Holiday Family Classics
Second Floor Theater
November 25 to December 24
Enjoy a uniquely curated mix of past and present Holiday Family Specials. Watch stop-motion classics like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town and such animated specials as A Charlie Brown Christmas and A Rugrats Chanukah. For more holiday cheer, check out many more festive treasures among the 160,000 television and radio programs preserved in the Paley Archive.
Wed. 11/29, screenings will begin at 3:30 pm. Fri. 12/8, screenings will begin at 3:30 pm.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
The stop-motion Arthur Rankin and Jules Bass–produced special follows the story of Rudolph on the night he saved Christmas. (1964; NBC)
Frosty the Snowman
Inspired by the holiday tune “Frosty the Snowman,” this classic animated Arthur Rankin and Jules Bass special follows the Snowman after he’s brought to life the day before Christmas. (1969; CBS)
A Charlie Brown Christmas
Charlie Brown learns the true meaning of Christmas with a little help from the Peanuts gang. (1965; CBS)
A Rugrats Chanukah
In the first Chanukah special in a children’s series, the characters of Rugrats transport themselves into the story of Judah and the history behind the Jewish holiday. (1996; Nickelodeon)
Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas
Looney Tunes alum Chuck Jones animates this classic Dr. Seuss story narrated by actor Boris Karloff. (1966; CBS)
Mister Magoo’s Christmas Carol
The first animated Christmas special follows Mister Magoo in the role of Ebenezer Scrooge in a Broadway production of “A Christmas Carol” featuring the music of Jule Styne. (1962; NBC)
Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town
This stop motion Arthur Rankin and Jules Bass classic narrated by Fred Astaire explores the origins of Santa Claus. (1970; ABC)
Mickey Saves Christmas
Mickey Saves Christmas is a stop-motion holiday special that follows Mickey, Minnie and their pals as they discover the true meaning of Christmas. (2022; Disney+)
Firebuds: Hanukkah Hullabaloo, The Christmas Car-Sled Race
Bo gets into the holiday spirit in these two episodes of the new Disney+ series, Firebuds. (2022; Disney+)
December 27, 2023, to January 7, 2024
Our selections range from Chalie Brown and Dora to programs recently presented by Disney+ featuring Mickey Mouse and the Firebuds. These family classics will help you greet the new season and ring in the New Year. For more holiday cheer, check out many more festive treasures among the 160,000 television and radio programs preserved in the Paley Archive.
Elmo’s World: “Happy Holidays“
Elmo learns more about the year-end holidays like Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Three Kings Day. (2002; PBS)
Dora the Explorer: “Dora Saves Three Kings Day“
Dora, Diego, and Boots must stop Swiper from stealing the joy out of Three Kings Day. (2009; Nickelodeon)
A Rugrats Kwanzaa
A misunderstanding leads Susie and the other babies of Rugrats to learn about Kwanzaa. (2001; Nickelodeon)
Happy New Year, Charlie Brown
When Marcie and Peppermint Patty decide to host a New Year's party, Charlie Brown summons his courage and invites his true love, the little red-haired girl, to be his date. (1986; CBS)
The Wonderful World of Disney: “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure“
This animated musical short film, continuing the story of 2013's Frozen, focuses on chatty snowman Olaf and his love of the holiday season. (2017; ABC)
The Velveteen Rabbit
The new special based on the treasured, classic children’s book by Margery Williams, celebrates the magic of unconditional love. When 7-year-old William receives a new favorite toy for Christmas, he discovers a lifelong friend and unlocks a world of magic. (2023, Apple TV+)
Frosty the Snowman
Inspired by the holiday tune “Frosty the Snowman,” this classic animated Arthur Rankin and Jules Bass special follows the Snowman after he’s brought to life. (1969; CBS)
Firebuds “Blizzard Buds / Parade Escapade”
In “Blizzard Buds” the Firebuds brave a blizzard to reunite a family for Christmas, while in “Parade Escapade” the Firebuds take part in the Motopolis New Year’s Day parade. (2023; Disney+)
SuperKitties: “Merry Mousmas”
When Cat Burglar steals Christmas gifts from all over Kittydale, the SuperKitties must recover the stolen presents—and Bitsy’s kitty castle! (2023; Disney+)
Mickey’s Christmas Tales
Five new stop-motion shorts that follow Mickey, Minnie, and their pals as they celebrate the holiday season, making cookies together and learning how to build a snowman with Goofy. (2023; Disney+)
Untraditional Holiday Specials
Bennack Theater (Lower Level / Concourse)
A Very Twisted Christmas
November 29 to December 24
See Special Events for special screenings on: Sat. 12/2, Sat. 12/9, Sat. 12/16.
Wed. 12/6, there will be no screenings in the Bennack Theater.
In addition to taking in the usual December holiday perennial TV specials, give yourself the gift of watching these proudly untraditional programs, from some of our funniest comic minds. They delightfully poke fun at many of your favorite Christmas shows, providing a different kind of holiday cheer. The lineup also includes one of the most infamous holiday programs ever, which celebrates its 45th anniversary this year.
