Top 12 Festive TV Episodes

Jingle Bells, Santa smells, Rudolph ran away,

Oh what fun it’s been to ride, but Santa’s just crashed his sleigh, Hey!

Hey guys, how’s the Xmas shopping going? Well some of you viewed my personal Top 12 Christmas songs. Now here’s my personal Top 12 TV episodes which are about Christmas. For this list, I’m only going to include one episode per show.

So here’s my Top 12. Why Top 12? Because of Christmas!

#12;

Little Girl Lost – Starsky & Hutch (1976)

We begin this ranking with an episode from the classic 70s buddy cop show.

In this one, Starsky & Hutch are attempting to help a little girl named Molly ‘Pete’ Edwards whose alcoholic ex-con dad has been killed. Worse to come, she is being searched by her dad’s ex-criminal partners.

Imagine losing a relative sometime before Christmas due to a certain death. Heartbreaking, ain’t it? One of my relatives lost an aunt several years ago a few weeks before the vacation and it felt tough. Though in actual fact, she died due to an illness. Pete on the other hand has lost a father due to murder by gunshot. Adding to the conflict, Mr. Edwards is an ex-gang member and the murderers are searching for some diamonds which they believe Pete is hiding. We can understand how defensive and rude Pete is when we first see her and how much of a tear-away she is. But of course, she comes from a small and poor family who are struggling financially; which I would presume is why Mr. Edwards turned to crime in the first place. And yes, the fact that the girl calls herself Pete; bit of a tomboy, but what do you expect from someone who grows up with men around her.

I also like the conversation Starsky & Hutch have about their festive plans. Starsky’s getting into the spirits, but Hutch see’s it as overrated and commercialised, though he does gradually change his views through the episode as we see him bonding with Pete. Both cops are sympathetic towards the girl and are against the idea of her going to juvenile hall, since Christmas is coming. I never went to juvenile hall myself, but it seems a bit like prison and it ain’t her fault she’s turned to crime in the first place and Starsky and Hutch are both trying to help her.

As well as some inspirational scenes, we do get plenty of car chases, gunshots, all the exciting stuff you get from an awesome cop show like Starsky & Hutch.

 

#11;

How The Ghosts Stole Christmas – The X-Files (1997)

The next Christmas special is a truly dark and haunting one from the paranormal series the X-Files about two FBI detectives, named Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, who take on some strange cases.

The case that Mulder & Scully take on in How The Ghosts Stole Christmas takes place in a haunted house, after Mulder calls Scully to investigate on Christmas Eve. According to Mulder, the house was run by a couple who apparently died during Christmas 1917, one killing another and the remaining one committing suicide. But as the duo explore further in the house, they realise they may not be alone.

Chris Carter, the writer and creator of the X-Files, certainly went by the book and kept in mind the protagonists’ traits, Mulder as the believer and Scully as the sceptic. We can understand how Scully is reluctant at first, because a, she doesn’t believe much in ghosts or aliens, and b, she was hoping to have a nice peaceful Christmas. But as a detective agent, she can’t get a break. Mulder on the other hand claims that the house has been haunted by the two corpses ever since. And yet, they come across an elderly couple, played by Ed Asner and Lily Tomlin, who are presumably ghosts. Are they really ghosts? Well I shouldn’t give too much detail in case I spoil the ending, but they’re most certainly not exactly the ghosts of Christmas pasts, presents and/or futures.

How The Ghosts Stole Christmas is basically a cross between David Fincher’s Panic Room and House On A Haunted Hill with a bit of Christmas spirit mixed in and one such chilling experience to check out one Christmas.

 

#10;

Christmas – Malcolm In The Middle (2001)

I talked quite a lot about this episode when I ranked my personal top 10 episodes of Malcolm In The Middle. But I shall talk a bit about this Christmas special.

The Wilkerson boys are causing enough chaos to annoy their mom, Lois. Lois, who hopes for a nice happy and peaceful Christmas, announces it to be the final straw and confiscates all the gifts and locks them away, ensuring they stay there until the lads start behaving themselves. Meanwhile, Francis is forced to spend a torturous vacation with Grandma Ida.

