In the spirit of the holiday I thought I would list the twelve greatest Christmas episodes I have ever seen. I chose twelve because it is a number inextricably linked to the holiday. I've specified that they are episodes I have seen because I could not very well include episodes of shows I have not seen (contrary to popular belief I have not seen every show ever made). It was hard for me to decide on a favourite, much less list them from best to least best, so I've elected to list them in alphabetical order by the title of the show.
Here it must be pointed out that Alfred Hitchcock Presents featured other Christmas episodes also worthy of inclusion on any best list, including " Santa Claus and the Tenth Avenue Kid" and "Back for Christmas" (directed by Hitchcock himself),
4. Blackadder "Blackadder's Christmas Carol": In between the series Blackadder The Third and Blackadder Goes Forth there was this Christmas special set in the Victorian Era. As might be expected from the title, "Blackadder's Christmas Carol" is a pastiche of Dickens's novella. The twist is that its protagonist is not a mean and stingy miser like Scrooge, but instead the only truly decent person in the long line of Blackadders, Ebenezer Blackadder. Ebenezer is the kindest man in England, so much so that others take advantage of his generosity. "Blackadder's Christmas Carol" is one of the best episodes of Blackadder ever made and one of the best send-ups of A Christmas Carol.
5. Community "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas": Of all the sitcoms ever aired, Community is one of the very few that could get away with a stop-motion animated Christmas episode. The episode begins with Abed viewing the world as if it was a stop-motion animated special in the style of the old Rankin/Bass specials. This convinces him that this will be the most important Christmas ever. To this end he draws his friends into a quest to find the meaning of Christmas. "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas" is a remarkable achievement not only for capturing the look of the old Rankin/Bass specials, but even the feel of those specials, right down to the songs. What is more, better than most Christmas episodes of other sitcoms, it captures the meaning behind the Yuletide in a way that is profound.
6. The Dick Van Dyke Show "The Alan Brady Show Presents": The Dick Van Dyke Show only featured one Christmas episode, and it did not appear until the show's third season. Fortunately it was well worth the wait. In "The Alan Brady Show Presents", the fictional star of The Alan Brady Show decides that instead of using the script his writers (Rob Petrie, Sally Rogers, and Buddy Sorrell) wrote for his Christmas show, he will simply hand the show over to the writers themselves. Rob, Sally, and Buddy, along with Buddy's life Laura, then find themselves in front of the camera performing what is essentially a Christmas variety show. For any other sitcom this might be disastrous, but The Dick Van Dyke Show had one of the most talented casts of all time. Dick Van Dyke (Rob Petrie) is one of the greatest song and dance men of all time. Mary Tyler Moore (Laurie Petrie) is a trained dancer. Rose Marie (Sally Rogers) is a singer and comedian whose career goes back to when she was three. Morey Amsterdam had been a comedian since the days of vaudeville. "Alan Brady Presents" then turned out to be the best Christmas episodes of any TV show ever.
8. Father Ted "A Christmassy Ted": Father Ted simply wants a quiet, run-of-the-mill Christmas. Unfortunately, given Father Ted's usual luck, his Christmas turns out to be anything but run-of-the-mill. Quite simply, things keep happening to keep Father Ted from having the perfectly ordinary Christmas he wants, until it is clear that this Christmas will be nothing but ordinary. Father Ted only had one Christmas episode, which is a shame. "A Christassy Ted" is easily one of the best episodes of a show that produced a number of remarkable episodes.
10. The Mary Tyler Moore Show "Christmas and the Hard-Luck Kid II": "Christmas and the Hard-Luck Kid II" deals with an experience all too many have had in real life. Mary not only has to work Christmas Day, but Christmas Eve as well. She had been planning to spend Christmas Day with her parents in her hometown, but has to cancel when she learns that she is working Christmas Day. She then decides to spend Christmas Eve with her best friend and neighbour Rhoda, only to agree to work Christmas Eve in place of a fellow employee at the TV station who hasn't gotten to spend Christmas with his family in years. "Christmas and the Hard-Luck Kid II" is not only extremely funny, but also very touching as well. By the way, the episode's title is a reference to the 1966 That Girl episode "Christmas and the Hard-Luck Kid", which was also written by James L. Brooks (co-creator of The Mary Tyler Moore Show).
11. WKRP in Cincinnati "Jennifer's Home for Christmas": WKRP in Cincinnati produced what what is considered by many to be the greatest Thanksgiving episode of all time, "Turkeys Away", but the show also produced one of the best Christmas episodes as well. "Jennifer's Home for Christmas" deals with a problem common at the Yuletide. Quite simply, everyone seems to have Christmas plans except for Jennifer, who has no family to spend the holiday with. "Jennifer's Home for Christmas" is not only a very funny episode, but also a very touching one as well. It gives new life to a premise that was fairly old by the time WKRP in Cincinnati got to it. WKRP in Cincinnati also did one other Christmas episode, "Bah, Humbug", which is also highly recommended.