Ah, Christmas Day. For a “Star Wars” fan, that means listening to Chewbacca croon “Silent Night”and watching the “Star Wars Holiday Special” on YouTube, right? On second thought, Life Day (the GFFA’s Christmas equivalent) really should be observed on Nov. 17, the date the “Holiday Special” premiered 36 years ago, so I’ll skip the re-watch for now. Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever made it through the entire “Holiday Special,” and honestly, I’ll have to be scraping the dregs of the “Star Wars” back catalogue before I ever do.
Although the four Turtle-based one-shots (or “one-issue micro series”) in Mirage “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” Volume 1 are all must-haves for fans, only one of them clearly succeeds at its presumable goal: Fleshing out the personality of the title character. That’d be “Michaelangelo.” “Raphael” is memorable due to the debut of a another character (Casey Jones), “Donatello” is a Jack Kirby tribute where Don is the audience surrogate, and “Leonardo” (which I’ll tackle in another post) is not a standalone story — it’s part of the main narrative and leads into Issue 10.
Show: “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (Season 3, episode 10)
Airdate: Dec. 15, 1998
Overview: This episode is the structural midpoint of the franchise; it’s sort of a backdoor pilot for “Angel” and it introduces the First Evil. It’s also a great Christmas episode, as an inexplicable higher power intervenes in Buffy’s and Angel’s little lives, allowing them to take stock, walk through the snowfall, and realize the beauty of being alive.
Show: “Futurama” (Season 2, episode 8)
Airdate: Dec. 19, 1999
Overview: In the year 3000, Christmas is known as Xmas and Robot Santa Claus has been programmed with too strict of a “naughty or nice” judgment, so he judges everybody as naughty and guns them down. (Actually, it turns out that Zoidberg is judged to be nice.)
Airdate: Dec. 22, 1994
Overview: Rickie’s getting beat up at home, Angela wants to help him and a homeless guitar-playing girl, Brian’s lonely and Danielle doesn’t know what’s going on (she just lives there). For Claire Danes’ performance (I know she’s still a good actress, but nothing will ever top this), the beautifully melancholy Christmas music, all the great moments I list below and about a dozen others, it’s a classic about trying to do the right thing at Christmastime, or anytime.
Show: “The Simpsons” (Season 1, episode 1)
Airdate: Dec. 17, 1989
Overview: This is a classic not only because it’s a Christmas episode, but also because it’s the very first episode of “The Simpsons.” Sometimes when you go back and watch the first episode of a long-running series, it’s jarring how slow and boring it is. This episode is paced slowly but it’s not boring. We meet many major characters for the first time (although the Simpsons themselves were familiar to “Tracey Ullman Show” viewers), notably Santa’s Little Helper in the final act. When Homer brings home a free dog for Christmas, having failed to win any money at the dog track to buy presents, everyone is thrilled, and that wonderfully illustrates the spirit of Christmas.
My question for this post is: What are your favorite Christmas stories (movies, books, comic books, TV episodes, etc.)? When you think of Christmas entertainment, what comes to mind? What do you re-watch or re-read at this time of year?