On the 11th Day of Christmas The Snooty Ushers give to you
Favourite Christmas Specials
Facts on It’s A Wonderful Life, Dave ‘n’ Cage at Christmas, The Ushers’ Christmas TV, It’s A Wonderful Life Re-Viewed, Christmas Negotiating Netflix, CHRISTMAS FILM OF THE WEEK!, The Ushers’ Favourite Santas, Community Christmas Specials, Scariest Christmas Horrors and Dan’s Home Alone Review!
In the UK, Christmas brings record TV viewing figures as we gather on the sofa to watch the only real unmissable TV events of the year. The US has a slightly different tradition, as a Christmas special usually sets up a mid-season finale, and being a fixed point the writers have a good chance to build up to it. All of this means that we have had some top-notch Christmas specials, and Dave and James are going to take you through some of their favourites. We both did a top 10, focusing on 5.
Literally just missing out: The Office – Christmas Special, Father Ted – A Christmassy Ted, Porridge – No Way Out, Doctor Who – Voyage of the Damned
Special Mention: Only Fools and Horses – Time On Our Hands
The one where the Trotters finally make it rich! Not really Christmas related though, so it just makes it onto the list in this mention.
Mr Bean – Merry Christmas, Mr Bean
I loved Mr Bean as a kid, when I watch them now however, I realise just how much effort went into the show, and how talented Rowan Atkinson is as an actor. That’s the same guy who plays Blackadder! Speaking of which…
Black Adder’s Christmas Carol
Ebeneezer Blackadder gets reversed Scrooged as he goes from being a soft-touch to a selfish miser. Set in Victorian times (so only 50 years before Blackadder Goes Forth, this character could have been Captain Blackadder’s grandfather) most of the usual gang are back, with a very funny script from Richard Curtis and Ben Elton.
Community – Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas
A great piece of television, as Community delves into the loneliness of Christmas and the importance of family – in whatever form that takes in modern society. Check out my in depth review here.
Family Guy – A Very Special Family Guy Freakin’ Christmas
Early Family Guy is one of the best traditional sitcoms of all time. It was a natural progression from The Simpsons and King of the Hill, and fit perfectly on late Friday night Channel 4 TV, alongside The Adam & Joe Show and Bob and Margaret. This first Christmas special was originally part of the second season, but threat of cancellation resulted in it being shown as part of season 3 – a sign of the changes needed that brought more notoriety and popularity, but a definite decline in quality. This Christmas special had Stewie (in his “early death to Lois” phase) decide to be good while playing Jesus in the pageant, to get a present (uranium!) from Santa. My highlights are Lois breakdown (she’s pushes George from It’s A Wonderful Life over the bridge and sets Frosty the snowman on fire), and the Christmas special Kiss Saves Santa…
A brilliant Christmas special, where everything goes wrong until Christmas is saved by
Kiss goodwill. A sparkling script that shows Family Guy at it’s very best.
Futurama – Xmas Story
“Based on a true story”
One of my most beloved shows (it managed to produce 4 brilliant finales!) Futurama served up a really, really good Christmas episode, as Christmas has become Xmas, and Santa has been replaced by Robot Santa. Robot Santa (voiced by John Goodman) was built to decided who had been naughty or nice – but setting the standards too high he has turned into a mass murderer, going on a killing spree every Xmas.
It would have another memorable story a few later when Robot Santa’s friends appeared:
But this original story was a typical Futurama story, using the setting (a thousand years in the future) to allow some bizarre traditions to build up – and isn’t that what Xmas is all about?
Just missing out on the top 5 for me was; Father Ted – A Christmassy Ted, Blackadder’s Christmas Carol, Smallville – Lexmas, Alan Partridge – Knowing Me, Knowing Yule, Scrubs – My Own Personal Jesus.
Doctor Who – The Christmas Invasion
The first appearance of David Tennant as The 10th Doctor, the first and for me still the best of The Doctor Who Christmas specials/ The Doctor still in his regeneration cycle, it is up to Rose and Mickey along with the now Prime Minister Harriet Jones to face an imminent invasion by an aggressive alien race.
