Friday List: TV's Most Awesome Holiday Episodes
Guest Celebritologist Jen Chaney weighs in with a Friday list designed to get everyone in a festive mood ... to watch TV.
Earlier this week, I published my annual list of unconventional holiday movie and DVD fare, which sparked a lot of solid recommendations during this online discussion, as well as the usual round of "How dare you not include 'Love, Actually'!" outrage.
Ah, the "Love, Actually" outrage. Such a fine December tradition.
This being Friday and a day that Liz usually reserves for list-making, I decided to craft a complement to the unconventional movie/DVD list. So I bring you this rundown, in no particular order, of the 10 Most Awesome Holiday TV Episodes of the Past 20 Years.
I limited the time frame to 20 years just to keep this in the contemporary realm (and also so someone wouldn't yell at me for leaving out a pivotal Christmas episode of "Green Acres" or something). Most of these are on DVD (or available online), so feel free to view them back-to-back in a couch potato-fied expression of yuletide cheer. And, as always, feel free to quibble with my choices and remind us of other solid holiday episodes in the comments section.
"Moonlighting": "Twas the Episode Before Christmas"
Maddie and David argue. Ms. Dipesto acts all flaky. It's pretty much a typical episode, except for the end, when the entire cast and crew shatters the fourth wall and sings a lovely chorus of "The First Noel" as they drown in fake snowflakes:
"South Park": "Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo"
There are so many excellent holiday episodes of the Cartman Show to choose from, but this one -- only the 10th episode of the series -- solidified Trey Parker and Matt Stone's reputation for taking viewers to shocking, hilarious places. If I had found a clip of this, I'm not even sure I could post it on the Washington Post Web site.
"Seinfeld: "The Pick"
How could I not choose season nine's "The Strike," otherwise known as the Festivus episode? Because "The Pick" -- from season four, in which Elaine bares a little too much on her Christmas card -- is just flat-out funnier.
"The Wonder Years": "Christmas"
Yes, it's a little sappy. But I have a major soft spot for this show and, especially, this episode, in which Kevin and Wayne beg Papa Arnold for a color TV and Kevin frets over what to give Winnie Cooper for Christmas. Come on, you know you tear up at the end when Kevin finally opens that mysterious present from the girl he loves.
"The O.C.": "The Best Chrismukkah Ever"
Seth Cohen embraces both Hannukkah and Christmas and creates a new holiday term that almost, but not quite, rivals Festivus: Chrismukkah. The word has remained in the lexicon ever since this episode aired in 2003. Well done, Adam Brody. Well done.
"Six Feet Under": "Pilot"
My favorite HBO drama -- yes, I love it even more than "The Sopranos" -- begins with a horrible car accident, a funeral and a lot of shouting. Would you expect anything less from the Fisher family?
"The West Wing": "In Excelsis Deo"
Toby's attempt to do right by a homeless war veteran marks one of the finest episodes from "The West Wing's" golden era. A perfect one for all you political types in need of a good, solid sob.
"The Office": "Christmas Party"
I love "A Benihana Christmas." But I had to go with this episode from season two because it marked the moment when the American version of Ricky Gervais' landmark series really found its own voice. You can't go wrong with a Yankee Swap, people:
"The Simpsons": "Grift of the Magi"
I love so many of "The Simpsons" holiday episodes, even the primitively animated first one about Santa's Little Helper. But this one -- featuring Funzo and a full-on crazy Gary Coleman -- might be my favorite. "What'choo talkin' 'bout, everyone."
"Arrested Development": "Afternoon Delight"
The "Living Classics" Christmas pageant episode from season one is fabulous. But this holiday gem from season two -- featuring Michael and Maeby's karaoke mishap, Gob behaving as the worst boss in Bluth Company history (which is saying something) and a huge miss for Tobias ("The Blue Man Group finally calls for Tobias with a life-changing opportunity. Unfortunately, he can't hear it, so his life stays the same.") -- is the show at its absurd, outrageous best. You can watch the whole episode here. Consider it my -- or rather, Hulu's -- holiday gift to you.
| December 19, 2008; 11:00 AM ET
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