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Merry Christmas, Everyone! Here are Six of the Best Yuletide Television Episodes of the Last Thirty Years

Today, of course, is Christmas Day — which means being with family, opening gifts, stuffing a turkey and relaxing in front of the fire with those you love most dearly. The Funkhouser crew will be doing just this on this festive, festive day — but so as not to leave you without a present from us this happiest of Wednesdays, I thought I might pop in today to drop off a gift-wrapped post we’ll call Six Great Christmas Episodes. It might jog some memories and spark a few of your own favorite episodes. Happy Christmas, everyone. Enjoy it.


30 Rock: “Christmas Attack Zone”
It was tough to choose between this 30 Rock episode and the more popular Christmas episode “Ludachristmas,” but as the latter gets referenced by pop culture lists near-constantly, this is a fine entry into the 30 Rock holiday canon. The crux of the episode revolves around Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin; but if I have to tell you that you should just stop reading this post altogether right now) creating a plan to spring the revelation that he’s met his birth father (Alan Alda) on his domineering mother Colleen (Elaine Stritch) during Christmas. It also has the added benefit of a last thirty seconds featuring Jenna and her cross-dressing boyfriend Paul (Will Forte) dressing as “two black swans” for Elton John’s holiday party — he as Natalie Portman, she as Pittsburgh wide receiver Lynn Swan. Beautiful.
Amazing Stories: “Santa ’85”
Back in the mid-eighties, Steven Spielberg — believe it or not — created a television show in which every Sunday night he put together a half-hour episode of cinematic magic that fit with his films of the era: star-studded, special-effects-laden, creative, twisty Twilight-Zone-for-the-family-type stuff. If you remember this show I don’t have to remind you that there are a lot of great stories which sprung from it, but I’ve always remembered and had a soft spot for this particular episode, which features the tale of the real Kris Kringle tripping a burglar alarm, running afoul of the local law and ending up in the clink with a bunch of other drunken “Santas” on Christmas Eve. I haven’t seen it in a while, so I’m not sure if it holds up; but I remember it fondly as one of my favorite Christmas episodes of all time.

Friends: “The One with the Holiday Armadillo”
One of the more memborable moments of the immortalized Friends‘ run also happens to be a Christmas/Hannukah episode as Ross, worried that his son Ben isn’t getting enough Jewish heritage, decides to teach him more about the Festival of Lights. Saddened t the last minute that Ben won’t enjoy a holiday without Santa, he rushes out to buy a Santa suit to surprise him but finds the costume stores bare on Christmas Eve — hence the appearance of Santa’s good friend the Holiday Armadillo, who arrives to mesh the two religious holidays of Christmas and Hannukah together. It’s one of Ross’ greater moments.

Newsradio: “Stupid Holiday Talent Show”
There are a lot of great Newsradio episodes. A lot. That’s probably because it’s one of the singular greatest comedic casts in television history: Andy Dick, Phil Hartman, Dave Foley, Stephen Root. But as many great Newsradio episodes as exist, a clip of Andy Dick’s Matthew performing his ventriloquism act at the company’s Christmas talent show may be one of the hardest I’ve ever laughed at a sitcom gag in my life. It’s a great Christmas episode, but moreso a fantastic moment of television comedy. Please watch this. Even if you hate Andy Dick.

Curb Your Enthusiasm: “Mary, Joseph and Larry”
A memorable Curb episode which begins with Larry getting a pubic hair caught in his throat and moves on to Larry accidentally eating Cheryl’s nativity cookies and fighting an entire living nativity scene on his front lawn. That’s about par for the course for Larry & Company, I’d say. The clip below is pretty safe for work — but if you’re at work on Christmas Day right now, there’s nobody around you anyway to look over your shoulder. You should go home because your family probably hates you.
Cheers: “Christmas Cheers”
What, you thought there wouldn’t be a Cheers episode on here? Shame on you. It’s like we don’t know each other at all. “Christmas Cheers” features Cliff trying to win a trip to Disney World, Norm as a department store Santa, Sam wooing stewardesses, Woody pining for Indiana and Frasier bemoaning America’s lack of Christmas spirit. It ends with Santa quite possibly visiting the bar, everyone watching It’s a Wonderful Life and Cliff throwing canned goods at an airplane as he chases it down the tarmac. Like every episode of Cheers, pitch perfect.

Article written by C.M. Tomlin

All I want is a HI-C and a turkey sandwich. @CM_Tomlin

4 Comments for Merry Christmas, Everyone! Here are Six of the Best Yuletide Television Episodes of the Last Thirty Years

  1. Shooter
    3:58 pm December 25, 2013 Permalink

    Really? …. Man I have missed so much great tv.

  2. ukcat1
    9:15 pm December 25, 2013 Permalink

    Two and Half Men…..Walnuts and Demerol was a pretty good Xmas comedy

  3. Hal
    12:10 am December 26, 2013 Permalink

    seinfeld. a little kid yelling “santa’s a commie” while sitting on kramer’s lap. not sure how any of these are funnier than that. oh and you know: festivus.

  4. Ukbradstith
    1:24 am December 26, 2013 Permalink

    Festivus for sure… Just watched Santa 85 on Netflix and yeah it holds up. Still not as good as the Twilight Zone episode “night of the Meek” with Art Carney, but definitely worth a watch.