Christmas is going wrong for the Simpsons.
Written by Mimi Pond
Directed by David Silverman
Also starring: JoAnn Harris, Pamela Hayden
Also known as: Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire
Premise: There's to be no Christmas bonus in Homer's pay packet this year. And Marge's savings are sacrificed to rescue Bart from a scrape at a tattoo parlour. It looks like the Simpsons' festivities will be frugal - unless Homer can find success as a department store Santa Claus.
Features: Grampa, Patty and Selma.
Couch: There's none of the usual title sequence at all.
And introducing: Principal Skinner, Mr Largo, Milhouse, Janey, Sherri and Terri, Wendell, Lewis, Richard, Ned Flanders, Rod Flanders, Mr Burns, Moe, Barney. We hear Smithers on a loudspeaker at the power plant, but he's not seen until 'Homer's Odyssey'.
- The Springfield Mall contains The Happy Sailor Tattoo Parlor and The Popcorn Shack.
- Homer shops for cheapo gifts at Circus of Values.
- Springfield's local newspaper is the Springfield Snooper (in this episode only - it's the Shopper when featured in other episodes), and its racecourse is Springfield Downs.
- Lisa is an enthusiastic viewer of the Happy Little Elves' Christmas special ('This Christmas we're going to be sad little elves!').
- Among the detritus at the racecourse is our first sighting of Duff beer.
- Santa's Little Helper is discovered by Homer and Bart in a dog track race. The other dogs in the race are called Whirlwind, Quadruped, Dog o' War and Fido.
- This episode was made after Homer's Odyssey, but shown before it, and so Homer is already safety inspector at the plant, breaking the first season's continuity.
Notes: Circumstances dictated that this was the first transmitted episode, and it's pretty standard early fare, with the series not quite hitting its stride. The opening scenes at the pageant are especially cutesy and all-American. The realism of the first season is much apparent, with only the laser used to remove Bart's tattoo hinting at what the series will become. 'The Simpsons Christmas Special' is the on-screen title; 'Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire' is the title used to publicise the episode.