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13 December 2012 @ 09:10 pm
Holiday Episodes  
Do you have a favorite holiday episode? If so, what makes it a favorite?

Any television series, any holiday, but it must be a regular episode (e.g. FK's "Be My Valentine") not a special (e.g. Black Adder's Christmas Carol). (I realize that's a bit tough on some UK shows, with their different traditions about holiday airings, but... my post, my parameters.)

It always seemed strange to me that Highlander had so little holiday content in all its six seasons and successors. There's a nineteenth-century US Independence Day celebration in the flashbacks of "Obsession," and a 1980s New Year's Eve party in the flashbacks of "Revenge is Sweet," and a Prohibition-era one in the flashbacks of "Bless the Child," I think, but that's all I know off-hand (though admittedly I'm not nearly as good with the later seasons as the early ones; isn't "The Stone of Scone" set at a holiday, too? and what about the "Deliverance" flashbacks?). Holidays are threads running sideways through time, binding the years together; surely that's something worth touching on with such long-lived characters.

My favorite holiday episode, however, doesn't come from one of my best-beloved series: FK, HL, YB, BSG, BatB... No, it's "The Man in the Fallout Shelter" from Bones. Now, I adored that show's first season; it sung to me. The second season changed, becoming another story altogether; swiftly, nothing remained to speak to me, never mind sing, and I walked very sadly away. But in the middle of their first season shines this gem. Long story short and spoilery, the main cast is quarantined in the lab over Christmas; under the simultaneous pressures of having all their plans disrupted and breathing a potentially deadly contagious pathogen, personal tidbits and personality quirks emerge for every character. How do you face Christmas, and how do you face death? At the same time, of course, they work to solve a mystery, and in this case the case richly parallels Brennan's own scars -- then, just being revealed to the audience -- of unexplained abandonment. The layers of resonance are as vivid as a flashback; the holiday sharpens their cutting edges. I left that series as it left me... but that one episode can still make me laugh and cry.

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greerwatsongreerwatson on December 14th, 2012 01:58 pm (UTC)
Forever Knight had so few holiday episodes, didn't it? "Be My Valentine" is, of course, the classic; but I always find it very frustrating. It's so flawed structurally, with that slight murder plot that peters out to a less than dramatic arrest partway through. (The real interest lies elsewhere, of course.) On the whole, I prefer "Father's Day". Even though I don't particularly care for mob plots as a rule, the parallels were nicely drawn; and I enjoyed the interaction between Nick and LaCroix.

Like you, the most memorable episode I have immediately in mind comes from another series entirely. I don't know the name of the episode, but it's the one in M*A*S*H, fairly late on, in which Major Winchester gets a Christmas box and refuses to share it with anyone in the camp. He is roundly condemned and ostracized, for everyone else is sharing their goodies. Then we learn that he's secretly donated the whole lot to the orphanage.
honor_reid: Monk/Nataliehonor_reid on December 14th, 2012 09:08 pm (UTC)
I was going to say the M*A*S*H christmas episodes! I believe that one is called Death Takes a Holiday. Great episode!

I also am a fan of the Monk Christmas episodes I especially like Mr. Monk and the Secret Santa. Such a fun show. I miss it :(

Amy R.: Giftbrightknightie on December 15th, 2012 06:10 pm (UTC)
Mr. Monk and the Secret Santa
Thank you for the Monk recommendation!
Amy R.: Giftbrightknightie on December 15th, 2012 06:09 pm (UTC)
FK's BMW and M*A*S*H Christmas Episodes
Overall, I think that FK may be only a little below average for holiday episode concentration, if we count them as two in three seasons (though below average if we count two in four years, or one season in three). But yes, again, it seems curious that characters with such investments in time do not get to reflect on it through the medium of holidays. I wonder whether both FK and HL are short on holiday references because of their consciously international audiences?

I agree that "Be My Valentine" is terribly flawed. It has almost all the right pieces, but does not assemble them smoothly by any measure. Batdina once pronounced it "excellent fanfic" (purposely damning it with faint praise, implying that it should never have been filmed).

