We're winding down the holiday-heavy stretch of the year, and Cheddar's Digital Team has some holiday cheer in store with some old and new TV specials, two heartwarming ensemble casts getting together for Christmas, and one of the most miraculous classics of all time.
TV Holiday Specials! - Various
Picked by Digital Editor Mike Nam
Rugrats Season 4, Episode 1 "Rugrats Chanukah" - Paramount+
This Nickelodeon show for kids was definitely after my time, but for much of the audience in 1996, it was the first time they saw a children's cartoon special about the Jewish holiday — told through the eyes of its lovable baby characters. Hanukkah may have ended, but it's still a good time to return to this pioneering show.
Hey Arnold! "Arnold's Christmas" - Hulu
Also from 1996 on Nickelodeon, I caught this episode years later. It centers on the title character learning about his Vietnamese immigrant neighbor's poignant story of loss following the Vietnam War. It's another groundbreaking 22-minute children's TV episode. Spoilers in the YouTube link.
BoJack Horseman Christmas Special - Netflix
The horse from a modestly famous '90s sitcom who made you realize that recognizing your own part in perpetuating a cycle of self-loathing and trauma is only the beginning of a journey — but, y'know, in a funny way — also did a Christmas special.
Hawkeye Episode 6 "So This Is Christmas?" - Disney+
For all the hype around Marvel properties these days, there aren't enough props for this tight, six-episode story about archer extraordinaire, Clint Barton, and his crime-fighting partner, Kate Bishop. The season just finished up with a lot of holiday cheer mixed in — including some superhero hijinks at NYC's Rockefeller Center.
The Matrix Resurrections - HBO Max
Yeah, there isn't a holiday connection here. It's the fourth Matrix film, and it just started streaming on HBO Max (and playing in theaters). Anyway, here ya go.
The Best Man Holiday - Peacock
Picked by Producer Lawrence Banton
Welp, we've come to the end of the road with my holiday watch suggestions but I promise to help close the season with a bang. And you might cry…actually you will cry but it will be worth it! Malcolm Lee's The Best Man Holiday is the perfect way to wrap up your holiday viewing experience for more reasons than one. The 2013 film is a sequel to the 1999 classic The Best Man, where a group of friends links up for the first time in 15 years. If you haven't watched the first film, I won't spoil why it's likely the crew hadn't seen each other in such a long time and while it isn't necessary to watch the films in order, you might appreciate the sequel much more if you do. But just like the original, passion, betrayal, and a perfect sense of comedic timing are going to have you on a roller coaster of feelings. Really, I can't stress enough the range of emotion displayed in this movie. Whew! If that isn't enticing enough, hopefully, the star-studded cast, including Taye Diggs, Nia Long, Morris Chestnut, Regina Hall, Terrence Howard, and Sanaa Lathan, is enough to reel you in.
The Family Stone - Peacock
Picked by Reporter Alex Vuocolo
If the return of the Sex and the City franchise has you hankering for more great Sarah Jessica Parker roles, now is the perfect time to check out her quintessential Christmas movie. In The Family Stone (2005), Parker plays a high-strung businesswoman who is meeting her boyfriend’s extremely laid-back New England family for the first time. It’s a classic setup for holiday high jinks, and it delivers sharp writing, heartfelt sentiment, and even some screwball comedy. It also happens to contain one of the most insanely misguided plot points I’ve ever seen in a movie — which you’ll just have to watch to see for yourself. Yet it’s that combination of good and so-bad-it’s-good-goodness that makes The Family Stone a cult classic to many fans. Come for the warm, authentic holiday vibes. Stay for the soap opera-level twists and turns.
Miracle on 34th Street (1947) - HBO Max
Picked by Sr. News Editor Dina Ross
As the hustle and bustle of holiday planning begin to wind down, hopefully, we can bask in the joy of the season. Miracle on 34th Street is really part Christmas movie and part courtroom drama (if you don't understand, watch it) that is not just about the magic of Christmas, but also about the good in mankind. For those who haven't seen it (or don't quite remember), when a single mother (Maureen O'Hara) hires a newer, better Santa (Edmund Gwenn) for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade in New York City, his uncanny resemblance to the mythical toy-giver begins to give some people pause. This was a breakout role for 8-year-old Natalie Wood, who reminds us childhood is precious and fleeting. After yet another year of collective struggle and global disagreements tied to many things, not the least of which has been the COVID pandemic, it's a gift to be able to find some time to sit back, pop some popcorn, and remember there is much kindness and hope in the world.