From Pee-wee to Mr. T: The 12 Weirdest Holiday Specials We've Ever Seen
'Pee-Wee's Playhouse Christmas Special'; 'Babes in Toyland'; 'Mr. T and Emmanuel Lewis in a Christmas Dream' (Everett Collection)
We all have our favorite Christmas specials: Charlie Brown, Rudolph, The Grinch. But not all holiday specials go on to become beloved classics, you know. In fact, some are the TV equivalent of that ugly sweater with three arms Grandma knitted for you. And thanks to YouTube, these misfit toys are preserved forever for our viewing pleasure.
This year, we're decorating our tree with these holiday oddballs: a dozen Christmas TV specials that definitely did not stand the test of time.
1. "The Star Wars Holiday Special" (1978)
Any discussion of weird Christmas specials begins and ends with this notorious misfire; George Lucas himself has said he'd like to track down every remaining copy and smash it with a sledgehammer. (And this is a man who still defends Jar Jar Binks!) It's basically a bad acid trip that combines "Star Wars" with every terrible variety show you had to sit through in the '70s because there was nothing else on.
Following Chewbacca as he tries to get back to his Wookie home planet in time for "Life Day," this special is brimming with intergalactic goodies, including: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher, all looking like they wish they'd read their contracts a little closer; Chewbacca's never-before-seen family, complete with a son named Lumpy; Bea Arthur crooning a tune behind the bar at the Mos Eisley cantina; "Carol Burnett" star Harvey Korman playing a robot on the fritz; and Fisher singing a Life Day ballad to the tune of the "Star Wars" theme. In short, required viewing for any "Star Wars" nerds, Christmas completists, or lovers of a good pop-culture catastrophe.
2. "Mr. T and Emmanuel Lewis in a Christmas Dream" (1984)
This only-in-the-'80s special brings together a dynamic duo from that decade: "Webster" star Emmanuel Lewis, who plays a kid severely lacking in holiday cheer, and Mr. T, who plays a sidewalk Santa who pities the fool that doesn't love Christmas. Here, we're given the gift of magician David Copperfield performing tricks (er, illusions) inside FAO Schwarz, Lewis squeaking his way through "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town," and Mr. T delivering a Linus-esque monologue on the birth of Christ. (Also, some guy with a ventriloquist's dummy, because those were big in the '80s for some reason.)