grew up with “The Brady Bunch” in the 1970s remembers it as the quintessential family friendly eight o’clock show that still retains a kind of naive and goofy charm today. The truth is this: It offered good family values in its day. However, the 1988 reunion special brought the family together 14 years after cancellation, with each character facing a terrible personal crisis. It was so depressing, and got worse when Mike Brady got caught in a collapsed building. Hey, we all want to see a story of salvation at Christmas — but not like this!

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‘The Night the Animals Talked’ (1970) 
This ABC animated program, produced in Italy but based on a Norwegian tale, ran on only four occasions. While it was intended to be a celebration of Christ’s birth, it instead played like a poor man’s version of George Orwell’s “Animal Farm.” When the star that guides people to the Christ Child shines, all the animals in the famed manger suddenly are given the power of speech. A hierarchy develops, in which the animals behave like humans — but when the child is born, all the animals suddenly love each other — then lose their speechifying ability. This was apparently supposed to be an allegory of some kind. Apparently.

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‘I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown’ (2003)
Few Christmas specials can compete with the original “Charlie Brown Christmas,” the wonderful and even moving animated classic that tells the story of the meaning of the day better than most other popular culture program. This bizarre follow-up follows Linus’ little brother, Rerun, who is desperate to have a dog after seeing the special relationship between Charlie Brown and Snoopy. The “message,” such as it is, flips the original’s on its head — making it all about desire for a material object, even if that object is a dog. Even worse, the point of the show appears to be that raising a dog is difficult. Whaaaaat?

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‘The Star Wars Holiday Special’ (1978)
This misguided “special” includes four songs, Harvey Korman as an alien who drinks through the top of his head, Wookies juggling and engaging in acrobatics on uneven bars, archival footage from the 1977 film, and best of all — a 12-minute prologue that is spoken entirely in the Wookie language with no subtitles.

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