The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

The holiday special The Best Christmas Pageant Ever originally aired in 1983, but I know I didn’t see it until at least 1984. This story of a group of wild kids who get involved in a stuffy church’s Christmas play starred Loretta Swit of M*A*S*H and Fairuza Balk of Return To Oz. I had remembered the monologues Balk delivers to the camera as a part of Return To Oz, but I see now that was a case of cross-memorization. The general idea of the show is pretty clever, as are some of the lines. The “return to Bethlehem” joke was particularly good, and the pussywillow threat scared me for life. You could probably do better at Christmastime, but you could also do worse.


Doug is a child of the 80s who was raised in Ohio and is now living the life of oblivion in the bay area of California.

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One thought on “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

  1. This is, hands down, one of my all-time favorite made-for-tv movies. The fact that it happens to be about a Christmas pageant gone amok is just icing on an already tasty sugar cookie. There are so many classic lines, and the fact that Fairuza Balk was the narrator who broke thru the 4th wall and actually addressed the camera was years ahead of its time (hello “Modern Family”).

    What strikes me the most when I re-watch this (and I had to buy a DVD from some Christian website since I couldn’t find a decent copy of it anywhere else) is that it is so blatantly religious (which, yes I know, is what this holiday is all about); but by today’s television programming standards, a movie like this would probably never air on a major network (perhaps only on Hallmark or maybe ABC Family, and again, I’m sure the actual Jesus-quotient would be super toned down or just alluded to, like “yea, that baby? it’s his birthday. Now let’s string 4,000 lights around the house!”)

    And yea, the Herdman clan were filthy and unruly, but boy, did the writers given them some hilarious dialogue!

    “Hey-I know a name. I’d call it Revenge at Bethlehem.”

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