The Wilkersons are one of the most dysfunctional families in TV history. You have the boys; Malcolm a grumpy and socially awkward genius, Reese, a simple-minded jock, Dewey, who has a strange sense of imagination and a photographic memory, and Francis, who’s hugely rebellious, and the parents; Hal, a sympathetic guy who’s prone to tantrums, and Lois, a control freak with an anger management problem. And Christmas is one of the most well scripted Xmas episodes. We deal with the family’s scars and scrapes and all Lois wants is for something more positive. She lays down the law and even Hal is proud of her, but the boys worry that this could continue and decide to take matters into their own hands. Meanwhile Lois feels pretty bad over what she’s done.

One of my favourite scenes is when the boys throw baubles at each other which has always tickled me, and that’s when Lois begins to lay down the law.

I had also talked about Francis and Ida’s time together, how they resent each other, yet begin to bond and how he finds that through all the years, Ida did indeed buy the family some gifts, only to stash them away due to past petty offences. The Wilkersons may be dysfunctional, but it doesn’t mean they don’t love and/or care for each other. And without giving anything away, the episode proves so and it does indeed have a happy ending.

 

#9;

Give Or Take A Million – Thunderbirds (1966)

So you think you believe in Santa Claus and that he (or she) uses a magical sleigh and flying reindeer? Well, what if the Santa Claus and the workshop employees were actually a family-run not-for-profit organisation who help people from dangerous situations and own a wide range of cool looking futuristic vehicles?

This one and only festive episode and final episode of Gerry Anderson’s masterpiece in general (if one excludes the CGI remake and them three audio recorded episodes which later got visualised) is told mostly in flashback as International Rescue’s founder Jeff Tracy recounts the time he and his fellow members of IR helped a Children’s Hospital with funding for a new wing. They also arrange to pick up the lucky winner, one of the patients, who will be spending Christmas on Tracy Island. Meanwhile, two thieves named Scobie & Straker plot to rob the vault of a toy store.

Give Or Take A Million may have closed the original Thunderbirds series, but it was an excellent final episode for a show. Here, we begin with a scene where Jeff is dressed as Santa and talking to a boy named Nicky, who’s impressed with how summery the island’s beach is and how wintry the Tracy Villa is. Nicky also wishes to see one of the Thunderbird vehicles launch. The one that does is Thunderbird 3; good choice. Then begins the flashback story of how it all began.

This episode also relates to my personal and sceptical belief in Santa Claus. When I wrote Is There A Santa Claus?, I pointed out that if there was a Santa, that person would use some sort of aircraft, maybe in the style of the Thunderbirds vehicles. What I didn’t point out is that Santa might not live in the North Pole. It might be somewhere around the Pacific, which is where the secret base is located (only we don’t know whereabouts in the ocean it is). Why the Santa Claus business could be International Rescue. I know they usually specialise in saving people’s lives, but Jeff is dressed as Santa and it’s kind of them to help the Children’s Hospital, and talk about Tin-Tin doing some of the Christmas shopping. Many people just assume that Santa’s hometown is the North Pole, that his employees are elves and he owns a flock of reindeer. Gerry Anderson saw it a different way.

I also like how this episode’s written. Yes, there’s an occasional goof, including a calendar mistake; a personal, but minor nitpick, but it’s the smallest of mistakes. Actually, what I’m referring to are certain other scenes; while the two thieves are making their robbery, they realise the heavy weight of the gold bars they’re carrying, while attempting to avoid touch the floor which is triggered by an alarm, and things get much hairier when a pen is hanging over the edge of a shelf (kinda like that Mission Impossible movie). Another awesome plot point in the episode is how much time Brains is spending in the science lab and some of the IR staff are wondering what he’s up to, then thinking; let’s leave him be, he’s probably very busy. This of course doesn’t seem like a festive activity, but that point and the bit where he surprises both Virgil and Tin-Tin and explains that he’s checking the weather, does lead to a festive and beautiful final scene.

 

#8;

Road To The North Pole – Family Guy (2010)

Family Guy has had plenty of Christmas specials and some Road To episodes before this one and I have to say Road To The North Pole is one of a kind, also one of the darkest. Some of you may not agree, but let’s take a look.

