5. Blackadder: ‘Blackadder’s Christmas Carol’
If you’re unfamiliar with Blackadder I’ll give you a brief description of the series (as it is, very slightly, obscure): Basically, every series is set in a different period of history but also featuring the same characters (Edmund Blackadder and his underling Baldrick) though (with the explanation being that they are either ancestors or descendants of the characters from the earlier series. This episode, as the title probably gives away, is an adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (a story which, in my opinion, can’t be adapted enough times). However, this version of the classic Christmas tale puts quite a spin on the well-known story, I won’t ruin it, but I imagine you’ll be quite amused by its ending. Plus, another nice touch of this Christmas special is that we get to see the incarnations of the characters from the previous series and how it was that they spent their Christmases, which I very much enjoy. You can’t go very far with this festive romp; you even get to see the Blackadder of the future, which is pretty funny.
4. Futurama: ‘Xmas Story’
I’m guessing everyone knows the story of Futurama? I won’t bother explaining its premise then. ‘Xmas Story’ is about Fry’s first Christmas day in the future. For obvious reasons (that all of his old friends are dead, just in case it wasn’t so obvious to you) Fry begins to feel a little sad about this. Around the same time, Leela begins to feel a little sad too, mainly due to the fact that she doesn’t know anything about her origins. Fry goes out to buy a present for Leela (a parrot), but he doesn’t really know about the evil robot Father Christmas of the future who goes around killing people on Christmas Eve because everyone is his naughty list (except Zoidberg). The episode has a nice Christmassy feeling about it, we see the characters putting up Christmas decorations and everything, and it’s also quite a sweet story really. I like the whole unrequited love story that Futurama has between Fry and Leela, and this episode has them being rather close with each other, which is nice.
3. The Simpsons: ‘Miracle on Evergreen Terrace’
Another cartoon series by Matt Groening! Since The Simpsons has been going for a fair few years now, it has quite a large number of Christmas specials (I’m pretty confident that I haven’t even seen them all) but, so far, this is my favourite one. It’s a very bittersweet episode really; I was very shocked when I first saw it. If you haven’t seen this episode, and don’t want to have it spoiled for you, I suggest that you stop reading this now! Basically, Bart burns down the family’s Christmas tree and presents, then he tells the family that what actually happened was that a burglar came along and stole them. The whole town feels sorry for them, gives them money out of Christmas generosity, but then they find out what really happened (after the family has already bought a new car which Homer accidentally destroyed) and so to get even with the family they steal all of their stuff, leaving them with an empty house. They literally have nothing at all apart from one washcloth, but then they start jokingly fighting over whose it is. I was much younger when I first this episode, and I wondered what would happen in the series after they’d lost everything. Obviously, at the time, I didn’t know that they had it all back and did a crazy musical episode the next week… But still, as a standalone, this is a very good episode and, as I said, very bittersweet throughout. Probably one of the darkest episodes of The Simpsons.
2. The Waltons: ‘The Homecoming’ / ‘The Best Christmas’
For my favourite programme, I really couldn’t decide which of these two episodes were the best. As such, they have to share second place in this countdown. First, I’ll talk about The Homecoming. Not long ago, I reviewed the book which The Homecoming is adapted from (here’s a link to that entry: ) so I won’t bother to explain the story again to you. While it may not feature the regular actors for John, Olivia, Zebulon, Ike or the Baldwins, a lot of the regular cast is still there, so this doesn’t distract from the enjoyment. What it does perfectly is capture the climax there is on Christmas Eve, how everything, on that day especially, is building up towards Christmas. Though this story, of course, has the added suspense of whether or not the children’s father will make it home for Christmas alive or not!
Now, onto The Best Christmas! This is actually the first, and last, time that the whole regular cast is together for a Christmas special, which gives it added meaning. Before this there was only The Homecoming which, as I said before, was before the roles had been properly cast, and afterwards, cast members would leave due to fear of typecasting/a stroke/death/over exhaustion, so it is nice to see them all together for this one Christmas special. Also, this one seems somehow more Christmassy to me too, with lovely Christmas decorations, snow storms etc. But, on the downside, this story is half as long as The Homecoming, which means you can’t sit back and watch it as if it were a Christmas film. But, like I say, I can’t decide between these two, hence why both of them are here! Though I will say that it’s The Homecoming that I try and watch every Christmas Eve.
1. Doctor Who: ‘The Christmas Invasion’
So The Ninth Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) had just died and turned into The Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) before crash landing in London on Christmas Eve 2006. The Doctor actually spends most of the story asleep in bed, so the story mainly focuses on Rose and how she reacts to the regeneration. But, with no Doctor to do crazy and exciting things, Rose basically does regular exciting Christmas build-up things with her (ex?)boy-friend Mickey. To me, it seems like such a realistic representation of the time before Christmas, without being boring. Later on, aliens show up and invade the Earth and The Doctor has to save the day, which, you’d think would ruin the Christmas spirit of the story, but it actually makes it even better. This is just a very well done episode, and hence why I rate it as the number one TV Christmas special.