The LC’s Favorite Holiday Episodes and TV Specials

It’s time again for our annual holiday blog! And this year, The Lincoln Center staff wants to contribute to your holiday cheer by sharing our favorite holiday episodes or TV specials. Enjoy!

Pee-Wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special

Jack: A few years ago, I rediscovered Pee-Wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special from the ’80s.  You can catch it on Netflix.  While the special itself is completely odd (shocking, I know), the introduction is so over the top that it is a must-see for any fans of American kitsch and pop culture.  It is both total send-up and love letter to all of the classic network holiday specials of yore.

Perfect Strangers “A Christmas Story”

Eddie: The holiday season definitely evokes a lot of memories and when it comes to TV series themed episodes, there is certainly no shortage. I could suggest the oft-forgot I Love Lucy Christmas, or pretty much any Home Improvement Christmas episode, but I have to give a throwback to the TGIF days. Friday’s in my house were a time for family, pizza, a Blockbuster movie rental, or better yet…sitting down for the comedy block of TGIF goodness. One of my all-time favorite series in that lineup has to be Perfect Strangers, and the holiday episodes left no shortage of laughs, cries, and seasonal-themed moments.

The episode that stands out the most must be Season 2, Episode 11, “A Christmas Story”. Obsessed with Christmas, Myposian Balki drives his Cousin Larry stir-crazy with everything you might or might not expect, from finding the ‘perfect’ gift, to Christmas Tree disasters, carolers, and last-minute shopping; ultimately this episode adds up to 22-minutes of holiday joy and amusement.

Doctor Who “A Christmas Carol”

Robin: My favorite Christmas TV episode was the Doctor Who special, Series 6 with Matt Smith, called “A Christmas Carol” which was a twist on the Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, only with aliens, spaceships and fish. Great episode and very much the spirit of Christmas!

The Office & Parks and Rec

Todd: I love The Office Christmas parties! Hard to choose just one though. Also Parks and Rec! Since those can kind of be grouped together. 😊

Buffy the Vampire Slayer “Amends”

Rachael: It’s a tough choice between the Lizzie McGuire holiday episode “Aaron Carter’s Coming to Town” and the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode “Amends.” I think I have to say “Amends” is the winner—it’s a bit dark, but it tells a beautiful story of redemption and forgiveness, then has the quintessential holiday special ending: a snowfall in the heart of Southern California. It’s great any time of year, really.

The OC “The Best Chrismukkah Ever”

Megan: To anyone feeling nostalgic for early-2000’s teen soap-dramas this holiday season, look no further than The OC’s holiday episode, “The Best Chrismukkah Ever.” Seth Cohen combining his love for Hanukkah and Christmas to create the “greatest super-holiday known to mankind?” Pure magic.

Lizzie McGuire “Aaron Carter is Coming to Town”

Tara: The Lizzie Mcguire “Aaron Carter’s Coming to Town” episode!!

Good Luck Charlie: It’s Christmas!

Taylor: Every year my husband and I watch Good Luck Charlie: It’s Christmas! while decorating our tree. We started the tradition while in college and have watched it every year since! (I guess it’s technically a movie BUT it is a part of the TV series Good Luck Charlie!)

A few staff members didn’t have TV holiday favorites so they want to share some music, movies and comics with you!

Bruce Springsteen & E-Street Band “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”

John: At Christmastime in 1976 I saw Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band at Winterland Auditorium in San Francisco. Bruce’s rendition of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” was a holiday highlight. It featured Bruce, Clarence Clemons and Steve Van Zandt hamming it up in a skit where they acted like boys awaiting Santa’s arrival and then seeing him and his reindeer land on their roof. Their little one-act concluded with the song’s performance—the audience joining in. This was my third Springsteen show. I was an early adopter who first heard him at the gymnasium at Santa Clara University. It was certainly the most joyous. As always at his shows, no matter how big the audience, I felt as if he were singing directly to me and he aimed his musical infusion of holiday spirit right at my heart. Thanks, Bruce and E-Streeters for a Merry Christmas over 40 years ago.

Die Hard

Liz: I still watch Die Hard (the original) every Christmas. I worked in the building that it was filmed in.

Calvin and Hobbes

DJ: I know this probably makes me sound like an old man, especially since it isn’t even a tv show, but I always loved rereading Calvin and Hobbes. Something about them always struck home for me.

Burl Ives and family favorites

Cathie: Burl Ives has a Christmas album I play along with a variety of others including one my son made of my grandson’s favorite songs.

An American in Paris: A History in the Making

Playful, and imbued with a little bit of la vie bohème, An American in Paris is a classic tale of romance and adventure. The story follows Jerry, a veteran of World War II looking for a fresh start in post-war Paris as it starts to rebuild itself. When he meets a French shop girl named Lise, he falls in love—only to find that she has two other suitors.