Road To The North Pole begins with Seth McFarlene’s dad giving an introduction to the episode’s narrative, which begins with a musical opening where many residents of Quahog are getting into the Christmas spirit and writing their Xmas lists, with Brian questioning the quality and quantity of gifts they’re asking for. Later on, Brian takes Stewie to see a department store Santa Claus, but after waiting in a tremendous queue, ‘Santa’ rudely exits his post before Stewie can get his turn. Furious at the employee’s attitude, Stewie plans to teach Santa Claus a lesson. Brian, who doesn’t believe in Santa, reluctantly takes him to the North Pole. However, once they arrive, the duo discover what a state the real Santa, his reindeer, elves and workshop are in.

Not many people liked this episode when it came out. Part of it is due to its heavy violent content and swearing. But this is Family Guy and it’s always been so violent and foul-mouthed. Plus, it was never intended for kids in the first place. I think the music’s awesome, the story’s awesome, the originality’s awesome and even the messages are awesome. I’ll explain all this one by one.

Road To The North Pole contains two fantastic musical numbers, the first one being All I Really Want For Christmas which I explained about, but somehow feel in the mood to sing along to. It’s also important to bear Brian’s lyrics in mind, since he’s trying to advise his family to go easy on the Xmas lists since one can’t always get everything one wants and that they maybe creating more and more workload, but Peter dismisses them by incorrectly stating that “Christmas is about getting”. The next number is Christmas Time Is Killing Us, which sees Santa and the elves put under so much stress in constructing the gifts everybody around the globe has asked for. That song apparently won an award, but I’m surprised none of them got released as singles, unlike that song from that South Park episode, Mr. Hankey The Christmas Poo.

Speaking of Santa Claus, I love the idea of Stewie wanting to kill him. It’s dark I know, but also amusing. I have yet to see a film or TV episode which has a similar plot to that. I also like how Brian is attempting to talk Stewie out of what appears to be a silly activity by trying to tell him that Santa doesn’t exist. Of course, he eventually proves himself wrong when they do meet Santa. Plus, the idea of Santa being too ill to deliver the presents is also original. Again I can’t think of any other show or film or media product that came up with that idea.

I also have to admit how inspiring the third act is; Brian and Stewie kindly help out with the deliveries, but they eventually screw up when they debate on Santa’s traditions (“you’re supposed to take one bite out of the cookies”) and realise they brought certain gifts to the wrong house. Then when everybody in the world notice the absence of any presents, we get Brian interrupting the news report to state the reason why this has been the cause and stating that each Christmas has increased on greed and Santa has given, but the residents just took. He also suggests that the world’s population cut back on their demands and ask for just one gift each year. Of course, had it not been for the episode’s pure graphic content, this would have been a great message for children (yes, The Animals Of Farthing Wood and Captain Scarlet are rather violent, but they weren’t that graphic). But it’s Family Guy. What do you expect?

Anybody who’s thinking of making a TV Christmas special for kids, this Family Guy ep is worth researching. I of course don’t mean make it that viol.

 

#7;

Holy – Bottom (1992)

Some British readers were probably expecting to see some festive episodes from British comedies. Well now’s your chance since we have an episode from Bottom, a sitcom about two unemployed friends who share a run-down flat, known for its constant slapstick and starring Adrian Edmondson and the late great Rik Mayall.

Holy centers on Eddie and Richie who come across a Christmas miracle. In-between, they present each other with nonsensical gifts, invite their two mates, Spudgun and Dave Hedgehog, prepare a disastrous Christmas dinner and briefly become guardians of a baby who has turned up at their doorstep.

Many Christmas episodes of British sitcoms get so much credit that the viewers seem to overlook other specials outside of that category. Personally I think the majority of those are overrated, especially the ones from the Royle Family. However, one British Christmas comedy special that seems to get overlooked is this episode of Bottom, which is one of my favourite shows.

