Christmas television specials catch us with our guard down. We don't ask much of them, except that they give us a warm feeling, a chuckle, and maybe some distraction from worrying about whether we gave Uncle Morty the same pair of socks last Christmas.
That said, there have to be some standards. Badly written and poorly animated Christmas cartoons are thoroughly annoying wastes of time, as are shows that try to spoof or satirize Santa Claus, Dickens' A Christmas Carol, and other traditions.
Remember when singers like Andy Williams and Perry Como offered annual Christmas variety shows? The Disney Channel has unearthed one of the best of these: The Judy Garland Christmas Show. Taped in 1963, this is a completely charming relic, featuring Garland in fine voice, surrounded by her children, Liza Minnelli and Lorna and Joey Luft, as well as guest stars Mel Torme and Jack Jones.
The show's most touching moment occurs at the end, when Garland sings the inevitable ''Over the Rainbow'' as little Lorna and Joey snuggle next to her. Joey is so warm and relaxed, he seems to forget he's on television and starts chattering happily to ''Mommy'' as she's belting out her song. A-