With Christmas just one week away, here are five television classics you can't live without this holiday season:
1) A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) The all time great Christmas television special, no Christmas is complete without first watching Charlie Brown discover the meaning of the holiday with the rest of the Peanut gang in attendance. Everyone's at their best in this one- Linus, Sally, Lucy and Snoopy all embody everything of their character's essence in just a few lines or actions for each, exactly how Charles Schulz presented them in the immortal comic strip. It's repeated for a reason- you can never get tired of it.
2) Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964) The best of the Rankin/Bass stop-motion specials, this 1960's classic worked as a metaphor for the civil rights era and probably connected at that level for audiences during the time. But it still stands up as a celebration of non-conformity, and also because it's just so entertaining. The original songs became holiday staples, including "Holly Jolly Christmas," "Silver and Gold," and "There's Always Tomorrow."
3) Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)- I know it's got its fans, but for me, watching the live-action Jim Carrey abomination in theaters was one of the worst moviegoing experiences of my life. Give me the original anytime. In just 25 minutes, the meaning of Christmas is conveyed with a bright, beating heart ultimately the size of the Grinch's. This one never gets old either.
4) Santa Claus is Comin' to Town (1970)- The other good Rankin/Bass special that has Fred Astaire narrating the origin story of Kriss Kringle, as voiced by Mickey Rooney. Not as good as Rudolph (what's with the weird psychedelic number in the middle?), but still has an infectious joy in most of the songs that warm your heart and make you feel more than ready for Christmas Day.
5) Buffy the Vampire Slayer- Season 3, Episode 10 "Amends" (1998)- Ok, so it's kind of a joke at this point, with me recommending this show for every holiday, but it works! This third season Joss Whedon-scripted and directed Buffy hour is the only Christmas episode the show ever did, as Angel is haunted by the ghosts of his many murder victims, before a rare snow falls on Sunnydale. A classic.