Animation Advent Calendar – 12 Days of Christmas #11 – The Simpsons: Miracle on Evergreen Terrace

Another classic Christmas episode from The Simpsons, and Bart is the catalyst once again. After an attempt at a cheeky sneak peak at his Christmas presents in the early hours of Christmas Day, Bart inadvertently burns down the Christmas tree and the presents with it. If that wasn’t bad enough, he hides the evidence in the snow-covered front lawn snow, and instead of confessing, conjures up the lie that they were burgled. What results is a fantastic show of charity and togetherness from the residents of Springfield to save The Simpsons’ Christmas. That is, until the town discovers the truth…..

The Simpsons S09 E10 – Miracle on Evergreen Terrace

Often hailed as the last-best season of The Simpsons, Miracle on Evergreen Terrace is a corker. Homer’s Christmas Eve shopping strategy is hilarious. As is Bart’s prediction of his family’s presents under the tree. Concocting such a lie just to temporarily save his own skin is up there with stealing from two seasons before, but in many ways both have endearing qualities. Lying often seems easier, but of course always makes it worse, but what ten year old hasn’t? Excellent nod to Miracle on 34th Street with the title, too.

“Aren’t we forgetting the true meaning of Christmas? You know, the birth of Santa.” – Bart Simpson

Miracle on Evergreen Terrace is an excellent episode of The Simpsons. Some of the later Christmas-related episodes don’t have the endearment on display here, and like many episodes in the earlier seasons (bear in mind this one is now twenty-three years old), this is a stark reminder of how good The Simpsons truly is.

Animation Advent Calendar – 12 Days of Christmas #7 – The Simpsons: Marge Be Not Proud

Can you believe it is only two weeks until Christmas Day? Mental. A bit like work at the moment also. But now it is time to get back on track. There’s Christmas entertainment to be had, dammit!

The Simpsons S07 E11 – Marge Be Not Proud

One of the few more subtle Christmas-themed episodes of the world’s longest running animated show, Marge Be Not Proud is a cracker. Christmas is approaching, and the latest video game advertisement leaves Bart with an itch that can’t be scratched by his parents. Unfortunately for both Bart and his parents, it leads the former to make a decision that completely alters his relationship with the latter. That decision being, to obtain said video game using the “four-finger discount” method.

This episode of The Simpsons is true evidence of a show at its creative and comedic best. Christmas may merely be a secondary backdrop, but the tale told and lessons learned here could only come at Christmas time. But lets not forget that season 7 was absolute peak Simpsons Marge Be Not Proud is an incredibly funny episode.

The advertisement for Bonestorm, the video game that triggers Bart’s criminal actions, is a fantastically hilarious parody of both the Mortal Kombat videogame franchise and the in-your-face commercials of the 1990’s. Its relentless assault on the desires of a ten year old boy are laid bare as his pursuit of Bonestorm becomes more and more desperate. Each step leads Bart down a path where the moral imperative, seemingly, is to take it from the local department store. What really resonates here is that this isn’t just the decision of the character Bart Simpson, but a decision that many a ten year old could make. That was certainly the intentions of episode-writer Mike Scully, who based Marge Be Not Proud on a similar experience he had at twelve years of age.

“Christmas is a time when people of all religions come together to worship Jesus Christ.” – Bart

Marge Be Not Proud is a prime example of just how good The Simpsons really was in the nineties. And, an excellent Christmas episode too. The end credits are among the best the show has ever produced, with the now-legendary Lee Carvallo’s Putting Challenge segment still as hilarious as it ever was. It is also a true testament to a gamer’s contempt towards an unwanted title. Christmas may not be the big draw here by any means, but this empathic, meticulously funny and charming tale of a boy-done-bad-but-done-good-again is wonderful entertainment.

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.