Nestor: the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey (1977)

I'm not sure whether I'll be able to coherently describe what happened in the special, but I know I can explain how it came to be. There was a meeting, quite possibly in a studio boardroom, where someone said, "Hey. You know what we need? Another Rudolph." To which someone else added, "And we need something that's religious, really puts the Christ in Christmas." And fifteen minutes later the storyboard for Nestor: the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey was born.

I don't think I've ever seen this before, probably because it doesn't have the same exposure most of the other specials have. This is kind of a shame, because it's just about the most screwed-up thing I've ever seen, and I feel like more people should be familiar with it.

This is narrated by Nestor's descendant, whose name escapes me and I don't care enough to look up. I should probably add that Nestor's descendant works for Santa Claus at the North Pole. This isn't at all significant to the plot, but it does mean this special occupies a very exclusive club of holiday specials which include cameos by both the Baby Jesus and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. If you're thinking this is odd, allow me to assure you it's by far the most rational aspect of this entire special.

The main story takes place in the days of the Roman Empire and leads up to the birth of Jesus. I'm unilaterally declaring this whole thing in continuity with Monty Python's The Life of Brian, by the way. At any rate, it starts with a young Nestor - a donkey owned by a psychotic donkey-breeder in Northern Europe - getting into trouble because of his glowing red nose comically large ears. The only one who doesn't tease him is his mother. The rest of the donkeys won't let him play in any of their reindeer games donkey games.

Did I mention all the music for this thing is country-western? Really, really bad country-western.

A Roman soldier shows up to buy some donkeys. When he realizes that Nestor has long ears, he threatens the life of the breeder and takes the rest of the young donkeys without paying. Blaming his loss on Nestor, the breeder throws him out into a blizzard. Nestor's mother breaks out and finds him before he freezes to death. She then covers him with her body to shield him from the storm.

He makes it; she freezes to death. No, really.

The newly orphaned Nestor quickly meets an angel. More specifically, he meets a cherub, which anyone familiar with angelic lore knows is the most obnoxious kind of angel there is. The angel explains Nestor has a grand purpose chosen by God, and that they have to make their way towards Bethlehem. Cue crappy musical montage about not laughing at others' misfortune.

For example: you're all bastards for laughing at my misfortune for having watched this.

After all that, the angel ditches him at a used-animal lot in the desert. There Nestor stays, upset no one wants to buy him, for another whiny country ballad.

Then a couple comes, a pair of newlyweds by the name of Mary and Joseph. Sweet kids. At any rate, they're too stupid to choose one of the better donkeys, so they go with Nestor. The seller tries to con them out of more money than Nestor's worth, so Mary whips out the magical powers and Jedi-mind-tricks him into giving them Nestor for nothing (added bonus: this was released the same year as Star Wars - coincidence? I think not).

Then, as you'll recall from Bible school, they wound up in a sandstorm. Only Nestor's super-hearing could hear the voices of angels (along with the spirit of his mother, because everyone familiar with Christian theology knows animals have souls) leading them through the storm and into the town of Bethlehem, a more wretched hive of scum and villainy you'll never find.

Of course, the inn is full, which means Mary can't deliver her baby. Since they've already pissed all over the Biblical account, they have Nestor come up with the idea of leading Mary to the stables.

After the kid's born, Nestor returns to the stable at the beginning. Only now he's a hero for no apparent reason. The guy who threw him into the snow to die now embraces him. Keep in mind this is the guy who's responsible for the death of Nestor's mother. They don't really mention that in the country song that's playing through all this.

So. What did we learn through all of this?

Well, we learned that Jesus is real; as real as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. We also learned that bad things happen to good people because God has a plan, and that this divine plan is moronically stupid.