Sunday, December 18, 2011

Cinematic Advent Calendar - Day 18


The Simpsons Christmas Grab Bag (1989 - Present) - Dir. Various

What better way to kick off a series than with a Christmas special? It introduces the characters in a memorable, relatable, and enjoyable setting that, in a sense, never gets old. Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire (1989) was the first full-length episode of the series to air on prime-time television. It premiered on December 17th, 1989 and hasn't looked back since, with the show currently in its 23rd season. Unlike most series, The Simpsons (1989) has spanned decades - plural. In an effort to remain relevant over the course of that time there have been eleven Christmas related episodes. Of course none are as genuine or sincere as the first, making it a classic not only in terms of the series, but also among the specials. It wasn't until the seventh season that the writers re-visited the Christmas setting with Marge Be Not Proud (1995). From there the frequency of Christmas shows increased to an anual, or bi-anual event. The ninth season brought Miracle on Evergreen Terrace (1997), which played on the title of Miracle on 34th Street (1947) and parodied elements of It's a Wonderful Life (1946). This trend of parodying established Christmas classics became a staple in further holiday episodes. Grift of the Magi (1999), from season eleven incorporated elements from both How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966) and A Christmas Carol, written by Charles Dickens. Unlike the earlier episodes from '89 & '95 - all the later Christmas episodes seemed to be less and less oriented with Christmas, requiring elaborate set-ups to get the characters involved in the holiday. In one case, with the season 12 episode, Skinner's Sense of Snow (2000), they make mention of Christmas early on and then just throw a bizzarre Christmas greeting at the very end. In addition to parodying the show has also embraced the use of gimmicks, as with the season twenty-two episode, The Fight Before Christmas (2010), which featured a live action Katy Perry interacting with several Simpson characters as muppets. Clearly the show has taken a gradual nosedive, as can be marked by the individual Christmas episodes. However, for contemporary, sentimental, dysfunctional family hi-jinks the original Simpsons Christmas special stands the test of time as well as Charlie Brown, The Grinch, and even Rudolf


Simpson Christmas Specials:

- Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire (1989)
- Marge Be Not Proud (1995) 
- Miracle on Evergreen Terrace (1997)
- Grift of the Magi (1999)
- Skinner's Sense of Snow (2000)
- She of Little Faith (2001)
- 'Tis the Fifteenth Season (2003)
- Simpsons Christmas Stories (2005)
- Kill Gil, Volumes I & II (2006)
- The Fight Before Christmas (2010)
- Holidays of Future Passed (2011)

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