Animation Advent Calendar – 12 Days of Christmas #1 – The Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire

The 1st of December is upon us for another year. And while 2020 has been the strangest and alarming of years for quite some time, many of us still have oodles of entertainment at our fingertips. What better time to relieve the stresses of which lockdown tier rules we have to adhere to by getting into the Christmas spirit with the small screen. So, for each day of advent, here is an Christmas-themed animated pick to go along with your daily window chocolate.

The Simpsons S01 E01 – The Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire

Thankfully not a metaphoric title for some kind of John Kramer Saw trap, SROF was the inaugural syndicated episode of The Simpsons, dubbed The Simpsons Christmas Special. This is the one that started it all, and of its multiple Christmas-themed episodes in its 30+ year run, this one is certainly the most traditional and festive. As far as introductions go, SROF lays down many of the show’s long-running narratives. After Bart gets himself a tattoo, Marge has to spend all of the Christmas savings jar (craftily hidden in her iconic towering hair) getting it removed.

“Thank god for Homer’s Christmas bonus” – Marge Simpson

Mr Burns, owner of the Springfield Nuclear Powerplant and Homer’s boss, starts as he means to go on by issuing Christmas bonuses to management staff, but removing them for the “semi-skilled” workers. A notion that is as familiar now as it was then.

“Oh, thank God for the big jar” – Homer Simpson

Homer’s grisly attitude to Marge’s sisters. Patty and Selma, is one mirrored back at Marge’s choice of spouse. As Homer wrestles with the prospect of a zero-budget Christmas, he must also gain their approval to keep Marge happy. I had forgotten this is laid bare in this very first episode, and of course becomes a continuing narrative as the show develops.

Then there’s Ned Flanders. Bless-diddly-ess him. The saint of Evergreen Terrace ensures Homer’s disdain for him early doors, as his Las Vegas-level Christmas lights effort easily puts Homer’s to the sword. Unintentionally of course. Over the years I have personally taken to referring anyone’s mega Christmas lights show contribution as “doing a Ned Flanders”.

The Simpsons was the biggest show (and intellectual property) acquired by Disney following the purchase of Fox. As of today, thirty-one seasons are available to stream via Disney Plus. So there is no better time, and no excuse, to not enjoy this slice of Simpsons life, whether for the first time, or the hundredth. Regardless of people’s views of the show beyond season eight, The Simpsons is a show that has to be heralded as an institution. The Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire is by no means its best episode, but it still remains one of the most important. Especially at Christmas time.

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