That M*A*S*H episode sounds like a very good one! I'm afraid that I don't remember it. Of course M*A*S*H had many Christmas episodes over many years, and I saw most of them in syndicated reruns over the decades since its cancellation. The one that comes to my mind must have been the first one after Charles Winchester replaced Frank Burns, because it involved Radar writing to Winchester's mother for something that would make him feel at home, and she mails back his childhood winter stocking cap.
Foxy11814foxy11814 on December 14th, 2012 11:26 pm (UTC)
Without a doubt, my absolute favorite is The X-Files episode "How the Ghost Stole Christmas." In this episode, Mulder wants to investigate a haunted house on Christmas Eve. Even though it may seem kind of dark for a Christmas episode, a couple agreed to a lover's pact and killed each other in 1917. They became ghosts and want the couples who visit the house on Christmas to kill each other like they did. Mulder and Scully are stuck in the house and the ghosts are playing tricks on each other trying to get them to shoot each other. To make a long story short, Mulder and Scully walk away with a deep appreciation for each other and life. The end of the episode is adorable when Mulder gives Scully a present when they agreed not to exchange presents and she reveals she bought him a gift, too. Ah, I miss XF. They don't make shows like that anymore.

Edited at 2012-12-14 11:27 pm (UTC)
Amy R.: Giftbrightknightie on December 15th, 2012 05:56 pm (UTC)
XF "How the Ghost Stole Christmas"
I remember Lily Tomlin as the female ghost in that episode! :-) I'm afraid that I don't recall anything else about it without prompting, but that I remember.

Thanks for the recommendation!
Valerie - Postmodern Pollyannawiliqueen on December 15th, 2012 08:59 pm (UTC)
I agree that "The Man in the Fallout Shelter" is amazing, despite being only a casual viewer of Bones.

I'm terrible at favorites, but after a moment's thought, I think I'll have to name Xena's "A Solstice Carol." It would be difficult to explain why -- even as a takeoff on Dickens, it's not particularly innovative -- but it just makes me happy. :-)
Amy R.: Giftbrightknightie on December 17th, 2012 05:51 am (UTC)
Xena's "A Solstice Carol"
I don't have a clear memory of Xena's "A Solstice Carol," but I met that series in reruns and went from delighted with it to wretchedly unhappy with it in about three out-of-sequence episodes. ("Wait, what? What? I was identifying with that character; put her back!") :-) I will see if "A Solstice Carol" happens to be available for streaming! Thank you for the recommendation.

I seem to recall a small snippet of either Xena or Hercules in which, with even less feasible historicity than usual, the protagonists briefly run into some unnamed strangers clearly supposed to be the Holy Family... ~grin~
Valerie - Postmodern Pollyanna: laughwiliqueen on December 17th, 2012 03:38 pm (UTC)
Re: Xena's "A Solstice Carol"
It was on Xena, and yes, completely ridiculous. At a point when they hadn't quite yet thrown ALL pretense at making any kind of historical/mythological sense to the winds, only the 85% or so that they started with. :-D

I suspect "A Solstice Carol" is mostly fun because of the involvement of the characters I quite loved. But even if don't have that investment in them, the fun they're having is likely to be infectious. :-)
waltdwaltd on December 16th, 2012 09:14 am (UTC)
Holidazed
A&E's Nero Wolfe mysteries did Stout's "Christmas Party". They did a nice job with it.

And there's the classic WKRP in Cincinnati Thanksgiving episode, "Turkeys Away". This is really black humor at its best; at least they don't actually show it.
Amy R.: Giftbrightknightie on December 17th, 2012 05:55 am (UTC)
Re: Holidazed
Thanks for the recommendation! I've read Stout's "Christmas Party," but I've never seen any episodes of the A&E series. (I once looked up the DVDs on Amazon, thinking to give them to my sister, who introduced me to Stout, and at that time, they were out of production, and very pricey for used copies.)

I've heard of that WKRP episode, though I've never seen it. :-) I understand that it is a classic! Thanks for recalling it.