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Screenshot 2018-11-28 17.06.50.jpg

Can John Legend And Chrissy Teigen Revive The Network Holiday Special? Not This Year

By Mieka Strawhorn | TV | November 28, 2018 |

By Mieka Strawhorn | TV | November 28, 2018 |

Screenshot 2018-11-28 17.06.50.jpg

A Legendary Christmas premieres tonight on NBC and I was thinking about watching it based on the strength of John Legend’s pipes and Chrissy Teigen’s spunk. Who doesn’t like a little light nostalgia and cornball cheer during the holidays? They’ve been promoting the shit out of it, so we know it’s in the vein of the network Christmas specials of yore. In case you’ve got your Grinch filters in place and have somehow not seen any of the promos, here’s what you can expect.

Sure, the jokes are cornier and staler than a tub of Christmas popcorn in July. That’s part of the tradition, is it not? I was all ready to record it on my DVR until I read this description (via Entertainment Tonight):

For A Legendary Christmas, the couple called on family and friends — including Stevie Wonder, Kim Kardashian, Kris Jenner, Awkwafina, Darren Criss and Derek Hough, among many others — to help spread joy and holiday magic on their exciting, star-studded TV special.

Yeah, I noped the fuck out as soon as my eye met that first “K”. I had forgotten that the Legend/Teigen clan were good friends with that other Klan. I bet Kanye was supposed to show up too but “something suddenly came up” (you may recall that back in April when his Magalust was getting into full swing, Kanye tweeted John’s private text messages to him begging him to reconsider his position). So no, there’s no amount of Darren Criss that can make up for my detestation of the Kardashian Family Players.

Still, I do miss the old style network Christmas specials. One of my earliest holiday memories was watching Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas and John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together. Those were my first forays into the magical, musical world of the Christmas special, where you never knew just who might stop by. And yes, I also remember watching the Star Wars Holiday Special, which I’m ashamed to admit I have seen (or fallen asleep to) no less than 15 times since.

This year, John and Chrissy wet my whistle for a star-studded affair replete with surprising cameos, seemingly spontaneous duets, and genuine familial warmth. You know, like Joan, John, and Christina chatting candidly in front of an austerely decorated Christmas tree!

Oh shit, I think I just realized where Melania got her inspiration for the White House holiday decorations!

With John and Chrissy getting all dyslexic and inviting Satan instead of Santa over for Eggnog, I am happy to report that you can still get your star-studded fix this year. A lot of the best Christmas variety specials are available on YouTube. Here are a few alternatives to inviting Kardashians into your home.

None of John Denver’s Rocky Mountain Christmas specials are available online but you can take a sleigh ride to the Smoky Mountains with Dolly Parton on YouTube. The entirely of her 1990 special Dolly Parton: Home For Christmas is available, and the video quality is pretty good (the Dolly quality is sublime).

If you’re feeling less sincere and want to find out what’s in the bottom of that highball glass, The Dean Martin Christmas Show from 1968 may be more your speed.

If you’re craving some good storytelling and a lot of authentic atmosphere, you might enjoy The 1976 Johnny Cash & Family Christmas Show.

My favorite Christmas song of all time, Judy Garland’s rendition of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”, opens up her 1963 special.

Well, oh shit! How’d that get in there.

Now these next specials aren’t available in full online (for free at least), but you can get your cheer on with these clips. Somewhere I still have a DVD of the 2008’s A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift Of All, which somehow managed to simultaneously be both earnest and absurd.

Hot cocoa-voiced Luther Vandross had a Christmas special in 1995 that coincided with his now classic album This Is Christmas.

And of course, there’s this toastiest old chestnut of all from 1977’s Bing Crosby’s Merrie Olde Christmas featuring a “drop in” duet with David Bowie.

So, sorry John and Chrissy. We don’t need ya! Get better friends and maybe next year we can talk turkey.

Header Image Source: YouTube