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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Countdown to Christmas #7: TV Christmas Episodes

It's darn near inevitable that, at some point in its run, a TV show will air a Christmas episode. Usually, these episodes come in one of four varieties: 

1. Stranded: The main characters are stranded somewhere (usually but not always the airport) and by the end of the episode, learn the true meaning of Christmas. Like the episode of Full House where everyone is stuck at the airport.  


2. Christmas Carol: The main character is visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, present and/or future, and by the end of these visitations, learns the true meaning of Christmas, such as the episode of American Dad where Stan is brought back in time by the Ghost of Christmas Past and tries to assassinate Jane Fonda.   


 3. Wonderful Life: The main character is visited by an angel or some other higher power and shown how different things would be if the main character wasn't around, thus learning the true meaning of Christmas. As seen in the Married...with Children episode in which Al's guardian angel is played by Sam Kinison (which also features an appearance by Ted McGinley before he was cast as Jefferson D'Arcy).


    4. Backdrop: Christmas is just a background setting (wreaths on doors, Santa at the mall, shopping for presents etc.) to an otherwise seemingly regular adventure, but by the end, the characters learn the true meaning of Christmas. Like the episode of Saved by the Bell in which Zack and the gang befriends a homeless father and daughter who, despite agreeing to live at Zack's house by episode's end, are never seen again.


    I'm a sucker for Christmas Carol episodes myself, but there's nothing quite like a good Stranded episode when it comes to learning the true meaning of Christmas (though these tend to be less funny). What are some of your favorites (types or specific episodes)?

    Also, Wikipedia has a pretty comprehensive list of TV Christmas episodes. And check out my post from two Christmases ago about my 5 favorite TV Christmas episodes. 

    18 comments:

    1. pretty sure Venture Brothers and Futurama are my fave xmas episodes
      also, the Simpsons ep where they get Santa's Little Helper was always nice

      as soon as i opened your blog and saw the pic i was like 'hey, it's that ep of full house where they're stranded at the airport on christmas'

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    2. yep, Venture Bros and Futurama. Especially any Futurama Christmas Episode that's not the first one.

      I saw a commercial for Family Guy's Christmas episode and apparently it has a small cameo from David Boreanaz, which makes sense since Stewie was on Bones for a whole episode

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    3. @Anne: Also, the Simpsons ep where they get Santa's Little Helper was always nice

      Yeah, that makes for a nice little Christmas special. And I love that the Simpsons first full length episode is a Christmas one.

      @Falen: Especially any Futurama Christmas Episode that's not the first one.

      Yeah, I much prefer the second one to the first one too.

      saw a commercial for Family Guy's Christmas episode and apparently it has a small cameo from David Boreanaz

      Yeah, I think they refer to the Aurora Borealis as the Aurora Boreanaz, which made me chuckle.

      which makes sense since Stewie was on Bones for a whole episode

      Guh? That sounds vaguely familiar but I can't remember the details.

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    4. baroness van bitzenhoferDecember 7, 2010 at 8:28 AM

      I know it's a movie, but I LOVE the Brady Bunch Christmas where everyone's all grown up and the kids have skeletons in the closet. Peter knocking boots with his boss and Cindy still has issues with being treated too immaturely (shocker! I feel like if it was a more modern movie it would lead to her confessing that she's gay), Bobby's racing cars like a rebel and Marcia's doofy husband Wally was laid off and they all end up spilling the beans to each other over Alice's pies during the night and then finally to Carol and Mike at Christmas dinner. THEN- Mike gets called into work and the building collapses on him and the sheer power of the singing Brady family allows him to emerge from the rubble. If that's not a true Christmas tale, I don't know what is.

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    5. @Baroness: Mike gets called into work and the building collapses on him and the sheer power of the singing Brady family allows him to emerge from the rubble. If that's not a true Christmas tale, I don't know what is.

      Holy hell, why I have never heard of this before? I have got to see this movie! There was nothing in your description of it that didn't make me laugh.

      Was this one of the later day movies where they recast everyone, or did the actual grown-up Brady cast come back to do it?

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    6. baroness van bitzenhoferDecember 7, 2010 at 10:15 AM

      I'm surprised you haven't seen it! All the originals were back in action EXCEPT for Susan Olsen who apparently had tired of playing Cindy by then. She got replaced by Jennifer Runyon who I believe most famously played the student guessing the shapes on the cards in Ghostbusters who was banging Venkman.

