Top Christmas television specials of all time

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The Nutcracker (1977 TV Movie)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
The television adaptation of the Baryshnikov production. (78 mins.)
Director: Tony Charmoli
“ The great Baryshnikov production of Tchaikovsky's ballet. It doesn't matter if the picture and sound aren't truly state-of-the-art. It still looks better than it ever did on its network (and especially its PBS) telecasts; in fact, it hasn't looked this good since CBS first telecast it, and even then, I doubt analog TV sets made it look as vivid as it looks here. ” - critic-2
A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965 TV Movie)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
Repelled by the commercialism he sees around him, Charlie Brown tries to find the true meaning of Christmas. (25 mins.)
Director: Bill Melendez
“ The best animated Christmas special ever made. Not to be confused with any of the later Charlie Brown Christmas specials (watch out if you check the YouTube clips). ” - critic-2
How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966 TV Movie)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
A grumpy hermit hatches a plan to steal Christmas from the Whos of Whoville. (26 mins.)
“ The best version of this story. Forget Jim Carrey's awful remake. ” - critic-2
A Christmas Carol (1999 TV Movie)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
An adaptation of the famous novel by Charles Dickens. (95 mins.)
Director: David Jones
“ Because this is a list of made-for-TV Christmas specials, this Patrick Stewart version of the classic jumps to the top of my "Christmas Carol" list. (Yes, it's better than the George C. Scott one.) But the best made-for-theatres version of the Dickens story is still the 1951 production with Alastair Sim. ” - critic-2
Bah, Humbug!: The Story of Charles Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol' (1994 TV Movie)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
An abridged dramatic reading of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol", performed live at the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York, and based on Dickens's own adaptation for his dramatic readings. (58 mins.)
Director: Derek Bailey
“ Once televised annually on PBS, but not recently. Martin Sheen and James Earl Jones perform a dramatic reading of the story taken from Dickens's own adapted script for public readings. Magnificent, and once available on VHS, but still not available on DVD. Journalist and former "News Hour" anchorman Robert MacNeil provides fascinating commentary about Dickens's era and the writing of the novel. ” - critic-2
Christmas with Robert Shaw (1998 TV Movie)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
(90 mins.)
“ Choral conductor Robert Shaw's only nationally televised Christmas concert. Unfortunately, not available on DVD yet. ” - critic-2
Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964 TV Movie)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
A misfit reindeer and his friends look for a place that will accept them. (47 mins.)
Director: Larry Roemer
“ Like the 1966 "Grinch", this is the best version of the story. ” - critic-2
“ A fascinating documentary about the holiday, showing how customs from pagan celebrations were borrowed for our traditional Christmas, how much influence the origins of the sun-god Mithra had on the Biblical story of Christ's birth, how Santa Claus evolved into the figure we know today, and how we celebrate the holiday in modern times. Overlooked by those who don't watch the History Channel, which used to telecast it every year, before they started substituting crappy reality shows for interesting historical documentaries. ” - critic-2
The Bell Telephone Hour (1959 TV Series)
Episode: A Trip to Christmas (1961)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
The long-running television version of the long-running NBC radio series devoted to classical music as well as Broadway composers. (60 mins.)
Director: Donald Voorhees
“ Really corny - in fact, incredibly corny - by modern standards in the dialogue sections, but most of the ones that emphasize singing and dancing are quite good, though not on the level of the Robert Shaw program or the Baryshnikov "Nutcracker". This offering, however, is an excellent example of the kind of family Christmas special that was a regular part of holiday programming in the pre- rock and roll era. (The cover picture you see is of an entirely different program.) And yes, it was made and telecast in color. Once available complete on VHS, but only sections of it have made it to DVD, in a "Bell Telephone Hour" compilation of several of their Christmas specials. ” - critic-2
Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol (1962 TV Movie)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
An animated, magical, musical version of Dickens' timeless classic "A Christmas Carol." The nearsighted Mr... (53 mins.)
Director: Abe Levitow
“ By far the best musical animated version of the story. ” - critic-2