What Do You Think? Holiday Episodes

December 13, 2009
By | 10 Comments

TV Guide Christmas coverIt’s December, TV fans, and you know what that means: holiday-themed episodes. Now, we’re not talking about holiday specials like “Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown”–we’re talking about when your favorite TV characters celebrate the holidays to hilarious or moving effect.

What are some of your favorite TV holiday episodes? They can be episodes that aired last week or in 1952–it doesn’t matter! Weigh in with your favorites in the comments. To get you started, here are four of my personal picks!

Seinfeld–“The Strike” (1997) This holiday episode brought us Festivus, a holiday that the Seinfeld canon tells us was developed by George’s father, Frank Costanza, in response to the commercialization of Christmas and Hanukkah. The holiday was actually developed in 1965 by writer Dan O’Keefe, but most of us only know Festivus and its aluminum pole (replacing the traditional tree) from the Seinfeld crew. It’s a Festivus for the rest of us!

Felicity–“Finally” (1998) In this first season episode, Felicity and Noel attempt to put off defining their new romance in order to study for finals. (Of course, they can’t possibly study because they’re too busy making out.) What makes the episode so great is the efforts to cut together related but individual storylines involving the entire ensemble, mirroring the hectic experience of studying for college finals. The highlight of this episode, though, is when Noel takes some of the “Smart Powder” being distributed by Felicity’s roommate Meghan and has an allergic reaction. His crazed misunderstanding of Felicity’s interaction with Ben makes for some festive hilarity, and makes this a memorable holiday classic.

Happy Chrismukkah from the CohensThe OC–“Best Chrismukkah Ever” (2003) The OC became relatively well-known for its annual Chrismukkah episodes, and the series even launched its own holiday-themed album (one I highly recommend). Of the series’ four holiday eps, though, the first was the best. Ryan’s very own Cohen-family Chrismukkah stocking! Anna & Summer fighting over Seth! Marissa getting drunk (again)! Jesus & Moses working together to perform a Chrismukkah miracle! What more could you want?

The Office–“A Benihana Christmas” (2006) The Office has had a few memorable and entertaining holiday episodes, but my favorite is an hour-long episode in which Michael is dumped by his girlfriend, Carol. To cheer him up, the guys take him to Benihana, where the boss drinks too much and ends up bringing two waitresses back to the office Christmas party. Hijinks ensue, as they do at Dunder-Mifflin, and the highlight, in my opinion, is the moment Michael marks one of the waitresses with a marker because he can’t remember which of the two potential paramours is “his” and which is Andy’s.

There are certainly lots of others–many classic TV episodes I’ve left off the list, and I haven’t chosen any mid-season cliffhangers–but these four are among my favorites. So now it’s your turn–what are some of yours?

Psst! Need some inspiration before chiming in? Check out this awesome listing of full holiday eps available online!


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10 Responses to “ What Do You Think? Holiday Episodes ”

  1. Lindsay H. Garrison on December 13, 2009 at 11:43 AM

    Those are some great ones, Erin. I would say Seinfeld’s Festivus episode definitely jumps in my head as my most favorite holiday episode ever. But coming in a close second is My So-Called Life’s “So-Called Angel,” where Angela finds out that Rickie is homeless for Christmas, but he’s being helped by an ‘angel disguised as a homeless girl.’

    It was one of the episodes that really contributed to the complexity of Rickie, one of TV’s few (somewhat out) gay teenagers and the hardships he faced. Also, the ‘angel disguised as a homeless girl’ looks like Angela’s twin, and helps her realize that, despite her fights with her mom, she has a loving family (and hilarious little sister).

    • Liz Ellcessor on December 13, 2009 at 11:45 AM

      Ah! I totally posted at the same time you did. Oops.

      At least the episode got its props.

      • Lindsay H. Garrison on December 13, 2009 at 12:10 PM

        Ha. Too funny, Liz! Hooray for MSCL. I totally forgot that it was Juliana Hatfield as the angel. Makes it even better.

  2. Liz Ellcessor on December 13, 2009 at 11:45 AM

    All good choices, Erin (although I prefer The Office‘s second season episode “Christmas Party.”

    But, I have to pull the heartstrings a little – “So-Called Angels” (1994) from My So-Called Life is beautiful. Angela fighting with her mom, Ricky homeless, and Juliana Hatfield as the guardian angel. In fact, I think it makes me cry even more now that I identify as much with Patty as with Angela!

    • Erin Copple Smith on December 13, 2009 at 12:09 PM

      Love that you guys both suggested this! It’s on all of the “Best Holiday Eps” guides online, for sure, and I even read a student paper about this episode just last week, which also demonstrates its pervasiveness. Awesome pick.

  3. Megan Biddinger on December 13, 2009 at 2:04 PM

    I agree that these are all good choices. I’d like to add “Snowflake Day: A Very Special Holiday Episode” from Clone High, which is amazing for many reasons including its reference to the MSCL angel episode.

    I also feel like I’d be remiss if I didn’t add South Park’s “Mr. Hanky The Christmas Poo”.

    For this season, I think Community’s “Comparative Religion” is my favorite.

    • Jonathan Gray on December 14, 2009 at 12:04 AM

      Thankyou for the SP shoutout, Megan. “He loves me and I love you. Therefore vicariously, he loves you, Mr. Hankey, the Christmas poo.” And Cartman singing O Holy Night (“Christ was born, and so I get presents, Thankyou Lord for being born”) is classic too.

      I would be remiss if I didn’t note “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire”, the Simpsons special that launched the show, and made it forever impossible to say if the show began in 1989 or 1990.

    • Lindsay H. Garrison on December 14, 2009 at 12:41 PM

      Ah, yes! Mr. Hanky…the episode that made “Hidey Ho!” an all too frequent greeting from my teenage brothers around our house.

  4. Matt Sienkiewicz on December 14, 2009 at 5:47 AM

    Dinosaurs- Refrigerator Day.

    For one, I loved that show as a kid and even more a few years later when I rewatched the “Happy Plant” i.e. Don’t Use Drugs Episode, the explicit moral of which was “Don’t use drugs, cause Issue Episodes of sitcoms suck and if you stopped smoking weed we wouldn’t have to make episodes like this one.” Also because, while I’m not a drug user, if I ever start, the first thing I’m doing is buying Season One of Dinosaurs on DVD for $4.35 on Amazon Marketplace. Or maybe buy drugs first, like I said, I don’t really know much about that whole world.

    Anyway, Refrigerator Day is the world’s weirdest metaphor for Christmas. Instead of Jesus, it’s the birthday of Refrigerated Food. For Dinosaurs. And then the Dinosaurs forget the True Meaning of Refrigerated Food. And then they learn it again. Probably, I forget. Look it up yourself, but if you can find a stranger Christmas episode, I owe you a coke. Or, I owe you coke if decided to start the drug thing.

  5. Kyra Glass on December 26, 2009 at 12:02 PM

    Yay for Clone High! I think almost all of Picket Fences’ Christmas episodes are quirky and great.