Tuesday, December 6, 2011

TV’s Top 10 Christmas Episodes

It’s that time of year again folks, some of you might be sitting around wallowing in the loss of another year or dreading the inevitable family functions but I have a better idea. Let’s talk Christmas in Pop Culture – Anyway I thought I would attempt to spread some Christmas cheer the only way I know how – a top 10 list! I know top 10 lists annoy everyone but it’s Christmas so you have to forgive me.

I have a bit of a confession to make – I love Christmas! I am not religious in any way or anything it’s just that I love the excitement and sentiment of this time of year. I love the cards and the presents and the tinsel and the trees… just everything about Christmas makes me supremely happy. You are right, this doesn’t really have all that much to do with this blog except for the fact that I tend to lose my cynical nature when it comes to the depiction of Christmas – so expect happiness and cliché without even a hint of irony and if you don’t like it I hope someone turns up soon to teach you the real meaning of Christmas.

I feel like this should be a given at this point but the Internet if full of angry people who have the ability to be offended by everyone… so this list is based on personal taste. I have no scientific data to back up this blog so please don’t get upset if I left your favs off. I promise you I did not do it intentionally, you are really not that important to me.

10. “The Christmas Lunch Incident” The Vicar of Dibley (1.08)

This is a fun upbeat way to begin this list and while there are other fantastic Christmas episodes from this English gem this one is the most consistently funny. It’s the simplicity that makes this episode work so well and it deals with one of those classic Christmas traditions we can all relate to, the feast.  Also unlike the Gilmore girls or the many other characters that have attempted to eat many meals in one day, I actually believe that Geraldine Granger could do it. I wouldn’t advise a large meal before watching this ep because the laugher will give you a stitch – fact.

9. “Amends” - Buffy the Vampire Slayer (3.10)

Nothing says Christmas like a little bit of heartbreak… but for a Joss Whedon show this episode is actually surprisingly uplifting. It’s all about forgiveness, which is always a good thing to have in a holiday episode.  This episode makes me happy, and the sight of Buffy and Angel walking hand and hand through the snow never fails to make me cry. This episode is about love and that is what you want at this time of year. Well-done Joss for showing some self-restraint and not killing anyone’s Christmas (literally). 

8. “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire” – The Simpsons  (1.01)

I know it seems cliché but it wouldn’t be Christmas without this episode of The Simpsons. Anyway Christmas is the time for cliché and this episode is hard to deny because it is literally the start of an era. It’s the first full-length episode of The Simpsons so that has to count for something. Its before it became totally cynical which gives it a sweet, naïve quality that I think is so important for Christmas episode.  Let’s be honest – this episode has everything, an unfortunate tattoo, Homer as a shopping mall Santa and problem gambling, what more could you ask?

7. “My Own Personal Jesus” – Scrubs (1.11)

I’m not usually a fan of Christmas episodes that go all preachy. I usually prefer the ones that take religion out of the equation or at least consider the fact that Christmas is not solely a Christian holiday. But somehow I still like this episode. It’s all about questioning faith, and what it means to believe through the good and the bad, which is something I find intriguing. Also it has a Christmas miracle and I can’t help it I am a sucker for Christmas miracles.

6. “An Echolls Family Christmas” – Veronica Mars (1.10)

This one isn’t really a happy one, but it’s Veronica Mars so what did you expect. Yet this episode still makes the list despite it’s lack of happy because not only is it one of my favorite Christmas episodes it also happens to be one of my all time favorite Veronica Mars episodes. It’s got some great Veronica and Logan moments, a fabulous Hollywood Christmas party and an adorable ‘decorate the tree’ moment between Veronica and Keith – not a dry eye in the house I bet.

5. “Christmas Special” – Gavin and Stacey (2.08)

This show gets families, or at least how I experience family so it’s no wonder that they do this holiday period so well. It’s a time when families come together, people that would never normally interact do and to the extreme because of the pressure that people pile onto this holiday. We know the English do the Christmas special better than anyone and this is one of my all time favorites. There are some hilarious moments, a ‘perfect’ turkey and a Christmas family argument (it’s going happen and you know it). It’s all right because while Christmas brings out the worst in people, it also brings out the best so everyone is friends again in time to open the presents.

4. “The One With the Holiday Armadillo” – Friends (7.10)

Friends had a lot of Christmas themed episodes, and I’ll admit that it was hard to pick just one but this one just had to be it for pure hilarity. Sure it’s got the Christmas message and all of those things we have come to love about holiday specials but let’s face it the reason it’s on the list is the sight of Ross in that Armadillo costume. It’s always funny, no matter how many times I watch it (and I have watched it a lot). And Phoebe’s hilarious attempts to bride Joey might have made me pee myself once. This is Friends at it’s best, besides how many Christmas episodes have Santa, Superman, and a giant Armadillo in the same room?

3. “A Very Supernatural Christmas” – Supernatural (3.08)

Yes it’s Supernatural again and I regret nothing! I love this episode, I don’t generally think that Supernatural’s themed episodes are their best but I make an exception for this one. It has that perfect mix of holiday special and character arc – it’s totally heartbreaking yet somehow completely uplifting. While this episode does have aspects of religion it is not about Christianity – nope this Christmas extravaganza is all about the holiday’s pagan roots. I say that but this episode is really about family, and how Christmas brings families together even if they don’t want to be – and that makes me cynical heart melt like butter.

2.  “Comparative Religion” – Community (1.12)

Quite a few people will probably think that I should have included Community’s second season Christmas ep… but while I think that ep is amazing, especially in effects terms I still liked this first one better. It deals with all those issues of religion and political correctness that come up during the holiday, also it’s Community so it is full of the ridiculousness and pop culture absurdity that we have all come to know and love. If you are not sold on this one yet I will add that there is a fight in a Christmas display with Anthony Michael Hall. Yup, now you want to watch it.

1. “The Runaway Bride” – Doctor Who (3.X)

Doctor Who was always going to be my number one but it was really hard to pick which of the series of amazing Christmas specials was my favorite. In fact I was tossing up between this one and “The Christmas Invasion” until the very last minute.  I was even going to go with “The Christmas Invasion” because it’s definitely more Christmasy and it has a sword fight, which is hard to beat but if I’m honest with myself the one that I love the one I keep going back to every year is “The Runaway Bride”. It’s got Catherine Tate as Donna Noble, which just rocks and there are even some really sweet Doctor/Rose moments (despite the fact that Piper has existed the show in the previous episode).  Again we have killer Christmas trees but as a bonus we also get a killer Christmas star that gets blown up by tanks… I defy any other Christmas special to beat that. This episode is fun and you can watch it even if you have never seen the show before. So if you are bored this Christmas and looking for a little bit of Sci-Fi cheer check out this special you will not regret it. 

So there you have it my top ten TV Christmas episodes… if this doesn’t get you in the Christmas spirit then I don’t know what will. If you will excuse me I have to go drape my self in tinsel, turn up some carols and bake some pumpkin pie. I do plan on writing some more Christmas themed posts but I may get too enthusiastic and forget about it.