It’s hard to remember a time when The Simpsons wasn’t on television. Currently in its 28th season, the show has seen us all through many a festive period, however it is that first Christmas we spent with Homer, Marge and the kids that offers the very best memories.
Debuting off the back of the short-lived Tracy Ullman Show skits, ‘The Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire’ was the pilot for what would be an experimental animated sitcom seemingly doomed for failure. Sure, the skits had been popular, but there was no way they could extend to a full series of half hour episodes, right?
Airing on December 17th, 1989, the episode focuses on Homer’s attempts to make sure his family have a magical Christmas despite not getting the bonus he had been relying on all year. To try and make a little extra cash, he takes a second job as a Mall Santa. However, despite his best efforts he finds himself getting canned with a lousy $13 for his efforts. Surely Christmas is ruined? It’s not the most complex of plots, but it is perhaps the most moving.
Critics will tell you that ‘The Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire” was crude in comparison to the later episodes. That it lacked the fast-paced humour, pop culture references or the craziness, but for me it was the show’s finest hour. Never have the family been portrayed in a more human or vulnerable manner. Never again would Springfield feel so real.