Though the show takes place in the mid-1940s, An American in Paris came to life through a song created nearly two decades before Jerry stepped foot in Paris. Written in 1928, Gershwin explored Paris through the eyes of an American, conjuring up markets and noises of the street by combining the style of French composers like Debussy with elements of American blues and jazz.

23 years later in 1951, this song became the basis for one of the best-loved musical films in America. While George Gershwin died in 1937, his brother Ira was insistent on protecting his brother’s legacy. When the musical was created, Ira insisted other Gerswhin songs be included, making An American in Paris essentially one of the first-ever jukebox musicals, featuring Gerswhin favorites like “I Got Rhythm” and “S’wonderful.”

Combined with the screenwriting skills of a very young Alan Jay Lerner (Gigi, My Fair Lady), the movie went on to win six Academy Awards. The 20-minute ballet sequence by Gene Kelley using Gershwin’s 1928 composition, where Jerry and Lise wander Paris as seen by different artists like Monet and Toulouse, is still cited as one of the most beautiful sequences in cinema.

Despite the romanticism of An American in Paris, the movie itself was plagued with many of the same problems that the post-war Paris setting could bring. Leslie Caron, who played Lise, was only able to film every other day as she was still recovering from severe malnutrition. Even gripped with the realities of post-war France, however, the film is unapologetically optimistic, which is perhaps why it has stayed in the American consciousness for so long.

There were attempts to revive the show on stage, but none were as successful as in 2014. Originally premiering at Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, starring New York City Ballet principal dancer Robert Fairchild and British Royal Ballet star Leanne Cope, the show had a limited two-month run before landing on Broadway to critical success. 

Using stunning choreography and vivid imagery that mimicked classic Parisian artists, An American in Paris was a smash hit in New York. It went on to receive 12 Tony nominations and was also nominated for 12 Drama Desk Awards and a Grammy.

Among its four Tony wins, An American in Paris stayed true to its roots by winning Best Choreography. While that was a prize in itself, the musical also went home with the coveted Best New Musical from the Outer Critics Circle Awards.

For over 90 years, An American in Paris has been a musical favorite. Come experience the S’wonderful National Broadway Tour January 23-25 at The Lincoln Center. Seats from $20 at

Have Another Round on The Choir of Man

Back by popular demand, the nine handsome blokes of The Choir of Man are bringing their singing, dancing, stomping, pub crawl of a concert to The Lincoln Center on January 19. Set in a pub (with actual working beer taps), this show delivers high-energy, humor and harmonies for one amazing pint-filled good time.

Known across the globe as “the ultimate-feel good show,” the multi-talented cast of The Choir of Man perform a bit of everything including pub tunes, folk songs, Broadway tunes, classic rock hits and more, all while tap dancing, tumbling and playing instruments.

What started in 2017 as a show performing to crowds of less than 50 people in a little pub in North London, is now playing to thousands across the world.

For the 2020 US Tour coming to The Lincoln Center, audiences will be happy to see four friendly-faces and five new additions to the cast. Returning as The Hardman and originator of the role, Tom Brandon gave us some insight into what we can expect this go-around.

“For a start, we LOVE Fort Collins and are so excited to be coming back,” says Brandon. “It was my birthday the last time we were here so we got to celebrate at some of the awesome bars in town—I’m sure we’ll find another excuse to do the same this time around!”

“We have a stellar new cast: 4 returnees—myself, Mark (The Barman), Pete (The Beast) and Denis (The Narrator) and five new additions to our US Tour cast whom I can’t wait for y’all to see. With every cast member change, it inevitably brings a new dimension and feel to the show and this one feels truly special.”

In addition to crowd favorites, the audience can expect to hear a few new songs. Brandon’s favorites to perform include a Red Hot Chili Peppers song “in a context that you can bet you’ve not seen before.” He also loves Sia’s “Chandelier” because “it’s one of two a capella numbers in the show and it brings me so much pleasure singing it with these vocal powerhouses every night.”

If The Choir of Man were a type of beer, Brandon considers them to be a Double IPA because it’s “strong but with depth and slightly sweet in character.” Also, he adds, because like The Choir of Man, Double IPAs are “golden, trendy and in high demand.”

If you’re still unsure about coming to the show, Brandon has an answer for that. “How often do you get to come onstage for a beer, meet nine genuine Irish & English guys—who each play multiple instruments throughout the show—and sing all your favorite songs in nine-part harmony AND can down pints in the same 90 minutes? We’re just bringing our local pub to Fort Collins,” says Brandon. “Come have a beer and the first round is on us!”

Don’t miss the pint-filled Choir of Man on January 19 at The Lincoln Center. Seats from $20 at