My Favourite Holiday Specials
By Maddie Field
For most of us, the holiday season means reconnecting with family, friends, and old traditions – and if that fails, then the friends and families on your favourite TV shows have you covered. Holiday specials bring even the most quarrelsome characters together, and provide some truly heart-warming memories. Here are the four holiday episodes that I will definitely be re-watching this December.
The One With the Holiday Armadillo (Friends)
Picking just one holiday-themed Friends episode wasn’t easy, as they are all so memorable. This one wins out for cheeky and adorable little Ben (played by Cole Sprouse!) who is now a character in his own right, not just a plot device in a crib. Chandler in a Santa suit and Ross in an armadillo costume have a hilarious face-off about introducing Hanukkah to Ben, and Ross’s continuing struggle to be the best dad he can be is the definition of heart-warming.
The Best Chrismukkah Ever (The O.C.)
For Ryan’s first holiday with the Cohens, Seth is eager to introduce him to the family tradition of Chrismukkah – a blend of Christmas and Hanukkah – but of course, drama gets in the way (this is Newport, remember). We see Marissa continue to struggle with drinking and depression, and Seth displays his social ineptitude as he refuses to choose between Summer and Anna. While not overflowing with good cheer, this episode cements Ryan’s place with his new family, and there is a wonderful shot of him hanging up his new stocking alongside the rest on the Cohen’s mantelpiece.
Pangs (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
Although as a Canadian I’m reluctant to lump Thanksgiving in with the December holidays (it happened way back in October, you know), I make an exception for my favourite U.S. shows. And nothing says American holidays like having a vampire over for Thanksgiving, right? Buffy’s determination to cook a real Thanksgiving dinner with her friends, when her mom is away, warms my university-student heart. I also love Willow’s passionate stance on the injustice of the holiday. Spike, as always, is witty and hilarious – even when tied to a chair – and this episode gives us new insight into his questionable loyalties.
Christmas Invasion (Doctor Who)
Perhaps one of my favourite holiday traditions, the Doctor Who Christmas special is always full of excitement. But back before the movie-like effects and convoluted, mysterious character arcs that have come to characterize the Moffat era, there was just as much drama to be had. The 2005 special introduces the lovely David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor and brings back one of my all-time favourite characters, the brave and passionate Harriet Jones. As Ten wakes up from his regeneration and jumps to defend Earth from a Sycorax invasion, we can’t help but love this new Doctor for being everything that Nine was not – cheeky, warm, and so dedicated to Jackie, Mickey and Rose. Extra points to this episode for giving us a rare glimpse of the Doctor sitting down to dinner with his companions. And like a candy cane, the instant chemistry between Billie Piper and David Tennant in the final scene is sweet enough to make your teeth ache.
Happy Holidays, readers, and Happy Watching!