Sunday, December 25, 2016

Holy Holiday Specials, Batman!

Happy Holidays! It's the season of giving, so we at Dorkness to Light want to give a gift to you. Lots of people spend December 25th watching their "Christmas canon" of holiday specials, and this is our personal list of must-watch episodes. Cheesy, heartwarming, and full of good will - each one of these episodes examines a different aspect of what the holidays "really" mean.

Community (2.11) "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas"
Abed wakes up on the final day of class before winter break in a claymation universe right out of a Rankin/Bass Christmas special. Unfortunately he is the only one who can see it. Under pressure from the psychology professor, Abed and his friends embark on a magical journey through the winter wonderland of Abed's subconscious to find the True Meaning of Christmas(TM). Rife with wit, sarcasm, and social commentary about "politically correct non-denominational holiday" observances, this special is both cynical and heartwarming. There is also a pterodactyl.

Justice League (2.23) "Comfort and Joy" 
How do Earth's heroes choose the spend the holidays? This episode highlights the annual traditions of Superman, The Flash, Green Lantern and Hawkgirl. Featuring special appearances by Ma and Pa Kent, who love to welcome in strangers and aliens in need of a place to feel at home on Christmas. Not even Martian Manhunter is immune to their holiday cheer.

The Librarians (1.4) "Santa's Midnight Ride"
Santa is kidnapped the day before Christmas and its up to Team Librarian to get him to the North Pole and help him deliver The Gift. This takes a very literal interpretation of the "magic of Christmas" and examines "Santa Claus" and his many, varied historical aspects (beginning with Odin). The power of human Good Will to change individual hearts and the world takes center stage in an incredibly moving conclusion. Also, Bruce Campbell gifts us with a great performance as "Nick".

Moonlighting (2.10) "Twas the Episode Before Christmas"
The spirit of Christmas envelops Maddie, David, and Ms Dipesto when they care for an infant sought by three men named King. A very tongue-in-cheek plot based of a modernized Nativity story, this was one of the earlist shows to jump on this concept before it became a trope. Humorous and very self aware, it is the perfect episode to warm the heart of anyone who rolls their eyes at Christmas specials.

Saint Young Men (Christmas OVA) 
This anime is one of Emily's guilty pleasures. A slice of life anime featuring Jesus and Buddha on vacation in the mortal world, it is a perfect example of our catchphrase "irreverent, not sacrilegious". The Christmas episode is particularly endearing, as Buddha desperately tries to plan a birthday party for his roommate in secret. Fortunately, Jesus has no idea what "Christmas" is actually about - a humorous nod to the fact that Christmas is a largely secular holiday in Japan. This episode has plenty of jokes, but what comes through the strongest is a feeling of sincerity and joy. It's a sentimental love letter to Japanese Christmas traditions, as fluffy and sweet as Christmas cake

Warehouse 13 (2.13) "Secret Santa"
This is one of the few series i have seen to feature a "Hanukkah" episode. The A Plot features a MacGuffin that grants the powers of Santa wreaking mayhem, but the B Plot is what landed it on the list. Claudia decides to find Artie's beloved childhood piano and give it to him as a gift, but when she finds the piano she also finds Artie's estranged father. She decides to reunite the two men, however there are tough consequences as tempers flare. It takes a hard look at the trope of "making up at the holidays", addressing the painful and messy parts of trying to put a family back together again after so long. There are bared souls and lots of apologies, but eventually everyone sits down with a prayer and has a meal together.

The Weekenders (3.25) "The Worst. Holiday. Ever."
Tino, Carver, Lor, and Tish have decided it's time to experience a snow-laden Christmas so they leave Southern California for the weekend and head up into the mountains with Lor's grandmother. They get stuck in a blizzard, and begin telling "So you think this is bad?" stories about their worst holiday experiences, as Granny reminds them no matter how bad things get, at least you're spending time with the people who love you. Each section is about five minutes long and cover Solstice, Kwanzaa, Christmas, and Hanukkah.

Our well-wishes and prayers go out to everyone this holiday season. May you be surrounded by love, light, and good cheer at this blessed time of year.

- Dorkness to Light

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