Welcome back my friends as I count down my all-time favorite Christmas sitcom episodes. I have talked a lot about “very special” episodes, when a sitcom tries to tackle a serious subject for one episode. Sometimes, this coincides with Christmas. Usually, it doesn’t work that well. Saved By The Bell had an episode about the homeless which was OK. Punky Brewster did an episode on shoplifting which, again, was OK. There was one series that did this and for once the episode was really pretty good. Taking the matter seriously while still maintaining a Christmas mood. Which show?
My #6 favorite Christmas episode comes from a little show called :
Aired December 16, 1986
Plot Synopsis:After being taught to think of others, Ben comes home with a homeless kid he found in a dumpster and invited to Christmas dinner.
Best Line:â€Or maybe she was just as affected by us as we were by her”…Jason
Nitpick of the Episode:Sometimes I wonder what these writers are thinking. The Seavers live in suburban Long Island, not the city. At the start, Ben say he was in the dumpster at the pizza place around the corner when he stumbled onto the Kid. Uh, what suburban neighborhood has a pizza place in it? Maybe it’s just me but that never made sense to me.
Standout Character:Jason, I like the scenes where he tries to counsel The Kid
Syndication Edit:The very top of the episode was trimmed
Episode Fun Fact:Hallie Todd is the kid and she does a decent job, but she’ll always be Lal (on TNG) to me
Final Thoughts:This is a Christmas episode that tries to also be a “very special” episode. And it actually works! They handle it much more realistically then you would ordinarily see on a happy family sitcom (on Christmas no less). As an example, Family Matters had the exact same plot when Richie brought home a homeless person. But that episode went silly as the man thought he was Santa Claus and, well, you can guess where that went. Yeah the Santa cliche. This episode plays it more straight.
It begins with the kids being selfish, and Jason suggests they think of others. This leads Ben to bring the Kid he literally stumbles onto, home. Jason convinces the others they should be kind to the stranger, even after they stumble across her switchblade! Yikes. So the episode continues with corny family stuff and the Kid seems to be trying to fit in. All seems good with the world.
Until the next scene when we see her robbing The Seavers! Yikes again. She overhears Jason and Maggie talking about how the kids had wrapped presents for this stranger, which touches her. Though not enough to stop her it seems because the next morning the family find all the gifts have been stolen! Not so fast turns out they were all left on the porch. She couldn’t go through with it.
The final scene is my favorite. We cut to the Kid in a phone booth, where she calls her father and wishes him a Merry Christmas. Her father is clearly thrilled to hear from her (no doubt since she had probably run away awhile ago by now) and the chorus sings “Noel” as the camera pulls away. Yes I know, it’s cheesy and corny and even with the attempts at realism the problem was still solved way to easily. But this is a sitcom and I really admire the way this episode handled the story and it remains one of my favorite Christmas episodes.
Honorable Mention:Fresh Prince.
They had a couple a Christmas episodes, but they were nothing memorable. One with Will acting against convention by overdecorating the house. Yawn. Glad those stories didn’t last. Another involving Nicky’s Christening and Boys II Men which was OK. And the one with the ski trip I hated for a long time. The family gets robbed and…nothing happens really, the robbery makes so little impact on the plot it feels like something the writers tacked on to keep the episode from being an utter bore.
#5 coming in a few days my friends!!