A COSMIC CHRISTMAS
Original Air Date: December 4, 1977
A trio of aliens lands on earth to investigate “certain” celestial events 2000 years too late in this forgotten, psychedelic Xmas trip…
BACKSTORY – WARNING: Strongly rooted in Star Wars!
Noticing a lack of Canadian animation production, two York University graduates teamed up animator Clive A. Smith, who had previously worked such notable cartoon fare as The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine, to form Nelvana in 1971.
You may remember this logo from YOUR ENTIRE CHILDHOOD
Nelvana began producing Holiday specials intended for worldwide distribution starting with 1977’s A Cosmic Christmas. This alien-infused animation piece caught the eye of none other than George Lucas, and Nelvana was commissioned to animate “The Faithful Wookie” segment for the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special in 1978, which just so happened to have the honor of introducing the world to bounty hunter, Boba Fett, two years before The Empire Strikes Back hit theaters.
Yes, this OFFICIALLY happened
On the strength of their sci-fi experience, Lucas eventually turned to Nelvana to create animated TV adaptions of the Star Wars movies, with both Droids and Ewoks in the early 80s. Following the difficulties with their feature film, Rock & Rule, children’s television cartoons became Nelvana’s bread and butter.
Boba’s first appearance
You may remember Nelvana’s polar bear log from such 80s and 90s entertainment as The-Get-Along Gang, Inspector Gadget, The Magic School Bus, Eek the Cat!, and MadBalls. As a testament to their contribution to animated Star Wars, Cartoon Network’s The Clone Wars has a planet named “Nelvana.”
Wow, get ready, because this one of the more bizarre and beautiful Christmas specials I have ever encountered. (And remember, we’re approaching damn near 75 XMAS SPECIALS… so, that should mean something.)
Probably the most horrifying opening Xmas sequence EVER
A Cosmic Christmas, is one of those insane Canadian Xmas delights, not too dissimilar to the likes of the batshit nuts George and The Star, which also had its premiere on the CBC in the mid 80s.
Peter walks happily amidst pure terror
Sadly, this thing has become a relative obscurity. Okay… perhaps that’s understating it, because I’ve neither seen nor heard of this thing before stumbling upon it accidentally, plus it’s never been released on DVD, hasn’t been seen on TV in decades, and exists almost exclusively on incredibly out-of-print VHS tapes.
Raggedy Ann makes a cameo… and gets torn to shreds in front of a little girl?
And that’s a goddamned shame quite frankly, since this well made little ditty comes from a time when TV specials broke their balls to create something breathtaking and unique. Way above par compared to made-for-TV cartoons, in other words.
“Fuck you, I’m Christmasin’ here!”
It’s actually could be considered quite creepy nowadays, as it features a hyper-fluid animation style reminiscent of Ralph Bakshi, and begins with a most unsettling depiction of life and commercialism around the Holidays.
Here we see an awful child
As department stores are ravaged by the rudest of people, Peter and his goose Lucy wander aimlessly, having one way conversations with cynical townsfolk.
He’s briefly tormented by a gang of classical rapscallions, but after stopping to bask in the awe of a nativity display…
According to folklore, the reason for the season
A bright light that slowly rockets across the sky!
Make your peace, humans!
Strangely, this celestial scene is quiet and subdued, whereas simple conversations with the mayor and police chief are animated like unbelievably nightmarish acid trips.
I AM THE MAYOR OF DISCOMFORT
The adults remain focused on their regular goings-on, and give not a flippant shit about the crazy glowing object in the sky.
Peter takes a spill as he heads home through the dark woods, and accidentally stumbles upon, you guessed it…
This space ship is brought to you by Sesame Street
Open Sesame (Street)
We three martians are… confused
Out step three alien men, along with a cutesy hovering Tamagotchi. Although they certainly appear wise, there of no relation to the ones you’re probably thinking of. However, there’s more than a little religious flavor to this atypical special.
They’re actually here on assignment, apparently investigating… oh Christ, I’ll let them explain:
“2000 years ago, in the 79th Merveant, a transitory celestial phenomenon of the Murblurdian class occurred…” – Actual dialogue
While the audience is scratching their heads over the space jargon, Peter correctly interprets what they seek as “The Star of Bethlehem.”
“Listen up, dummies”
Given that they’re, according to both science and Biblical folklore, a couple hundred decades late for that phenomenon, Peter assumes they’re here to learn about Christmas. They agree, because doing otherwise would probably mean a shitload of space paper work.
