The Simpsons – “Yellow Subterfuge” (B)
A conflicted episode. The B-plot was wildly unnecessary, yet contained the episode’s funniest moments. The A-plot focused on Skinner, which is always welcome, even if a riff on Django Unchained feels way too late.
Modern Family – “The Old Man and the Tree” (A-)
Not quite a Christmas miracle. This episode had seven(!) stories, but each had its own delights. But nothing could top Alex as Mrs. Claus, which turned into a parody of Dawn of the Dead. (You’ll have to watch to see how that happens.)
Brooklyn Nine-Nine – “Christmas” (B+)
I wouldn’t exactly call this a step back, but it’s certainly not as good as the Thanksgiving episode. But I really enjoyed seeing Terry and Boyle save the day, since they rarely get to do anything of the sort. And jokes about Safe House always work for me.
Modern Family – “The Big Game” (B+)
Funny, to be sure, but can something terrible happen to somebody for once? This show has a problem with everything coming up roses for all its cast. I need a break-up, a job loss, something.
Saturday Night Live – “Paul Rudd/One Direction” (B)
Aside from its one Christmas-y sketch, there was nothing abominable and yeah, those performances were actually good. Don’t tell anyone.
Community (Season 1) – “Comparative Religion” (A)
December 10 is my favorite day in all of Twitterdom. That’s because everyone reposts .gifs from one of my favorite Community episodes. Christmas episodes tend to get graded on a curve, but this one doesn’t need any, even if the show was still a little rough around the edges. Even if their Claymation and musical episodes are better executed, none represents the spirit of Christmas better than this one.
Veep (Season 2) – “Midterms,” “Signals” (average: B+)
These first two episodes – I’m going to finish this season before the year’s out, by god – aren’t as blistering as the best of season one, but the great rhythm and wit is unlike any show on the air. Now there’s added Gary Cole and Dad Fatherson! And who knew Sue would be the MVP of the cast?