365. Simpsons Christmas Stories

(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.

9 responses to “365. Simpsons Christmas Stories

  1. I actually like their rendition of Nutcracker, but that is about it.

  2. For years, Matt Groening has talked about how he’s wanted to do a Simpsons parody of Fantasia, dialogue-free and everything. Going into this episode, I was hoping that’s what the Nutcracker segment was going to be, but no dice. Shame, really, because I think a Simpsons episode, even if it’s just a seven-minute segment, that’s told entirely through music and character animation would be really cool to see.

    • The only way I see that happening is if the show is ending and Matt does the final episode. However, I just do not see that happening because I do not even know if Matt still has anything to do with the show outside of being the creator. Hell, in one of the commentary tracks from Season 11, he had never even watched the episode, which made me want to know what the hell he was even doing there for that episode.

      • Ever since “Futurama,” Groening pretty much gave up on “The Simpsons” (barring “The Simpsons Movie” and the short film “The Longest Daycare”). He’s still credited for being an executive producer, but I think it’s because that’s the only way he can still make money off the show.

    • THE LONGEST DAYCARE (which indeed had some matt involvement) is the closest we’ll get I’m tihnking.

      • Oh, wow, I never saw that – I just watched it, and what a breath of fresh air! It shows you how much potential the franchise still has šŸ˜‰

  3. A Christmas episode review right before Halloween. How grand.

  4. I really! don’t like this story.
    Your doing the birth of jesus and the best you can come up with is extended slapstick routines? heck the bible stories episode was better than this.

    the nutcracker also really annoys me with homer’s line “I need a present for my wife, or I’ll get no sex for life”

    Probably one of the jerkassiest comments from jerk ass homer ever.

  5. This episode makes little sense to me. What did the segment with Grandpa really have to do with Xmas? NOTHING!!!! Doing an origin story for Jesus clearly shows how the ideas for these shows have run dry. The Nutcracker segment was also boring, but I did like Burns vaccuuming up the Ghost of Christmas Past.

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