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Forget Charlie Brown! Check out some of the holiday specials you may have forgotten about

Shaun Harrison
1 of 11 Landov/CBS

A Star Wars Christmas

Even in a galaxy far, far away, there's always an excuse to celebrate Christmas — or, Life Day, according to this 1978 Star Wars TV film. The plot follows Chewbacca and Han Solo as they visit Kashyyyk, Chewbacca's home planet, to celebrate Life Day — and run from agents of the Galactic Empire, who are on the hunt for members of the Rebel Alliance on the planet. Though the holiday special was widely panned (even, reportedly, by George Lucas), without its existence, we may never have been introduced to the character of Boba Fett, or to Chewbacca's father, wife and son. The special has achieved legendary status among Star Wars fans, as it has never been rebroadcast or released on video/DVD after its original airing. (Though, thanks to the magic of the Internet, unofficial reproductions abound.)
2 of 11 Pee Wee Pictures/Everett Collection

Pee-wee's Playhouse Christmas Special

In addition to Pee-wee's usual wackiness, the 1988 Playhouse Christmas special was also disturbingly dark. Overcome by the holiday spirit, Pee-wee holds Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello captive until they make 1000 cards, only doling out the occasional water and bread to sustain them. And Pee-wee's Christmas list is so long Santa can't fit any other presents in the sleigh, denying the children of the world their gifts. Eventually, Pee-wee decides to give up his gifts — and give a few of his own. Reba gets press-on toenails and Miss Yvonne gets Pee-wee scented perfume. Also helping spread Christmas cheer are musical guests Dinah Shore, k.d. lang, the Del Rubio Triplettes and Charo. But the real gift is unbelievable celebrity cameos by Joan Rivers, Magic Johnson, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Cher, Little Richard, Whoopi Goldberg and, wait for it, Oprah Winfrey.
3 of 11 Photofest


The Lost Star Trek Christmas Episode: "A Most Illogical Holiday" Star Trek truly went where no show had gone before with this episode, which never even made it on air except for one play in syndication. When the Enterprise crew arrives on a wintry world, they discover the elves (who think Spock is a messiah) are enslaved by Santa. The twist: Santa is also enslaved — by a master computer! Kirk battles the computer using wits, eventually making it self-destruct when it fails to answer the question as to how Santa delivers all the gifts to the children around the world. After the computer is destroyed, Santa begins a new democratic society and the Enterprise crew drink egg nog and Romulan Ale. No wonder Gene Roddenberry was rumored to have personally destroyed the episode.
4 of 11 Everett Collection

Mr. T and Emmanuel Lewis in a Christmas Dream

In 1984, pairing two of the biggest TV stars for a Christmas special probably seemed like a win-win, but looking back, it just screams dated. In the special, the A-Team star plays a sidewalk Santa named Benny who takes a sad latchkey child (the Webster star) under his wing to teach him the true meaning of Christmas. This, again, being the '80s, the true meaning of Christmas involves David Copperfield performing illusions in FAO Schwarz and the pre-pubescent Lewis "singing" "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town."
5 of 11 ABC

Lady Gaga & the Muppets' Holiday Spectacular

We can't imagine how the edgy (and often half naked) Lady Gaga got paired with the family-friendly Muppets but this special ended up being bizarrely entertaining. From Gaga's opening song performed in a nude negligee with Animal on the drums to her duet with Elton John and guest cameos by Kristen Bell, RuPaul and others, the special left us feeling like our eggnog was spiked.
6 of 11 Fox

Glee: "Extraordinary Merry Christmas"

As Gleeks so well know, watching pretty much any episode of this Fox musical requires a certain suspension of disbelief. However, the Glee Holiday Spectacular special-within-the-show still manages to go over the top. Directed by Artie and broadcast on the local PBS station, the black-and-white production pays homage to both the A Star Wars Christmas and the Judy Garland Christmas Special. Hosts Kurt and Blaine exchange cheesy banter and welcome all the fellow New Directions members over to their "house" to sing Christmas songs. (Finn and Puck come dressed as not-quite-real Star Wars characters and Irish exchange student Rory plays Itchy the Holiday Elf.) For all the kitsch, however, the special's soundtrack, including "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" and "Christmas Wrapping," is flawless.
7 of 11 Alien Productions/Everett Collection

ALF's Special Christmas

For a surreal sitcom, ALF went dark for its yuletide outing. When the Tanners spend Christmas at a cabin owned by Mr. Foley, ALF not only opens all the gifts, but he winds up in the back of Mr. Foley's truck as he heads to the hospital to deliver the toys. There, ALF discovers that Mr. Foley is suicidal, delivers a baby in an elevator and befriends a terminally ill girl named Tiffany whom he tries to give one last special Christmas.
8 of 11 BCI/Eclipse

He-Man & She-Ra: A Christmas Special

By the power of Grayskull, this 1985 special has the power to shoehorn the completely foreign concept of Christmas into the magical land of Eternia. Adam and Adora's twin birthday party gets turned into a Christmas celebration in honor of two stranded Earth kids who get flying belts as gifts (and will get beat up for them once they get home). More importantly, however, the villainous Skeletor somehow discovers the holiday spirit and not only saves their lives but even has a soft spot for a "Manchine" puppy. It's a freakin' Christmas miracle!
9 of 11 CBS/Photofest

A Very Brady Christmas

Nothing says the holidays like a Brady family gathering, right? Except in this movie, Marcia's husband was just fired, Peter is having an affair with his boss, Bobby has dropped out of college and Jan is getting a divorce. Oh and patriarch Mike gets trapped in the aftermath of an Earthquake. Talk about holiday cheer! Fortunately, in the end Mike gets saved and the family comes together to sing "We Wish You a Merry Christmas."
10 of 11 Photofest

A Chipmunk Christmas

The whole Chipmunks premise — a human dude adopts three singing, sweater-wearing chipmunks — is strange enough. But the grim twist this 1981 holiday special takes is that Alvin buys a golden harmonica for a kid who has cholera. Um, what?! Cholera?! Can we get any more depressing and 19th century? Look, evoking a disease with symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea feels a bit heavy-handed (not to mention out of touch). Can we just make the thankful message a little less gross and bit more universal? Thanks, Dave!
11 of 11 ABC

Christmas Comes to Pac-Land

Pac the halls! This 1982 Christmas spin-off of the Pac-Man cartoon finds Pac-Man and his friends and family out enjoying a fresh snow fall. Unfortunately, when the group makes snow ghosts (because apparently snow angels are so 1981?), they become real ghosts bent on wreaking havoc. The ghosts, naturally, scare the wits out of Santa Claus' reindeer, causing his sleigh to spiral out of control and crash. Thankfully, Pac-Man & Co. help Kris Kringle avoid the ghost monsters and complete his Christmas Eve deliveries.