The Ultimate Guide to Christmas Specials

Christmas TV specials, limited series and movies are bigger than ever these days from now until the New Year, you’ll be able to find some festive yule-tide programming every night of the week. From the traditional viewing of It’s a Wonderful Life, the different versions of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, to baking shows and live music specials, we’ve got them all listed on the new Christmas TV Specials page. (Since not all of the networks list their specials early, this list will be updated throughout the coming weeks, so check back often for new additions!)

This Day in Pop Culture for September 20

Fonzie Jumps the Shark
The phrase, “jumping the shark” was inspired by the fifth season premiere episode of the TV series Happy Days which aired on this day in 1977. The episode featured the leather clad Fonzie to perform a water-skiing stunt risking his life by jumping over a confined shark. It is said that the phrase was coined in 1985 by Sean Connolly who was describing when favorite TV shows go downhill in terms of storytelling using the above storyline as the best example. In 2010, Fred Fox Jr. who wrote the Happy Days episode has been quoted in a Los Angels Times article saying "Was the [shark jump] episode of Happy Days deserving of its fate? No, it wasn't. All successful shows eventually start to decline, but this was not Happy Days' time." The series continued to air for seven more years after the stunt. Incidentally, a similar phrase, “Nuke the Fridge” was coined after the release of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull where Jones survives an atomic bomb detonation by slipping inside a lead-lined refrigerator.

The 'Cosby Show' Premieres
Back in the early ‘80s, TV pretty much declared that the family sitcom was dead. Bill Cosby fought against that sentiment and created The Cosby Show that aired for the first time on this day in 1984. Focusing on the affluent Huxtable family, Cosby showed America a different type of African American family while still seeming very relatable. The show did very well and stayed on the top of television ratings for eight years. TV Guide called it TV’s biggest hit in the 1980s. Unfortunately, with Bill Cosby's current scandal, networks that were carrying reruns of the show have since dropped the show from their lineups. One of America's favorite TV shows maybe forever tarnished.

'The Hobbit' Gets Published
J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, or There and Back Again, was published on this day in 1937. It was a huge hit, was nominated for the Carnegie Medal was awarded an award for best juvenile fiction from the New York Herald Tribune. The much-loved story about Bilbo Baggin’s adventure has been turned into various television and film adaptations over the years with Peter Jackson’s most recent trilogy of films being the most grandest. Perhaps the strangest adaptation has been the video game by LEGO which was more closely related to Jackson’s movies than to the original novel.

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