CBS presents classic and new specials
Editor’s note: This is part of a weekly series on programs on streaming services and TV networks.
If you’re tempted to sing “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas,” go right ahead.
It’s that time of year.
Sung by the legendary Burl Ives, the Johnny Marks song is part of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” the classic, 1964 stop-motion animation special that also featured Mr. Ives as the voice of the narrator/Sam the Snowman.
“Rudolph” is among the longtime and new specials that CBS has rolled out this month for the Christmas season. Besides “Rudolph,” specials vary from Dolly Parton in “A Holly Dolly Christmas” to one about uplifting stories about adoption.
You may have seen “Rudolph” this week on CBS, but if you haven’t, it will air again at 8 p.m. Dec. 13 on CBS (KCOY-TV, Channel 12).
Rudolph, the reindeer with the glowing nose, made his debut in a 1939 booklet written by Robert L. May and published by Montgomery Ward. Rudolph came to the big screen in 1948 in a short produced by legendary animator Max Fleischer of “Gulliver’s Travels” (1939) and “Popeye” fame.
Johnny Marks, Mr. May’s brother-in-law, adapted Rudolph’s story into a 1949 song. Gene Autry’s rendition of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” topped the charts.
The song inspired the 1964 TV special, and producers Arthur Rankin and Jules Bass expanded the story to include Rudolph becoming friends with Hermey, an elf who wants to be a dentist, and helping the Island of Misfit Toys.
The special offers memorable music, humor and a timeless story about the importance of embracing those who are different.
It’s also a lesson about recognizing unique abilities. If not for Rudolph, Santa couldn’t have delivered presents on that foggy Christmas eve.
In addition to Mr. Ives, the classic special stars the voices of Billie Mae Richards as Rudolph, Stan Francis as Santa Claus and Paul Soles as Hermey.
Other CBS specials this month include another one inspired by a song, the classic “Frosty the Snowman.” Also produced by Mr. Bass and Mr. Rankin, the 1969 special will air at 9 and 10 p.m. Dec. 12 on CBS. (And you’ll also find it on Amazon Prime.)
The plot involves Frosty, the living snowman, and a little girl who struggle to elude a greedy magician who is after the snowman’s magic hat.
Jackie Vernon is the voice of Frosty. Paul Frees, a voice well-known to Disney fans and anyone who has listened to the narrator at the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland, is the voice of Santa Claus and other characters. June Foray, the legend best known for voicing Rocky the Flying Squirrel, is the voice of the teacher, Karen and others.
But probably the biggest treat for fans, especially those who love classic movies, is the narrator. The voice is none other than Jimmy Durante.
There are also new holiday specials this month on CBS. As you’d expect, they involve music.
Dolly Parton will perform during “A Holly Dolly Christmas” at 8 p.m. Sunday. The country singer will present hymns, light-hearted classics and share personal Christmas stories. She will also sing selections from her new holiday album, “A Holly Dolly Christmas.”
Two other country singers, Garth Brooths and Trisha Yearwood, will perform “Garth & Trisha Live! A Holiday Concert Event!” at 8 p.m. Dec. 20.
The country singers are performing seasonal music from their home recording studio, Studio G.
The special will be live on the East Coast and tape-delayed on the West Coast, but fans anywhere can request songs before the program airs. Mr. Brooks planned to share details on how to make requests on “Inside Studio G,” his weekly Facebook Live show.
At 9:30 p.m. Dec. 20, the specials will continue with the 22nd annual “A Home for Holidays,” which will feature uplifting stories about adoption.
Hosted by “CBS This Morning” co-anchor Gayle King, the special will focus on four Los Angeles families. And there will be performances by Miranda Lambert, Josh Groban, Meghan Trainor, Leslie Odom Jr. and tenor Andrea Bocelli.
The special is produced in association with the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption and the Children’s Action Network.
Mr. Thomas, who was adopted, founded Wendy’s and started his foundation to help increase adoptions for children in North America’s foster care system.