When you talk Christmas classics, there are those chestnuts, the Christmas songs that have lasted decades, generations.
Christmas classics on TV usually involve animated specials like Charlie Brown, Rudolph, the Grinch, and Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol.
What about TV shows that weren’t cartoons?
How about the All in the Family episode, “The Draft Dodger,” when Christmas dinner at the Bunkers finds Archie playing host to a draft dodger and a father whose son was killed in the war. A back and forth conversation between the Gold Star father and the draft dodger leaves Archie stunned and speechless.
As good as that was, I think the best Christmas TV classic that wasn’t animated or a variety special was the Happy Days episode, “Guess Who’s Coming to Christmas?”
At Arnold’s, Fonzie comes and brings everyone presents. Potsie tries to invite Fonzie over for a Christmas turkey dinner, but Fonzie says he’s planning a trip to visit family in Waukesha.
Howard and his employees have a party at Cunningham Hardware. Howard and Richie have car problems. Fonzie fixes their car and turns down their invitation to drive him to Waukesha. As Richie goes back to the garage to give Fonzie his present (a three-in-one wrench), he sees Fonzie sitting alone eating a sandwich and ravioli out of a can.
Howard and Chuck decorate the tree, and Richie mopes around thinking about Fonzie. Richie and Howard go over to Fonzie’s apartment and try to convince him to come over to the house to fix the Santa. Fonzie is able to fix the Santa and the Christmas tree lights which were not working.
At this point, Fonzie has ‘missed his bus,’ so he stays and pops some popcorn in the fireplace and reads The Night Before Christmas. Richie takes a picture of Howard with Chuck, and Joanie and Fonzie look at a Viewmaster. The family sits down to eat, and Fonzie says grace.”
Then there’s the Dick Van Dyke Show from December of 1963, “The Alan Brady Show Presents.” From answers.com:
“This half-hour musical comedy-revue is staged as the Christmas episode of ‘The Alan Brady Show’ (though clearly played by Carl Reiner, we still don’t see Alan’s face, since he is hidden behind a Santa beard). The program is a showcase for Brady staffers Rob Petrie (Dick Van Dyke), Buddy Sorrell (Morey Amsterdam), Sally Rogers (Rose Marie), and Mel Cooley (Richard Deacon) as well as Rob’s wife Laura (Mary Tyler Moore) and son Ritchie (Larry Mathews).
Here is the great finale…
Here is the entire episode…