In all honesty, I really don't care too much for special Christmas episodes.
Mostly, they tend to be revamps of often told holiday tales - either variations of It's A Wonderful Life (which, because it's no longer public domain, has been fewer) or A Christmas Carol. However, sometimes - just sometimes - Christmas can mean seeing guys in spandex fighting crime. Or bridges exploding. Or even alien invasions. So in this special holiday edition of TV Party, I'm going to tell you my top three choices for holiday heroic viewing.
(Actually, I have four choices - if you're interested in classic television, go find the Night of the Meek episode of the original Twilight Zone series - the one with Art Carney. Watch it, and if it doesn't just warm your heart....chances are, you have none. Maybe it was because Rod Serling was born on Christmas, but this episode is one of the best pieces of television ever created. However, since the name of this site is Comic Related, that's where I'll have to focus...).
My first choice would have to be Christmas with the Joker, from the original animated Batman series. At 22 minutes, it seems mercilessly brief, but is a very simple plot: at Christmas, the Joker escapes Arkham Asylum (singing a Bart Simpson favorite ), planning to wreak havoc on Gotham City. Back at Wayne Manor, Robin convinces Batman that, if for one night Gotham is free of crime, they get to enjoy Christmas and watch the classic Jimmy Stewart movie. Of course....well, I'm not going to spoil it, but one of the cool things about the episode is that it is very tightly written, so much that I wish there were more going on. Mark Hamill (who starred in some science fiction movie nobody's heard of) does a tour de force as the Joker...it's probably one of the better 'special Christmas episodes' (and I'm tempted to say that it was based on a classic Batman story, but can't remember), and tells a nice, short story within its time limit. And fortunately, AOL video has the entire episode online for your viewing.
Although technically taking place during Christmas, the Freakazoid two-parter "The Chip" serves not only as a great comedic piece of entertainment....but as a classic "origin" story. (For more information about Freakazoid, check out November's column). Dexter Douglas had no idea, once he installed a key chip into his computer, that it would eventually lead him to a life of heroic efforts, saving individuals, and hanging out with a cop. This two-parter is just plain funny, with several tongue-in-cheek casting ideas (such as having Jack Valentii of the MPAA "host", bragging about his cheeks at various points throughout the episode). It's not focused specifically on Christmas, but since it takes place during the Christmas season....it's just plain fun. It's like reaching into your stocking and finding some chocolate coins, or even several candy canes. (This is a great opportunity to either rent the DVD...or try to find the episode online. I've seen it posted - in pieces - on YouTube; personally, it's worth watching all 40 minutes of the episode at once, if only to hear an animated character declare, "I gotta make tinky!"
Finally, though, one of my favorites is the 2005 Doctor Who episode The Christmas Invasion, which is probably one of the better Doctor "premieres" with David Tennant in the role. (Ironically, next Christmas will also see David Tennant's final bow as the Tenth Doctor, as presaged by this year's The Next Doctor. Christmas Invasion is also the best of the Christmas specials so far - much better than follow-up The Runaway Bride, and last year's Voyage of the Damnedcomes close - but doesn't exceed - the standards of Christmas Invasion. It's not the best Doctor debut (that belongs to Spearhead from Space, with Castrovalva running a close second), but one of the great things about the episode is that it focuses on what happens when the Doctor isn't around to save the day. (At least, not until the very end). It's also the kind of holiday episode that contains holiday cheers (witness the "Song for Ten" sequence, with the prerequisite Doctor-selects-his-outfit), and a much darker sequence towards the end (with the Doctor bringing down a politician with six words). In short, it's a piece of entertainment that will easily enrapture you, and put you in a holiday mood.
Hopefully, these are a few gems that you can be watching while everyone else is watching....well, whatever everyone else watches this holiday. And the best thing - these are the gifts that keep on giving.
On that note, I would like to wish each and every one of you a great holiday season, and well wishes for the coming year.
Read More! For more of Gordon's writings, insights, and
general information, please visit his blog at blogthispal.blogspot.com.
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