Sunday, 6 December 2015

Top 6 Christmas TV Specials

The Christmas special is one of the trickier episodes for any series to tackle, especially as the writers are faced with walking that tightrope between festive cheer and sickening Smoltz.
So here are six of my festive themed episodes which I like to revisit, while frequently managing to bring a fun warped view of the holiday season.
How I Met Your Mother – How Lily Stole Christmas
This show has the distinct honour of manging to kill any enthusiasm I may have had for the show with its final season, which was essentially a drawn out middle finger to the fans who had stuck with the show even as it was becoming little more than a twitching mess with the audience being told that we wanted Ted and Robyn to end up together (we didn’t) while Jason Segel mugging for the camera as he continued to convince himself that he was funny which like Lily’s “Son of a Beesh” quote really made you wonder who was actually running this show. That being said this episode continues to be a delight each year, even if it contains many of the issues which bugged me about the show as Segel spends most of the child acting like a man child which is only the more concerning when you think that this character will somehow end up a judge.
The episode itself has Ted trying to track down Lily after she finds an old answer machine message of him calling her a Grinch (the show using this as a replacement for Bitch) and in revenge steals the winter wonderland she sets up in the apartment and leaving Ted with the task of tracking her down before Marshall gets back home. At the same time Robyn is left trying to nurse a sick Barney who refuses to accept that he has a cold and leaving her to spike his tea with codeine.
It’s a fun episode throughout while crammed with festive cheer and no heavy moral weight as the other Christmas specials would have, mainly at the hands of Ted playing the father role for the group and leaving us the audience wonder why we are supposed to be rooting for him in the first place. Here though it’s about embracing the gaudy side of Christmas as the apartment is filled with Christmas lights, while Ted’s frantic search for Lily ensures that the episode keeps a great pace and ensuring that it’s always fun one to revisit to even if the finale left you wondering why you stuck with it all these years.   
Black Mirror – White Christmas
Created by satirist Charlie Brooker who prior to creating the series gave us the Big Brother with added zombies “Dead Set” and with this series gave us a technology based version of The Outer Limits / Twilight Zone.
While episodes of the show featured one story, this Christmas special instead mixed up the format by giving us a trilogy of tales which as the episode progresses may be more interconnected than first seems. At the same time Jon Hamm gives an amazing performance throughout especially during the segments which take place between the stories as he prepares Christmas dinner with Joe who he shares a remote outpost in the middle of the snowy wilderness with and who has no idea how or why he got there.
Like the rest of the series this special has a real dark edge to it while crafting at the same time a great trilogy of tales all of which come with their own twist which makes each one more memorable than the last, though it’s doubtful that you’ll ever feel the same out Wizzard’s “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday” again.
The Big Bang Theory – The Santa Simulation
 Here we have a show which bizarrely has managed to find a niche in making great Christmas episodes in much the same way that “The Simpsons” have with Halloween. As such there was a battle between this episode and “The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis” who memorably saw Sheldon give Penny a rare hug when she gave him a signed (and used) napkin from Leonard Nimroy.
What won this episode a place on the list though was how much of Sheldon’s background we find out as he is forced to take part in a festive themed game of “Dungeons and Dragons” in which the group have to rescue Santa Claus from a pack of ogres while along the way solving Christmas themed puzzles. Its after each of these puzzles is solved that Sheldon shares a small piece of his childhood christmas’s ending with the heartfelt confession of how he’d asked Santa to bring back his recently deceased Grandfather “Pop Pop” who had been his inspiration to get into science.

It’s an episode which manages to combine some real emotion with some great jokes including Sheldon taking his revenge on Santa by leaving him in the dungeon and ending with a vengeful Santa shooting him with a cannon in one of the episode highlights, which for that reason alone makes this one of my favourites to revisit.
Family Guy – A Very Special Family Guy Freakin’ Christmas

While I don’t tend to watch the show much anymore this is still a great episode back when the show was slowly being revived thanks to the cult following its DVD’d were creating.
This episode sees Louis trying to ensure the family have a great Christmas only to find things going wrong at every turn as Peter accidently gives away the families presents to charity and the turkey burns (along with half the house) which suprisingly doesn’t faze her until she can’t find any paper towels and it causes her to have a breakdown and embarking on a rampage. Meanwhile Stewie is keen to please Santa who he belives is omnipotent in the hopes he will get plutonium in return.
I love the continuing issues which build up to Louis’s meltdown, while the running joke of Peter constantly tuning into the fictional special “KISS Save Santa” only adds to the high joke count, especially when KISS are present to voice their cartoon selves and at one point use an electric guitar rift to save Santa from pterodactyls makes me wish that they would actually make this special…god knows they’ve lent their name to everything else.  
South Park –  Woodland Critter Christmas
For a show which seems determined to offend everyone, Matt Stone and Trey Parker really have a soft spot for Christmas especially when the specials have frequently proven to be some of the best episodes of the show, let alone how the show got originally picked up with their original short film “The Spirit of Christmas”.
 While on the surface this episode might seem like such a play on the cutesy Christmas animal cartoons, it soon decends into a depraved game of one-upmanship as they somehow continue to find new and inventive ways to make this special more and more offensive as Stan is forced to help the cute forest animals unware that they are all Satanists! The fact that it has a festive and happy narration only adds to the seriously warped humour here, as the most grotesque acts are spoken about with the same innocence you'd expect from this voice over usually associated with more traditional Christmas imagery. But hey what were we really expecting from the guys who gave us Mr Hanky the Christmas poo!
Blackadders Christmas Carol

Blackadder is one of TV's legendry bastards, so having already crossed four time periods over the course of the series, it seemed that he was the perfect choice to play the Scrooge character in this festive special.

The twist here is that we open to Blackadder as an actual good person and a far cry from any of his ancestors and who here like Scrooge finds himself being shown his ancestors aswell as his future self as the Grand Admiral of an galaxy spanning empire while discovering that by being mean things would actually work out a lot better for him. Its a journey which does include seeing a future Baldrick in a thong but its such a fun twist on the classic tale, let alone allowing us to revisit some classic versions of Blackadder. True this one might be lost on those not familiar with the character but for the established fans its a fun festive treat. 

So there you have my festive favourites, but what's going to be on your TV this Christmas?

Let me know in the comments section.


  1. Ugh, that woodland creatures was horrible for me!

  2. Yeah its not the easiest one to get through, but how they constantly keep pushing the boundaries of taste make it such a warped watch.


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