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Reviews & Ratings for
"The Simpsons" Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire (1989)

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14 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Seems to have been forgotten by most people

9/10
Author: Shawn Watson (curiositykilledshawn@gmail.com) from The Underverse
16 December 2005

When you mention Christmas specials one would normally think of Charlie Brown, The Smurfs, He-Man/She-Ra or any other franchise that 'saves Christmas'. No one really remembers that the Simpsons began with their very own Christmas special.

Already a hit as an animated short series on the Tracey Ullman show, The Simpsons kicked off their 17-year plus career as a prime-time family with this festive episode.

Excited and filled with yuletide cheer The Simpsons come face to face with disaster when Marge's savings need to be blown on tattoo-removal surgery for Bart. And Mr. Burns cancels bonuses for all his semi-skilled employees. Flanders is already throwing his family the best Christmas ever and to make matters worse Patty and Selma show up and cast their judging eyes upon Homer in a more evil way than usual. He can't let them all down so he humiliates himself with a job as a mall Santa Claus.

The job pays poorly so he gambles it at the track, expecting a miracle to happen. Do you think it will? Since this was way back at the very beginning of The Simpsons the animation looks pretty rough and the voice acting (especially from some of the children) sounds a lot like the Charlie Brown phonetic acting. And since this is an older episode Homer isn't the machine he became in 1998+ seasons. He's still a human being with feelings who tries to be a good dad. Bart is still a kid who gets in trouble and Marge is still a devoted mum. You know what I mean when I say that none of this is really relevant in The Simpsons anymore since every new season just gets worse and worse as the writers get more and more cynical.

This one Christmas Special represents the exact opposite of all that. It was made to make a difference to your Christmas. And if your tired of the awful bore that it's become now then perhaps you should check it out.

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8 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

A leaner but not meaner Simpsons

9/10
Author: Brandt Sponseller from New York City
23 July 2006

The most interesting thing for any contemporary Simpsons fans to notice in this first episode is how much everything has changed over the years.

The early Simpsons shows were created on a much smaller budget, necessitating a smaller, less experienced, and in some ways, less skilled team. As a result, the animation style here is much rougher. There are far fewer people doing voices. The voice work isn't nearly as smooth as it would become. The personalities of the characters hadn't settled into norms. There aren't as many layers of jokes zipping frantically by.

The feel, overall, isn't that removed from, say, a Beavis and Butthead episode. