The Simpsons: Kill Gil: Vols. 1 & 2
Homer: Why did you let that loser into our home?
Marge: I'll tell you why: Christian charity.
Homer: "Christian Charity?" What does a porn star have to do with this?
I was impressed with the overall holiday motif of this episode, especially the altered opening with snow, Christmas decor and Bart riding a snowboard (across dry pavement, even) rather than his usual skateboard.
Homer, Marge and the kids still remain the linchpin of the series, but the writers have been exploring the lives of the other characters since the show's early seasons. It made sense to delve into the lives of folks like Skinner, Miss Krabappel and Krusty because they had ties to the family in some way, but later episodes that looked into such characters as Agnes Skinner and Comic Book Guy didn't seem quite as necessary. Those episodes in which an oft-ignored character is given a little more spotlight room aren't terrible, but some characters work better when they have less time on screen: Gil, for one example.
Gil is the always unlucky salesman based on Jack Lemmon's character from Glengarry Glen Ross. He's a great character, but he can't sustain an entire episode. I know this episode was really about Marge and her inability to say no to people, thus Gil staying almost an entire year, but I simply didn't feel any kind of substantial dramatic build-up that would have warranted Marge and the family driving to Arizona just so she could finally tell him off. Granted, I only watched the episode once, which as I've said before is not the best way to review anything, so I have to go with first impressions. Still, the episode felt rather flimsy.
But enough of that. Here's what I did like:
Krusty yet again hosting a Christmas special, despite being Jewish (and popping out of of Baby Jesus' bed at the ice show)
The sign outside Costingtons: "Christmas presents at Hanukkah prices"
The "Away" sign for Santa with a picture of Santa on the toilet
Marge "rented" a negligee
The leprechaun from "Treehouse of Horror XII" returning
Homer telling Santa's Little Helper that there's water under the seat as the dog sits inside a car in 117 degree weather
Also, I loved the Grumple that kept stalking Homer through the episode. It was a funny idea made funnier by the fact that it became more and more unclear what the hell this creature was exactly. At first one assumed it was just a guy in a costume, but then it bled green blood when attacked at Moe's.