There are so many classic moments from Holy, it’s impossible to name them all. First of all, the opening; Richie dresses up as Santa Claus and presents himself a stuffed pair of tights (“this is for Richie, he’s been a good little boy”) and Eddie a minuscule sock and Richie finds his gifts are ingredients for the Christmas dinner. Love it! What he gets from Eddie; an empty miniature bottle of Malibu and a play-telescope (made out of a bog-roll and a bit of tissue). Eddie’s gift; a self-portrait of Richie. I also love how conservative, well, traditional, Richie appears towards Eddie and their mates; banning television until the Queen’s Speech and his presentation of the food to the others. And do I need to mention the accident Richie has with the turkey?

I should also mention how Bottom takes advantage of the Christmas spirit. During the third act, we get a mickey take out of the nativity story, starting with the baby’s arrival, followed by Richie attempting to entertain the baby by playing ‘peekaboo’ with the baby-sheet, making him look like the Virgin Mary, and Eddie, Spudgun and Hedgehog, still wearing their party hats, donating their strange gifts to the infant; a box of Terry’s gold chocolates, a Frankenstein mask (which Eddie originally intended for Richie) and a bottle of aftershave called ‘Grrr’. Get it kids? One thing they’re curious about is where the baby came from, but it’s not revealed until the end, which I shan’t talk about, in case I spoil it.

The humour is also very British. We see Richie struggling to teach the others how to play charades and there’s mentioning of Jonathan Ross, Noel Edmonds, The Queen’s Speech and Emmerdale; the episode was made sometime after Emmerdale Farm was changed to just Emmerdale, and some people had not yet got out of the habit of calling it by its original title, a subject Spudgun brings up in conversation.

 

#6;

Yuletide Spirit – The Thin Blue Line (1995)

Another Britcom episode. For those of you who don’t know and not to confuse you with the documentary film, The Thin Blue Line is a cop-related sitcom set in a police station and aired on BBC1 during the mid-90s. One of its main themes saw the rivalry between the uniformed squad led by Inspector Fowler (played by Rowan Atkinson) and the CID led by Detective Inspector Grim, despite being on the same sides of the law. The Thin Blue Line had plenty of laughs, but because it’s also a cop show, also tackled some serious and emotional issues.

Yuletide Spirit begins with Inspector Fowler preparing for an audition for an upcoming pantomime of Peter Pan and his girlfriend Sergeant Dawkins reading in for him. As Christmas nears, conflicts occur when PC Goody gives presents to two of his fellow officers, but accidentally switches them, Dawkins and Constable Habib attempt to aid a homeless woman who’s heavily pregnant and the CID experience trouble with some carol singers who turn out to be thieves.

Yuletide Spirit is such an awesomely scripted Christmas episode and manages to balance the narrative points throughout and there’s so many classic moments. The bit where Goody delivers the presents to Fowler and Habib is comedy gold!; he means to give Fowler a puncture repair kit and Habib some lingerie, but gives them the wrong presents, and to complicate things further, Dawkins thinks that Fowler bought her the lingerie.

I should also mention the scene with the homeless couple whose baby is about to be born. Like Bottom, The Thin Blue Line references the nativity story so well. Once we see Fowler stare at the couple’s baby, he points out that although the police station is not much of a birthplace for a baby, there was another baby who was born at a lowlier place and grew up to do great. Good point and such an inspirational scene. And yes, Goody’s response is hilarious. In fact, everything he does in this episode is hilarious, i.e. the present bit and during the birth scene where Dawkins commands Goody to bring some hot water, but comes back with something ‘more special’ (since it’s Christmas), a carton of Ribeana!

I would say the same thing about Inspector Grim, who’s out-casted Fowler as the villain in the pantomime and obsesses over it while on the trail of the criminal carol singers. Speaking of the carol singers (one of them played by Jake Wood, actor of Max Branning in EastEnders), I love their rendition of Away In A Manger. And talking about the pantomime, I’ve appeared in pantomimes myself and helped out backstage, so you could say I can relate so much to that.

But of course, being a police-officer is tough business, which is why we see the force operating, even on Christmas Eve, in case trouble occurs, i.e. the carol singers. Even Grim can’t get a break. He has the pantomime to think about as well as his assignment and problems do occur when he and Constable Kray go to arrest the carollers… best not say too much.

 

#5;

The Big .22 Rifle For Christmas – Dragnet (1952)

Here we have an episode from another crime related show, this one from the fifties and quite a dark Christmas special.

