It’s the most wonderful time of the year! That is, time for TV shows to roll out a fresh batch of Christmas-themed episodes for our viewing pleasure. But which of the many Christmas episodes we’ve enjoyed over the years have stood the test of time to become a true holiday tradition? You tell us. We’ve ranked the most enduring Christmas episodes ever -- along with a few wild cards -- and placed them in a March Madness-style bracket. Over the next two weeks, we’re asking you to vote for your favorite episodes until we get a winner: the undisputed best Christmas episode of all time.
(4) The Office, “Christmas Party” (aired December 6, 2005)
We love the "Mad Men" Christmas episode that "Christmas Party" beat to advance, but it's no surprise that this episode of "The Office" made it through. This is the show at the top of its powers, fast-moving and unsentimental about what a dillweed Michael is. Fortunately, it's not all cringeworthy Michael moments, like his response to the hand-knitted oven mitt he receives from the hapless Phyllis; the episode has sight-gags galore (Kevin shortening the tree with a paper-cutter; the belt-buckle mistletoe) and a couple of classic character beats for Dwight (he instructs the staff on placing the presents under the tree a la a flight attendant, and thinks his paintball-lessons Secret Santa gift is worth $2,000). A strong entry with a chance to go all the way, "Christmas Party" should prevail in this round.
(12) Community, “Regional Holiday Music” (aired December 8, 2011)
This might look like an upset -- "Regional Holiday Music" beat universal favorite "The Simpsons" to take this spot in the Elite 8 -- but to our minds, it's not a huge shock. Early "Simpsons" is tough to take for a lot of people, between the wobbly animation, the darkness of the material (some S1 "Simpsons" get downright bleak), and Dan Castellaneta's voicing of Homer. But it's a mild shock, because "Community" is polarizing, and the show it's parodying here, "Glee," is too. The episode has many clever bits, not the least of which is the study group's tribute to "Baby Boomer Santa" cramming "fake butter and AIDS and 'Twin Peaks'" into a single lyric, and it's well-paced. But if you don't watch "Glee," you'll miss some of the jokes; Chevy Chase has a single punchline, and manages to step on it every time; and Joel McHale in unironic-enthusiasm mode is unsettling. The disappointed audience member grumbling, "…Oh, Britta's in this?" is laugh-out-loud funny, but it's not enough. "Regional Holiday Music's" fairy-tale run ends here.
Which episode deserves to advance to the next round of Mistletoe Madness? Vote in the poll at the top of the page, click here to see the full bracket and vote on other pairings (Round 2 voting ends Friday at 6 PM PT), tweet out your choices using the hashtag #MistletoeMadness, and hit the comments to tell us about all the great Christmas episodes we forgot to include.
- Holidays & Celebrations
- Arts & Entertainment