This is great for so many reasons, firstly David Tennant exploded on to the screen in spectacular fashion in the last 10 minutes, with a monologue that forshadow his fantastic run as the time lord, particularly when he references Arthur Dent. Also, it introduced Torchwood, not only starting a season long arc, but paving the way for the spin-off show. It also featured the return of Harriet Jones, brilliantly played by Penelope Wilton. A festive treat
Gavin and Stacey Christmas Special
I love this show, this hour-long festive special, which aired between the second and third season, is a real treat. It is Christmas Eve and everyone is gathering at The Shipman’s for Christmas Dinner. Secrets and true feelings come to a head through alcohol filled hilarity.
The thing I love most about this show that behind the laughs beats a real heart. As daft as Smithy is, his pain at living apart from his baby son is palpable, Stacey comes across as a spoiled brat, but this masked the pain of her home-sickness and then there is Gavin, the straight man of the show, in this episode he finally makes the decision to put his wife and her happiness first and the results, while hilarious, cover some real abandonment issues in his mother and best friend.
This episode’s stand out moment is when Gavin’s dad, played by Larry Lamb, references the Eastenders Christmas Special, in which he was appearing, resulting in the entire cast launching into a series of Frank Butcher impressions.
This episode is hilarious and moving in equal measures.
Friends – The One With The Holiday Armadillo
By far the best of the Friends Christmas Episodes, and most likely one of my all time favourite Friends episodes. Ross is trying to get his young son to embrace the fact that he is half Jewish, but all the boy wants to do is talk about Santa. So in an attempt to get him interested in Hanukkah, his plan is to dress as Santa and tell him all about it, but this is Xmas eve and there are not Santa suits left…so we have the Holiday Armadillo.
Ross as an Armadillo, Chandler as Santa and Joey as Superman, I must have seen this a million times, but I laugh out loud every time Superman flies all the Jews out of Egypt. Comedy gold
The West Wing – In Excelsis Deo
16 years on and The First Season of The West Wing remains among the best seasons of television I have ever seen. I have watched it back in the last month and it is still are brilliant as it was when I first saw it.
The Christmas episode is among the most moving. It’s Christmas Eve on The West Wing. There are 3 story strands, the first is Communications Director Toby Zeigler tying to arrange a funeral for a homeless Veteran, The President’s Secretary relates a heart breaking story of how she lost her twin sons in Vietnam and the staff deal with a hate crime against a homosexual teenager who is viciously attacked. I was moved to tears twice during this episode, the first time was during Mrs Laningham’s story, the second is the moment The President is informed of the teenagers death. He is hosting a group of school children under The White House Christmas Tree, he is informed of the teenagers death and he is devastated, but has to put on a front for the kids, the juxtaposition of unspeakable violence and pure innocence is beautifully observed. There is also a wonderful scene where The President takes Josh Christmas shopping at a rare bookstore, which captures the show’s charm beautifully.
Big Time Rush – Big Time Christmas
Now, many people who read this will be unfamiliar with Big Time Rush. It is a show on Nickelodeon about 4 Ice Hockey Players from Minnesota, who move to LA to make it as a boy band. It is cheesy, noisy, kinetic and utterly brilliant. My little girl has watched it since she was a baby and hence I have seen every episode about 100 times.
Big Time Christmas has been on on repeat in our house for the last week, the lads are packed to go back to Minnesota, when their boss drops in and demands an EP of Christmas tunes by the end of the day. Featuring cameos from Model/Actor Fabio, iCarly’s Miranda Cosgrove and Snoop Dogg, that’s right…Snoopy Dogg!!
This is a favourite programme in my house and watching the joy on my little girls face every time she watched it, as well as the catchy 4 part harmonies are the reasons this is on my list.
That is all for now guys, see you tomorrow for our 12th Day of Christmas.