Welcome back my friends as I count down my all-time favorite Christmas sitcom episodes. To tell you the truth, picking #1 was almost impossible. I could have swapped it for the #2 or 3 choice easily. So why did this win out? I love this episode so much I have an extra special tradition with it. More on that in a bit as today I give you one of the best show’s of the 80’s.
My #1 favorite Christmas episode is from a little show simply known as:
Aired December 17, 1987
Plot Synopsis:Forced to work on Christmas Eve, Sam discovers he doesn’t have a gift for Rebecca. Also, Norm as a sidewalk Santa and Frasier acts like a scrooge.
Best Line:â€Oh joy. Christmas Eve. By this time tomorrow, millions of Americans, knee deep in tinsel and wrapping paper, will utter those heartfelt words, “Is this all I got?”…Frasier as Scrooge
Nitpick of the Episode:Cliff’s story is so stupid. Are we really supposed to believe he made it on the runway and is throwing cans of food at the plane? IN THE SNOW. Yeah I know it was 1987 but still!! More on this below.
Standout Character:Sam, watching his frenzy as he tries to pick a gift for Rebecca is funny. But I have to ask, why didn’t it ever occur to him to buy her a gift?
Syndication Edit:The top of act 2 where Frasier and Lilith enter the bar and hand out gifts, Sam and Rebecca under the mistletoe
Episode Fun Fact:I know this is just me, but as a Boston resident it drove me nuts when the creators couldn’t get any local facts right. Woody says that Channel 13 is showing “It’s a Wonderful Life”. Problem is there is no channel 13 in or around Boston. Plus at the end of the episode Cliff has reportedly shut down “Boston Airport”. I think most know that the airport in Boston is called Logan. I know, nitpicky!!! but seriously how hard would it have been to get that right?
Final Thoughts:I kind of gave this series a cold shoulder on Halloween, but I adore this Christmas episode. I noted that I have a very special tradition with this episode. I literally wait until Christmas Eve to watch it and for me, it’s just not Christmas until I have.
It doesn’t do anything out of the box but I think that’s one of the reasons I like it. Unlike the Thanksgiving episode which made a point of showing what losers these characters are, this episode doesn’t dwell on that. Instead this does what that previous episode kind of failed to do, show that they are family in their own special way (except Cliff, but I will discuss that). It would have been easy to make this one big Christmas bashing episode, but in the end the spirit of Christmas rises over the whining and pettiness. This is shown in the teaser, when the characters whine that the corny and lame “It’s a Wonderful Life” is on…..only to be brought to tears by the final scene.
Frasier is the scrooge of the episode. His whining is kind of annoying but the way his character gets turned around is effective, and even ties back to Norm’s story. What I like is the continuity between this show and “Frasier”. As I kind of discussed the other day, in that show Frasier likes Christmas (ok he’s a snob about it) just fine but there are hints dropped that while he enjoys it in the present he did not enjoy it as a kid. Mostly due to his father driving him and Niles nuts. So the Frasier we see in this episode could easily have evolved into the character we got in the Christmas episode I discussed the other day. I like it when the continuity works even if it was unintentional. Or maybe it was intentional and why “Frasier” never addressed what made him change his tune on Christmas, it had been done already.
I like the way Lilith tries to get Frasier to lighten up but…isn’t she Jewish? Norm’s story could have been explored a bit better, but the idea of him playing a corner Santa is still funny. And the Santa reunion toward the end gives us a cute moment when he wonders if that guy no one knew could possibly be….Nah. Carla doesn’t really do anything here but she does manage to get in a few good lines.
So let’s get to the main plot, with Sam needing to find Rebecca a last minute gift. Ok it was stupid of him not to think of buying her something but that’s OK. Every thing about this works for me, even the cliche of having every store closed (well, it was 1987 I guess so maybe cliche is a bit harsh). He runs into a stewardess who apparently bought gifts for no real reason, because she’s happy to hand one out to Sam. Now this could have been an angel or some silly thing, but it’s not at all. In fact they lampshade the “Angel” gag many shows would have done. Instead she’s a regular person who wants to help. Honestly Sam could have come off as a jerk here but he does pay the woman so it’s not so bad. I like that she hooks up with Woody in the end, sweet.
We gets so may things in this episode it’s amazing. Sam needing a gift, Frasier scrooge, a real Santa fake-out, gift exchange between Sam, Woody, and Carla, Woody in a school play which was a hit, and that guy who is always at the back of the bar even gets a few lines. We even get Sam thinking he was finally going to get his shot at Rebecca, and realizing he was mistaken. So with all that going on, did we need a charity drive subplot that is entirely pointless?Â The one low point is Cliff’s story. I mean, what the hell? It takes the character out of nearly the entire episode! That is the only big problem with this episode I have, the way Cliff is brushed aside. Would it really have been so hard to NOT give him a story which they didn’t have time for? Just have be there observing like usual? Sometimes in this series this happened because John Raztenberger was directing. Not the case this time, the story is not needed in this already overstuffed episode (though I will admit I have no idea what they would have done with Cliff otherwise).
But my whining aside, I love this episode. Every single moment of it, right to the final scene where the characters are singing “Auld Lang Syne” together. God Bless Us Everyone, indeed!
Final Grade-A-, Yeah a little to much story but thankfully it all works out and remains a classic
I had to leave one more. Seriously, check out this very simple but well written episode. It’s Christmas Eve and a couple walk in. The woman is pregnant, and there is no room at the inn. Sound familiar? This is about as authentic a Christmas tale as you can get and the series handles it very well. It includes a tag which still makes me roll over laughing. Go check it out!!!
That’s it my friends. I hope you enjoyed as I relived some great memories. I will be back with more next year but for now I wish you all a wonderful and happy holiday season.