The holidays are a time to relax, eat rich foods until you feel slightly ill, and nap on the couch in between watching special episodes of your favorite television shows. With the magic of streaming, we are no longer limited to just this year’s holiday specials. However…
Not all holiday specials are created equal.
In fact, some can be as off as three-day-old green bean casserole. Worry not geek friends, I am here to help. Below is a list of holiday episodes from previous years that should be passed over just like that…jello salad?
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation s06e09: ‘Dog Eat Dog’
Airing on Thanksgiving Day 2005, this episode features a man who (spoiler alert) eats so much in a short period that his stomach crushes his internal organs and he dies. On any other day, this episode might be interesting, but after eating a plate or two of turkey dinner and then topping it off with pie, the last thing I want to watch is an episode about someone dying from over-eating. The secondary plot of domestic violence leading to a dog mauling is not enough to save the viewer from a feeling queasy…and a bit judged.
The West Wing s03e07: ‘The Indians in the Lobby’
The West Wing was considered a progressive show when this episode aired in November 2001, making it’s depiction of the titular Native Americans seem even worse. A tribal lawyer and his female assistant are typecast as stereotypical “stoic Native Americans” of little words (it is not explained why the lawyer rarely speaks for himself), are condescended to, have their own history explained to them, and are a foil to the white characters making it to Thanksgiving dinner on time. The show further flounders when President Bartlet (Martin Sheen) calls the Butterball Hotline for turkey advice and pretends to be a quaint North Dakotan. This episode is the television equivalent of your slightly racist uncle telling a bad joke at the dinner table.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer s04e08: ‘Pangs’
A Thanksgiving episode where Xander (Nicholas Brendan) accidentally wakes the vengeful spirit of a wronged Native American tribe that kills people and cuts off their ears as trophies after giving Xander infectious diseases. The depiction of Native Americans as violent, animalistic, and disease ridden is heavy-handed – even for a show that had beer that turned drinkers into cavemen and a giant penis shaped snake that eats young women at frat parties. Television shows should probably just give up using Native Americans as holiday plot devices.
SANTA’S NAUGHTY LIST
Doctor Who Christmas Special: ‘The Snowmen’
“Carnivorous snow meets Victorian values.” A sociopathic kid’s evil snowman imaginary friend starts killing people. An out-of-place-and-time Clara Oswin Oswald (Jenna Coleman) saves the world and dies. Again. Despite a welcome appearance of Jenny (Catrin Steward) and Madame Vastra (Neve McIntosh), this one-off Christmas Special is just too strange to enjoy. It feels like they wanted a vehicle for the broody and cranky Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith, a bit out of his range) to meet the “Impossible Clara” again and the story was an afterthought. Excellent wardrobe though.
Eureka s04e21: ‘Do You See What I See?’
In an effort to engineer the perfect White Christmas, a super proton generator explodes and turns all of Eureka into animated characters controlled by a child’s holographic SimCity-type toy. As characters rotate through different types of animation (claymation, anime, Disney), they attempt to fix the problem as the two-year-old controlling the toy sends a giant ninja snowman to battle them. The show is as ridiculous as it sounds, with no plot and lots of failed attempts at easy laughs. Trying something new can be good – but it can also be like trying a new recipe and ending up with blue soup and orange marmalade for dinner.
The X-Files s06e06 ‘How the Ghosts Stole Christmas’
Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) stake out a haunted house on a very weak pretext, enter the house for even less of a reason, and then (spoiler alert) are haunted into shooting each other by two ghosts reenacting a sick, violent version of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?. In the end, none of it was real and Mulder and Scully walk out like it didn’t happen. The show ends with the most awkward gift exchange in television history, sort of like when that person you avoid in Accounting turns out to be your “Secret Santa.”