Detectives Friday and Smith are assigned to search for a missing boy. They soon learn that the boy’s parents gave him a rifle for Christmas and the weapon has been removed from its packaging, becoming clear that he may have used it.

The Big .22 Rifle For Christmas both celebrates the Christmas spirit and brings out an anti-gun violence message simultaneously. It also warns parents to really think about the gifts they buy for their kids. In the episode’s case, the boy gets a rifle and trouble does occur when he gets excited and unwraps the gift sometime before Christmas Day, but then uses it and another kid gets wounded as a result.

A lot of kids want to act tough and want dangerous items for Christmas. It’s understandable, but there are age-restrictions on owning guns, certain gifts must be used in a responsible manner and guns do kill, which is what The Big .22 Rifle For Christmas is trying to point out.

 

#4;

Santaclaustrophobia – Hill Street Blues (1983)

Another crime related show. I know, but let me make clear that the reason for them rankings ain’t because I’m a fan of the majority of crime TV shows. They just happen to have some of the greatest festive episodes the TV industry has to offer.

For those of you who don’t know, Hill Street Blues is an American police drama which was produced during the eighties. It contained such gritty camera-work and some unforgettable characters. It dealt with such tough issues, how the police precinct is operated and it kicked ass!

In the show’s only Xmas themed episode, many events occur; Frank and Fay Furillo’s son, Frank Jr, is scheduled to spend Xmas with Frank (they’re divorced by the way), Det. Washington attempts to make it up to the wife of the liquoir store owner he previously shot during a robbery, the police force hosts an Xmas-themed play for a children’s hospital and Mick Belker goes undercover as Santa Claus.

Christmas can be a nail-biting experience for some people and we can relate to this episode. The fact that Frank Jr is staying with Frank is tough for Fay, considering their previous divorce and divorces can affect people, and we can relate to how emotional Fay is and the way Frank comforts her during their conversation. The same is said for the scene with Washington’s heart-to-heart with the store owner’s wife. We side with both, because the lady’s sad and angry that she lost her husband right before Xmas and Washington killed the guy by accident (as seen in the show’s previous episodes).

Speaking of which, being a cop is tough business. The police are working on Christmas Eve, in case some criminal activity occurs (duh!). I love the introductory roll call which finishes when SGT Esterhaus warns the officers ‘Let’s be careful out there’ and wishes them a Merry Christmas. Plus when the officers including Hunter, Goldblume, Bates, Hill and Renko finish their play, they receive an emergency call and head down hastily to investigate the incident. We do empathise with them, because they can’t get a break.

Hill Street Blues may not exactly be a comedy, but Belker as Santa; gee, that’s an incredibly amusing scene. Imagine having a growling detective dressed as a light-hearted fictional legend. The police’s play is also fun to watch.

 

#3;

Simpsons Roasting On An Open Fire – The Simpsons (1989)

Simpsons Roasting On An Open Fire – The Simpsons (1989)

The famous yellow family’s first Christmas special and their pilot episode too (if one excludes Tracey Ullman’s shorts).

The episode begins with Homer, Marge and Magiie watching Bart and Lisa performing for their school’s Xmas-themed show. Then we see the family doing their Christmas shopping, but Bart’s tattoo gift for Marge causes her to spend all the Xmas savings on a device which removes tattoos. As a result, the family are broke for the vacation. Things don’t look anymore helpful when Homer is refused a Christmas bonus from his workplace and is afraid to tell his family, so he decides to work part-time as a department store Santa Claus.

The Simpsons has had so many Xmas specials. This one in particular is one of a kind. Not only did it begin one of the greatest shows in TV history and I can’t believe how long it’s been in production since then, but it’s one of the greatest festive stories ever told. The Simpsons has dealt with some emotional issues, such as environmental disasters, suicide and xenophobia. This episode is no exception. It sees the family in a financial crisis with very little money to spend on gifts. Personally if I was Marge, I would’ve been more cool about Bart’s tattoo. That way, the Simpsons would’ve been more financially secure, but this is a comedy and Marge is the stereotypically paranoid mother (don’t take that the wrong way moms). In fact, Homer’s boss Mr. Burns seemed very unreasonable to not give any of his employees the Xmas bonus. So it makes sense that Homer works an extra job (i.e. as Santa), but even the staff at the department store don’t pay him enough money.

