(originally aired December 18, 2005)
Oh boy, another anthology show, this time a holiday edition! It’s quite… boring. I usually find these shows that insert our characters into famous stories rather lazy and uninspired, and even though only one of the three here is an adaptation, I still get that feeling anyway. The first retells the story of the very first Christmas, with the birth of Jesus Christ, here played by an adorable baby Bart. Marge is Mary, Homer is Joseph, other characters are… other characters. And there are jokes made. These segments are honestly just so uninteresting to me; you know the story they’re telling, so you’re just waiting for them to go through the motions. Maybe if they had some interesting religious commentary, or subverted the tale in some manner, but that would be too risky. Why take a chance in comedy when you can take the safe route?
The second part is the best, in that it made me the least sleepy. Grampa spins a nonsense tale of being stuck on a deserted island with Mr. Burns after being shot down during WWII. They then accidentally shoot down Santa Claus on Christmas Eve, and must help him repair his sleigh. There’s a few lines here that are amusing, but just as many that aren’t. Moreover I enjoyed seeing a younger Abe and Burns, and hearing Castellaneta and Shearer off autopilot making their characters sound sixty years younger was also nice to hear. The third segment is just a series of vignettes set to the Nutcracker Suite, the most glaring of which is a joyful montage of Moe’s many failed attempts at suicide. I had just chastised the show for not being ballsy, but in this instance it’s completely misdirected. As I’ve mentioned previously, any taboo topic can be turned into comedy, but the fact that being suicidal has become nothing more than a quirky character trait for Moe that they can joke about, it ultimately feels so completely dour and offensive. And it’s the gag that closes our show: he curses that a tracker trailer didn’t hit and kill him! Merry Christmas, everybody! A thoroughly forgettable holiday show.
Tidbits and Quotes
– Baby Bart causing miracle nodding his head a la “I Dream of Jeannie,” Homer and Skinner acting like the Three Stooges, all the bits from the first segment really fall flat. There’s only one bit that comes close to being amusingly self aware. Eddie questions the moral rightness of going in and slaughtering a baby, to which Wiggum responds, “Don’t worry, boys. No one will ever speak or write of this again.” That joke works. It’s similar to the bit earlier where the Archangel Lisa appears to explain Bart/Jesus’ life story to the disillusioned baby, but this line feels more organic. But how do they unnecessarily cap off the joke? Matthew is standing by, scroll in hand! “What a boffo beginning for my book!” See, just in case you didn’t get it, if you’ve never heard of the fucking Bible, we’ll show the guy who wrote it! So see, the story will be written of, so what Wiggum said was funny! Get it! Get it?!
– The second segment has some chuckle-worthy bits in it, like the reindeer performing CPR on Santa, and a few good lines (“Donner! Blitzen!” “He’s German! That’s good eatin’!”)
– They lead into the singing in the third act by mentioning how the Nutcracker is in the public domain, so they don’t have to pay any royalties. Fair enough, but this show has utilized so many songs they’ve had to pay for at this point, a good share of them only for a few seconds. Hell, in the next episode they play Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” for what can’t be more than eight seconds; that must have cost them something, and added nothing to the episode.
– The final bit with Marge getting Homer a gift for him to give her is kind of sweet. I guess. I’ve been lulled into a tired stupor at this point, so I’ll take anything that isn’t Homer screaming or humiliating others.