People sometimes ask what my favorite Christmas special is. This always gets me in trouble.
One learns that folks look to Christmas shows with an eye for nostalgia. Like ancient tree ornaments constructed in pre-school and tugged out of the attic once a year, there is an emotional attachment that defies reason.
One year I shared that “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and the Rankin-Bass “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer” were not my cup of eggnog. I’ve always found Charlie Brown’s story to be vaguely depressing and the misfit toys creeped me out as a kid (and still do). I was a sensitive child.
But I heard from readers that I was wrong, if not criminally naughty. I can tell you with authority that both classics are eagerly anticipated by the vast majority of the critical public and it does no good to argue. If you share my taste, I would counsel you to keep it to yourself.
This season brings a deep covering of new Hallmark Channel holiday specials apparently engineered to the segment of the female audience that likes to weep a little before things get magically tied up in the end.
In the modern mill of holiday shows, cartoon characters with a national franchise tend to get drafted for specials. This year, Fox brings us a new one from the cinema stars of “How to Train Your Dragon” (“Dreamworks Dragons: Gift of the Night Fury,” 8 p.m. Dec. 17) in which all the dragons mysteriously book it at the holiday and their human pals go looking for the answer. Pooh, Shrek, Spongebob and the “Ice Age” gang all make annual appearances this time of year in tales of Yule spirit.
My favorite? Mr. Grinch.
No, not the weird Jim Carey theatrical version that bombed for good reason, but the old reliable “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (8 p.m. Tuesday, ABC) released by Chuck Jones in 1965. It is sublimely narrated by the master of horror (to earlier generations, anyway; I doubt he could raise a goose pimple in the modern video-game crowd), Boris Karloff.
Dr. Seuss’ tale is a delight for the ear and eye. It best describes the swelling of the spirit that the holiday is known to inspire. Grinch does his worst, then gets his comeuppance. And delightful it is when he gets to cut the roast beast.
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