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October 30, 2014

'The Simpsons' Season 22, Episode 8 Recap

by Brad Trechak, posted Dec 6th 2010 12:20PM
The Simpsons['The Simpsons' - 'The Fight Before Christmas']

The 2010 Christmas episode of 'The Simpsons' had a lot going for it. It basically became a Christmas version of their famous 'Treehouse of Horror' Halloween episodes -- there was even a reference to it with Marge telling a wayward bat "Wrong holiday, stupid.". There was a lot of fantasy outside of 'Simpsons' continuity (such as it is), but without the horror.

It was also cool to see the Santa "Ho ho ho" roof decoration from the series premiere 22 years ago (which was also, after all, a Christmas special).

Unlike the 'Treehouse of Horror' episodes, though, there is at least some connectivity between stories. The members of the family (minus Homer) go to sleep on Christmas Eve dissatisfied with the holiday, and they each have a dream personifying their unhappiness. The first two sequences were almost inconsequential since they didn't involve any of the celebrity guests, but they were still pretty funny in their own right.

The first dream involved Bart and his dislike of his Christmas gifts of years past. In short, Bart boards 'The Polar Express' with Otto in the Tom Hanks role and visits a decrepit North Pole with a capital curmudgeon Krusty Claus who teaches Bart that Christmas isn't about the presents. I loved how Bart's Polar Express, even though it was an "express" train, stopped in such places as "Hannukah Heights". The segment briefly became an homage to 'Yellow Submarine,' particularly when the train ran on a very special plant. Apparently the South Pole is the Christmas lore equivalent of Mexico (NAFTA made all the elf jobs move to the South Pole). Guest cartoon appearances included Schroeder from 'Peanuts' and the Bumble Monster from the 'Rudolph' television special. This segment had a lot of quick jokes and references that made it fun.

The second segment, Lisa's dream, was set during World War II. Marge is sent off to fight in the war while the rest of the family has to stay home and celebrate the holiday together not knowing if she's alive or dead. Homer even gets a telegram and is convinced that Marge changed her named to 'Mia." The most enjoyable part of this segment was the parody of Quentin Tarantino's 'Inglorious Basterds,' though the scene where Hitler and company watch the Nazi equivalent of the Disney movie 'Dumbo' was also a nice touch. While I'm usually not a fan of revisionist history, 'The Simpsons' version of it worked better for me than Tarantino's. It was nice how Lisa was upset with chopping down trees for Christmas at first and then learned that the trees are a piece of the spiritual value of the holiday.

The third story, Marge's dream, involved her writing to her version of Santa for help in finding the spirit of Christmas. However, Marge's version was in the form of 'Martha Clause' (voiced by Martha Stewart). The highlight of this segment was Martha's reign of terror on the Simpson family (which may be a little closer to her actual personality than the homemaker she plays on television). Stewart really shone in this episode, playing some sort of parody of herself crossed with Mary Poppins and Satan. The sweetest part of the episode was when Marge is awoken by her family attempting to cook her Christmas breakfast, only to realize that her family is her holiday spirit.

The final segment, dreamed up by Maggie, involved two of my favorite things: the Muppets and Katy Perry. Maggie was upset she was unable to watch her Muppets knock-off DVD. As a result, she dreamed of the family as puppets (which, if Fox is smart, will be available for sale online during the holiday season). The plot of the segment was silly and simplistic in line with the style of 'Sesame Street' but had some real adult moments like one would see on 'The Muppet Show'. Katy Perry appeared as the current flame of Moe, although you'd think that would be Moe's dream and not Maggie's.

Being a Jim Henson fan, the last segment was my favorite. It was obviously shot in green screen (which added to the charm) and Katy herself wore a Simpsons-themed variation of her famous 'Sesame Street' outfit which resulted in her being cut from the show (she later wore a similar outfit on 'SNL'). There were also nice little Henson homages like Moe stuffing down cookies like the Cookie Monster (and having similar trouble with swallowing) and Abe "Grampa" Simpson and Jasper Beardly playing Statler and Waldorf.

This episode started good and got progressively better, saving the best sketch for last. It showed a level of imagination that the recent Halloween episodes have been lacking. If I missed any holiday cultural references in this review (and there were a lot of them), please feel free to mention them in the comments. If you missed the episode, you missed out. Catch it on Hulu.

'The Simpsons' airs Sundays at 8:00PM ET on FOX.

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jim

It was a very strong episode (for a vignettisode). Letting one comment ruin it is kinda dumb. Especially because my DVR cut it off anyway. If I hadn't been recording The Cleveland Show afterwards, I wouldn't have seen it, so who knows how many people didn't.

December 07 2010 at 2:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Doug

That last comment at the end of the episode completely ruined it for me.. Worst episode of the season.

December 06 2010 at 8:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
JD

I agree about the timeslot, but I also know to keep my kid away from the Simpson's, because of that, and I don't watch it anyways. Hasn't been good since late 80's, early 90's.

December 06 2010 at 5:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ryan

It's The Simpsons, Mike it has made multiple sexual jokes before in this year. Also it's a cartoon for ADULTS! ok

December 06 2010 at 5:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mike

As for me, the whole "that's not my belly button - but I didn't say stop" was a little much for the 8:00 hour. It was one of too many pieces of dialog I see during that time slot where I kind of look at my young teenagers and hope they don't get the joke.

December 06 2010 at 3:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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