12:10 pm, 4:50 pm
Pee-wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special
The late Paul Reubens, who passed away in July, was best known as Pee-wee Herman, the delightfully daffy (and subversive) character he played in three films and Pee-wee’s Playhouse, the Saturday morning children’s series that ran for five seasons on CBS. Reubens’s prime-time Christmas special (which he also directed and cowrote) featured Playhouse regulars like Cowboy Curtis (Laurence Fishburne) and Reba the Mail Lady (S. Epatha Merkerson), and well as cameos from Whoopi Goldberg, Magic Johnson, Cher, Little Richard, Grace Jones (who sings “Little Drummer Boy”), and Oprah Winfrey—among many others. As Esquire said, “Playing out almost like a tinsel-covered Merry Melodies cartoon with a powerful jolt of Andy Warhol, Christmas at Pee-wee’s Playhouse may just be Reubens’s most essential work.” (1988; CBS)
Late Night with David Letterman: “Christmas with the Lettermans”
Late Night with David Letterman routinely upended TV norms, and this quirky holiday special was no exception. As Vulture noted, the episode was “a one hour send-up of every single cheesy Christmas special that had ever run on television.” It features actors playing Letterman’s “family” (including his youngest son, Kyle, whom the host dispatches to find a Christmas tree on the streets of New York City) as well as interviews with Pat Boone and comedian Brother Theodore. The special won Late Night its second consecutive Emmy for outstanding writing in a variety or music program. (1984; NBC)
The Star Wars Holiday Special
Perhaps the most notorious holiday special of all time, The Star Wars Holiday Special was broadcast just once: on November 17, 1978. It has been the stuff of legend ever since, with Star Wars fans trading bootleg copies and scratching their heads over the bizarre combination of Star Wars cast members Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher—in a story line featuring Chewbacca and Han Solo’s attempt to visit the Wookiee home planet to celebrate “Life Day,” with the Empire fast on their heels—with variety show performances from Bea Arthur, Diahann Carroll and Jefferson Starship. The program, which George Lucas has never allowed to be legally available, also features the franchise’s very first appearance of Boba Fett, who appears in an animated segment, "The Faithful Wookiee.” (1978; CBS)
A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All
During his The Colbert Report run, Colbert created this hilarious Comedy Central special in which he finds himself stuck in his “mountain cabin” thanks to a bear lurking outside, which is preventing him from taping his new Christmas special in New York City. The program is packed with original songs from Willie Nelson (“Little Dealer Boy”), Jon Stewart (“Can I Interest You in Hanukkah?”), Feist (“Please Be Patient”), John Legend (“Nutmeg”), Colbert (“Another Christmas Song” and Elvis Costello (“There Are Much Worse Things to Believe In”). The soundtrack won the 2010 Grammy for Best Comedy Album. (2008; Comedy Central)
A South Park Christmas: Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo
South Park’s scatological take on A Charlie Brown Christmas finds controversy sweeping the town over the role of religious holidays in public schools. Kyle attempts to restore peace by sharing the story of Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo, who brings presents to children of all faiths. As with the rest of the series, this special (filled with original songs like “A Lonely Jew on Christmas”) is definitely not for kids—but is also uproarious, and yes, ultimately a heartwarming holiday tale. (1997; Comedy Central)
Memorable Doctor Who Holiday Specials
December 27, 2023, to January 7, 2024
See Special Events for special screenings on: Sat. 12/30
Help ring in the new year—and celebrate Doctor Who’s 60th anniversary, while also preparing for the iconic British science-fiction show’s new season in 2024, featuring the Fifteen Doctor—with this look back at some of the series’s most unforgettable Christmas specials.
Doctor Who: “The Runaway Bride”
The Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) meets Donna Noble (Catherine Tate) on the way to her Christmas wedding, but soon other extraterrestrials threaten to crash the party. (2006; BBC America)
Doctor Who: “A Christmas Carol”
The classic Dickens tale gets a Whovian makeover when the Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) appeals to a Scrooge-like figure to save the day. (2010; BBC America)
Doctor Who: “The Doctor, The Widow, and the Wardrobe”
The Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) meets a mother who tries to give her two children a merry Christmas following her husband’s death in World War II, in an episode inspired by C.S. Lewis’s Narnia books. (2011; BBC America)
Doctor Who: “The Husbands of River Song”
In this farewell episode for River Song (Alex Kingston), the time-traveling archeologist who became the Eleventh Doctor’s wife, the Twelfth Doctor (Peter Capaldi) encounters her and learns about her storied adventures, and many spouses, apart from him. (2015; BBC America)
Doctor Who: “Twice Upon a Time”
The Twelfth Doctor (Peter Capaldi) meets the First Doctor (David Bradley) in a timeline altering year-end episode that leads to the debut of the Thirteenth Doctor (Jodie Whittaker). (2017; BBC America)
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