What We’re Watching: Our Favorite Christmas TV Shows

Getting into the Christmas spirit means something different to everyone. If you’re like us, you love everything about the season, from the best Christmas songs to the most classic Christmas movies.

Today, we thought it’d be fun to share our favorite Christmas TV shows! Take a look, and let us know your favorites, too.

Connor Strader:

The Year Without a Santa Claus

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You can’t quite have a Christmas without a film or two from the famous Rankin/Bass Productions. Their stop-motion animated films have become mainstays of the holiday season, and chances are, if you’ve been on this planet for long enough, you’ve at least seen one of them.

My personal favorite has always been The Year Without a Santa Claus, in which Santa (Mickey Rooney) decides to take a sick day on the most important day of the year—Christmas. Naturally the rest of the world becomes devastated by this notion and kicks into high-gear to make sure Santa does his job for the holidays.

Growing up, I was always attracted to the music of this film. The Miser Brothers were my favorite—particularly Snow Miser. I used to sing and dance along to his song as a kid, and it still manages to make my Christmas music playlists. Each time this year, I can usually find it airing on TV, and I’ll always put it on. The special typically airs on ABC Network’s Freeform channel every year as a part of their 25 Days of Christmas programming.

If you’re looking for some family-friendly fun this Christmas season, be sure to watch The Year Without a Santa Claus.

The Twilight Zone – “The Night of the Meek”

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Even though The Twilight Zone is best known for its more chilling entries, “The Night of the Meek” stands as a refreshing change of pace. Art Carney plays a drunken department store Santa Claus who stumbles upon a magical bag filled with any present anyone could ever want. This out-on-his-luck bum is given new life as he realizes he can have meaning and purpose and give something back to the people in his life. It’s an amazingly powerful and poignant episode, filled with some of the best performances the show had ever seen—especially from Carney.

Aside from the brilliant writing and acting, it’s one of the show’s more hopeful and uplifting episodes. Rod Serling rarely ever presented us with a wholesome, endearing tale—he much preferred showing us the horrors of humanity. This episode instead chooses to focus on the good within all of us, and how more often than not, a book truly can’t be judged by its cover.

“The Night of the Meek” reminds us how good it can feel to give something back—to put forth some love and kindness into a world so filled with hate and violence. I try to watch this one every year to remind myself of that, and I can’t recommend it enough. You can catch the episode streaming on Netflix, or if you don’t mind waiting until a little after Christmas, it’s usually included in the New Year’s Twilight Zone marathon presented by SyFy.

Nick Snow:

Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas

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Every year, when putting up and decorating the Christmas tree, my family has this gem of a Jim Henson show playing in the background. My mother grew up with it and when she saw it on VHS years ago, she was quick to snatch it up. Ever since then, I am hard pressed to remember a Christmas without the sounds of Brothers in Our World, Bar-B-Que, and Riverbottom Nightmare Band.

We have a deep love for the special, having seen it so much that we can pick up on the many idiosyncrasies that may be missed at first. Emmet and Ma almost constantly bad-talk Pa’s memory, sharing how he was a lovable yet unsuccessful in almost all endeavors from snake-oil sales to chopping down a Christmas tree. I personally love that the “bad guys,” the boys from Riverbottom, win the competition, even with the sacrifices made by Emmet and Ma that make up this retelling of the Gift of the Magi.

For those who haven’t seen it, I highly recommend you do. And for those that have seen it and enjoyed it, rest easy knowing that you can finally get the soundtrack.

Batman: The Animated Series – “Christmas With The Joker”

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I was raised by Batman: The Animated Series. Some of my earliest memories include this ground-breaking show. I had VHS copies of episode collections, found and collected the DVDs of each season, and even purchased the collector’s edition blu-ray that was recently released. My brother and I make a point to watch Christmas With The Joker each year, the night of Christmas Eve.

There is so much to love about this episode, from Batman bah-humbugging It’s A Wonderful Life (“It’s not relentlessly cheerful, is it?”) to some of Mark Hamill’s most terrifyingly manic lines from the Joker (“It’ll be even MORE exciting when it crashes” when told that a character’s mother is aboard a train he is about to destroy). I’ll take any excuse I can have to watch this masterpiece of a show, and what better time to relive childhood nostalgia than on Christmas Eve?

Jake Roundy:

How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

I never really thought about why the Grinch resonates with me so much, but it’s been a childhood favorite for as long as I can remember. Every year, my parents would put on a few Christmas cartoon classics, like Frosty the Snowman, Charlie Brown’s Christmas, and the Grinch, to celebrate the season. That tradition gave special meaning to How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

Beyond my personal connection to the cartoon, the story itself is so creative. Seeing the creations from Dr. Seuss’ imagination come to life on screen, featuring the voice of legendary Boris Karloff, was hypnotizing as a kid. And it’s clearly why the show has become such a classic! I even love the live-action adaptation of the Grinch with Jim Carrey. It’s one of my absolute favorite movies to watch during Christmas time. Curling up with a mug of hot chocolate and turning on one of these adapations of the Grinch instantly brings back happy memories for me.

Also, GRINCH FOR SMASH!!!

The Year Without a Santa Claus

Before we dive in, I just want to say Connor and I did not compare notes before writing this piece, and we both picked The Year Without a Santa Claus. What follows is my original entry verbatim—it goes to show how much of a classic it is!

This 1974 stop motion film is a masterpiece. Shirley Booth’s Mrs. Claus is spot on, and to this day, I picture both her voice and character’s appearance as Mrs. Claus when I picture her in my head! The same goes for Mickey Rooney as Santa.

Two things about this show make it a standout to me: the music and the message. The songs, especially the Snow Miser and Heat Miser songs, are so catchy and fun to sing along to. They really knocked it out of the park with this cast and composition.

When it comes to the message (warning: this might get sappy), it makes me appreciate the thought behind Santa Claus. As a kid, I was heartbroken when I learned Santa wasn’t real, as I’m sure many of us were. But the idea that believing in Santa as a bigger representation of “love” in the world really resonates with me. I’m far from a religious person, but believing that people are good, that hope for humanity exists if we spread love…I can get behind that ideal.

That might sound totally far-fetched to you, but that’s honestly how I interpret the message in that movie! On the surface level, it’s just about old Santa Claus getting burnt out delivering presents to kids who don’t care. Regardless of what you see, it is a classic through and through. I make it a point to watch this film every Christmas.

That’s all, folks! Do some of these Christmas TV shows match up with your favorites, too? Let us know in the comments, especially if we missed some classics!

Cuddle up and stay warm this Christmas. Happy Holidays from all of us at Couch Bandits!

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