See you after the holidays. Enjoy!
See you after the holidays. Enjoy!
Though many judge The Simpsons by its annual Halloween themed Treehouse of Horror episodes, I think some of the best yearly episodes actually happen at Christmas, starting with very first full length Simpsons episode ever. Unlike the Halloween episodes, most of the Christmas specials fall within the accepted Simpsons universe (though in recent years there have been a few in the anthology format). Especially in the 90s, The Simpsons treated these holiday episodes in the same ways as other sitcoms of that period, as an opportunity to tell a family story centered around Christmas.
Two of my favorite Simpsons Christmas episodes are “Miracle on Evergreen Terrace” and “Marge Be Not Proud”. In “Miracle” Bart tries to sneak a look at his presents early, only to accidentally set the tree on fire and destroy all of the gifts. Rather than fess up, Bart hides the evidence and blames the disappearance of the tree and gifts on a burgler. The story of someone who stole Christmas airs on the local news, and the people of Springfield dig deep to give the Simpsons the Christmas they deserve. Bart is already feeling guilty, but this is made even worse by the donation of a dollar from a couple of kids at the local orphanage who are obviously very sick. Bart doesn’t want to take it, but the kids insist. The Simpsons proceed to buy a new car with the money which is promptly totaled (falls through a crack in the ice and explodes) and Bart’s lie is exposed to the whole town just after he admits it to his parents. The town turns on the Simpsons, who attempt to earn back some of the money on Jeopardy only to go even deeper into debt. The town eventually forgives the Simpsons, collecting their debt by taking everything out of the Simpsons home except a washcloth.
While “Miracle” is more of a gags show with no particular message, “Marge Be Not Proud” shows us a badder and a better Bart than usual. Personally, as bad of a kid as Bart seems to be, and as poorly as he does in school, I don’t like the Simpsons future episodes that posit he’ll be a loser with no job prospects. I actually think Bart is just a normal kid who will grow up and find some happiness. Even Homer has a loving wife, and a beautiful family and I think Bart will have this too, as evidenced by episodes like this one.
Bart desires a violent video game called “Bonestorm” which Marge refuses to buy. After seeing Nelson and a couple of the bullies shoplifting, Bart tries to steal a copy of the game but is promptly caught. The store security guard bans him from the store and calls his parents but only gets their answering machine. Bart is able to intercept the tape and keep his parents from finding out, until they decide to get Christmas pictures taken at the same store where Bart tried to steal the game. Bart’s theft is revealed and Marge is very disappointed, unable to specifically punish Bart, who begins to realize how much he has hurt his Mom. The Simpsons carry on with typical traditions, including making snowmen, but they fail to include Bart.
Bart worries that he’s lost his mother’s love, and tries to make it right. He returns home with another bulge in his jacket, which Marge takes for stealing until she realizes its a picture of Bart to replace the one he ruined by being yanked out of frame by the security guard. Taped to the frame is the receipt. Marge tears up and hugs Bart, and even lets him open a present early, a putting video game which is pretty dull but Bart feigns happiness anyway.
What are your favorite TV Christmas specials?
Some additional “Holiday Flavorites” can be found here:
“Mr. Plow” – Homer runs a snow plow business, but soon must contend with his rival, Barney “The Plow King”.
“Grift of the Magi” – If you ever needed a reason why Furbies should never be sold again, this is it.
“Simpsons Roasting on an open Fire” – First episode ever, and explanation for Santa’s Little Helper.
Science fiction doesn’t seem to like Christmas. Very few sci-fi shows have a Christmas episode, and many make a point of saying the ritual will be phased out. Even Star Trek, with it’s optimistic view of the future, has little to say about Christmas.
That’s why there are comics:
This is Issue #2 of DC’s Star Trek: The Next Generation 6 issue mini-series (launched before their 80 issue second run). This is literally the second ST:TNG comic ever! Tasha Yar is still alive and kicking, Riker is beardless, and Picard has really been working out.
The crew of the Enterprise is taking some much needed time to party when they are attacked by a mysterious entity. Could it be…?
But attacks from men in red suits aren’t enough to dampen our crew’s Christmas spirit. Not when they’ve got a room full of real artificial snow, Christmas trees, and is that mistletoe?
