Disney+ Talk With Megan Williams: Simpsons Roasting On An Open Fire (Christmas Special)
Can you believe my Disney+ Talk articles have been around for 9 months and I’ve only just gotten around to a Simpsons episode? And yes, you read that correctly: a Simpsons episode. Ever since Disney bought 20th Century Fox, the iconic animated show is now available on Disney+, so I wanted to use this opportunity to rewatch the episode that introduces the lovable pooch Santa’s Little Helper.
‘Simpsons Roasting On An Open Fire’ is a 24-minute Christmas Special that originally aired in 1989. When Homer’s boss, Mr Burns, cancels the Christmas bonus’, Homer must get a second job as a mall Santa to make up for a lack of money towards presents, all while keeping it a secret from his family. Meanwhile, Marge has to spend their rainy days funds to pay for Bart’s tattoo removal after he thought it would make a great present for his mum. However, the episode ends on a happy note as the Simpsons go to the dog races and adopt a fluffy family member. Interestingly, this was also the first episode to air independently from the shorts that aired on the Tracey Ullman Show. So, does this episode still stand the test of time 30 years later?
Yes. Yes it does.
While the voice dubbing is a little off, and the animation is not as polished as it is nowadays, the episode is still a fantastic one, and a delightful way to introduce the Simpsons’ independent show. The pacing of the episode is perfect, and the voice acting is wonderful, even if some of the voice acting styles have changed over the years. Two obvious examples are Mr Burns, who I’m sure is a different voice actor in this episode (however I was not able to find this out), and Homer who has a slightly deep nasal tone to his voice here.
Because I haven’t watched this Christmas special in years, it’s interesting to see how the characters have developed over the years. Out of all the characters in the show, Homer is the one who has changed the most, in terms of his characteristics and personality, and it’s been an eye-opener seeing what he was originally like. While he’s portrayed as a dumb Peter Griffin clone in recent seasons, in this episode and in the first few seasons, he wasn’t overall stupid. He just didn’t always think about what he was doing, leading to honest mistakes. He was also a caring family man; while he had disagreements with his son Bart (which is shown in this episode when Bart expresses interest in getting a tattoo), he ultimately loves him and wants what’s best for his family.
When he’s told that the Christmas bonus is cancelled this year, he’s scared to tell his family because he doesn’t want to let his family down and ruin Christmas for them. He was, overall, a typical Dad and I can now see, even if he was joking, why my own Dad could relate to Homer. One scene at the start especially reminds me of my own parents. Marge is writing a letter to her sisters while Homer is getting the Christmas lights out of their box. He keeps asking Marge if she knows where the extension cord and keeps pestering her for it then, when Marge gets annoyed, Homer apologizes and says he’s just excited to decorate the house.
As someone who has a Dad who gets overexcited about things like this, that scene felt close to home in the best way. This is why the Simpsons became popular: they were a family who were relatable, even if they got into some surreal situations. Another scene that I can relate to is when Homer and Bart adopt Santa’s Little Helper. Homer doesn’t want to adopt him because he was a losing dog at the races but is then quickly won over by the dog. This brings in a cliché, a true one I might add, that the dads don’t want to adopt the pets but will then love them a few days later.
Overall, ‘Simpsons Roasting On An Open Fire’ was a wonderful introduction to the Simpsons family, and the longest running scripted show ever. While the animation quality and dubbing wasn’t as polished, and Homer’s character change is obvious, this is a fantastic episode that reminded me why The Simpsons was such a good show.
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