In the pantheon of great Christmas specials — the yuletide-themed adventures trotted out by the networks each year, usually animated, typically with a theme song so iconic that children can sing the lyrics before they learn how to speak — three titles reign supreme. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, A Charlie Brown Christmas, and How The Grinch Stole Christmas! all debuted close to a half-century ago — in 1964, 1965, and 1966, respectively — and they still air each year to respectable ratings, to say nothing of the massive cultural footprint they’ve all left behind. However, one EW staffer has managed to avoid ever seeing these holiday classics…until now. In Part One of our chat, Darren Franich — Holiday Special Superfan and ugly Christmas sweater aficionado — prepares newbie Hillary Busis for the festival of yuletide cheer that awaits.
Darren Franich: Hillary, I’ve been watching these Christmas specials since before I was able to formulate any conscious thoughts. I could probably quote them verbatim. Actually, my family kept a massive VHS collection of tape-recorded Christmas specials, so if pressed, I could probably even quote the commercials that played during the 1986 airing of A Charlie Brown Christmas. (I definitely recall that Santa Claus really enjoyed Coca-Cola, which is why I’ve never liked Pepsi.) I remember these specials more vividly than most actual memories from my life — possibly because my life doesn’t have fun hyper-descriptive theme songs. So before we watch this trilogy of Yuletide cheer, I want to ask you: How much, exactly, do you know about them? Do you know why it’s important that Rudolph has a red nose? What kind of music do you think is on the soundtrack of A Charlie Brown Christmas? And what do you think is the plot of How The Grinch Stole Christmas? READ FULL STORY