For this month’s Streaming Club, we are getting festive and recommending the TV shows that really nailed their Christmas episodes.
The festive period is the perfect time to revisit some of your favourite shows and indulge in some unforgettable holiday specials.
From Seinfeld to South Park, here’s our list of picks - all available to stream on Stan.
Is it really Christmas without a Doctor Who special? A Christmas Carol from 2010 is a standout for us. A twist on the classic Dickens story, it hits the perfect balance of thrills, romance and just a little sorrow, with guest appearances from Michael Gambon and Katherine Jenkins sealing the deal. In the episode, a space liner with thousands of people on board is caught in a strange cloud belt. Kazran Sardick (Gambon) can control the cloud but refuses, prompting the Doctor to use time travel to change Kazran's past and encourage him to help.
Guaranteed to give you that sense of nostalgia during the holidays, there are 11 Christmas episodes of this iconic sitcom to choose from. We have two top picks. First, The One with the Routine, where Ross and Monica resurrect their dorky high school dance for a New Year's Eve show and Joey finally kisses Janine, AKA special guest star Elle Macpherson. Second, The One with the Holiday Armadillo, when Ross dresses up as an armadillo with all the best intentions to teach Ben about Hanukkah.
A show that needs no introduction, Seinfeld blessed us with six Christmas specials. Perhaps the most memorable was The Strike from the ninth season, which gave us moments cemented in the show’s legacy. George's father brings back Festivus, the holiday from his childhood that replaced Christmas, and a celebration that would go on to claim its place in popular culture. We also learn that Kramer has been on strike from H&H Bagels all these years, explaining why he never had a job throughout the seasons.
When his degree is challenged as fake, lawyer and schemer Jeff Winger is forced to return to community college. Joel McHale leads a stellar ensemble cast featuring the likes of Donald Glover, Alison Brie, Ken Jeong and Chevy Chase. Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas is one of our favourites from the festive specials, pulling off a high-concept, stop-motion episode in which the group try to rediscover the true meaning of Christmas, as we explore the mind of Abed. Perhaps more than any other episode of Community, this one blends the show’s trademark wit with its poignant tendencies.
The West Wing
As well as being one of the most acclaimed shows ever produced, The West Wing was also committed to the annual Christmas episode, making six over the course of its run. In Excelsis Deo from season one has it all - Leo faces calls to resign over past drug abuse, President Bartlet sneaks out to go shopping and Toby deals with the death of a homeless veteran. Whatever political dramas are ensuing, all of The West Wing’s Christmas specials have that unmistakable American holiday vibe.
This comedy gem went under the radar for most of its run but is definitely worth a watch, with the Christmas special being a great place to start. Blake Anderson, Adam DeVine and Anders Holm play college dropouts who live together and reluctantly work at a telemarketing company. When their plan to celebrate 'Half Christmas' at work gets shot down, Adam and Blake go on strike - leaving by-the-book Anders to deal with the fallout, including their replacements.
Controversy is never far from South Park and the 18th season’s Christmas special - #HappyHolograms - is no different. Kyle teams up with famous people to create the most extravagant televised holiday spectacular ever. The episode takes a dig at the obsession with trending topics and celebrity holograms, as well as referencing the Bill Cosby allegations. It’s Christmas, South Park style.