The holidays are loaded with warm, wholesome goodness on TV. A Charlie Brown Christmas, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and The Grinch Who Stole Christmas all come to mind– but we also love slightly sillier specials, holiday
classics programs that we can’t quite believe got made. Check out which ones made our craziest Christmas specials list.
The Star Wars Holiday Special
Oh yes, young Jedi, it exists. We’ve seen it. AND it stars Golden Girl Bea Arthur, no less. Here’s the plot to the totally cheesy, completely campy, and so scratch-your-eyes-out bad special that aired only once– in 1978:
Chewbacca and Han Solo visit Kashyyyk, Chewbacca’s home world, to celebrate Life Day, which is kind of like Christmas. Along the way, agents of the Galactic Empire chase them in search of Rebel Alliance members. The special then introduces three members of Chewbacca’s family (his father Itchy, his wife Malla, and his son Lumpy — who are never seen from again in the franchise) and features other Star Wars characters like Luke Skywalker, C-3PO, R2-D2, Darth Vader and Princess Leia Organa. Yep, it’s the original cast. It’s also true that this special officially introduces the bounty hunter Boba Fett (which will be referenced decades later in The Mandalorian), and Carrie Fisher does actually sing the film’s “theme song,” set to the music of John Williams’ Star Wars theme. And good old Bea plays a bartender of the Mos Eisley cantina, and she sings “Good Night, But Not Goodbye” as she ushers out a familiar group of aliens. This is one gem that has to been seen to be believed.
We loved Fat Albert and will beat down anyone who mocks the show. (He shouldn’t have to pay for Bill Cosby’s crimes.) That said, the 1977 Christmas special is a bit strange. The story goes that mean old junkyard owner Tyrone is planning to tear down the kids’ clubhouse while they’re rehearsing for a Christmas show. Pretty standard stuff. But then a kid named Marshall shows up with his dad and pregnant mom. She’s about to have a baby and dad has no health insurance, so Fat Albert makes a deal: He’ll work for Tyrone as a sidewalk Santa if Tyrone lets the family stay in the hygienically sound junkyard clubhouse so they can have their baby.
Look, we get the Mary, Joseph, manger reference, but seriously– a junkyard? Hey, hey, hey…
The Judy Garland Christmas Show
This very special episode of The Judy Garland Show from 1963 featured Judy’s children Liza Minnelli, Lorna Luft, and Joey Luft, as well as celebs like Mel Torme, Jack Jones and Tracy Everitt. But dear Judy was coming off a major bender when it was shot — at least that’s what Torme claimed in his book, The Other Side of the Rainbow: Behind the Scenes on the Judy Garland Television Series. You can also see a glimpse of it in the clip below. At one point Judy mistakenly calls him “Mort” instead of Mel, then flubs a line in their duet of “The Christmas Song.” When Torme points it out, Judy purposely (we hope) exchanges the word “reindeer” with “rainbow,” perhaps alluding to her famous song. It really showcases the talent and tragedy, all in one program.
Because nothing says Christmas like a a beefcake in a fuzzy speedo and metal harness along with his unicorn-riding twin sister and her crazy-named friends Perfuma, Mermista, Castaspella, and Peeekablue. No matter how much we loved both He-Man and She-Ra, having Skeletor discover a love for puppies and Orko busting into a waltz with Kowl during a musical number seemed a bit insane.
Oh, and there’s a penis-shaped helicopter. Just sayin’…
You might roll your eyes, but when A Very Brady Christmas first aired in 1988, it was the highest rated TV movie of the season.
What’s so awesome about it? Greg’s wife Nora is spending Christmas with her family and NOT the Bradys, Peter is sleeping with his boss, Marcia’s husband Wally (last seen in The Brady Brides) was fired from his job, Jan is separating from her husband Phillip (also last seen in The Brady Brides), and Cindy is being played by another actress who looks nothing like the original. Oh, and housekeeper Alice is now married to Sam the Butcher but he’s just left her for another woman.
The big scare? Daddy Mike learns that a ruthless businessman has cut corners on a building he designed, which results in the building’s collapse and trapping of two security guards. Mike saves them, but then gets trapped in the wreckage himself. How does he get out? Carol leads the entire family in a rendition of “O Come All Ye Faithful” and we have a Christmas miracle.
It was a much simpler time, indeed.
RuPaul’s Christmas Ball
You think because you watch RuPaul’s Drag Race that you know RuPaul? Well, you don’t know anything until you’ve seen RuPaul’s Christmas Ball.
It’s hard to believe that RuPaul scored a Christmas special in 1993 based on the success of her “Supermodel (You Better Work)” single back in the early 1990s. But the divine drag diva did — proof that she has been a huge success from the start. In this special, she welcomed an incredible lineup of guest stars including Elton John, Eartha Kitt, Nirvana, Boy George, and La Toya Jackson. It’s completely amazing.
And, yes, you can watch the whole thing. We’ve embedded it at the end of this article.
We loved Pee-Wee’s Playhouse and this 1988 special is as awesomely fun as the TV series and future Broadway play. It included the usual playhouse friends plus a stellar supporting cast that included Grace Jones, Oprah Winfrey, k.d. lang, Little Richard, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Dinah Shore, Cher and many more.
But seriously, nothing can beat Charo’s acoustic rendition of “Feliz Navidad.” It’s genius, and so we close this article with the clip just for you.