Spencer’s Sanctorum Presents:
A COSMIC CHRISTMAS (1977) – TV Special
Review by Spencer Seams
Welcome to Spencer’s Sanctorum. This column is about old TV shows in the vein of THE TWILIGHT ZONE, ONE STEP BEYOND and KOLCHAK: THE NIGHT STALKER. I seek out the weird, goofy, and underrated episodes, the ones that nobody talks about.
Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! Chag Sameach! The past few years, I reserved Christmas for the greatest TV show of all time…THE TWILIGHT ZONE (1959–1964)! This year, my gift isn’t a Rod Serling tale of holiday cheer. It’s not a British holiday ghost story, either. For the first time, I’m going north for the 70s TV special, A COSMIC CHRISTMAS (1977), a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) Christmas special.
Now, many of you are thinking the obvious question…”Why did it take you this long to finally review this cherished Christmas tradition?” I’m sincerely sorry, but I wanted to make sure I was ready to tackle one of the seminal TV specials every American—I include Central and South America here, as well—have come to know and love and memorize every line of, like what Peter says when he first meets the aliens, or what Grandma does when she first sees the aliens. I don’t need to remind you, but I will go through it all, just in case you have it confused with something like RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER (1964) or HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS! (1966).
A young redheaded boy named Peter (voiced by Joey Davidson, AGE OF INNOCENCE, 1977) runs through a packed main street during the middle of Christmas shopping season. Concurrently, a flying sphere blasts to Earth in search of the Star of Bethlehem. For eons and epochs, their race has been exploring the universe trying to reach and understand the Star, but they don’t quite know the whole story yet.
Only Peter sees the UFO approaching Earth, so naturally no one believes him, given that he’s a silly kid doing silly things. The ship stops whenever an adult sees it, and things turn bad after the bullies, led by Marvin (voiced by Greg Rogers, ARROW, 2016-2017), start to threaten the real star of the show. You know, we all know…Lucy, Pete’s pet goose that wears a pink sweater. Not to get off topic, but one of my favorite Christmas memories was getting to watch this cultural milestone every year. My family loved that goose. We’d wear our custom-made (the licensed stuff was overpriced!) ugly Lucy Christmas sweaters and Lucy socks.
Now, comes the sad part that made all of us cry at some point in Christmas past. Lil’ Pete is showing the aliens around town to see the true holiday experience of this magical time of the year. But things are not in the Christmas spirit, it turns out. The town is sad, miserable, and hopeless. No one is showing the aliens what Jesus’s birthday is actually about…caring, sharing, and love of your fellow man.
Grandma’s too busy trying work her moves on the aliens, “My, my, men from Mars.” She fixes her hair and ponders on her Christmas experience as a little girl. The aliens start a funky Christmas lights show, as Grandma continues to wax on about her happiest time. Marvin makes things worse. He steals Lucy. Lucy—our favorite cartoon bird—is suddenly gone, and she’s gonna get eaten! Oh, no! Peter isn’t having it.
A crazy chase ends with Marvin and Peter trapped under a frozen lake. Lucy is no Lassie, and can’t rescue them, but luckily though the whole town forms a chain to save the boys. That isn’t enough. The aliens stand by, since their rules are not to interfere with foreign life. But then they join in and save the day, and Christmas too.
Man, oh man, this is something else! The animation isn’t great. Characters and backgrounds bleed into each other. The character design itself is lacking. Colors are dull and never pop out really, but you know what? I still love it! Just because it looks lazy and doesn’t add anything to the story or characterizations doesn’t take anything away from our favorite Christmas special. It’s not as beautiful or richly done as RUDOLPH or THE GRINCH—it’s better.
The story itself is not great or well-done. It’s generic. It drags the entire time, with zero momentum. Even though it’s poorly conceived, thought out, and never comes together in a meaningful way, we still love it. A good story is great sometimes. A bland story with bland characters is fantastic. Sometimes, we don’t need the highest quality in our Christmas stories. We want to be swept up in mediocrity during Christmas. It lets us both watch a classic and chat with our family at the same time. Sometimes, the point of a Christmas special is not quality, but to bring families together. A COSMIC CHRISTMAS is our, I’ll include you too, favorite part of the snowy season.
This Christmas, celebrate by watching the greatest Christmas TV special of all time.
It’s available on Amazon for the very fair price of $14.99.
© Copyright 2017 by Spencer Seams