Christmas Episodes 2013 - day 15, 16, and 17
A busy weekend, so I got a little bit behind.
We actually watched two episodes, but one of them is an hour special of an otherwise 30 minute show, so I’m counting it twice!
Frasier, season 5, episode 9, “Perspectives on Christmas”
This episode is framed as a series of flashbacks during a massage.
Pretty standard Frasier episode where everything goes wrong, there’s lots of confusion, overhearing of things, stuff being taken out of context, etc.
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, season 5, episode 13, “A Very Sunny Christmas”
This show is hilarious, but it’s also increasing horrifying, and I can’t, in good conscience, recommend that anyone ever watch this show.
This Christmas episode is a 45-minute special, and even contains a stop-motion tribute to the Rudolph specials.
The Fraiser episode we’d give a 4 out of 5 stars on Christmas-y scale. The Sunny episode is very Christmas-y, but also lots of very dark, very black humor. So… don’t watch it.
Christmas Episodes 2013 - day 14
The Big Bang Theory, season 3, episode 11: “The Maternal Congruence”.
Ali enjoys this show; I tolerate it. There is some good acting in this show, but the writing can be pretty lazy at times. It sometimes boils down to: “nerdy guy does something or says something nerdy, isn’t that hilarious?”
But Ali says it’s because I’m too much like Sheldon. I guess.
This episode has a guest appearance from Christine Baranski, who plays Leonard’s mother, and I think she does an excellent job. I tend to get her and Cheryl Hines mixed up a lot (it’s a Bill Pullman / Bill Paxton situation in my mind). Christine Baranski also played Martha May Whovier in “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (2000).
This episode is pretty good, but Christmas is really more of a setting than a theme. Most of the episode could have easily been worked into a non-Christmas episode. So, for that reason, we rank it pretty low on the Christmas-y scale. 2 out of 5.
Christmas Episodes 2013 - day 13
On to Wings, season 8, episode 11, “All About Christmas Eve”.
If you’ve never seen Wings, the entire run is available on Netflix. It’s a great sitcom from Angell, Casey, Lee, the trio of writers/creators that is responsible for Frasier and many Cheers episodes. (David Angell, by the way, was actually killed on American Airlines flight 11 on September 11, 2001). Especially check out season 3, episode 17 - “Das Plane”, my favorite Wings episode.
This episode has a few guest stars:
- Brooke Adams as a nun. She would later go on to do a lot of guest appearances on Monk (starring Tony Shalhoub)
- Phil Leeds as Lou. I think this is Lou’s second appearance on Wings.
- Abe Vigoda (still alive) as Lou’s brother Harry.
A pretty good episode of Wings, and a pretty good Christmas episode. Lou and Harry are very entertaining as quarreling brothers for which the main characters have escalating intolerance. 4 stars on the Christmas-y scale.
Christmas Episodes 2013 - day 12
Last night’s episode was from Everybody Loves Raymond, season 3, episode 12 - “The Toaster”.
In this episode, Raymond is insecure about his idea for Christmas gifts: chrome toasters with an engraved message. But everyone loves them (because Everybody Loves Raymond), except his parents, who didn’t see the engraved message and exchange the toaster at Bloomingdale’s for a coffee maker.
No subplot in this episode that I can remember. It’s all about the toasters. We do get to see Debra’s parent’s stylish house, which is the only time I remember that set ever being used.
Raymond’s parents attempt to go retrieve the toaster, with a disastrous outcome.
I’m not a fan of Everybody Loves Raymond. To me, it is the epitome of mediocre sitcom, and at times can be obnoxious and frustrating to watch. Ali enjoys the show to some extent. The moment when Frank enters the “back room” that’s filled with toasters is just good classic comedy though. I think this episode is a solid 3 stars out of 5 on the Christmas-y scale.
Christmas Episodes 2013 - day 11
This episode is Rules of Engagement, season 5, episode 12 - “Little Bummer Boy”.
