4YE-Mas: The New Holiday Specials You Should Add To Your Yuletide Pop Culture

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With the holiday season almost ending, we almost have to take the time to reflect on the traditions that bring us together.

Holiday specials are as tried and true for as long as we had some semblance of media. Most of us, however, tend to drift to the stuff that we grew up on. The familiarity of the janky Rakin Bass movements and the Peanuts singing that Christmastime is here.

For instance, it’s not Christmas until my Dad and I have our yearly viewing of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and White Christmas.

This doesn’t mean, however, we should not avoid adding new things to our holiday celebrations. Here are five recommendations for you all to bring into your homes.

King Falls AM – “A King Falls Christmas Story” 

Credit: King Falls AM

King Falls AM is a small podcast. It’s definitely one that folks should be giving a listen to. In its fortieth episode, the podcast did something wildly ambitious: a musical.

And what a musical it is!

Weaving together plot threads and the colorful characters of the Falls, the Christmas special is really something of a treat. As radio DJ Sammy Stevens, reeling from a recent betrayal from bestie Ben Arnold, has to re-find the meaning of Christmas. Much like “Once More With Feeling”, things left unsaid are put into context through song.

So I definitely give a recommendation to a) listen to this podcast and b) add in the Christmas special to your repertoire for the holiday season.

The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror by Christopher Moore

Credit: William Morrow & Company

This is my yearly tradition. It’s one that I whole-heartedly think that everyone should get into. Bawdy, bizarre and downright hilarious, this book combines a lot of Christopher Moore’s previous work into a crossover. While it’s not necessary to read any of said previous work, as he does explain who everyone is, this book can definitely be a gateway read into the author’s impressive catalogue.

It’s zombie miracles and Christmas parties and dumb angels. Women are awesome all over the place. It has a diverse cast of characters that flow in and out of being the PoV. It’s great. I don’t know how else to convince you how amazing this will be.

So if you like your Christmas tales dark and bawdy, then definitely check out this read.

The Sense8 Christmas Special

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Now I’m not quite caught up on Sense8 to check out the Christmas special yet. (Yeah. I know. I suck. It’s my queue, I swear.) But my friend who is immediately texted me at 5am after she finished watching in a fit of gibberish. So I’m going to go with the gut feeling that it’s really good.

So I asked her why. I’m paraphrasing now, but she said that she just loved how that it was all about connection. How everything was just so…joyful after how hopeless 2016 felt. While it didn’t redeem the year in her eyes, it did put her in the holiday spirit. This year the holiday joy just feels especially low. That sounds like a pretty good reason to me.

Murdoch Mysteries – “A Merry Murdoch Christmas” 

Credit: CBC

Murdoch Mysteries is another little known thing (although this one is little known outside of Canada) that I love. A period drama that takes place at the turn of the twentieth century Toronto, the show follows detective William Murdoch as he tries to solve some baffling cases. It’s hitting the tenth season, and some of the plots are delightfully ridiculous.

The 2015 Christmas special has been airing in the US (where the show is known as The Artful Detective) and it’s strangely meditative. Mainly it’s about trying to rediscover that Christmas spirit and joy of the holiday when everything feels lost, where you need to believe that people can be good. Also there’s a guy running around in an amazingly ridiculous Krampus costume. So y’know it’s not too serious.

The Doctor Who Christmas Specials

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Okay. Maaaaaybe this one is a cheat as the Doctor Who specials are widely viewed and beloved. You know what? I don’t care. In the grand scheme of holiday traditions, they’re still rather young. Even if my friends aren’t Whovians, I still tell them to just sit back and enjoy the wonderfulness of these specials. For the most part, they definitely tap into that childlike wonder we need this time of year.

Bec Heim