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November 30, 2009 10:40 AM   Subscribe

What are your favourite Christmas TV episodes?

This year leading up to Christmas I want to watch a load of Christmas specials or Christmas episodes of TV shows. The problem is, I can't think of that many! I know there must be lots that I'm not thinking of, but that's where you come in.

Ones that have come to mind for me so far: Studio 60, The Office and (of course!) A Charlie Brown Christmas. Are there any favourite Christmas episodes that you remember fondly? Or ones that you bring out every year at this time? What would be good for me to watch to get me in the Christmas mood? They could be heartwarming, hilarious or melancholy, all accepted. Fire away!
posted by bent back tulips to Media & Arts (44 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:44 AM on November 30, 2009

I liked the recent Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia Christmas special quite a bit. It has at least one jaw-dropping moment.
posted by rokusan at 10:44 AM on November 30, 2009

If you're a fan of Studio 60, you probably know that The West Wing has a few Christmas episodes, but my favorite is In Excelsis Deo from Season 1. It definitely fits in the melancholy category. Bonus: The guy that plays Lt. Daniels on The Wire makes a cameo.
posted by chiababe at 10:45 AM on November 30, 2009

The Grinch has always meant a lot more to me than Charlie Brown. But I'm a crankypants.
posted by rokusan at 10:48 AM on November 30, 2009

By which I mean the 1966 Boris Karloff cartoon, of course, not that Jim Carrey atrocity.
posted by rokusan at 10:48 AM on November 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

Seinfeld - "The Red Dot" (season 3)

Much better than the dreary Festivus episode.
posted by Jaltcoh at 10:50 AM on November 30, 2009

30 Rock's Ludachristmas, which contained the greatest line to ever slip by the censors. I won't spoil it for you.
posted by bondcliff at 10:50 AM on November 30, 2009 [2 favorites]

Oh, and Futurama's Xmas Story (S2E8): "In the future, Christmas will become Xmas, and everyone will live in fear."
posted by rokusan at 10:52 AM on November 30, 2009

They just keep popping into my head. I'm one festive bastard.

Six Feet Under started with a Christmas story that pretty much set up the next four years, on many levels.

And I think ER had a special Christmas episode every freaking year.
posted by rokusan at 10:56 AM on November 30, 2009

The Trailer Park Boys Christmas Special

"In the end, Christmas is just about getting drunk and stoned with the people you love."
posted by Midnight Rambler at 10:58 AM on November 30, 2009

Blackadder's Christmas Carol
posted by selton at 11:02 AM on November 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

Claymation Christmas is my favorite, and has one of the best versions of Carol of the Bells I've ever seen.
posted by JeremiahBritt at 11:04 AM on November 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

The Big Bang Theory's "The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis" is a charming episode that gets me right in the "secretly jealous Jewish person" spot every time!
posted by Mizu at 11:05 AM on November 30, 2009 [3 favorites]

Not an episode, but a special (since you mention Charlie Brown Christmas I'm guessing specials are OK too) -- The Muppet Family Christmas (1987)

You can't buy the original broadcast, uncut version anymore (song rights issues), but here it is through the magic of YouTube: part 1 : part 2 : part 3 : part 4 : part 5
posted by anastasiav at 11:05 AM on November 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

This is a pretty solid list, IMO.
posted by mkultra at 11:10 AM on November 30, 2009

The Kids In The Hall's "Chalet 2000" never mentions Christmas, instead focusing on "Night Day." It's pretty ridiculous, and is admired/reviled amongst KITH fans. It's available on the Season 4 DVDs and good things may happen if you do a search for it on YouTube.

