As a child, returning home from vacation never sounded much like fun, but one of the few joys was seeing the huge pile of mail that awaited our return. Nowadays, it’s the TV programming all queued up on my DVR that I turn to. So…what’d I miss? First up: Larry the Cable Guy’s Christmas Spectacular, on VH1. Wait. VH1??? Not CMT? Oh, it’s there, too. And it’s re-airing several times this week on VH1, and this coming weekend on CMT.

Like most people, when you think of a Larry the Cable Guy special, you think Vegas, right? Ahem. Anyhow. What we have here is an odd definition of spectacular. Not quite craptacular, either. It’s just, well, tacular. Is that a word? Now it is. Tacular. Or in Git-R-Done speak, Tack-E-Yeah! Or something like it. At one point, "Larry" (Dan Whitney) asks, "You know what this show needs?" To which his special co-host Tony Orlando, yes, Tony Orlando, retorts: "Jeff Foxworthy."

Larryxmas

The jokes themselves are simple and often sexual and traffic in stereotypes and easy targets — Rosie O’Donnell gets hers in the opening monologue, while the closing bit spoofs the "need" for an all-inclusive nativity scene, which goes for the easiest hits on gays, Mormons, Jews, Tom Cruise and Scientology. Kid Rock shows up to perform a song. That’s nice of him. There’s also a taped Larry the Scrooge Guy bit with Jamie Kennedy, Penn Jillette and Carrot Top playing the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future. There also is a roast of Santa (played by George Wendt) with an odder than odd panel that includes comedy roast regulars Jeffrey Ross as an elf, Lisa Lampanelli as Mrs. Claus, Jim Breuer as a drunken Easter Bunny, Vicki Lawrence as Mama from Mama’s Family, and George Wallace, Katt Williams and Flavor Flav as the Three Wise Men. Williams gets off some spirited and naturally funny lines about Santa’s decades-old red suit. Two other winning roast lines come at Larry’s expense. From Jeffrey Ross, who noted that Larry was fatter than Santa: "C’mon Larry, you look like you celebrate 12 days of Christmas and 353 days of Thanksgiving." And this from Vicki Lawrence (Mama): "Larry’s movies are doing really well in the retirement homes…they are making the old people stop clinging to life."

Larry also conveniently enough has a new Christmas CD out, called Christmastime in Larryland. A few of the TV special’s jokes get repeated here, and Larry has the self-awareness to include a eulogy to the guy who invented the laugh track. And as he writes in the liner notes, "If you’re not a fan of mine and bought this anyway, then you are a fool and mentally impaired. For those of you who are fans, I’m sure this will be just as you expected, and I love you."

The CD includes an extended trailer for Larry’s upcoming movie, Witless Protection, in which Yaphet Kotto utters a Midnight Run reference to my dismay. Looks like another big hit in the retirement homes, Mama!