The Weirdest Easter TV Specials
Of all the holidays, Easter tends to be a bit overlooked when it comes to animated TV specials. But the ones that do exist are downright strange.
Perhaps due to the holiday’s religious overtones, makers of animated Easter specials tend to focus solely on The Easter Bunny. And that enigmatic walking rabbit in men’s clothing isn’t exactly Santa Claus. For one thing, he seems to get kidnapped an awful lot.
Here are a few of the odder offerings that pop up on TV around Eastertime.
‘It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown’ (1974)
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A blatant rip-off of the far superior ‘It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,’ this ‘Peanuts’ special finds Linus once again trying to convince Sally of the existence of a gift-giving holiday deity. This time, it’s the Easter Beagle, a concept so thin it’s a wonder Sally falls for it. While not the greatest ‘Peanuts’ outing, it does feature a scene where Snoopy turns Woodstock’s birdhouse into a sweet ’70s bachelor pad complete with shag carpeting and a killer stereo system.
‘Here Comes Peter Cottontail’ (1971)
The stop-motion gurus at Rankin/Bass were responsible for some of the more bizarre holiday specials. While better known for Christmas cartoons like ‘Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer,’ the studio made several animated Easter specials. ‘Here Comes Peter Cottontail’ was the first, and it involves the plucky titular rabbit’s attempts to become the next Easter Bunny. Oh, and there’s also a part where Peter travels back in time with a singing French caterpillar using something called the “Yestermorrrowbile.” And, of course, there’s a random appearance by Santa Claus, proving that Rankin/Bass would use the Jolly Old Elf whenever they needed to juice up a lackluster special.
‘A Claymation Easter’ (1992)
Featuring an oddball assortment of crazed animals, Will Vinton’s ‘Claymation’ specials were some of the stranger cartoons of the ’80s and ’90s. Once again, the Easter Bunny is held hostage, this time by Wilshire the Pig who traps the happy rabbit in a vacuum cleaner. Despite cheating in a foot race with a robotic suit, Wilshire’s attempts to be a rabbit are thwarted by the real Easter Bunny. Fun fact: Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo composed the music, which just ups the oddity quotient on this one.
‘Yogi the Easter Bear’ (1995)
This Yogi special, which also falls under the “The Easter Bunny has been kidnapped!” trope, features the strange site of a bear dressing up like a rabbit. Meanwhile, Yogi ruins the Ranger’s Easter Jamboree because of course he does. No “pick-a-nic” basket was spared that day.
‘The Fat Albert Easter Special’ (1980)
This loose Easter-themed episode of the Bill Cosby cartoon had very little to do with Easter. The gang decides to help Mudfoot get his act together by cleaning up his house and paying his bills. Why Easter brought out the Good Samaritan in the Fat Albert gang and not, say, Christmas is anyone’s guess. There’s also a bizarre ‘Brown Hornet’ short in the episode where the loquacious hero visits a planet overrun by Easter Bunnies.
‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,’ ‘The Turtles and the Hare’ (1991)
This Easter-themed episode of the ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ is insane even by that show’s nutty standards.When Bebop and Rocksteady interrupt an Easter Egg hunt with their “Docilizer Ray,” the Turtles must travel to the Fairytale Dimension where they meet Jack from ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ and the rabbit from ‘The Tortoise and the Hare.’ The episode is also notable for Krang humiliating Bebop and Rocksteady by making them wear Easter Bunny suits.
‘A Family Circus Easter’ (1982)
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Despite their saccharine greeting card cloyingness, Bill Keane’s irrepressible youngsters from ‘The Family Circus’ comic strip have only appeared in a handful of animated TV specials (Valentine’s Day and Christmas outings came first). In this 1982 special, devilous urchins Billy, Dolly and Jeffy plot to trap the Easter Bunny so little brother PJ can find his eggs. Unfortunately, PJ still has trouble finding all the eggs due to the fact that he’s a freakin’ baby.