Ah, Christmas. The most wonderful time of the year. A season of chestnuts roasting on an open fire, shiny lights, the giving and receiving of gifts, and good will towards men.
It’s also a time when ghosts want to kill you, little girls get polka dots on their faces, and Wookies dance the night away with Bea Arthur.
We all know and love Christmas specials like “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” and Christmas episodes of our favorite sitcoms that make us feel all warm and gooey inside. But what about the Christmas specials and episodes that are best forgotten? The ones that make your jaw drop a little?
Here are 7 strange, funny, and/or what-the-hell-were-they-thinking Christmas moments from TV shows. You’ve probably heard about the first one but you’ve probably never actually seen it. Hold on tight.
1. The Star Wars Holiday Special
This is the granddaddy of all bizarre TV Christmas specials, or TV specials of any kind. Obviously produced to capitalize on ‘Star Wars’ and the late 70s surge in sci-fi TV shows and movies, it’s a truly awful, laughable special that lives up to its legendary WTF status.
How awful is it? Not only does the plot revolve around what Christmas is like on the Wookie home planet of Kashyyyk, it features a series of 1970s celebrities that make you wonder “why are they even there?” So along with Harrison Ford and Alec Guinness – who must have spent years living this down – you have “Maude’s” Bea Arthur, Art Carney, Diahann Carroll, Harvey Korman, and… JEFFERSON STARSHIP?!?
It’s like an “SCTV” spoof, only it’s very, very real. But it does, oddly, get points for introducing us to Boba Fett.
2. Rich Little’s A Christmas Carol
It’s not odd that impressionist Rich Little wanted to play every role in this 1978 TV adaptation of “A Christmas Carol.” After all, Patrick Stewart would do the same thing a couple of decades later to critical acclaim. It’s the fact that Little played every role as a different actor or TV character.
That’s right. Little didn’t just portray Ebenezer Scrooge, he played Ebenezer Scrooge as W.C. Fields. He played Richard Nixon as Jacob Marley, Paul Lynde as Bob Cratchit, Edith Bunker as Mrs. Cratchit, Johnny Carson as Fred, and Columbo (Peter Falk) as The Ghost of Christmas Past. The result is something that is equal parts impressive, entertaining, and just plain baffling.
3. Bewitched: “Sister’s at Heart”
Not only did “Bewitched” get all preachy in this Christmas Eve, 1970 episode, they did it in a very heavy-handed way. Seemingly taking its cue from that Star Trek episode with Frank Gorshein, this episode featured little Tabitha making friends with a black girl at her school. To become equals, Tabitha decides to make her white. Then she decides to make herself black!
Of course, this is “Bewitched,” and the spells on the show never went the way they were supposed to, so Tabitha’s game becomes a problem when she accidentally puts white polka dots on the black girl’s face and black polka dots on her own face.
If only race relations in real life could be advanced with the help of clown make-up.
4. The He-Man and She-Ra Christmas Special
Not every character, book, TV show, or movie needs a Christmas episode, and that is very evident in this clip from this bizarre special from the mid-80′s. It’s almost as if the people behind TV shows think that if you just add some Christmas music and draw some snowflakes in the foreground, anything can be made Christmas-y.
5. Donny & Marie: “How Donny Got His Purple Socks”
Paul Lynde factors into a lot of the weirdest moments in TV history – he’s mentioned a couple of times on this list alone – but seeing him dressed as Santa with Marie Osmond on his lap (wearing a very short skirt) is rather bizarre, in a very funny way.
And what the hell is Donny wearing in the opening? Looks like some sort of disco dead bear hide via Members Only.
6. The Newlywed Game.
There’s nothing particularly horrifying about this clip from the classic, naughty game show, except that it was not only a Christmas episode of the show but also the last episode of the show. Which makes the snowy Christmas setting seem bittersweet at best.
And it’s rather odd to see host Bob Eubanks choking up while saying goodbye to the audience when just a few minutes earlier he was probably asking the contestants what the most public place they had ever had sex was.
7. The X-Files: “How The Ghosts Stole Christmas”
This is the only episode on the list that is actually a good episode. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t weird. Note that the plot involves Mulder and Scully investigating the possibility of ghosts in a house. The ghosts (Ed Asner and Lily Tomlin) try to get the two agents to kill each other. Nothing says the holidays like the site of a crawling, bloody Mulder and Scully trying to get to each other before they die. Merry Christmas!
And the gifts that Mulder and Scully exchange at the end? The writers never reveal what they got each other, but from the shape of the packages I’m going to guess that Mulder got a porn DVD and Scully got a vibrator.