#2. Rich Little's Christmas Carol
For our younger readers who might not know who Rich Little is, think of him as the Tyler Perry of white people. Only instead of inventing dozens of original characters, he made his living doing impersonations of celebrities. So in 1978, Rich Little and HBO decided to combine two unlikely bedfellows: Little's gift for mimicry and Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Every main character was played by Little playing a celebrity. Confused? I don't see why. Here's Rich Little as W.C. Fields as Ebenezer Scrooge:
And here's Rich Little as Richard Nixon as Jacob Marley:
Rich Little as Truman Capote as Tiny Tim, Rich Little as Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau as the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, Rich Little as Jean Stapleton as Edith Bunker as Mrs. Cratchit -- and so on. The whole thing was a showcase for Rich Little's favorite impressions, none of whom lived in the Victorian era or England or pop culture's imagination outside of Match Game episodes. When Little trots out his Johnny Carson bit, he actually delivers it directly to the camera in monologue form. It's like the world's longest SNL audition tape.
Here's Rich Little as W.C. Fields as Ebenezer and Rich Little as Humphrey Bogart as the Ghost of Christmas Past watching Rich Little as Groucho Marx as Fezziwig sexually harass his employees.
By the time Rich Little as Peter Falk as Columbo as the Ghost of Christmas Present climbs into Rich Little as W.C. Field's as Ebenezer's bed, you've pretty much given up hope on logic. Oh, did you pick up that all three ghosts are detectives for some reason?
And did we mention that Bob Cratchit is Rich Little playing Paul Lynde? THE PAUL LYNDE. If you tipped over the Hollywood Squares cubes into a Victorian set, then rained down vodka and cocaine snow on all the actors, this Christmas special is what you'd get.
The Most Surreal Moment
At the end of the special, the real Rich Little looks into the camera and thanks the "actors," who then each thank "Rich Little" in character in turn. I'm so confused by this point that I don't even know where to use my sarcastic quotation marks "anymore."
#1. ALF's Series of Unfortunate Events
If there's anything we at Cracked want you to remember, it's that ALF was the saddest show that has ever aired, and that's including M*A*S*H and What's Happenin', Anne Frank? If Christmas episodes were people, this hour-long Christmas special would be Sylvia Plath. Now is also a good time to once again point out how often ladies of the '80s enjoyed short red hair:
The story begins with the Tanners leaving their suburban home for an old-fashioned Christmas in a log cabin. ALF alfs it up by pulling some alfian hijinks, namely opening all the Christmas presents and telling everyone what they got, then repackaging them with his name as the giver. To which the Tanners respond with their usual sensitivity:
You're right, Willie Tanner. The little alien whose planet was tragically destroyed doesn't understand the customs of Earth's religious celebrations. But by all means, continue berating the orphan stranger with your halting, ineffective speech.
While ALF leaves the cabin in shame, a very depressed African-American gentleman stops by to see if the Tanners need anything from town. It turns out that Mr. Foley is the owner of the cabin and he's on his way to the hospital to pass out toys to sick kids, but also that maybe his wife died? We're not sure. Mrs. Tanner asks if Mrs. Foley is "better" and he gives her a stare that could reverse global warming.
Mr. Foley waits until he's behind the wheel of his truck to drop the "My wife is dead, you idiot" bomb. If you're keeping track, we're minutes into the episode, and we've got one vicious tongue lashing and a dead lady in the mix. Meanwhile, ALF the diptard ends up locked in the back of the trunk with the toys for the sick kids at the hospital. You know where this is going, don't you? ALF is about to get touched by an Aidsgel. At the hospital, Tiffany, the terminally ill loner child, thinks ALF is a doll and she picks him as her Christmas Eve gift. You can tell she's really sick because look at her face:
We never learn what terrible disease has afflicted this child, but we do know that she won't live to see another Christmas and that she draws her self-portrait with angel wings, which is pretty presumptuous of her, if you ask me. We also never find out why her parents aren't with her on Christmas Eve. It's enough to knock the joy right out of you. As if ALF hasn't suffered enough.
Recognizing a fellow orphan with little future, ALF hangs out with Terminal Tiffany until she falls asleep. IMMEDIATELY after leaving her room, ALF gets stuck in an elevator with a pregnant woman who IMMEDIATELY goes into labor. Alf pulls that baby out of her human vagina like a champ.
Which makes me wonder if little Tiffany has already died and her spirit was reincarnated in this woman's infant. It's something to think about as we move on to the next traumatic episode of the night. ALF gets himself back in the toy wagon with Mr. Foley when he overhears a terrible conversation: It seems Mr. Foley has donated his life savings to the hospital. The doctor who declared Tiffany a goner only moments before relies on his intuition to figure out why:
Mr. Foley is going to kill himself! This is terrible! Dr. Feelbad knows that this guy is suicidal but has nothing but bland platitudes to offer. Even the most cold-hearted of us would extend a Christmas dinner invitation to a guy who just lost his wife. And Mr. Foley isn't letting any time pass before he gets the deed done. IMMEDIATELY after leaving the hospital, he stops on an icy bridge to make the plunge of death. Thank God ALF is there to stop him.
The Most Surreal Moment
At first, Mr. Foley doesn't want to listen to this strange doll that's been following him around all day. Then he figures something out.
This little anteater-looking puppet must be Santa Claus himself. Mr. Foley comes to this conclusion after ALF reveals that he's an alien from another planet, an explanation Tiffany embraced right away. Mr. Foley the grown man takes a look at this furry little thing and concludes: Santa Claus. Fine, whatever gets you off the ledge, ding dong.
Foley comes to his senses and takes ALF home to the Tanners. There, our alien friend spills the beans on his evening, presumably as a form of PTSD therapy. Christmas morning rolls around and the Tanners bop back to the hospital to visit Terminal Tiffany, who -- surprise! Isn't dead yet. YAY! What a relief! Merry Christmas to all and to all a good -