Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Christmas Episode Rundown 2015

A happy holidays to all you boils and ghouls out there! Not only that, it's Rod Serling's birthday! And that means, of course, that we are due for another seasonal Christmas episode rundown from some of my favorite anthology shows.

And All Through The House
Tales from the Crypt
Season 1, Episode 2 (1989)

This is a memorable episode that debuted early in the show's run about a woman who (ironically, after offing her own husband) spends Christmas Eve trying to keep an escaped mental patient in a Santa costume from breaking into the house and going ax-crazy on her and her daughter. It's one big cat-and-mouse game, with a bit of a frustrating (if not predictable) ending that's true to the original 1972 film version. Still, it's saved by the amusing murderer-turned-murderee concept that forces the wife to get creative instead of just calling the cops on this Killer Santa. 

Santa Claus and the Tenth Avenue Kid
Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Season 1, Episode 12

Unlike most of Hitchcock's other episodes, this one actually plays it straight: After a lifetime in and out of the slammer, an ex-con on parole reluctantly lands a job as a department store Santa and resents other people's cheeriness and optimism. But after meeting a smart-talking young delinquent who reminds him of himself, he breaks the law one last time to revive the kid's hope in the season, shedding his own cynicism in the process. It's a departure from the usual trope of an upbeat kid inspiring hope in a cranky old man, but otherwise there are no twists, just a feel-good ending. It's almost refreshing that way. 

Night of the Meek
The Twilight Zone
Season 2, Episode 11 (1960)

A department store Santa is fired from his job, but after wishing "the meek could inherit the earth" and discovering a sack that magically gives out free stuff, finds himself filling the shoes of Saint Nick himself. This is almost the polar opposite of Santa Claus and the Tenth Avenue Kid: Both have uplifting endings and down-on-their-luck leading men, but in Night of the Meek, magical elements drive the plot. Plus, our protagonist is the one who wishes goodwill for those around him whereas the supporting cast are cynical assholes. But I still prefer Hitchcock's version, because I like my Santas less boozy.

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