And Muppet Family Christmas is the best thing ever. Think of every Muppet from every Henson TV series (sorry Labyrinth fans) and put them in one room celebrating the season. It's bliss!
posted by yellowbinder at 11:10 AM on November 30, 2009

Emmett Otter's Jug Band Christmas.
You'll laugh; you'll cry.
posted by bunny hugger at 11:26 AM on November 30, 2009 [4 favorites]

Homicide: Life on the Street: All Through the House

Quote (answering the phone): "Merry Christmas, Homicide."
posted by timeistight at 11:32 AM on November 30, 2009

The Colbert Christmas special and the Funzo episode of The Simpsons.
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 11:33 AM on November 30, 2009

My brother and I watch Christmas episodes every year. Some are excellent, and some are awful. His picks for the best Christmas episodes ever are:

1. Roswell "A Roswell Christmas Carol"
2. Hey Arnold "Arnold's Christmas"
3. Sabrina the Teenage Witch "Christmas Amnesia"
4. Futurama "Xmas Story/A Tale of Two Santas"
5. Buffy the Vampire Slayer "Amends"

I, personally, am generally a fan of most Simpsons', Futurama, and South Park Christmas episodes. We generally watch a ton of these in a row, so it's nice to have some feel-good episodes (like the Hey Arnold! episode) and some Christmas-irreverent episodes (like Southpark's "Woodland Critter Christmas").

My brother is currently working on the schedule for Christmas TV-Watching 2009, and I would be happy to send along the list, if you like.
posted by joan cusack the second at 11:37 AM on November 30, 2009

The Friends episode where Monica & Rachel's radiator is stuck on, so their Christmas party goes tropical, and Joey & Chandler do their Christmas shopping in a convenience store is one of my personal favorites.
posted by donajo at 11:45 AM on November 30, 2009

Twilight Zone "Night Of The Meek" with Art Carney.

Brings a tear to my eye every time.
posted by lumpenprole at 11:48 AM on November 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

I was just about to recommend Amends too!

The West Wing had some pretty touching Christmas episodes--particularly the ones from Season 1 ("In Excelsis Deo") and 2 ("Noel").
posted by phoenixy at 11:56 AM on November 30, 2009

Last year on Metafilter, someone posted Betaxmas which takes YouTube clips from the 80s (including lots of sitcom Christmas episodes in parts and cartoon Christmas specials, as well as Christmas commercials) -- it's fantastic.
posted by pised at 12:01 PM on November 30, 2009

My So-Called Life, "So-Called Angels"
posted by apophenia at 12:10 PM on November 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

Look, this is not a TV show, but Christmas would not be complete without viewing National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.

And by "Christmas" I mean September, October, November and December. Possibly New Years, too.
posted by pick_the_flowers at 12:14 PM on November 30, 2009

Scrubs, "My Best Moment", for heartwarming.
posted by roystgnr at 12:17 PM on November 30, 2009

Also, here's the trailer for the most amazing Christmas TV special: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. I think it's claymation. It's from the 1960s. Herbie and Rudolph are both misfits -Rudolph because of his nose and Herbie because he wants to be a dentist.

Be careful, it's a tear jerker.
posted by pick_the_flowers at 12:21 PM on November 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

Seconding "The Bath Gift Item Hypothesis" from Big Bang Theory-- it totally made me tear up.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 12:23 PM on November 30, 2009

If you're into Adult Swim-type humor, the Feast of Alvis episode from Sealab 2021 is great. (If you're not, it's probably dumb.)
posted by Metroid Baby at 12:34 PM on November 30, 2009

Response by poster: These suggestions are awesome, thank you all. Can we make December about three times as long so I have time to watch all these?

Can't possibly mark a best answer out of all these!
posted by bent back tulips at 12:47 PM on November 30, 2009

Every The Vicar of Dibley Chistmas special:
The Christmas Lunch Incident
Merry Christmas
Happy New year
The Handsome Stranger
The Vicar in White

The last two episodes in this list are really the grand finale of the entire series, so should for maximum enjoyment be watched after savouring the entire series.
posted by lioness at 12:59 PM on November 30, 2009

The OP mentions The Office, but since I'm not sure if you meant US or UK version, I'll just cover the bases and make sure that The Office UK Christmas Special is on the list. Similarly, I think the Extras Christmas Special is probably the best episode of that show by far, maybe the best work Ricky Gervais has ever done, period.

