Simpsons’ Christmas Stories
Couch gag: A newspaper swirls to a stop with the headline: Couch Gag Thrills Nation
Director: Steven Dean Moore
Synopsis: Homer re-tells the Christmas story in church; Grampa and Mr Burns are stranded on an island and Santa Claus drops by; Moe is trying to kill himself while Homer looks for last minute gifts for Marge.
Discussion: I like these episodes which have three segments. By necessity, the writing needs to be tight and without added fluff.
The First D’oh-El Rev Lovejoy is unable to give the Christmas sermon (due to a terrible accident on his train set) so gives the job over to Ned, who faints at the sight of his own blood after a paper cut. Thus Homer takes the reins and regales the story of the first Christmas. It’s sweet and to the point while still incorporating classic Simpsons humour.
I Saw Grampa Cussing Santa Claus is my least favourite of the three segments. Grampa tells of a time, in WWII, when he and Mr Burns were stranded on an island and Santa Claus was shot down by Burns, but survives and promises to come back and rescue them. He never does. After Grampa’s story, Santa comes to the Simpsons’ house and tells Grampa that his long-lost brother Cyrus is alive and living in Tahiti. Apart from the the WTF? factor, We’ve already seen rivalry between Burns and Grampa (way back in the Hellfish ep) and this doesn’t add to it. Plus war stories aren’t very interesting to me anyway, and shooting reindeer (even magical ones) just isn’t very nice.
The Nutcracker… Sweet is largely set to the music of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker after Lisa mentions the music is now in the public domain. It’s cute and very sweet but Moe trying to kill himself is nasty and weird.
Overall, it’s an above average episode and a really fun Christmas ep as well.
Tis the Fifteenth Season
couch gag: The family fly in as various Japanese anime characters
Director: Steven Dean Moore
Synopsis: Branded as selfish for buying an expensive gift for himself, Homer learns the true meaning of Christmas.
Discussion: Cue the Christmas episode where everyone learns the true meaning yadda yadda yadda and then it’s a group hug while singing a Christmas carol. Super.
As I write this, it’s two weeks until Christmas 2013. The original air date was December 14, 2003- almost exactly 10 years ago. Spooky eh? Anyhoo, Homer buys himself an expensive yet pointless present, watches A Christmas Carol parody on TV and decides to do some selfless deeds. Ned gets jealous (but not as jealous as his son, who is jealous of girls because they get to wear dresses) and tries to outdo Homer’s good deeds by giving everyone in town a gift. Homer steals Christmas because Lisa informs him that Buddhists like herself believe attachment to material things causes sadness. Obviously stealing presents makes people unhappy, there’s yet another riot in Springfield, the presents are returned and everyone sings. The End.
It’s a typical Christmas episode with the highlight being Homer’s Grinch-style song as he steals the presents. Throw in a few lines about Jesus, the phrase “the true meaning of Christmas” and a carol: hey Presto! You’ve got yourself a stock standard Christmas episode.
Having said that, it’s not that bad. It’s a mish-mash of every Christmas cliche you can think of in an era where the writers clearly don’t care about what they’re writing anymore (and I hear it gets so much worse). It’s nice to see Lisa enjoying the holidays instead of lecturing people about material attachments, but then again, that’s already been done…
Treehouse of Horror 14
Director: Steve Dean “Morbid”
Jerry Lewis as Frink Sr
Jennifer Garner as herself
Dudley Herschbach as himself
Oscar De La Hoya as himself
Synopsis: Homer becomes the Grim Reaper; Prof Frink wins a Nobel Prize and reanimates his dead father; Bart and Milhouse buy a stopwatch that stops time.
Discussion: I’m not normally a fan of Halloween episodes, but I quite enjoyed the three stories of this one.
In ‘Reaper Madness’, Homer becomes the Grim Reaper in much the same fashion as Tim Allen became Santa in The Santa Clause. Life is good until he’s handed the death order for Marge, so he does what any normal person would do and tries to trick God by using Selma instead. It’s a pretty good segment, highlighted by the use of Yakity Sax, which is known to Aussie and UK viewers as the Benny Hill Theme (and recently used in ‘A Star is Born Again‘).
‘Frinkenstein’ is another gem. Professor Frink is awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics and dearly wishes for his deceased father to witness the occasion, but there’s a problem: Frink Sr was partially eaten by a shark whilst testing blood-based sun lotion. Frink Jr reanimates his father, who then harvests organs from others. It’s all bloody and messy and doesn’t stop even at the awards ceremony. Voiced by the legendary Jerry Lewis, Frink Sr is a fun character. He’s mean, but when harvesting organs he becomes a villain you can’t help but love, like Freddy Krueger.
Bart and Milhouse buy a magic stopwatch in ‘Stop the World, I Want to Goof Off’. This stopwatch has the ability to stop time for the world except for the person/s holding the watch. Cue mischief and mayhem… until they break the watch. I’m not entirely satisfied with the ending in which Lisa tinkers with the fabric of time, sending the Simpson family into all sorts of weirdo characters and situations, but up until that point, it’s a fun segment.
It’s about this season where I stopped watching and don’t remember a lot of episodes. This is one of them. I’ve probably caught a few of these ones on TV at various times but I haven’t gone out of my way to watch them. So, this is where the journey really begins: watching episodes I’ve not ever seen before.
Grift of the Magi
I will not sell my kidney on ebay
Couch gag: The family slide down a fireman pole but Homer gets stuck in the ceiling.
Director: Matthew Nastuk
Joe Mantegna as Fat Tony
Gary Coleman as himself
Tim Robbins as Jim Hope
Clarence Clemens as narrator
Synopsis: Bart breaks his coccyx, forcing the school to comply with disability laws. The school can’t afford it, so shuts down and is taken over by a toy company wanting to create a new toy in time for Christmas.
Discussion: This episode is a stab at the toy crazes cashing in on Christmas every year. Add some guest voices and a delightfully kooky performance by Gary Coleman, and you have yourself a really fun ep.
This ep is full of great moments: Bart and Milhouse jumping on the bed in drag, Fat Tony making disability ramps from breadsticks and paint, Funzo, Homer crashing through windows as Bart and Lisa distract the residents with caroling, Gary Coleman talking to an unplugged phone… It’s just so funny.
This episode does throw together a bunch of holiday cliches, but you kinda expect that in Christmas shows. I think Krusty summed it up nicely when he wished all major religions a happy holiday using their own respective holidays. The ep was panned by critics but I don’t know what they’re on about.