Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas Specials That Weren't

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It's that time of year, the Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa season, and the airwaves are filled with cheer and cheesy TV specials. We all have our favorites. I'm rather partial to "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" myself, which should surprise no one.

But, as in every creative field, for every holiday special that takes its place in our hearts and on our DVRs, there are a dozen or more that failed to make the cut. It is to those unsung and unaired works of television art that this week's column is dedicated.

This year's almost-rans:

"A WikiLeaks Christmas Card": Santa's made his list and checked it twice, and now WikiLeaks frontman Julian Assange has gotten hold of it and is prepared to spam the information about who's naughty and nice across the Internet. Unfortunately, no network could be found to host the show, and all of the major newspapers refused to run ads for it.

"Basically," explained New York Times editor Bill Keller, "All of us in the media business are outraged at the behavior of Assange and WikiLeaks. Everyone knows that if you're going to leak something, you need to leak it directly to an actual reporter, not just post it on the Internet like some...blogger or something. It's simply not done."

"Sarah Palin's Caribou-Killin' Christmas": The former governor of Alaska was all set to host a warm and tender holiday special to be simultaneously broadcast on The Outdoor Channel and the Food Network.

During the special, Palin was supposed to shoot various native creatures (wolf, caribou, snowshoe rabbit and field mouse) from an aircraft with a high-powered rifle, then take them back to her home in Wassilla and cook them up for Christmas dinner.

Unfortunately, one of Palin's handlers forgot and left a television on in her trailer. When she saw a rerun of the comedy series "The Office" in which a major character uses the word "retarded, " Palin became enraged. Claiming that this was a direct insult by "Hollywood liberals" to her special-needs child and "all of God's special snowflakes everywhere," she stormed off of the set to sulk, then demanded that the entire rest of the show be presented, unedited, via her Facebook page and Twitter feed.

"Who do they think we are?" an executive from the Food Network was reported to have said, "Fox News?"

"John McCain's Christmas in Arizona": Santa Claus and his elves were to make a personal appearance as the climax of this special, held at the palatial home of the senior senator and failed presidential candidate.

The production collapsed when Santa and his entourage, including elves, got lost because they'd been given directions to the wrong one of McCain's houses, then were arrested and jailed because the elves couldn't produce proper citizenship documentation at a traffic stop.

This column has not been able to confirm reports that Arizona plans to balance its state budget by selling the coal they expect to find in all of its citizens' Christmas stockings to China.

"Man vs. Mall": British adventurer Bear Grylls has faced a number of hazardous situations in his TV career: grizzly bears in the Rockies, dehydration in the burning desert, sheer cliffs and poisonous snakes. But when confronted with the prospect of being caught in the rush of shoppers at a Black Friday 5 a.m. "doorbusters" sale in the Jersey Gardens outlet mall in Elizabeth, N.J., Grylls backed out.

"Keep the money," Grylls told the show's producers, "I'm not bloody stupid." A last-minute plan to replace him with "Jersey Shore" star "The Situation" was abandoned when, as one of the producers put it, "we realized he's just a really awful person."

"Barack Obama's Bipartisan Christmas": The president had hoped to get congressional Republicans to appear in a holiday celebration of peace and reconciliation.

However, incoming Majority Leader John Boehner demanded as a condition of his party's participation that the Democrats repeal the estate tax, agree to a Constitutional Amendment making "Don't Ask Don't Tell" the law of the land, abolish the Department of Education, sell the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge outright to BP and Halliburton, and apologize for Obama winning the election.

When the White House agreed, Boehner sent word back that the Republicans couldn't make it to the show because they were "washing their hair that night".

Guess we'll just have to make do with the shows we've got. Happy viewing, and Happy Holidays! All of them.