The episode even questions the gambling system. Since Homer has been paid a terribly low amount, he bets on a greyhound race when he hears that there’s a dog called Santa’s Little Helper, in order to raise more money. For those who have never seen this episode, I’d advise you to skip this paragraph, because there’s a spoiler alert. Homer and Bart are unlucky when the dog they placed their bet on loses (goes to show that only a small percentage of people are likely to win a gambling bet). They then witness Santa’s Little Helper’s heartless owner disowning him. Bart asking Homer if they can keep the dog is a heart-warming moment as is them introducing him to the rest of the family, thus they have a happier Christmas.

Seeing Homer act like Santa is a fun moment, especially when he reprises the reindeer’s’ names “Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Nixon, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Dixon”. I also thank this episode for introducing me to the Batman version of Jingle Bells, through Bart and his fellow 4th-graders singing the song. It’s a lot more fun than the original.

 

#2;

The 1986 Christmas edition – EastEnders

Not many people had had a very merry Christmas every year and this classic episode of EastEnders, which apparently got the most viewing figures, doesn’t exactly bring sunshine, lollipops and rainbows to the vacation.

We had such memorable moments from a lot of the Christmas Day editions to EastEnders, including some jolly moments with Phil Mitchell dressing up as Santa Claus, Billy and Little Mo marrying, the Butchers’ food fight and when Max Branning and his kids had a turkey malfunction and Max was like “we could always have pizza”, some raging moments; Terry Raymond banishing Troy for sleeping with his wife Irene, the 1996 Mitchell dinner table squabble and Trevor Morgan’s ghastly dinner, and some sadness, i.e. Jamie Mitchell’s death. But this edition from 1986 stands out as one of a kind.

This edition features some of the memorable characters; Ian Beale, Dot Cotton, Pauline Fowler, Pat, Den Watts, Sharon Watts, Angie Watts, Arthur Fowler, Pete Beale, Kathy Beale, Lou Beale, Ethel Skinner, you name it. We have the then-teenage Ian receiving a motorcycle for Christmas, Pat spending the vacation with local punk Mary Smith and most of Walford seem to be having fun with some exceptions; Arthur is in a panicking state and Den’s gift to his wife is a set of divorce papers.

The reason for placing this episode on the list is not because it had such high viewing figures. It’s much more than that. If you compare EastEnders to other soap operas i.e. Coronation Street, Emmerdale and (sighs) Hollyoaks (!), it contains totally unforgettable characters i.e. the ones in this ep and storylines. The 1986 Christmas Day ep is no exception. It’s well acted and written and very character driven. Firstly, it came out before I was born, but I managed to catch up with it on YouTube, so bad news out of the way. I’m quite amazed how rarely Ian used his motorbike after this ep, but oh well.

Let’s talk about the most classic scene, when Den announces his divorce to Angie. He doesn’t shout or snap or anything like that. He stays calm, but we know he’s clearly annoyed and he’s speaking in a rather sinister tone. Basically, what’s happening is that their marriage has been falling apart and Angie’s made a fool of herself with her alcoholism which is why Den wants to get rid of her, but Angie hasn’t let him divorce him in the first place which is why she had faked an illness. However, Den is not stupid and has realised that she lied to him. I also love how he smiles and ends his speech with “Happy Christmas Ange” and hands her the gift. We do feel for Angie as well, because she doesn’t want Den to leave him. Though it’s a bit of a jerk move to lie about an illness.

If you thought that Simpsons ep was the only one which tackles financial problems, look no further. Just when you thought things couldn’t get grimmer, Arthur has a nervous breakdown. He’s sitting alone with no lights on and Pauline’s worried about him. Well she would be, she is married to him. What’s happened to him is that he’s attempting to financially secure his family’s future and ensure they have enough money to cover Michelle and Lofty’s then-upcoming wedding, which is why he’s stolen some of the church’s money. You’d be thinking “hang on, ain’t this guy got a job?” Actually no, he was made redundant from his factory job since the show started. It’s no wonder he’s in a state.