I have always been partial to Magoo's Christmas Carol.
posted by stennieville at 1:03 PM on November 30, 2009

While the Star Wars Holiday Special is almost pure, unadulterated evil the Rifftrax version is funny enough to save the whole thing. Oh, and the Father Ted Christmas episode is funny as feck, too.
posted by PontifexPrimus at 1:12 PM on November 30, 2009

Mystery Science Theater had a couple of Christmas-themed episodes, usually with songs as well:

321 - Santa Claus Conquers the Martians
521 - Santa Claus

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians was also recently redone by Joel Hodgson's newest movie riffing incarnation, Cinematic Titanic. I recommend both episodes, mostly because the movies themselves are so incredibly trippy and strange. I remember the host segments having some nice Christmas cheer to them, though!
posted by andeles at 1:36 PM on November 30, 2009

OK, I'm going to admit this in a public forum and to the Hive no less: "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer," the one that's been running on CBS since the early 60s.

Other ideas made for TV:

"How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (the 1/2 hour TV special from way back when)
"Charlie Brown Christmas"
"Blackadder's Christmas Carol" (!!)
The "M*A*S*H series routinely ran Christmas episodes
Warner Brothers Looney Tunes cartoons with Christmas or winter themes
Tom and Jerry did Christmas, too, I believe.
It was once common for entertainers like Bing Crosby and Bob Hope to do Christmas specials; they were quite campy if your taste runs that way.
Jeff Dunham's "Ahmed the Dead Terrorist" does Jingle Bells / Bombs (in bad taste, but oh well)

Or movies:

"Holiday Inn"
"A Christmas Carol" (several versions, Alistair Sim version from 1951 a good bet)
"White Christmas" (why not?)
"Little Women" (1994 version had Christmas running through it)
"Doctor Zhivago" (for the snow)
"The Lion in Winter" (1968, story takes place during a Christmas court)
"The English Patient"
"Ben Hur" (apart from the opening credits, an indirect reference, but worth it for the chariot race)
"Gone with the Wind" does Christmas 1863
posted by SuzB at 3:40 PM on November 30, 2009

A staple at my house on Christmas Eve is the X-Files Christmas episode - How the Ghosts Stole Christmas.
posted by firei at 4:48 PM on November 30, 2009

If you liked the Studio 60 Christmas episode, not only should you watch the Christmas episodes from the first two season of The West Wing, but you must watch the Christmas episode from the first season of Sports Night, "The Six Southern Gentlemen of Tennessee."

It is my personal opinion that someone should hire Aaron Sorkin to write a Christmas episode for television every year. Someone with a lot of money should make that happen, please.
posted by shesbookish at 5:04 PM on November 30, 2009

We like to have a marathon of horrible Christmas episodes to get us into the festive spirit:
Futurama Xmas Story and A Tale of Two Santas, Venture Bros A Very Venture Christmas, and Invader Zim The Most Horrible Xmas Ever.

And it isn't really Christmas unless you watch The Snowman.
posted by penguinliz at 5:16 PM on November 30, 2009

You could watch the very first episode of the Simpsons, which is also the origin story of Santa's Little Helper, the Simpson family dog. Good episode. There are other Simpsons Christmas episodes, but this is the one I'd recommend.
posted by malapropist at 6:15 PM on November 30, 2009

It's not Christmas without Mr. Bean! Merry Christmas, Mr. Bean. (Definitely agree with Blackadder's Christmas Carol, too.)
posted by Mael Oui at 8:36 PM on November 30, 2009

I also came here to suggestion Hey Arnold - Arnold's Christmas
posted by lucy.jakobs at 10:21 PM on November 30, 2009

If you can find the Brady Bunch Christmas episode, I think it was in season 1, it's the most god-awful Christmas episode ever made by anyone in the history of everything. It ends with a Christmas miracle and contains the line "He's better than a doctor, he's Santa Clause!"

It will make you want to pull your kidneys out through your mouth and stomp on them. It's that bad. Total Brady Bunch awesomeness. Highly recommended.
posted by bondcliff at 8:52 AM on December 1, 2009

Twilight Zone "Night Of The Meek" with Art Carney.

Yes. I can't recommend this highly enough. Online here. (I don't know if there are geographic restrictions.)
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:17 AM on December 7, 2009

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