Five Underrated Christmas Specials Worth Checking Out

If you’ve watched all your favorite Christmas classics by now, here are some underrated ones for you to finish out the holiday season with. These are all about an hour-long or less, great for families, and for the most part, pretty lighthearted and fun titles to check out.

Robbie the Reindeer

Obviously trying to emulate the stop-motion Rankin-Bass specials like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, this special tells the story of Rudolph’s son, Robbie, as he arrives at the North Pole determined to get a coveted spot on Santa’s sleigh team alongside his father’s former co-workers. Nepotism won’t get him there, but winning the prestigious Reindeer Games just might…

There are actually three of these specials, the first two of which have two different voice casts: the original British one, and an American dub featuring actors like Britney Spears. Hooves of Fire is the original and the one described above, while Legends of the Lost Tribe sees Robbie and company meeting a tribe of vikings and Close Encounters of the Herd Kind deals with aliens. Both are available on CBS’ website.

These specials are some of the funniest Christmas content you can find, and the latter two have fun guest stars like Jeff Goldblum, Keira Knightley, and Ozzy Osbourne.

Olive the Other Reindeer

The most famous reindeer of all may get the spotlight in that classic Christmas carol, but it turns out there’s another who gets a name drop in that song who finally got her own time to shine when Olive the Other Reindeer was released in 1999.

Based on the children’s book by J. Otto Seibold, this special tells the story of a dog named Olive who, thanks to a misunderstanding of a radio broadcast, becomes convinced she is really a reindeer who needs to help Santa save Christmas, and journeys to the North Pole to take her place to help pull the sleigh.

What could easily have been a single double entendre joke run into the ground actually turns out to be a solid and heartwarming Christmas story featuring the voices of Drew Barrymore, Dan Castellaneta, and the late Ed Asner.

I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown

Everyone knows A Charlie Brown Christmas, but there have actually been three other Peanuts specials focused on Santa’s big day. Two of them consist of vignettes with stories taken right from the pages of Charles Shultz’s strip, but this one tells the story of Rerun Van Pelt, the younger brother of Linus and Lucy who desperately wants a dog for Christmas.

While nothing will compare to A Charlie Brown Christmas for many people, fans of the other Peanuts specials should at least check this one out, especially those who are fans of Snoopy and his desert-dwelling brother, Spike.

Mickey’s Christmas Carol

A Muppet Christmas Carol seems to be the go-to adaptation of the classic Charles Dickens tale to show kids, but Mickey’s Christmas Carol is a nice alternative option. At 26 minutes, its runtime is shorter than most onscreen versions of the story, but it hits all the notes it needs to and is a great retelling that works as a great introduction to the tale for children. It’s also available on Disney+ for streaming.

And c’mon, Scrooge McDuck as Ebeneezer Scrooge had to be done at some point. (Though having Daisy Duck, the girlfriend of his nephew in regular Disney canon, was certainly…a choice.)

A Muppet Family Christmas

I’m just gonna say it: this is the definitive Muppet Christmas special in my eyes. It’s got the Muppet Show crew, the Sesame Street gang, the Fraggle Rock characters, and even manages to work the Muppet Babies into the mix. Plenty of Christmas carols are sung, plenty of laughs are had, and there’s even an appearance from Jim Henson himself.

What’s the plot? Fozzie is taking the Muppets to his mother’s house for Christmas, but she’s rented the place to Doc and Sprocket from Fraggle Rock. There isn’t too much drama over who gets the house, though, as there ends up being a blizzard that forces them all to stick around for the holiday and hang out together.

While there are a few “storylines” like Miss Piggy trying to get to the house while battling the storm and the Swedish Chef trying to cook Big Bird for Christmas dinner (yes, really) this is kind of just like watching home movies of the Muppets all celebrating the holidays together. And with so many Henson franchises coming together here, it’s basically like the Avengers of Muppet specials.

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