Christmas is one of those special holidays that infects every source of entertainment. That sounded a lot more cynical than intended, but it is true. You can’t escape the festivities. From Christmas Movies bombarding our cinemas to the radio incessantly playing jingle tracks that first came about years ago. No, there is no hiding from it, one second you are adjusting to the winter climates and the next you are surrounded by Christmas trees, baubles and fake snow (sometimes it's real - Ed).
For television junkies, this is no different and already our favourite shows have decked the halls. And although we have been subjected to festive sitcoms all year around thanks to the ludicrous and unnecessary bout of remakes. That being said, when it boils down to the week before Christmas, it is always nice to see our favourite laughter inducing characters done their gay apparel for a Christmas special. Here are some of the best;
If you’re first reaction to that title was to gasp in disbelief that it came out five years ago, don’t worry, you aren’t alone. The Big Bang Theory still feels like brand new series that is credited with bringing “geek” culture to the mainstream audiences without it being mocked as largely as it did before. And if you want, you can blame it for the misinterpretation of cultures and the over saturation of those GEEK jumpers and glasses merchandise. Nevertheless, The Big Bang Theory is pretty darn enjoyable and that is mainly down to Jim Parsons almost autistic and socially retarded Sheldon Cooper.
In this yuletide special, Sheldon encounters the difficult task of having to buy gifts for people. In particular, his worry about buying Penny a gift that truly expresses the level of friendship he has with her. Throughout the episode, he is wrought with complex ideas that the size of a bath item basket would wrongly convey his feelings. The winning moment though is when he receives his gift from Penny; a signed napkin from Lenard Nimoy. This Spock loving man goes into an insane flurry of giddiness and gratitude including a thankful embrace. It’s sweet and surprising.
Happy Endings was a short lived yet brilliant sitcom that was cancelled and unseen by a lot of people. This is a shame because it was a cracking show that was funny, witty and was actually how social situations between friends happens. Much like a lot of cult sitcoms, Happy Endings will live on on DVD’s and to the talented and constant repetitions on E4 (added sarcasm.) Starring Elisha Cuthbert and Eliza Coupe, if you get your hands of Happy Endings please enjoy a tirade of hilarious one liners and character interactions.
Nevertheless, this original sitcom gave in to the need for a holiday special. However, Happy Endings present a genius and witty slice of Christmas pie. In this episode, the characters find out that Jane has been lying about her birthday. It isn’t actually in Summer, it’s Christmas Day. Afraid as her birthday always gets overlooked, Jane is tense when the gang find out her secret. To her surprise, they decide that there is no Christmas this year and it is all about Jane. Unfortunately, that is a lot harder than it looks and as the yuletide joy begins to seep in, Jane is forced to find others who share her lack of birthday pain. Funniest moment has to be when Max’s egg nog secret IV drip is stabbed and bursts.
Scrubs has this foul habit of popping sadness in so many of their episodes. If you think the show is all about JD and his constant day-dreaming and antics, then you really miss the moral undertones and heart-wrenching moments it likes to add. Seriously, if you have seen My Lunch followed by My Fallen Idol, then you’ll know Scrubs likes to make you laugh one minute, then punches you in the stomach leaving you weeping like a child. Scrubs Christmas episodes are no different and even ones mixed up with glee and a happy ending have a side line of sorrow placed into it.
There was genuine difficulty when choosing a favourite Scrubs Christmas episode and I really wanted to include the future dream reel which sees Turk and JD with matching jumpers that say Merry Christmas Perry! Nonetheless, I went for the one episode that actually shows the joy of Christmas when you think it is all going to go wrong. JD is asked by one of his students what his best moment is, only to not really know. Causing the others to think of a time they excelled, the day is interrupted by a father who is fading fast and a son who just wants him home for Christmas. Like Cox, you just know the hospital is going to fuck this up, leaving the Dad dead and the son without a father on the most wonderful time of the year. It’s not the case and the gang band together to deliver a truly special Christmas episode.
Now flit to the other side of the coin where Christmas is the backdrop for a soul crushing How I Met Your Mother Episode. It isn’t particular centred on the celebration of Christ. In fact, it serves merely as background lights and noise. How I Met Your Mother does a lot of Christmas episodes this way, choosing to focus another part of the story rather than the characters true interactions with Crimbo. That being said, as there are a lot of holiday centred episodes, and mostly about slaps and Thanksgiving, aka Slapsgiving.
In this episode though, Christmas is on the way and around the Thanksgiving time, it's Robin's turn to talk to her future kids about how she met their father, Barney. The episode unfolds quite hilarious as she is telling them how she thought she was pregnant and they were quite shocked about it. However, it turns out that Robin cannot have kids. Not that she wanted to in the first place, the news unsettles her much more than she lets on. Keeping the secret from the gang, Ted is suspicious as to what is wrong with Robin. The episode concludes quite sadly but reiterates exactly how special Robin is to Ted. It is sad and sort of poetic, watching the imaginary children of hers fade away and Ted’s illuminating display to show just how much Robin’s happiness means to him.
Dawn French is an almighty comedic genius. Starting off her career with writing and comedienne pal Jennifer Saunders, French solidified her great British icon status playing the put out and realistic Vicar Geraldine in the beloved Vicar of Dibley. Alongside the breezy and dim-witted Alice and a parish full of colourful and remarkable characters, the small town of Dibley is charming and the sitcom balances some hilarious slapstick alongside some witty responses ending with a joke that Alice will never ever get.
The Vicar of Dibley Christmas Special Winter focuses on a Nativity that the church is putting on for the village. Geraldine is happily blissed with love and Alice is pregnant and married to Hugo. They put on a show in their hall and it is interspersed with wicked moments such as David trying to make the King more likeable and a bumbling cast for the play. It is a barrage of jokes but each is as funny as the next. The highlight here is that Alice portrays a really realistic Mary by actually giving birth to a little baby who they name Geraldine. It is hilarious and it is heart-warming; the way that British comedies are made.
I think the biggest shame is that since the death of lead Actor Gerard McSorley and the rise of the internet videos means that Father Ted has fallen from the limelight. It saddens me that new generations don’t really know the joy and pleasure of this fantastic Irish comedy. Luckily, the popularity of this episode means it won’t go too far away from our minds. If you do find it on the gogglebox, settle yourself down into a festive treat that includes the ever child Dougal, the cynical Ted, the drunken Jack and the lovely Mrs Doyle.
This extended Christmas episodes sees some real characterization and is rich on sentiment and comedy. There is dismay when the men get Mrs Doyle a tea maker and she toys with difficulty over the implications. Father Jack riffs off some genius one liners that get funnier per view. Dougal is innocent and naïve, splashing out in glitter and excitement as the day of Christ looms over. And Ted leads a bunch of lost priests as they wonder off during Christmas shopping and end up in the lingerie department. Like guiding deers out of danger, the bemused and bewildered clergy men are ushered out in a raucous manner that will have you cackling until the New Year. It’s an episode that doesn’t lose its magic. It get’s better with age.
What is your favourite festive sitcom episode? Let us know!