The Twelve (or Fewer) Days of Christmas Specials. Part 1: Dean!

I’m going to confess something here: I like Christmas specials. It hasn’t always been so. When I was young, cynical, and desperate to be thought of as someone who had good taste, I steered clear of the things, decrying them as a bit of candy-coated kétaine.

As I got older, however, I began to like the things. I’m not sure if the two are correlated but it may have happened when I discovered that I also like to have a little rye and ginger around the holidays.

When you get down to it, Christmas specials are weird things. Television networks devote an incredible amount of time to them in a way that they don’t for other holidays. Sure, you’ll get The Ten Commandments on ABC at Passover or maybe even Mohammed, Messenger of God at Ramadan. There are practical considerations for this, surely. Most people are off-work and it doesn’t pay to put up new episodes of your top rated shows during a time when few people would watch them. So specials are taped in advance and re-run until the end of time. In the same way a blogger wants to come up with a quick and easy means of producing content without having to think too much, a network will fill its schedule with cheaply produced variety specials, concerts, sporting events, or seasonally themed episodes of current hit programming.

With that stated, I’d like to make my series posts about the Christmas specials I thought were fun, or odd, or entirely inappropriate. The main criteria for inclusion in this list will be a combination of general datedness, tackiness, and if I can find a decent quality clip of it on YouTube.

One thing to note: I will not be including this year’s Russell Peters Christmas Special because he sucks and I fucking hate his fucking smirking fucking face.

Let’s start with Dean Martin, shall we?  Between 1965 and 1985, Dean Martin recorded approximately 17,284 Christmas specials with an additional 83,382 hours of unreleased specials just sitting in a vault somewhere. Why NBC is just sitting on this goldmine is a mystery or perhaps they really do feel that nobody actually wants to see Dean Martin’s Christmas in Chichen Itza.

From one such special, we have Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra, who was already years into his talking-through-songs phase, doing Dean’s signature holiday song, “Marshmallow World”. This was a few years before Dean’s tan elevated itself into a George Hamiltonesque deep bronze but even then, he knew that the secret of bringing that rich mahogany tone to your face was not through spray tans or a tanning booth. No, it was downing a bottle of Canadian Club, slathering yourself in a thick skin of Crisco, and just lolling about in the nude for a few hours in the searing Palm Springs heat.

And if you’re watching at home kids, yes, it was totally cool to smoke back then. Think Bublé will smoke during his Christmas special? No. Because he’s just not that cool. I mean, look at those two up there. The special has just started and they’re already half in the bag.

Perhaps the Christmas specials of today could use more open smoking and drinking. Hmmm… The Mickey Roarke Christmas Special. Hollywood: Make it happen.


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