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Film / A Special Sesame Street Christmas

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A Special Sesame Street Christmas is a 1978 TV special featuring most of the human cast of Sesame Street plus Big Bird, Barkley, Oscar the Grouch, and several celebrity guests including Leslie Uggams (who's basically the star of the show), Henry Fonda, Ethel Merman, Michael Jackson, Anne Murray, Imogene Coca, and Dick Smothers.

The special centers around a retelling of the classic tale A Christmas Carol, with Oscar (of course) playing the role of the Scrooge-like character that does not like Christmas. Three ghosts (all celebrities) show up to show him the error of his ways.

It was one of the first Sesame Street projects to air on a commercial network, debuting on CBS the same year that Christmas Eve on Sesame Street aired on the show's usual home of PBS (in fact, it aired the same weekChristmas Eve debuted on a Sunday, while this show ran five days later on Friday). In a departure from the latter special and the series itself, this one was not produced by the Children's Television Workshop (forerunner of today's Sesame Workshop) but by Bob Banner (known for producing The Carol Burnett Show and Perry Como's TV specials).

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Tropes:

  • Advertised Extra: Michael Jackson appears on the DVD cover, despite only showing up for less than two minutes and not singing.
  • Brutal Honesty: Ethel Merman dishes some up when she sees Imogene Coca dressed as the Ghost of Christmas Present:
    You look like an idiot!
  • The Cameo:
    • 20-year-old Michael Jackson plays a fellow reading a joke book about ghosts. Oscar chats with him and offers to trade the junk book for some junk of his own. Michael offers it for free. Cute exchange between the two.
    • Henry Fonda shows up during the song "Christmas Morning" to talk about what Christmas means to him and also say he needs a 3/4 wingnut.
  • The Grinch: Oscar, or more technically he's playing the role of Scrooge.
  • Hidden Depths: Who knew Oscar could play guitar and was a fan of The Coasters?
  • I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine: Leslie Uggams and Bob McGrath (Bob) had previously worked together as featured singers on the Mitch Miller Variety Show Sing Along With Mitch from 1961-64.
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  • Off-Model: Big Bird and especially Oscar don't quite look right, as if maybe Sesame Street didn't want to waste any freshly built versions of the puppets on this show, so they used older, somewhat worn versions. Related to this might be Oscar's voice sounding a bit off throughout the show, maybe indicating that Caroll Spinney just viewed the whole thing as Money, Dear Boy and wasn't trying very hard.
  • Polish the Turd: The back of the DVD cover "quotes" positive reviews from websites proven to not actually exist.
  • "Sesame Street" Cred: This special is notable as the only Muppet-related project that Michael Jackson ever participated in.
  • That Reminds Me of a Song: Quite a few, but the crowner has to be when Oscar gets out an electric guitar and starts singing "Yakety Yak" until the guitar blows up. If not that, then it would be Anne Murray singing her hit "You Needed Me" while gazing lovingly at Big Bird and Bob.
  • Tiny Tim Template: This special involves Oscar adopting a cat named Tiny Tim, so-named because he broke his leg around Christmas.
  • Yet Another Christmas Carol: Quite obviously Oscar the Grouch takes the role of Scrooge and three different celebrities are the ghosts that must show him the error of his ways.


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