This time of year our televisions are awash with crappy holiday movies and television shows. In order to combat this, and give the geek something to celebrate the season, I’ve compiled this list of alternate holiday viewing just for the geek.
10. The Muppet Christmas Carol: This is on the list for two reasons, the first is that at some point during the holidays, you’re going to have people over to your house, and you’re going to have to stop whatever television episode marathon you’re running on Netflix/Hulu plus/Amazon Prime. You will be expected to act like a normal human being, and entertain. This is the perfect thing for you to use to sell that. And it will entertain small people, that invariably come with the other people/family that invade your space. Secondly, it’s the Muppets for frak sake, and if you can’t get behind the Muppets, well, gosh, I don’t want to know you.
9. Edward Scissorhands, Batman Returns: Tim Burton films usually elicit one of two types of reactions- either you love them or you hate them. I would argue that the holiday season is perfect for giving these movies another shot. First, depending on what age you are, these movies are a great little time machine. I’ve yet to meet someone who didn’t have these movies remind them of younger years in a fond fashion. Maybe it’s the fairy tale quality of Edward Scissorhands, or the dated nature of Batman Returns, either way, you’re sure to remember when you first saw them. If you have somehow managed to go your entire life without seeing either of these movies, I suggest you give them a try. Edward Scissorhands is one of Burton’s few films where his ridiculousness works. It doesn’t seem over the top, and it doesn’t pull you out of the story, it simply seems perfectly normal. And as much as I criticize Burton’s other work, the end of the movie is magical. Batman Returns is often harder to sell people of, mainly because it’s part of the horribleness of Batman films pre-Christopher Nolan. I still say give it a chance. Michelle Pfeiffer is riveting as Catwoman, and Danny Devito may be the only accurate portrayal in the whole movie of a Batman character. Yes, the story is silly. But I still say it’s worth it for the interchange between Keaton and Pfeiffer as “Face to Face” plays. It’s a rare moment in the Schumacher films that captures the tragedy that is Batman.
8.Die Hard, Lethal Weapon, Long Kiss Good Night: The requisite action films. I’ve given you two classics, and one bad movie that you should watch anyway. Yes, Long Kiss Good Night is ridiculous, and the plot is insane. But it’s worth it to watch Samuel L. Jackson play a loony of a private eye, Geena Davis snap the neck of a deer after a car accident, and make a very disturbing change into her alter ego “Charlie”. Don’t try to take it seriously, just shove your face full of popcorn and enjoy the wacky.
7. Gremlins (1984): You can’t make a Christmas themed movie list and not include this. Not only is it a classic in its own right, but again, the fact that Christmas is key to the story makes it worthy of inclusion on the list. Well worth another look (or a first one if you’ve never seen it) just to see a small town get destroyed in hysterical fashion during Christmas. You can’t beat it. And it might help you live vicariously if you’re over the holidays.
6.. The West Wing: Here’s my argument for including this on a geek’s list- geeks are smart. We get references that no one else does, in fact, we get the references that no one else even realizes are references. For that alone, this is our type of show. On a softie note, too often, during the holiday season, we are bombarded with over schmaltzy Hallmark movies that seem to selling the exterior of the holiday and completely forgetting the meaning. Both of these will tug at your heart strings.
“In Excelsis Dio” (1.10)
“Holy Night” (4.11)
5. Dr. Who: These get put on here because of the sheer epicness of the stories covered. First, we have Tennant’s grand entrance during which he defeats the Sycorax, and loses his hand (and if you don’t think this is important you don’t watch Torchwood), all while in his PJs. Then to swing to the other side of the spectrum, we have “End of Time” which is the most heartbreaking episode ever (I know, Part II is the heartbreaking part, but it didn’t air on Christmas, so shut it and just go with it). Finally, we have one of the most touching takes on Dickens’ story ever seen. If you have a dry eye at the end of this episode, I’m pretty sure you don’t have a soul.
“The Christmas Invasion” 2005
“The End of Time” Part 1 2009
“A Christmas Carol” 2010
4. X- Files:
“How the Ghosts Stole Christmas” (6.6) This episode is an example of Chris Carter at his best. The writing is smart, and whip fast, you can’t beat Ed Asner and Lily Tomlin as the ghosts, and it is Mulder and Scully’s tension and relationship at its height, before the show descended into madness.
3.The Big Bang Theory
“The Santa Simulation” (2012) Features a Dungeons and Dragons quest that involves a pillaged elf village, and a kidnapped elf chief. And the elf is Santa. Nuff said. The holiday themed tasks the heroes must accomplish are genius and every single one of us watching immediately had the same thought- we wish we had been cool enough to think of it first.
“Do You See What I See” (2011). There are people that practically rioted on the interweb when this episode appeared last year. They thought the animation was ridiculous, and hated it. Well, the animation is ridiculous, but we’re talking about Eureka here- ridiculous is what they do, or did all those fans forget about the storylines that featured killer robots, music that reprogrammed your brain, clones, time travel, and “the artifact”? If you’re fan of animation, or the show, it’s well worth checking out.
“O’Little Town” (2010). This may be the best Christmas themed TV episode ever. Too often, television series shoehorn a Christmas themed episode into their schedule with little thought of how it will work. The writers of Eureka obviously put some thought into how Christmas would look in our wacky town of eccentric (read- insane) scientists. Given that this is the first Christmas episode the show did, it made most fans wish they’d given us more of this genius, and earlier. First, the town starts shrinking due to fruitcake. And ends up in a giant snow globe. And it turns out Santa is a scientist. Taggert, who never got enough screen time, shines in this episode.
1.Hogfather: I could write an entire article on why this is the perfect holiday movie. First, it’s Terry Pratchett. Death ends up taking over for the Hogfather in order to save Christmas, I mean, Hogswatch. It has a villain named Teatime (pronounced Teh-ah-tim-eh). And has lines like, “Human beings make life so interesting. Do you know, that in a universe so full of wonders, they have managed to invent boredom.” In the entire 188 minutes, there’s not a single bad scene. You’ll not only want to watch it again and again, but it will become the holiday movie you push on all of your friends.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer, “Amends” (3.10). This episode doesn’t do anything new or interesting really with the Christmas Carol storyline. But if you’re a fan of the series, you love this episode because of where it came in the story. Season 3 was a roller coaster of new people, hard times, and loss. This episode was just the story fans needed to stabilize themselves. It also shows just how brilliant Whedon is, as it is the first look of the Big Bad that ends the series.
- Mystery Science Theatre 3000, Santa Claus (1993)and Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1991). Because you can never go wrong with Mystery Science Theatre 3000.