Community: Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas
Best for: Comedy
American comedy Community excels at balancing a sardonic eye for pop culture with genuine warmth and a heartening belief in the power of friendship. This brave and experimental Christmas episode is no exception; this self-aware stop motion story has a deconstruction of all the Christmas movie tropes, including the obligatory emotional journey with songs and a cutesy snow and candy landscape, yet it never comes across as cynical. Whilst mocking the ‘search for Christmas’, the show simultaneously explores our need for meaning, and concludes that the true spirit of Christmas is that we attribute it our own meanings, and that the people we share it with are more important than anything. Satirical comedian John Oliver also has a significant role in this episode as a clay–mation therapist wizard, and if it’s not worth watching for that alone, I don’t know what is.
Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol
Best for: All the family
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens is the ultimate Christmas tale, with the redemption of the miserly Scrooge still resonating as much today as it did when it was written. There have been countless retellings, from The Muppets to Blackadder, but for a family Christmas you can’t beat a version that not only has the incredible Michael Gambon as the Scrooge, but also has Matt Smith’s iconic Doctor bringing the Christmas cheer. An emotional rollercoaster, this story is all about looking into why someone might become a Scrooge, and reminds us all to embrace even fleeting moments of joy. As if that wasn’t moving enough, it also has music from the heavenly Katherine Jenkins and the consistently fantastic composer Murray Gold.
Black Mirror: White Christmas
Best for: Cynics sick of Christmas cheer
If all the uplifting Christmas cheese is driving you nuts already, then maybe you’d prefer a dark reflection of Christmas future from the black mirror? Known for its cynical and dystopian outlook, Charlie Brooker’s hit show scares us with the slippery slope technology and human nature combined could lead to. The Christmas special stars the inimitable Jon Hamm, Rafe Spall and Oona Chaplin, and tells three entwined stories that all involve a reality where it is possible ‘block’ people in real life. See if you can puzzle out the pieces before they’re revealed, and be prepared to discover a sinister new significance to ‘I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday’…
Downton Abbey: Christmas Specials
Best for: That warm glow of nostalgia
For this Christmas: Sense8
So much for Christmas past, but how about Christmas yet to come? This year is the first to bring a Christmas special for Netflix original Sense8; a vivid and sprawling series about eight diverse characters connected telepathically across the globe, the two hour episode airing on 23rd December promises to explore their connection more deeply, as well as hopefully showing the different ways this time of year is celebrated across cultures. One to watch out for!