The 20 Specials of Christmas: Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

I had to. I know that Studio 60 isn't a comedy, it's a drama about a comedy. But this is every reason that basic premise failed. It's an episode about a comedy show putting on a Christmas special that's neither funny nor filled with any sense of genuine holiday spirit.

Plot, Why Not:

The show has never done a Christmas show, and Matt thinks it's time for a change! But the other people don't like Christmas! A CHRISTMAS IN LOS ANGELES? OH, BROTHER!

But, uh-uh, Grinches: Matt is going to cheer them up with some forced smiles and way-too-fast dialogue! Can show business and a time for joy [...]

The 20 Specials of Christmas: Tiny Toons Adventures

From the start, you know the Tiny Toons Adventures Christmas special is as harmless as it is cute. They even reedited the opening to be Christmas-y!

As with a lot of Christmas specials, this parodies It's A Wonderful Life. Maybe "parody" is too generous – it is It's A Wonderful Life. There aren't a lot of jokes on the classic movie, it's just a vehicle to move along a story about Buster Bunny considering quitting his Christmas special.

The 20 Specials of Christmas: Saturday Night Live

Excluding compilation episodes and DVD releases, Saturday Night Live has never done a proper just-Christmas-material special. It can't, really; it's a sketch show with a topical bent. Weekend Update would be impossible.

But it has had some amazing Christmas sketches. So in the spirit of it being Friday, the closest day to Saturday that Splitsider runs, here are some of the best Saturday Night Live Christmas sketches.

Let's start with a cold open:

The 20 Specials of Christmas: Moral Orel

Holy Baby Jesus this Christmas special is dark.

By itself, Adult Swim's Moral Orel was a spot-on parody of the Sunday school propaganda many of us were forced to watch as kids. Orel is so completely in love with his religion that you feel awful for him. He's a younger version of Job, except there is no reward at the end. He's just suffering.

Mixed with the expectations a child feels around Christmas, it's tragic.

Merry Michael Bublé Christmas to You and You and You

If you like smoothly sweeping melodies and creamy, velvety voices (and who doesn't?!), every year is A Michael Bublé Christmas. But this year NBC is pouring even more X-mas Bublé into all our glasses via a Dec. 6 holiday special. In addition to songs, it'll feature digital shorts starring the Bubes and Ed Helms and written by CollegeHumor's Dan Gurewitch and Ben Joseph. Drink in the sophistication of Michael Bublé's holiday sweater like thick, spiked eggnog straight from the punch bowl of comedy. Goes down smooth, doesn't it?

The 20 Specials of Christmas: The Mary Tyler Moore Show

Mary loves Christmas. But with Mary's big fancy job, there comes sacrificies. Such as Christmas. And it's really, really depressing.

While The Mary Tyler Moore Show is a sitcom, this episode is just sad. Not a tear-jerker. Just sad. Mary gets used by everyone around her while she gives up little bit of Christmas after little bit of Christmas. Here's almost every scene in the special:

MARY: I love Christmas! CO-WORKER: We had to burn Santa Claus alive so there would be news. Go cover it. MARY: I… I understand. CO-WORKER: By the way, you're going to die alone. MARY: I know.

The 20 Specials of Christmas: 30 Rock

30 Rock has always been good at playing through old sitcom tropes and reforming them into something new. Here, of course, we have the old "let's put on a Christmas special" story. Only this time, it's so Jack can avoid spending Christmas alone with his (maybe not so bad) mother.

In fact, the revelation about why Jack's Christmases were so bad is creepily touching. A lazier show would've kept him and his mother fighting until a cheesy hug-it-out moment. Rather, Jack stays in character and quietly respects his mother for (spoiler alert!) sleeping around to get him toys.

The 20 Specials of Christmas: The Simpsons

I already wrote about this special here. But, because it's Christmas, why don't I plagiarize my own ideas?

The first episode of The Simpsons was a Christmas special. And what a special it was. While it's certainly not the first to focus on the plight of poor people during the holidays, it is perhaps the most real. This wasn't yet The Simpsons who would — in their world and ours — stumble into fame and riches. Rather, it was a humble family desperately trying to make Christmas a reality.

Everything from the “Christmases Around The World” school assembly to Homer's horrid Santa job are grounded in a reality [...]

The 20 Specials of Christmas: Futurama

Any Christmas special that starts with Conan O'Brien's head doing stand-up is going to be fine.

Even outside of its holiday trappings, “Xmas Story” is one of Futurama's best episodes. The writers make great use of New New York to comment on the sorrow that is the Christmas season. Suicide booths — already a part of Futurama — have a line. People decorate palm trees because we've killed all of the evergreens. And a robotic Santa Claus designed to reward good behavior punishes everyone for thinking about themselves.

The 20 Specials of Christmas: Family Guy

Another day, another Christmas special Hulu Plus has locked in its pay wall prison.

Released towards the end of the show’s original three-season run, A Very Special Family Guy Freakin’ Christmas is both a good Christmas special and a great example of the show at its early peak.

The two main storylines intentionally follow Christmas special tropes: Peter is trying to buy gifts on Christmas Eve and Stewie is trying to tell Santa about his ideal gift (in this case, plutonium).

The 20 Specials of Christmas: Star Wars

The Star Wars Holiday Special is legendary. And like most legendary things, it's hard to praise or criticize. If I say it sucks, you already know that. If I say it's great, okay, it's not great.

Ostensibly, it's supposed to be funny. And in retrospect it kind of is. The jokes all fall so flat it plays as a quasi-canonical Tim & Eric episode. And the cameos — Bea Arthur, Jefferson Starship, etc. — all emphasize a cultural phenomenon spinning completely out of control.

The 20 Specials of Christmas: Parks and Rec

On the sad side, “Christmas Scandal” is the last appearance of Louis C.K. as Leslie's boyfriend, Dave (for this storyline, at least). Boo!

On the happy side, “Christmas Scandal” is a wonderfully subtle Christmas episode. Yay!

By making fun of a sex scandal-prone politician, Leslie accidentally gets involved in a bigger, dirtier sex scandal. And while she hides from the media Ron and the rest of the department are horrified to learn how much work she actually does.

The 20 Specials Of Christmas: Father Knows Best

Dad is upset that Christmas has become too commercial (in 1954), so he decides his family is going to participate in some good old-fashioned Christmas traditions, as a family.

Unfortunately, their car breaks down and they get snowed into a cabin. Of course, in the cabin lives a kindly old bearded man named Nick. And he seems to know more about Christmas than anyone else. While most people would be a little creeped out by the old man, there's something oddly special about him, right?

Spoiler Alert!

Wrong. There's no Christmas twist. He's just a dude.

The 20 Specials of Christmas: Mork & Mindy

Baby Jesus, this is a weird Christmas special.

“Mork's First Christmas” is exactly what it sounds like. Being an alien, Robin Williams' Mork has never had a Christmas. He learns what Christmas is about. He gives bad gifts. He learns it's the thought that counts. Everyone hugs.

But what makes it so absolutely weird is the moments the special takes from the comedy comedy to get real for a moment. Unlike most Christmas specials — even bad ones — “Mork's First Christmas” has no idea how to handle it's touching moments. The driving force behind the rest of the series, Robin Williams' shtick proves so hard to transition from [...]