“Christmas is about sales. And bargains!”
For a town we’ve already seen depicted as a dreary R. Crumb hallucination, Peter quite naively builds up Christmas with expectations far too high to pay off.
“Oooooh… I wish I was Jewish!”
He shows the three aliens around town, having them creepily peep into the windows of “Holiday Life.” Unfortunately, each and every time they witness a dystopian tableau that runs horribly counter to Peter’s Christmas outlandish Christmas campaign promises.
Even Lucy Goose and that cartoon version of Nite Owl’s ship from the Watchmen are horrified
“Is this peace and understanding?” the tree aliens ask, almost as if to mock the poor kid. Finally, Peter heads back to his home, where his grandmother is fighting her own personal battle on The War on Christmas.
Old traditions die hard
The parents briefly wonder where their son is on this dark winter night, but then turn their attention to Granny, who just won’t HURRY UP AND FINISH THE GODDAMN CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS ALREADY!
Looking upon Peter’s house as if it were the Eye of Mordor
Silly Granny, we buy shit during Xmas – we don’t make it. Now, this is actually something I can get behind. The concepts of Peace, Love, Understanding, and even Jesus are somewhat open to interpretation. But seriously, when was the last time you strung up popcorn, or painted an ornament?
Xmas… make it so
Hey, that’s a Christmas tradition I’d like to see return. It was fun, right? So the aliens oblige! Well, sort of… fashioning the perfect Christmas using the power of telekinetic mind bullets!
Wishes come true thanks to the burn victim alien
Okay, fellas… this wasn’t really what Granny was talking about. You didn’t actually lift a finger, and technically conjuring shit out of thin air is lazier than buying crap at Walgreens.
Is alien brain food safe to eat?
But while those festivities are taking place, Marvin, the poor street urchin from earlier, has decided to steal Lucy and eat her for a Christmas Dinner. E’gad!
Eating someone’s pet?! That’s just low
Meanwhile, the townsfolk have discovered the UFO and are demanding answers with the lethal flashlights.
Mob Rule Lite
Marvin runs through the crowd, and takes a spill into some thin ice! And in spite of his plan to eat his best friend, it’s Peter who comes to his aid.
Mr. Freeze would know just what to say here
Whoops, Pete ends up under the ice as well. The townsfolk try to form a chain, but it appears they only had enough people in their posse to confront alien visitors from another planet, although not enough to pull two 11-year-olds out of some cold water.
The three aliens are hesitant to help, as they claim to operate under some sort of “Prime Directive” that forbids them from interferring with other cultures. So… how do these aliens, with previously established otherworldly powers, liberate these two helpless children from their icey coffins?
Don’t mind us. Please continue your Earth Drowning Ritual
Perhaps by using the telekenisis displayed earlier to lift them from the water, maybe conjure a super rope, or possibly even heat up the water to melt the ice?! Nope… they hold hands.
And thus EVERYONE learn a bit of Christmasy togetherness!
Seriously, this town needs a better local representative
Marvin is briefly treated like the shithead he is. But then the town has a change of heart. After all, he was technically a starving child.
Poor wet bully
So YAY – the entire town heads over to Peter’s house for a big ol’ communal celebration.
Simply everyone was there
The three wise E.T.s slip away while everyone’s Christmasing, although not before showering the skies with a festive Xmas Goodbye!
Light up the night
Actually, quite a bit. The aliens are technically there investigating the events around Christ’s birth, and all of the other traditions witnessed are every bit as traditional and Old Timey as Christianity itself.
Other than a rundown, junkie-looking street Santa – None!
Really good! Usually, when Christmas specials disappear, it’s a mark of their quality, or lack thereof, but that’s definitely not the case here. IMO, A Cosmic Christmas is too damned cockle-warming, traditional, and visually striking – especially when compared with 1970s animation – to have just vanished the way it has. Scoring it a little higher based on its scarcity, since I’m sure those with an inkling to seek it out will not find themselves disappointed.
PRODUCT INFORMATION (Shop Amazon through us – it helps!)
Sadly, there’s no legitimate way to purchase or even watch anything but bootlegs of A Cosmic Christmas. However, fans can pick up used, and/or pricey out-of-print VHS tapes, including the “Nelvanamtion” set which includes other specials, such as The Devil and Daniel Mouse. For Nelvana/Star Wars fans, the new Star Wars Blu-ray set includes “The Faithful Wookie” as an Easter Egg, which marks the first time ANYTHING relating to The Star Wars Holiday Special has ever been officially released on any format.