      P.S. Every time I post I somehow gloss right over the Word Verification thing and get scolded because my characters "didn't match."

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    7. I think you forgot the spoiled brats episodes...where the kids are just obsess with presents so, either by some act of God or parent intervention, the kids are forced to learn that gifts aren't the most important thing about the season.

      This was also a Full House episode, where Jesse brought Michelle and Stephanie to volunteer at soup kitchen. Let's just say, by the end of the episode, the true meaning of Christmas may have been learned.

      Also, I remember the Very Brady Christmas...although the Mrs. apparently remembers it a lot better than I.

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    8. @Baroness: I'm surprised you haven't seen it!

      I've never been a huge Brady Bunch fan, so that might be why.

      She got replaced by Jennifer Runyon who I believe most famously played the student guessing the shapes on the cards in Ghostbusters who was banging Venkman.

      Heh.

      Every time I post I somehow gloss right over the Word Verification thing and get scolded because my characters "didn't match."

      Yeah, that's why I hate word verif. I don't think I've entered one "correctly" the first time. .

      @Dr. Bitz: I think you forgot the spoiled brats episodes

      I totally did! You're right, that's easily another category, and like in the Full House episode you mentioned, more often than not the vehicle for teaching the spoiled brats the true meaning of Christmas involves a trip to the soup kitchen/homeless shelter.

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    9. omg i forgot all about the Very Brady Xmas!
      it's as awesome as she says

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    10. I love "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire." It's one of the best Christmas specials. I also like the Simpsons episode with the Furby-like toy and Gary Coleman.

      Another favorite is the episode of the old Tick cartoon where they fight Multiple Santa. The Tick thinking he accidentally murdered Santa Claus is comedic gold.

      I don't know whether I liked it or not, but The It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia Christmas Special is one of the darkest and most disturbing Christmas shows I've ever seen. By the time a main character is sitting on a mall Santa's lap asking if Santa he "bleeped" his mother and then bites a chunk out of his neck, there was no going back.

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    11. @Jeff: I love "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire." It's one of the best Christmas specials. I also like the Simpsons episode with the Furby-like toy and Gary Coleman.

      Agreed. I really like the episode with Funzo, the Furby-esque toy. Gary Coleman adds a lot ("you call three a galaxy?").

      If you're interested,you can read my review of that episode as well as "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire" here and here.

      Another favorite is the episode of the old Tick cartoon where they fight Multiple Santa.

      Sadly, given my proclivities, I missed the Tick cartoon. I caught an episode here and there, but never got sucked in. I really should check it out some time.

      I don't know whether I liked it or not, but The It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia Christmas Special is one of the darkest and most disturbing Christmas shows I've ever seen.

      That's another show I've never seen but that a lot of people tell me I'd like. Someday...

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    12. ahhh It's Always Sunny - you are so full of win.

      And i'm so glad of the mention of the Brady X-Mas because i had forgotten all about it and it is awesome!

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    13. I love all of them. I know I'm lame but I do. I smile and nod. Yes, even in the magical wonderland that is TV they have to decorate and pay they consumer dues.

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    14. @Hannah: I love all of them. I know I'm lame but I do. I smile and nod.

      Yeah, I'm a total sucker for Christmas episodes.

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    15. No question, my all-time favorite is WKRP in Cincinnati, when they did "A Christmas Carol". Venus portraying the Ghost of Christmas Present is a moment not to be missed!

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    16. @Marebabe: No question, my all-time favorite is WKRP in Cincinnati, when they did "A Christmas Carol".

      I don't think I've ever seen that one. My viewing of WKRP is woefully insignificant.

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    17. I have never seen Full House, American Dad, Married... with Children, or Saved by the Bell. Not that I'm a pop-culture recluse (obviously); I'm aware of them, but they all save one started more-or-less when I was in college and watched very little TV (basically the news, SNL, and Star Trek: The Next Generation), so like Doogie Howser they're in a weird generational blind spot. I got out in time for The X-Files and NYPD Blue, which was perfect timing.

      OMG! A Very Brady Christmas is essential viewing just to hear Robert Reed's line "All Brady men get perms!" You might need to have a history with the show for it to resonate, though.

      VW: pection — Flexing of the chest muscles.

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    18. @Blam: I have never seen Full House, American Dad, Married... with Children, or Saved by the Bell.

      It was probably worth missing the other three just to have dodged the bullet that is Full House.

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