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Posts tagged as the holidays

The 12 Most Darkly Funny Thanksgiving-Themed Sitcom Episodes

Every TV show leans on tropes to fill out their season. For the standard dramatic hour, it’s brilliant doctors/lawyers/cops with a complicating flaw. For animated sitcoms, it’s copying The Simpsons or copying the copies of The Simpsons. And for critically acclaimed premium cable, it’s so many naked breasts.

That’s why network shows pioneered the holiday episode. If you’ve got 23 episodes of funny! to do from fall to spring, it makes life a lot easier when Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and even Groundhog Day give you jumping-off points.

Now most shows do their holiday episodes with plenty of standard cheer. It’s like, why [...]

Splitsider and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon Have a Horrifyingly Tacky Christmas Sweater to Give You

Nothing says "Merry Christmas, family!" like wearing a very ugly, very tacky sweater featuring a snowman with a carrot-and-coal penis (modeled above by handsome Fallon blogger Josh Lay). Let your parents know that they didn't raise you quite right by wearing this wonderful piece of poor taste to the holiday dinner table! Our friends over at Late Night with Jimmy Fallon have been giving away similarly terrible sweaters this month as part of their "12 Days of Christmas Sweaters," but they ended up with some extras and were nice enough to offer this specimen of wrongness to us. And we want to give it to one of you!

So [...]

The 20 Specials of Christmas: The Bob Newhart Show

Like Newhart's comedy, this special takes a little time to ramp up to greatness. The first few scenes are your regular Christmas special cliches: gifts awkwardly exchanged, one member of a couple being more giving than the other, etc.

But once Bob gets into his routine about Christmas parties, the special becomes really funny. Newhart sells well-trodden the tropes of awkward parties and guilt as new and fresh.

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: Community

And here we are at the end of my Christmas death march. I’ve watched — and rewatched — a lot of Christmas episodes this month. A lot. I’ve made some bad decisions, seen some things I’d rather forget, and spent too much time on YouTube watching local commercials that aired from 1989 to 1997.

It’s been an emotional time, but one that has taught me an important lesson. The true meaning of Christmas specials isn’t in celebrity guest stars or lessons learned or songs sung. It’s not Jesus or Garfield or Mary Tyler Moore (it’s a little bit Mary Tyler Moore). The meaning of Christmas is trying to find [...]

The 20 Specials of Christmas: Garfield

Splitsider just featured an article about the history of Garfield's mediocrity. And generally, I agree. Garfield The Comic Strip has a long history of sucking. The joke-based strips are lame and the storylines are all boring. A character gets lost or goes on a date. Will they be okay? Yes, but it's Monday! Jesus.

However, I'll go out on a limb and say the Garfield animated series was alright. Maybe it wasn't great. But it was a fun, entertaining kids show based a comic strip solely designed to be hung in your saddest co-worker's cubicle.

Which brings me to the Garfield Christmas Special, a surprisingly funny and touching [...]

The 12 Days of Christmas Vacation

One of the best things about this time of year is getting to watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Of all the Christmas movies out there, it’s definitely my favorite. Watching this third installment of the Griswold family was something of a tradition for the Worcester family, and even after countless viewings, it still makes me laugh out loud every year.

Chevy Chase is at the top of his game and the supporting cast is note perfect. Everything comes together flawlessly in this movie, easily making it the best of the Vacation franchise. For more detail on that, please consult my fellow Splitsider contributor Alden Ford.

To properly show [...]

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.

Have Yourself a Very 30 Rock Thursday With This New Clip

It's especially great that this 30 Rock scene was released before Christmas, because now we can all model our holiday adventures after Liz Lemon's. Time to start boning up on Chopped Champions. Also, doesn't the end of this clip mean that Jack owes Liz $1,000? I say it does!

The 20 Specials of Christmas: Mystery Science Theater 3000: Santa Claus Conquers The Martians

Let's first talk about Santa Claus Conquers The Martians. It's a bad movie. The acting's bad. The story's bad. The effects are bad. Even the Christmas spirit in it is bad. It's a horrible, horrible movie about selfish aliens and a creepy Santa.

Which is why it works so well for Mystery Science Theater 3000.

In fact, it features my favorite MST3K joke ever:

Reporter: "Is it true you're going to use a rocket sled?" Santa Claus: "Oh no, siree! We're going out the old fashioned way -" Joel: "Guns a-blazing."

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.