13. “Kill Gil Volumes 1 & 2” – Original Air Date; December 18, 2006
Okay, this is just really stupid. Things start out promising enough, with the Simpsons taking Ol’ Gil in for the holidays. Then, he stays way too long, and Marge goes insane but can’t say no to him. Then, he leaves before she gets a chance to, and Marge decides to travel all the way to Scottsdale to yell at him, costing him his job in the process. I can’t for the life of me figure out how this makes any sense. Of course, Marge feels bad, and buys a house from Gil to get him his job back, which makes even less sense. Really, this was just a whole lot of not making sense, and it’s easily the worst Christmas Simpsons episode.
12. “The Fight Before Christmas” – Original Air Date: December 5, 2010
A disjointed collection of stories centered around the concept of Marge being angry on Christmas Eve. This one just doesn’t really fit into anything coherent, with the only strong segment being Bart attempting to kill Santa Claus. Elsewhere, Marge fighting Nazis in an Inglorious Basterds parody falls flat, while Marge’s rivalry with Martha Stewart is super-predictable. Oh, and the bit with Katy Perry and the Muppet Simpsons at the end was just a bad idea.
11. “Simpsons Christmas Stories” – Original Air Date: December 11, 2005
This was right around the point where all the three-part episodes The Simpsons were doing started to really get tiresome. There just isn’t enough time to tell a story, so things tend to get rushed. The opening scene tells the story of the Nativity, but frankly, Family Guy did it better, and the appearance of Dr. Nick was the only thing I enjoyed. Grampa’s story about his lost war buddy is interesting, but it deserved a full episode. Really, the only truly good thing here was the final segment, which is presented entirely as a poem. Overall, though, a fairly forgettable Christmas episode. To be honest, before I started putting this together, I barely remembered it.
10. “White Christmas Blues” – Original Air Date: December 15, 2013
The idea of Marge opening a bed and breakfast for everyone, and then being taken advantage of makes sense, and is actually a much better iteration of the plot of “Kill Gil Volumes 1 & 2.” Likewise, the saga of Lisa buying Christmas gifts that she subconsciously knew the family wouldn’t is an interesting and revealing development for her character. So, why not put this one higher? Well, it just isn’t all that funny, with Homer mistaking his gift for weed being the only thing that registered more than a chuckle. Solid characterization, but more jokes would have been nice.
9. “I Won’t Be Home For Christmas” – Original Air Date: December 7, 2014
This year’s Christmas episode had a solid emotional core, as it’s hard not to feel bad for Homer as he wanders through the mall on Christmas Eve after Marge kicks him out for coming home late. Still, there’s some unignorable plot holes here — why couldn’t Homer just tell Marge what happened? Better yet, why not just call her at Moe’s and explain the situation? He has a cell phone, right? And if he doesn’t, we know there’s phone at the bar after all those prank phone calls. This was a nice episode with some genuinely sweet moments, but in order to fully enjoy it, you have to ignore some really questionable plot developments.
8. “She Of Little Faith” – Original Air Date: December 16, 2001
The idea of Lisa ditching Christianity for Buddhism is a nice enough concept, but they don’t start exploring it until the third act, and the storyline feels a bit lacking. The opening scenes with Homer and Bart building a rocket are fun (especially the “pie pants” joke), but they take away time that could have been spent further explaining Lisa’s decision to become a Buddhist. Like, why does she leave Christianity in the first place? Doesn’t she just have a problem with one particular church, and not the religion as a whole? Not a bad episode, but it really should have spent more time on the main story.
7. “Skinner’s Sense Of Snow” – Original Air Date: December 17, 2000
There’s a pretty obvious formula for chaos here — trap Skinner and the kids in the school as a giant snowstorm hits, and watch things quickly lead to rebellion and anarchy. The best bit here was the awful Christmas film Skinner shows the students, particularly when an elf walks on the screen, says “I’m happy,” and walks off. The scenes of the kids taking over the school are a bit predictable, but funny nonetheless. Plus, who doesn’t love hallucinating Homer and his ranch dressing hose?