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Memorable episodes have brought holiday spirit to TV

Nick Anderson, Brandy Cerne, Jordan Gamble, Maija Gustin, Marie Claire O'Donnell, and Adrianna Pratt | Wednesday, December 2, 2009

“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”- “Amends”

This season three episode is technically titled “Amends,” but just call it “A Very Vampire Christmas Carol.” Angel (David Boreanz), the vampire with a soul, is all tormented and stuff because he has killed a lot of people in his 240 years of existence, as a demon keeps reminding him through a series of flashbacks. So he decides to go out on a deserted hilltop and wait for the Christmas morning sun to kill him (in Buffyverse, vampires don’t sparkle). But through Buffy’s true love and some meteorological magic, all is saved. It snows for the first time ever in Sunnyvale, Calif., so the sunlight doesn’t cook him into roast beast. It’s a holiday weepfest tempered with the requisite “Buffy” wit and drama.

“Gossip Girl” – “Roman Holiday”

No cuter couple could be found during 2007’s Christmas season than Dan and Serena. If you’re searching for romantic and original gift ideas in the 50-dollar price range, look no further than season one “Gossip Girl” Christmas episode.  Dan bought a Christmas tree and snuck it into Serena’s hotel room, working his man muscles and dodging security.  Serena, with the help of Dan’s friend Vanessa, projected images of a snowy forest on the walls of an art gallery and swirled white confetti from the ceilings to create a winter wonderland for Dan.  Though Dan and Serena have unfortunately drifted apart since that first perfect Christmas two years ago, fans can count on Chuck and Blair this season for some chic gift exchanging and precious holiday canoodling under the mistletoe.

“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”- “A Very Sunny Christmas”

In their Christmas special, “A Very Sunny Christmas,” the gang explores their past Christmases and tries to regain the Christmas spirit.  Spoofing various holiday classics, the 45-minute episode, available on DVD, has all the usual shenanigans and hijinks in which Charlie, Mac, Dennis, Frank and Dee manage to find themselves.  Unfortunately, while many parts of the episode have the usual hilarity found in “It’s Always Sunny” episodes, sometimes the humor goes a little too far in the special, advancing beyond the regular offbeat comedy into the slightly disturbing.  Overall, the episode is amusing, not one of the best, but worth seeing, though probably not buying.

“The Office” – “Christmas Party”

“The Office” has presented many classic Christmas episodes, but “Christmas Party” was the first and the best. This second season episode featured a Secret Santa gift exchange that ends in equal parts disappointment and happiness for all our favorite employees. Any episode that combines the sweet will-they-or-won’t-they romance of Jim and Pam (we all know how that turns out) and a topless Meredith has to be a classic. The types of presents bought unmistakably fit the characters’ personalities, from Michael’s over-budget iPod for Ryan to Creed’s dirty, worn flannel shirt. Anyone who wants a lot of laughs this holiday season will not be disappointed after watching “Christmas Party,” which is available along with the rest of the season two on DVD.

“Pinky and the Brain” – “A Pinky and the Brain Christmas”

Christmas specials tend to be a mash up of wintery atmosphere, cheesy music and sappy lessons. While normally an exact recipe for disaster, mix in two laboratory mice, an Orson Wells impression and a plot to take over the world, and the end result will warm the coldest miser’s heart (and win a well-deserved Emmy). The Brain nearly achieves world domination but is once again befuddled by the actions of Pinky. While he fails to reach his elusive goal, he manages to spread joy to the world, find the true meaning of friendship and gives the gift that keeps on giving: a spellchecker. Despite Amazon solely stocking the VHS, this forgotten holiday classic merits an annual viewing.

“Rugrats”- “Babes in Toyland”

Although not technically about Christmas, “Rugrats” once featured one of the best holiday-themed episodes of all time. An informative episode, for all you gentiles out there, at least, it delved into the history of Chanukah, due to Tommy’s half-Jewish parentage. What ensues is an epic reenactment of the plight of the “Maccababies”, “Rugrats” slang for the Maccabees, and their fight against King “Antonica,” played by one Angelica Pickles. Tommy, as Judas, leads them to victory. But, upon their arrival at the Holy Temple, they realize there is only enough oil left to light the Temple candle for one day. Can you guess how many days it miraculously stays lit for? If not, get your hands on this classic ASAP.

“Seinfeld” – “The Strike”

In a somewhat anti-Christmas episode of “Seinfeld,” George introduces the non-denominational holiday of Festivus to the New York area. This holiday, created in the show by George’s father, was a holiday meant to battle the commercialization of Christmas.  Kramer discovers the holiday and wants to celebrate it, which brings back horrible memories of George’s childhood, particularly the “feats of strength,” a contest that forced George to attempt to subdue his father to end the holiday. As usual, hilarity ensues, focused mainly on the misery of George, as so often is the case in “Seinfeld.”

“Six Feet Under” – “Pilot”

Ain’t no party like a Fisher family Christmas party. Mostly due to the lack of Christmas songs, festive decorations, eggnog, presents and overall Christmas cheer. The first season of “Six Feet Under” starts off with a bang when, on one fateful Christmas morning, the fractured Fisher family is reunited for very sad reasons. When picking out your favorite holiday TV episodes, save this one for the day when you’re allowed to be a little down. While not bubbling with Christmas excitement, though, the series premiere of “Six Feet Under” is still really, really awesome. You may just leave it finally able to truly appreciate those you spend your Christmas days with.