- This episode's got spirit. Christmas spirit. -
Ah, 'Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire', what a significant episode. Not only is this episode significant being the season-opener, but is significant of course, being the first ever episode of the show. Previous to watching it yesterday, I hadn't seen this or anything else from Season 1 in a long, long time. Now is the time to give the whole season another watch, and where else to start, but the very beginning.
Like the rest of the first season, 'Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire' has a pretty simple premise, but it is an effective one. It's a Christmas episode, which are usually a treat to watch. Also, like numerous other Christmas episodes ('Marge Be Not Proud', 'Miracle on Evergreen Terrace'), it is a farily dark and depressing one - but does have a happy ending (something 'Miracle on Evergreen Terrace' unfortunately lacks). This episode does have a very Christmassy feel to it, more than any other Christmas episode. The whole build up to Christmas, the shopping for presents. It just gives you the warm fuzzy feeling of Christmas, but still manages to blend well with the dark tones of Homer being unable to provide for his family, despite his best efforts. Another thing unique to this episode, other than the Christmas feel to it is the pilot-feel to this. What I mean is that this episode is interesting to watch, as it feels detatched from the rest of the show. Firstly, we have a lack of opening credits and all that, and only hear what would soon become a very famous tv theme a few times through the episode. Secondly (though this could apply more to the whole of Season 1), it is interesting to see how different the characters and locations were back then. Barney didn't seem like a drunken loser yet. Burn's office was much brighter and smaller. Ralph and Todd sound much different. Whilst these differences are interesting to see, they feel kind of weird to someone like me who hasn't watched the show since it was first broadcast. It's an issue that can't really be helped, since the show was still developing, but it sort of bugs me nonetheless. Also, as with Season 1 you have your animation and voice issue stuff, but it's forgiveable - the show has to start somewhere. Though I don't remember Season 1 being very funny, there were some reasonable amusing moments in this episode, so that was nice. There's only one other thing I have to say about this episode, which is probably its only main fault. The problem is that the ending, and some other parts of the episode felt corny and cliched. Sometimes the episode was parodying Christmas specials, through the voice of Bart. Yet at other times - especially the ending - it felt like it was being the very thing it earlier was parodying. Still, the emotion in the episode was in the right place, so I can't really criticise it too much.
In conclusion, 'Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire' is a good episode, a good season-opener and a good beginning to what would become a legendary tv show. It has its faults, like corniness at times and other issues that damage Season 1, and it isn't my favourite Christmas episode (no prizes for guessing which is, considering that I never shut up about it), but this still is a good episode. It has heart, and it has a real Chirstmas feel to it.
+ The most Christmassy Christmas episode
+ Nice emotional scenes
+ Has nostalgic value, for what it is
- Gets corny
- Suffers from issues other episodes of the time face, yadda, yadda