By Nick Maylor

Following in Alan’s footsteps, I’ve decided to take a brief break from film to explore the world of television at Christmas. 

While I do not have any film bias towards specific subgenres, when it comes to television, I have a certain wheelhouse I generally stay in…

I love cartoons. 

Animated sitcoms have been a huge part of my life and have molded my sense of humour as far back as I remember. Maggie Simpson, the perpetual pacifier suckling baby from The Simpsons would be about my age now if animated characters in fact, aged. I don’t remember life without that show. No doubt more famous for their Halloween-themed “Treehouse of Horror” specials, they have had some great winter holiday-themed shows too. After appearing first in animated shorts on The Tracey Ullman Show, everyone’s favourite yellow-skinned family made their big show debut with a Christmas episode. South Park literally began as an animated Christmas card. There was an old mean green dude in a cartoon I watched as a kid too. Cartoons and Christmas go hand in hand for me. Here’s a look back at some favourites.

5. THE SIMPSONS – Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire (1989)

The very first half-hour episode of the long-running animated sitcom was this Christmas special. After debuting as a series of animated shorts on The Tracey Ullman Show, the family did their first full episode on a story about Homer not getting his Christmas bonus at work and taking a job as a mall Santa to earn extra cash. When Bart finds out what’s happening, the two pull together with Homer’s meager earnings and go to a greyhound race track in an attempt to make extra money at the last minute. Putting all of their money down on a dog named “Santa’s Little Helper”, they do not win the race but they end up taking the unwanted mutt home to become part of the family. Bart’s four-legged best friend has been with them ever since.

4. SOUTH PARK – Red Sleigh Down (2002)

In a thinly-veiled attempt to cram in some extra “nice” before Christmas, Cartman decides that the best thing he can do is bring Christmas to Iraq. After Santa’s sleigh gets shot down in the middle east, it’s up to Stan, Kyle, Cartman, Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo and a machine gun-toting Jesus to save Santa from the terrorists. Need I say more?

3. FAMILY GUY – Road to the North Pole (2010)

Having been shunned by the Quahog mall Santa Claus, Stewie makes it his mission to go to the North Pole personally and KILL Santa as a means of getting revenge. With Brian at his side, Stewie arrives at Santa’s workshop only to find that the overwhelming demands of Christmas has turned the North Pole into a horror show that would make sweat shops look like a paradise. Inbred elves, feral, bloodthirsty reindeer , and a Santa begging for death, motivate Brian and Stewie to personally deliver Christmas gifts to the world, something easier said than done.

2. SOUTH PARK – Mr. Hankey’s Christmas Classics (1999)

This episode begins on a tragic note. Voice actress Mary Kay Bergman provided all the female voices for South Park. She was credited as Shannen Cassidy because she was also employed by Disney as the voice of Snow White and didn’t want to get into trouble being part of the very irreverent and profane sitcom. A sufferer of generalized anxiety disorder, Bergman committed suicide in November of 1999. Heartbroken, Trey Parker and Matt Stone were left with few options on how to continue making South Park, let alone producing a Christmas Special. They had recently recorded a South Park Christmas album of songs (many featuring Bergman) and decided to simply animate the album as a tribute to their late friend. Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo hosts the program, introducing the various holiday numbers. My personal favourite begins in the depths of hell where Adolf Hitler tearfully sings “O Tannenbaum”, lamenting that he does not have a Christmas Tree. Satan intervenes and leads a massive chorus in a jolly number entitled “Christmas Time in Hell”. I listen to these songs every year.

1. Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966)

Was there any doubt? When it comes to Christmas Cartoons, this one will always reign supreme in the annells of television history. It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. Pure Christmas magic!

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