Warehouse 13: The Greatest Gift (Syfy, 2011) Warehouse 13 pays Christmas homage to Philip Van Doren Stern’s short story ‘The Greatest Gift’ (adapted in film as It’s a Wonderful Life). The character reset allows for humorous reintroductions and contrast nostalgia, lending this deadly serious adventure a fun, festive feel.
Danger Mouse: Merry Christmouse (CBBC, 2015-2016) Seven episodes from the 2015 reboot, headed by the double-length Christmas Special ‘The Snowman Cometh’. Nostalgia aside, Danger Mouse remains a relentlessly fast-moving and funny, self-aware cartoon comedy. Clever, well-layered SF action scripts often lurk amidst the throwaway jokes and visual humour.
Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries: Murder Under the Mistletoe (ABC, 2013) It’s hard to imagine this Christmas special—broadcast only a month after series two ended—warranted a separate DVD release. Though themed around Christmas (in July), its only real point of departure is to embroil Miss Fisher in a closed circle mystery.
Doctor Who: Twice Upon a Time by Steven Moffat; dir. Rachel Talalay (BBC, 2017) The Christmas special has some touching performances (Mark Gatiss) and ends on a high with Jodie Whittaker’s first scene, yet for the most part spends too much time prepping the audience for the handover and trying—quite shamelessly—to manipulate our emotions.
Doctor Who: Last Christmas (BBC, 2014) A Christmas special that strikes the right balance, providing an important link between Series Eight and Nine yet not taking itself too seriously. After Simon Pegg’s guest role in Series One, it was always likely that Nick Frost would appear… as Santa.
Doctor Who: The Return of Doctor Mysterio by Steven Moffat (BBC, 2016) The New Series Christmas invasion takes a new twist when the Doctor, through rather comic happenstance, creates a bona fide superhero. Peter Capaldi revels in the light-hearted humour while the Superman homage dovetails nicely with the longstanding dynamic between Doctor and companion.
The Goodies – Earthanasia (Series 7, Episode 6; first broadcast 22 December 1977) Surely the darkest, funniest Christmas special ever made. Set at half an hour to midnight and playing out in real time, the Goodies must observe the requisite festivities yet make peace with each other and within themselves before the Earth is destroyed.