Now streaming–Twelve Genre Episodes of Christmas Past

Still aren’t in the Christmas spirit yet?  With no Christmas day episode of Doctor Who this year, Netflix is filling in the gap with an episode of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina called “A Midwinter’s Tale,” another solid episode of the series taking the story forward where the first season left off, and delving into some classic tropes of American and Victorian Christmas lore.  It’s all with the twist of the darker, horror-infused world of the show, but as Miranda Otto’s character Aunt Zelda says, “Christmas is the best time for ghost stories.”  See A Christmas Carol, as an example.

Plenty of Christmas episodes of past genre television series are available right now, most via services you may already subscribe to, others for a few dollars (and some you may find free to watch on YouTube).  How about starting with the unofficial sequel to Die Hard and Die Hard 2 starring Reginald VelJohnson (Ghostbusters, Tron: Uprising) in his third appearance as Sgt. Al Powell?  He’s one of several actors guest starring in a trilogy of Christmas episodes of Chuck, available on Amazon Prime.  First is “Chuck vs. the Crown Vic,” then VelJohnson and Michael Rooker (Guardians of the Galaxy, The Walking Dead) in “Chuck vs. Santa Claus,” rounded out with Brandon Routh (Superman Returns, Arrow) and Stan Lee in an early cameo as himself in “Chuck vs. the Santa Suit.”  But be careful, you may end up getting sucked into the rest of the series, starring Zachary Levi (Shazam!, Psych the Movie, Thor: Ragnarok), Yvonne Strahovski (The Predator, The Handmaid’s Tale), and Adam Baldwin (Firefly, Leverage, Castle).

In the same vein as Sabrina, check out Grimm with Christmas episodes “Twelve Days of Krampus” and “The Grimm Who Stole Christmas,” both available on Amazon Prime.  “Twelve Days of Krampus” provides one of the best illustrations of Krampus, the folkloric character who has been a subject of this time of year for more than 2,000 years.  Ever get coal in your stocking?  Learn more here.  And you’ll find some familiarity with the critters in “The Grimm Who Stole Christmas” as the new Sabrina episode.  Each of these Grimm episodes is among the best of Christmas episodes, and overall great episodes of the series.  And if paranormal shows are your thing, don’t forget the Supernatural episode, “A Very Supernatural Christmas.”  Catch it on Netflix.  The Winchester Brothers pursue some pagan gods at Christmastime, revisit their own Christmas past, and try to share a Christmas together as only they could.

That brings us to six classic Christmas episodes.  How about six more?

Our favorite of them all is an episode of the Syfy series Haven called “Silent Night,” from Christmas 2011.  It’s available on Netflix.  The episode has Emily Rose’s Audrey Parker encounter the town with a unique trouble: they think it’s Christmas in July.  Lucas Bryant (Shoot the Messenger) and Eric Balfour (Life on Mars) are hilarious as they get into the spirit of the season, as Audrey gets more irritated that everyone doesn’t see what’s really going on.  Watching everyone go along for the ride makes for one of the best Haven episodes and a fun Christmas show.

For something a little lighter–but only a little–try out the Community episode “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas.”  It’s available on Vudu, and you may find it also on YouTube.  This episode gets an “A” for effort simply for using stop motion animation for the entire show.  It has a few good laughs, some heartfelt scenes, and don’t miss the scene where Abed meets the snowman.  Another fun episode can be found in the Leverage Christmas episode “The Ho, Ho, Ho Job,” where the Leverage team comes to the aid of a Santa Claus, and takes over a mall on Christmas Eve.  This episode guest stars Wil Wheaton (Star Trek: The Next Generation) with Timothy Hutton (The Haunting of Hill House, All the Money in the World) leading the team as always.  The episode is available with Amazon Prime.  Another great Hutton Christmas episode can be found in A Nero Wolfe Mystery‘sChristmas Party.”  Hutton teams up with Nero Wolfe (Maury Chaykin) again after the great detective goes undercover as Santa Claus at the scene of a murder.  We have the DVD, but it’s also available on YouTube here.

You may want to get caught up with past Christmas episodes of Doctor Who on Amazon Prime, but keep in mind most of the specials aren’t the best episodes of the series.  So we recommend starting with the Victorian Christmas episodes.  You can’t go wrong with either the David Tennant episode “The Next Doctor,” starring David Morrissey (Blackpool, State of Play), and the best Jenna Coleman (Victoria) episode with Matt Smith (Star Wars Episode IX, Mapplethorpe, Terminator Genisys),The Snowmen.”  “The Next Doctor” introduces Morrissey as a new Doctor up against Tennant’s Doctor in 1851 London, and “The Snowmen” finds Clara trying to get the Doctor back into world-saving mode in 1892 London.  A trio of the series’ all-time best supporting characters (and the best alien makeup anywhere, ever) can be found in this episode with Madame Vastra, Jenny Flint, and Strax.

And for a bonus, a baker’s dozen if you will, if you watched some of the darker episodes above, you might want this next recommendation.  It doesn’t get more “old-fashioned Christmas” than this 1982 episode of Newhart,No Room at the Inn,” starring of course Bob Newhart, from director Dick Martin of Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In.  Check it out on YouTube here.

These are just great Christmas episodes we returned to this week.  Check out your favorite classic series where available–most have notable Christmas episodes, including everything from “Death Takes a Holiday” from M*A*S*H (discussed here previously at borg) to Magnum, p.i., to Simon & Simon, Welcome Back, Kotter, The Six Million Dollar Man, and The Twilight Zone.

C.J. Bunce

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