Arthur is an avid television and movie fan with horror being his favored genre. If you can name it, he has probably seen it. Twice.
When it comes to holiday specials nothing, and I mean nothing, beats Christmas. Christmas cartoons and specials have to beat out any other holiday by 3 to 1 at least. One company that has been doing Christmas better than most for 60 years now is Hanna-Barbera. Admittedly, the HB team isn't what it used to be, but there are a lot of classics from the vault that prove that nobody does it better than Hanna-Barbera.
A Scooby-Doo! Christmas
There are few characters more recognizable in the history of television than Mystery Incorporated. These teenage mystery solvers with their own stereotypical personalities have been delighting children for generations. My own kids are the reason that I saw this particular Christmas special in which the gang has to solve the mystery of a giant snowman who is wrecking the houses of a small town at Christmas time. Unlike other Scooby episodes where the criminal is eventually hauled away, this one ends with a positive Christmas message, one that we all need help remembering sometimes.
Christmas Comes to Pacland
I didn't even know that there was a Pac-Man cartoon until I stumbled across this special a few years ago. It has quickly become one of my favorite Christmas cartoons because it oozes nostalgia even though I never even watched it when I was a kid. When Santa's sleigh crashes it is up to Pac-Man and his crew to learn about Christmas and help Santa deliver all the presents. The only problem is that those pesky ghosts have a different idea. Of course, lessons are learned and the Christmas spirit is felt in this feel-good special based on one of the most iconic video game characters of all time.
It's a Flintstones Christmas
There is a lot going on in this special but it is all a means to an end. First, Wilma asks Fred to be Santa at a Christmas party which he refuses, then Mr. Bedrock asks Fred to play the same Santa to which Fred not only agrees to but becomes jubilant about once he realizes that he won't lose his job. Fred is all set to play Santa with Barney as his elf until the real Santa gets derailed in front of their homes. Of course, it is now up to Fred and Barney to deliver all the toys, the only problem is that this is going to make Fred late for his job as Santa for Mr. Bedrock. Everything works out in the end and this oddly long cartoon leaves you with the warm fuzzies in your tummy. This cartoon also features the song "which one is the real Santa Claus," which gets recycled in quite a few Hanna-Barbera Christmas specials.
A Christmas Story
This is a delightful story punctuated by the fact that it is an original. Unlike most Christmas specials which retell Dickens or the birth of Christ, Hanna-Barbera went their own way with an original story about a mouse and a dog who are tasked with delivering a forgotten letter to Santa. This is another cartoon where they recycled their "which one is the real Santa Claus song." This may be an often overlooked special, but its simplicity and message make it one that families should watch every year.
Yogi's First Christmas
This may be the one special to rule them all. Unlike most Christmas cartoons that last about 23 minutes, this one clocks in at a whopping 1 hour and 48 minutes. It stars the stable of HB characters as they simultaneously treat Yogi to his first Christmas and keep him from running their favorite Christmas lodge out of business. It turns out that Yogi is the best thing that could happen to the lodge and, despite the best efforts of multiple villains, everything turns out perfect in the end.
A Jetson Christmas Carol
I am not a big fan of remakes of A Christmas Carol because they have been done to death. Luckily, the Jetson's take a loose look at the classic tale which creates an entirely new story to itself. You still have a scrooge character who learns his lesson, and you are still transported into the future to see what may become. Other than that the Jetson Christmas Carol is a refreshing Christmas Cartoon, with a moral of course.
The Smurfs: Baby's First Christmas
The Smurfs are not exatly my cup of tea, but this is a pretty great special. The special almost plays as a Santa origin story. When bad gal Chlorhydris gives Saint Nicholas a kiss of evil under the mistletoe, he gives up the present making and delivery racket. The Smurfs take over but are quickly ground to a halt when the reindeer won't work for them. A combination of Baby Smurf and a heartfelt letter from a young man bring love back into Santa's heart and, with a little Smurf magic, Christmas is saved.
There are so many amazing Christmas specials out there, but these 7 prove that Hanna-Barbera knows how to do it right when they do Christmas. Is there one that I missed that should be on the list? Am I crazy for thinking that HB is one of the best at spreading Christmas cheer through the Christmas special? Let me know!