If you’ve never watched Rules of Engagement, you can find the entire run on Netflix. On the surface, it looks like a completely derivative, off-the-shelf sitcom (I think of it as How I Met Your Mother crossed with Seinfeld, with a dash of The Emperor’s New Groove). However, this series plays with sitcom tropes in some subtle ways (especially the series finale, which crams just about every shark-jumping trope into one episode).
This episode involves two simultaneous Christmas parties. At one party, Adam’s “gift certificates” for his girlfriend (e.g. “1 super squeezy hug”) have been confiscated by Russel, and given out to all the employees. Adam is “a man of his word”, so he honors all the gift certificates.
The other plots in this episode involve Timmy dressing up as an elf, and Jeff and Audrey arguing about which of them is the “funny one”.
This series is the latest in Ali’s locust-like consumption of TV sitcoms, and she likes most episodes. I find the show to have really good jokes occasionally (my favorite episode being S5E6 - “Baked”), and some of the aforementioned sitcom experimentation to be interesting, but mostly this show is pretty bland and generic.
Christmas Episodes 2013 - day 9 and 10
Another pair of episodes.
Season 1, episode 12 of Frasier - “Miracle on Third or Fourth Street”.
Both of these episodes attempt to take on a somewhat serious tone. Fraiser is having a rotten and depressing Christmas. He ends up in a greasy spoon on Christmas day without his wallet. The kindness of the other patrons (who are implied to be homeless, or deep in poverty, or certainly much less well-off than Frasier) help him pay for his Christmas meal. It’s kinda like The Widow’s Offering.
This episode was written by Christopher Lloyd, who became executive producer in the next season of Frasier.
Season 9, episode 11 of Night Court - “Santa on the Lam”.
The main plot of this episode was the serious plot involving Dan Fielding, the sleazy DA who from time to time shows that his heart isn’t entirely made of stone. A fired store Santa gets a gun from a guard, and expresses his anger with Christmas being too commercial (similar to, albeit less comical that Frank’s complaints in Seinfeld S9E10).
A subplot in this episode features a guest appearance from Mel Torme, a frequent guest star on Night Court.
Christmas Episodes 2013 - day 7 and 8
As per your request, please find enclosed two Christmas episodes to catch us up.
First up, Twilight Zone, season 2, episode 11 - “The Night of the Meek”.
This is the only Christmas episode of The Twilight Zone that I could find. This episode is one of the few that was shot on video tape. Also, it stars John Fiedler, who you might recognize as the voice of Piglet. If you have any interest in The Twilight Zone, may I recommend that you check out the Retroist Podcast episode about The Twilight Zone.
Next episode is pretty much the polar (pun?) opposite of a Twilight Zone episode: an episode of 3rd Rock From the Sun - season 2, episode 12, “Jolly Old St. Dick”.
3rd Rock From the Sun is a show that’s pretty short on content, and generally contains a lot of punchy jokes and satirical quips. One of my favorite parts of this episode is Sally working the gift-wrapping kiosk at the mall.
Ali generally hates anything in black-and-white regardless of its other merits. I enjoy both the innovative storytelling of The Twilight Zone and the light hearted scenery chewing of John Lithgow (who was in The Twilight Zone movie, by the way).
Christmas Episodes 2013 - day 6
Well, we’re getting behind with all the travel and the sickness, but day 6 is season 9, episode 10 of Seinfeld - “The Strike”.
This episode contains references to Hanukkah, Christmas, and, of course, the Costanza’s Holiday of Festivus.
The episode starts at Tim Whatley’s Hanukkah party (he converted to Judaism just for the jokes).
At the office, George gives out donation certificates as Christmas gifts for a made-up charity called The Human Fund.
And finally, Frank Costanza breaks out the aluminum pole and resurrects the anti-commercialism holiday that he invented called Festivus. Festivus actually originated in 1966, and since this episode, it has taken on a life of its own.
This episode is very densely-packed, with two more non-holiday subplots involving Kramer’s long-time strike against H&H Bagels and Elaine’s quest to become a “Submarine Captain” with a loyalty program at a sub sandwich shop.
We both enjoy Seinfeld (who doesn’t), and this episode is a good one. I especially enjoy Frank’s “I got a lot of problems with you people!”