Christmas Countdown: A Pair of Oddities

There are plenty of weird Christmas specials out there. Here’s two of them.

AD/BC: A Rock Opera

I am glad more people have discovered the delight that is Matt Berry due to What We Do in the Shadows but I am your weird friend who knew Berry more for his music before I knew him for his comedy (his music is amazing and he’s actually one of my favorite musicians).

Written by Berry and Richard Ayoade (who also directed), this is the broad parody of Jesus Christ Superstar and Godspell you never knew you wanted. The story is that it focuses on the innkeeper in Bethlehem. Yes, the women here aren’t given much to do (Julia Davis as Ruth is really the only woman character here) but it’s such a tiny complaint. It’s all so ridiculous in a good way. Berry has such a gorgeous voice and as much as this is just a joke, he sells it.

At only about 30 minutes, it doesn’t overstay its welcome and the parody is so affectionate. I think it’s fair to say this falls in the “not for everyone” category but it’s really one of my favorite Christmas watches.

Due to the title, it’s a little hard to search for. I know it’s a cheap purchase on Amazon and possibly elsewhere.

Max Headroom’s Giant Christmas Turkey

A still from Max Headroom's Giant Christmas TurkeyI don’t even know where to start with this one. A special episode of The Max Headroom Show, this aired in the ’80s in the U.S. and the U.K. and then reality moved on and it was promptly forgotten about.

Max Headroom, played with glitchy giddiness by Matt Frewer, is already weird to begin with. Adding in the usual random selection of Christmas special guest stars (notably Robin Williams and Tina Turner), there is a sense of “what did I just watch?” about this whole thing. And then Max Headroom — yes, a supposedly computer-generated character that exists in a TV — plays the piano and sings.

Would I call this good? It’s definitely surreal and fun, but it does feel like it’s a product of another time. However, I like random Christmas specials because they always come across weird anyway. This one just leaned into it from the beginning.

It is not officially streaming anywhere, but there are several dodgy versions on YouTube. Personally, I think that just adds to the overall aesthetic of this.