In case you can’t tell, Crusher kissed Data and Troi kissed Geordi. Oh, yeah … that happened.
FYI, the arguing couple is one of the last remnants of one of the best features of DC Star Trek comics, secondary characters. Most of DCs early issues feature a whole cast of lower ranked crew members who had their own relationships with each other and the main cast. Unlike the named cast-members, who were never in any danger and would be unlikely to change much or hook up, the secondary characters could marry, go on trial for murder, and even die. Sadly, Paramount handed down the decree that Star Trek Comics should only focus on the main cast in the late 80s. And that’s your comics history lesson for the day
Anyway, turns out Santa gets around and a mysterious alien ship invades the Enterprise trying to hunt him down. At first they appear hostile, but believe it or not they’re actually trying to help the big guy, by showing him some love.
And yes, they look like the Grinch, who also has been working out. They’re clad in black leather, and strip down to their waists in order to take Santa into themselves in order to rejuvenate the entity.
And in case you were wondering if this was just some vague, christmas-y spirit…
Big guy’s looking a little thin. But thanks to the love of the crew of the Enterprise, he’s looking a little jollier in no time. And then it’s time for more presents and partying. Even Worf’s excited!
Now all we need is a Shatner-esque reading of The Night Before Christmas.
Merry Christmas everyone! See you next Wednesday!
You can find this comic and many others on the Star Trek Comic Book Collection DVD (where our images came from for this post), or in the Trade-Paperback ST:TNG – Beginnings. It really is worth your time, the next three issues ask the question of what would happen if Q were human (several years before the series did).
Last week my wife and I vacationed in southern Indiana in celebration of our 4th anniversary. We stayed near French Lick, home to wineries, antiquing, and just a stones throw up the road from Santa Claus, IN.
For those of you not familiar Santa Claus, IN, or as I initially referred to it “the creepiest place on earth”, is a year round Christmas town. Nearly every store and business is prefaced by Santa or Christmas (i.e. Santa’s Auto Repair, Christmas Dollar Tree, etc.). And of course they have a huge Christmas store, with just about every Christmas related thing you can think of, including a real life Santa.
Santa’s of every shape and size grace this store. You’ve got Santa on a motorcycle, a $4000 Santa napping on the moon a la Dreamworks kid, and somewhere toward the middle of the store you’ve got a display of “kneeling Santas”.
Here’s what a kneeling Santa looks like for those who’ve never seen one:
Now my wife and I are standing in front of this display when she comments to me that she doesn’t quite know what to think about kneeling Santas and that it seems a little weird to her.
I should comment before we go any further that I both have my wife’s permission to tell this story (and use this title) and that I agreed with her that these were a little weird though before I got a chance to say it out loud …
Not two seconds after she says this to me than we look up and are met with a real live Santa. See this Santa doesn’t stay confined to a little chair to take pictures all day, but rather wanders the store randomly encountering the patrons. When they say you better be good because Santa Claus is watching you, in this store they mean it.
My wife and I are a little startled and we both say “hello … Santa”. Now this is a good Santa, real beard and *ahem* belly, and a great coat, gloves, boots everything.
Santa: “This is my favorite part of the store.”
My Wife: “Um … because of all the Santas?”
As it turns out we were standing in front of this Santa’s favorite display, one he had advocated for being in the store last year. He discussed with us how Santa dated back to the early centuries, and how he wasn’t always the symbol of materialism he is today. We both stood there listening, not exactly sure what to do. I mean … you can’t be rude to Santa, even if he wants to read you a story in the middle of a store.
To this Santa, Christmas is not about the materialism of Black Friday, and of gimme gimme gimme, but is really about the birth of Christ our lord and savior. Rather than thinking of Santa as a symbol of materialism, like most of the other Santas in the store, this Santa was well versed in the origins of his myth and how they coincided with what Christmas was really all about. He used Santa as a way to tell this story to kids who might otherwise be too caught up in all the other distractions of Christmas.
The mother of one child who had sat on this Santa’s lap asked how many gifts a child should get for Christmas, to which this Santa replied, well … the baby Jesus only got three and he was our savior.
Interesting guy this Santa, certainly an example of evangelism thriving in unusual environments.
Even in the “creepiest place on earth”.