From cartoons to classic SNL to Very Special Episodes: Rounding up the bestunder-the-radar holiday shows to watch online
It’s Christmas Eve, and you know what that means: only 24 more hours to enjoy all your favorite holiday specials. While many of you may be settling in with staples like A Charlie Brown Christmas or The Nutcracker, there are plenty more under-the-radar classics to consider when selecting your holiday video playlist.
Here are some of our favorite Christmas specials (that are available online, anyways).
Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Originally aired in 1955, “Santa Claus and the 10th Avenue Kid” is a surreal tale from the first season of Hitchcock’s iconic series.
Betwitched: Samantha struggles to get her home holiday-ready while keeping her witchy ways a secret from her husband’s boss in “Humbug Not To Be Spoken Here.”
Invader Zim: Will Christmas be the day that alien Zim and his faithful companion Gir get discovered by their unsuspecting Earth neighbors? Find out in “The Most Horrible Xmas Ever.”
Married, With Children: The two-part “It’s A Bundy-ful Life” puts a blue-collar spin on a classic Christmas story.
My So-Called Life: Episode 14, titled “So-Called Angels,” finds Ricky in need of a caring family around the holidays; there’s also a few cameos from Juliana Hatfield, who interjects every 10 minutes or so to sing a song in the snow.
A Muppet Family Christmas: With the recent release of Jason Segal’s latest Muppet movie, there’s no better time to revisit this Christmas classic.
Alf’s Special Christmas: Alf gets more adventure than he bargained for when he’s mistaken for a toy and gifted to a sick little girl.
America’s Funniest Home Videos Christmas Spectacular: Unfortunately, this episode isn’t hosted by classic AFHV host Bob Saget, but the ball-busting, head-bumping holiday mishaps are always (always) funny.
Black Adder’s A Christmas Carol: Aired in 1988, this Dickens parody features Rowan Atkinson at his best. Bonus: the show’s narrated by Hugh Laurie — while he’s best known now as House, Laurie actually got his start in Brit comedies like The Young Ones and A Bit ofFry & Laurie.
Pee Wee’s Playhouse: Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon stop by to make Christmas cards, Magic Johnson goes for a sleigh ride, Little Richard ice skates and, for some reason, Charo, k.d. land, Joan Rivers, Zsa Zsa Gabor and Oprah are there. Need we say more?
The Office (UK): Like most British shows, the original Office adheres to the classic “two seasons and a Christmas special” format, tying together the deliciously suspenseful threads left hanging in the series finale in this two-part holiday laugh-tacular.
The Star Wars Holiday Special: Legendary for being one of the most WTF-inducing productions of all time, this 1978 spin-off aired only once but quickly became a cult classic. The special’s very Chewie-centric, taking viewers on a trip to his home planet; but don’t worry, all your favorite characters make an appearance.
TV Funhouse: Best known as a recurring SNL bit, Robert Smigel’s TV Funhouse also had a short (eight episode) stint as a Comedy Central show in 2000; this Christmas episode is exemplary of its twisted, totally amazing sense of humor.
The Boondocks: Those with a less traditional take on the holidays will find a kindred spirit in wry Huey Freeman, who takes on directing his school’s Christmas play in this tongue-in-cheek take on Kwanzaa.
Daria: Not completely Christmas-centric, this episode finds Daria and friends battling holiday stereotypes to put Halloween and Guy Fawkes Day back in their place.
Saturday Night Live
While every season inevitably has its own holiday special, there are a few that stand out from the rest.
Candice Bergen (1975): The very first holiday special in SNL history, hosted by the very lovely Bergen with The Stylistics and Martha Reeves.
Bill Murray (1981): The first ex-cast member to come back and host, Murray can be heard apologizing to the original Not Ready For Primetime Players at the end of the ep.
Paul Simon (1987): Linda Rondstadt helps Simon celebrate.
Steve Martin (1991): Martin’s hosted SNL an astonishing 15 times total, always bringing a big boost in ratings.
Alec Baldwin (1998): The only guy who’s beat Martin, with a mind-blowing 16 turns as host, Baldwin totally nails this episode — natch.
Jimmy Fallon (2011): Yes, this past week’s episode qualifies as one of the Best Xmas Eps Ever; the Weekend Update dream team reunion of Fallon, Fey, Poehler and Meyers was enough to cement its place in SNL history.
Garrison Keillor: If you’re looking for something a little more low-key, listen up: Keillor reads from his book The Christmas Blizzard in this holiday broadcast.
If you want more stuff to watch online, check out Fanpop’s list of 101 classic Christmas videos.