Wednesday, December 24, 2014

You'll Shoot Your Eye Out, Kid

Every so often, anthology shows will have a Christmas episode. They're surprisingly few and far in between; even the long-running series won't always have them every year. So, in the spirit of the season (and Rod Serling's birthday!), let's tip our hats to some memorable (although given their rarity, we're lowering our standards) episodes about (or at least take place on) Christmas.
Seasons Of Belief
Tales from the Darkside
Season 3, Episode 11
This is my favorite of the bunch. Here we have parents who tell their jaded kids a 'scary' Christmas story about a monstrous creature, a kind of anti-Santa construct, called the Grither that's coming to get them. Because scaring children is hilarious, guys. The bulk of it is just dialogue--you're basically watching these people tell a story--but the last few minutes are so punchy and visceral, so it doesn't break TV's holy "show, don't tell" rule. I also love this episode because it reminds me of Donald Westlake's Nackles, in that it has adults trying to use children's faith (or lack thereof) in Saint Nick against them--which backfires with horrifying results. 
Season 1, Episode 13
Would you have loved E.T. more with a little genocide and a downer ending? Then here's the story for you, psycho! Glim-Glim's the titular alien who unwittingly unleashes a virus when he crashes on Earth of Christmas Eve. This episode teases you with the possibility of Glim-Glim finding a cure with the help of a young girl, before crushing your faith in humanity when some hate-mongering townspeople pretty much cement mankind's extinction towards the end. Have a happy holiday, because it's your last!
A New Woman
Season 3, Episode 12
This puts a not-so-new spin on the Christmas Carol, where our greedy protagonist is visited by spirits on Christmas Eve to convince her to change her gold-digging ways. The doctor attending to her wealthy dying husband condescendingly spews a lot of vagueness about "a spiritual world" offended by materialism, and the nagging just gets old real fast. That, plus the daytime-soap organ music and spirits who don't show up til past the half-way mark, don't soften the already heavy-handed crap message of being "scared into reforming." But at least it was aware enough to actually mention the Charles Dickens book it's ripping off.

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