THE SIMPSONS CHRISTMAS (2003) – Buried in the $5 bin at the local Walmart was THE SIMPSONS CHRISTMAS DVD, containing 5 “Christmas” episodes from the show’s first 13 seasons. I’ve always been kind of lukewarm on the SIMPSONS, but I do love Christmas specials, so I thought it would be a wise purchase.
And so I convinced someone to buy it for me.
THE SIMPSONS CHRISTMAS is, to be blunt, all sorts of bland. It’s not that the individual episodes are horrible, it’s that they’re largely mediocre, and several have little to do with Christmas. Even several of the episodes about Christmas simply have Christmas in the background, and it would be rather easy to imagine them taking place on Halloween or July 4th or Arbor Day.
“Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire” – The best episode of the bunch, “Roasting” shows the value of personal relationships over possessions. Bart gets himself a tattoo and to get it removed, Marge has to use the Simpsons’s Christmas money to get it removed. This means they’ll have to use Homer’s Christmas bonus to buy gifts – except that Mr. Burns decides he’s not giving Christmas bonuses this year. Homer doesn’t want to disappoint the family (or take more of a beating from Marge’s sisters), so he takes a job as a department store Santa to earn some extra cash. Bart accidentally discovers Homer’s actions, and when Homer collects his paycheck, he finds he’s earned a grand total of $13. What’s a man to do? Well, Barney says he’s got a sure thing at the race track, but Homer resists, thinking it will represent some new low. Bart convinces him anyway, so they go, but instead of putting their $13 down on Barney’s sure thing, they decide to be on a late entry, Santa’s Little Helper.
And they lose, but as they’re leaving the owner of Santa’s Little Helper runs the dog off and Homer and Bart take him home, delivering the bestest Christmas present ever. This is the one episode on the DVD that feels intrinsically like a Christmas episode. There’s plenty of laughs and plenty of earnestness, even with the less-than-pristine settings of a mall and a dog track.
“Mr. Plow” – An okay episode about Homer buying a plow truck and then being undone by Barney buying an even bigger plow truck. This is not a Christmas episode; this is a snow episode.
“Grift of the Magi” – This is a perfect example of a Christmas episode that’s not really a Christmas episode. Bart is confined to a wheelchair so the local Mafia builds all sorts of ramps for the school, forcing the school to close. A corporation takes over after Mr. Burns refuses to bail them out, and they get the kids to design the new super-cool Christmas toy. It’s not the worst episode ever, but it’s not a good Christmas episode. The payoff is Homer, Bart, and Lisa breaking into homes and stealing all of the toys and then destroying them. Oh, and Gary Coleman comes over for dinner because … why not, I suppose.
“Miracle on Evergreen Terrace” – This is a Christmas episode; Bart wakes up early and roasts the Christmas tree and all the Simpson family presents. Fearing the wrath of the family, he buries the tree/gift mess in the snow in the front yard. Hearing about the story, Springfield rallies around the Simpsons, lavishing them with $15,000, which Homer then spends on a car, which he then crashes into a lake. The town finds out that Bart deceived them and wants all their money back, but the Simpsons don’t have it, so the townfolk come and take away all the Simpsons’ possessions to even the score.
Yeah, Merry F*cking Christmas.
This episode is so devoid of heart, and comes across as so cynical that it takes the story away from its most defining moment – Bart’s admission of guilt.
“She of Little Faith” – Bart builds a rocket and the First Church of Springfield is destroyed. To help fill the coffers, the Church sells advertising space, so Lisa becomes a Buddhist in order to allow the show to have Richard Gere guest star.
I’m not going to judge the entire SIMPSONS cartoon on five episodes, but there’s not a lot here that I enjoyed. It’s become kinda cliched to rip on the SIMPSONS and I’m not going to do that; I’ll just say that as far as holiday specials (or maybe I should say “holiday” specials) go, the SIMPSONS CHRISTMAS is not the equivalent of SIMPSONS HALLOWEEN.
Be sure to check out the Holiday Review Index for all the Holiday-themed reviews to be found at Atomic Anxiety.