Mr. T and Emmanuel Lewis in A Christmas Dream
It’s the perfect storm of 1980s insanity. Emmanuel “Webster” Lewis plays a latchkey kid who can’t get into the Christmas Spirit. Mr. T plays a sidewalk Santa (who ditches his Santa garb in the first five minutes) who helps Webster find his Christmas spirit by introducing him to his friends: figure skaters Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner; magician David Copperfield; ventriloquist Willie Tyler and his dummy Lester; and the Rockettes. Webster dances, T tells of the birth of Jesus and pontificates on whether or not the newborn infant smiled when he was born.
He-Man and She-Ra: A Christmas Special
I loved He-Man and She-Ra as a kid, but this special just doesn’t hold up. (Maybe He-Man/She-Ra was never meant to be watched by an adult.) Orko is accidentally launched in a rocket meant to keep tabs on Skeletor, and crashes onto Earth, where he discovers a pair of lost children. He invites them back to his crashed ship, and the kids, of course, accept, and try to teach Orko about the meaning of Christmas: presents. Man-at-Arms eventually beams Orko - and the kids - back to Eternia. Skeletor kidnaps the kids and a puppy, but the puppy gives Skeletor kisses, imbuing him with the Christmas spirit, and he returns the kids to He-Man and Man-at-Arms. The kids are sent home, after teaching the good people of Eternia how to celebrate Christmas. Or something like that….
Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever
Did Grumpy Cat really need her own movie? The answer is no. Just… no. And yet, Lifetime comes along and makes a Grumpy Cat movie. Perhaps knowing how stupid this idea is going into the project, they try to be meta, like they are in on the joke of how bad the movie is. But no. It’s just bad. Even Aubrey Plaza, as the voice of Grumpy Cat, can’t save this trainwreck.
ALF’s Christmas Special
Just what every Christmas special needs: a dying kid who won’t make it to next Christmas, and a suicidal old man. ALF saves the old man because he thinks ALF is the real Santa Claus (though the Tanners don’t have the decency to invite the old man to Christmas dinner when he returns ALF), but a terminal kid is a little out of ALF’s wheelhouse. The dying kid was based on a real-life fan who died, so the special ends with an “in memory” card. Nothing says “Christmas spirit” like suicide attempts and a dead kid.
Santa Claus Conquers the Martians
The Martians are told that their kids need to have more fun, so they head to Earth and kidnap Santa and a couple kids and bring them back to Mars. But of course, one Martian takes issue with this plan and sets out to kill both Santa and the kids. One of those “classic” so-bad-it’s-good movies, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians got new life when it was featured in an episode of MST3K.
The Star Wars Holiday Special
No “bad holiday specials” list would be complete without this cult “classic.” The notorious special involves Han Solo trying to get Chewbacca home for Life Day. They get caught by the Empire, which makes them late and causes Chewy’s family to check with all their friend. The first twenty minutes or so are all in the Wookiee language. Other “highlights” include Bea Arthur singing with the Cantina Band, and Carrie Fisher singing the Life Day theme to the tune of the Star Wars theme. The special was so reviled that it only ever aired once, on November 17, 1978, and George Lucas and the cast have essentially disavowed the special.
Andy Williams and the NBC Kids Search for Santa
The white-bread crooner hosted a half-dozen Christmas specials in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. Most are quite generic and banal… but this 1985 special just oozes creepiness. Andy Williams invites a handful of kids from NBC’s sitcoms (including Punky Brewster, the Cosby kids, and the kids from Silver Spoons) to travel with him to Finland, where they are going to track down Santa Claus. An older gentleman takes a gaggle of children unrelated to him to a distant land with sketchy extradition laws to search for a mythical figure. He doesn’t even get them Christmas presents. Instead, “Love Is What You’re Getting For Christmas,” according to Andy’s song to the kids. Apparently they never even find Santa, either. What a gyp.