EastEnders’ 1986 Christmas special highlights some of the realities of working-class families and how they spend Christmas, some events we can all relate to and empathise with.

 

Before I reveal the number one pick, here are some Honourable Mentions;

Merry Christmas Mr. Bean – Mr. Bean (1992)

The Pageant – Keeping Up Appearances (1995)

A Pinky & The Brain Christmas – Pinky & The Brain (1995)

The Man In The Long Black Coat – One Foot In The Grave (1991)

A Christmas To Remember – Stingray (1964)

Xmas Story – Futurama (1999)

 

And the number 1 Christmas episode is;…

The Night Before Christmas – Tom & Jerry (1941)

I know what some of you guys are thinking. Tom & Jerry? But that’s just a collection of short films. Though when I watched Tom & Jerry, it felt to me like a TV show. There have been over a hundred shorts and ironically, The Night Before Christmas, despite being the third ever episode to be shown, is Tom & Jerry’s only Xmas special to date and the best Xmas special in general I’ve ever seen in my life.

The Night Before Christmas commences with a narrator who briefly recites the first few lines from the famous story of the same name;

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all thro’ the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse

Then enter Jerry, who starts having fun with some of the toys lying around the Christmas tree. However, he mistakes a sleeping Tom for a toy, waking him up and leading to a manic chase around the lounge. The final straw for Tom occurs after an event involving mistletoe and he chases Jerry out of the house, but wonders if it was the right thing to do on Christmas Eve.

This Tom & Jerry short deserved that Academy Award nomination and the ultimate Christmas special I grew up with the most. We had some of the episodes on VHS. This episode was an exception, but I remember it showing a few times on BBC1. Gee, them were the days. It’s also great how they can get a TV festive episode which doesn’t rely much on dialogue. This one is pure-dialogue-free apart from the opening narration and some background carol singers. Tom & Jerry are an awesome example of a silent comedy duo. Sure they would talk now and then, but who needs dialogue when you have the actions.

The Night Before Christmas captures a lot of the Christmas spirit. The fact that it obviously parodies the famous poem by an anonymous author, through the intro, is part of it; the bit where the narrator states ‘Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse’ is interrupted by Jerry’s present. It also demonstrates the fun of celebrating Xmas, through Jerry’s bouncing through the gifts. His fun is scuppered when he accidentally wakes Tom up; Tom of course is hoping for a quiet nap and easily gets frustrated by his friend’s antics and we all want a bit of peace now and then. I mean we wouldn’t want anything rowdy now, would we?

We witness plenty of funny moments, such as; Jerry hiding in a light and Tom attempting to catch him only to electrocute himself, Tom getting punched by a boxing glove in a jack-in-a-box and the mistletoe scene, which I’m surprised didn’t cause much debate. I mean, homosexuality is now widely tolerated, but this was made at the time when there was still a law on such a thing. Though I reckon there was a bit of innocence within William Hanna and Joseph Barbera when they directed this short.

Christmas is of course a time of sharing and being nice to one another. After when Tom shuts Jerry out of the house (and I can’t talk about it without spoiling a bit of the ending), he feels that now he can have a peaceful nonsense-free night. However he still can’t get a break when he hears heavenly choirs sing Silent Night and I have to say, I still get emotional when I see Jerry outside in the snow attempting to get back inside, from that point till the end. Yet Tom starts to feel bad about what he’s done and goes to help Jerry. Then Tom gives Jerry a candy cane inspiring Jerry to fish a mousetrap out of Tom’s milk dish, which was presumably a prank Jerry planned earlier. It does show how much they do care for each other, despite their troubles. And do I need to mention that lovely tune the mousetrap provides? Gee, I so love that ending.

Message for Hanna and Barbera who are probably listening up in heaven. God bless you for giving us the most beautiful festive themed episode ever to have existed, one that’s got something to appeal to all ages. And as Tiny Tim would say; God bless us everyone.

So that was my personal top 12 festive TV episodes. Some of you may agree, some may not, but it’s just my opinion. Do feel free to leave your comments below.

Thank you and Merry Christmas.

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