Christmas telly is littered with examples of great British comedy entertainment. From the classic Morecambe and Wise specials, to Knowing Me, Knowing Yule with Alan Partridge, to Father Ted’s Golden Cleric deserving escape from a lingerie department, we Brits have come up with some crackers (pardon the pun).
But what of our American friends? Do their shows also rise to the festive challenge? Well, the Paramount Comedy Channel is putting that to the test this Christmas with a whole weekend dedicated to back-to-back yuletide episodes of some of the channels big hits – Two and a Half Men, Scrubs, Frasier, Everybody Loves Raymond, King of Queens, and That 70’s Show. Now I’m no fan of ELR or KOQ, but I could happily lap up episodes of the others from now until Xmas day.
Having been privy to some of the episodes being aired, here are three highlights to look out for:
1) Two and a Half Men: Walnuts and Demerol 20th December, 8:30pm
Arguably the most commercially successful of all Chuck Lorre’s TV shows, Two and a Half Men is real hit and miss stuff. Fortunately, when it gets it right it’s laugh out loud funny. This Christmas-themed episode from the fourth series is up there with the show’s very best. Beginning with Charlie Harper’s (played sardonically by Charlie Sheen) own recital of Joy To The World (“Joy to the world, I’m getting laid. I’m getting laid tonight. We’ll light the log, and deck the halls. And then we’ll play some Jingle Balls”) and then using that comedic staple of the house guests that just won’t leave, this is first-rate comedy, with a killer plot twist that had me in stitches on the sofa.
2) Scrubs: My Own Personal Jesus 21st December, 8pm
Is Scrubs the funniest US comedy of the noughties? Quite possibly. It’s certainly one of the most emotionally involving and hands down features the best all-round cast. This episode from the very first series centres largely on Turk and his waning faith and Dr Reid’s (oh, be still my beating heart) personal problems in dealing with a pregnant teenager.
As usual, though, it’s the ridiculously talented Zach Braff and John C McGinley who shine here. Watching Braff in this first series, it’s hard to believe he’s not become a bigger star in Hollywood (Garden State aside) such is his comedic timing and screen presence. As for McGinley, will someone please give this man better movies to star in than Rob Schneider flick, The Animal?
A highlight from the first series, the reworking of the Twelve Days of Christmas is a Scrubs classic moment.
3) Frasier: We Two Kings 21st December 7pm
Doctor Frasier Crane was a mainstay of television comedy for 22 years (11 on Cheers, 11 on Frasier). The successful revival of his character from the ashes of Cheers came down to three key facts. One, audiences were keen to spend more time with one of the show’s great characters. Two, the rest of the cast are excellent. Obviously, much of the credit must go to Kelsey Grammer for putting further flesh on an already well-established character, but the others are far more than merely supporting actors. Third, the writers were regularly on inspired form, none more so than on this episode from the second to last series.
Adopting the classic Frasier plot of sibling rivalry, brothers Niles and Frasier compete for who should host the family Christmas dinner, with dad, Martin Crane, casting the deciding vote. As with all great Frasier episodes this is all about the interplay between the three, and the gags come thick and fast.
Paramount Comedy’s Christmas Comedy Weekend airs from 20th – 21st December from 9am until 8.30pm.
19 December 2008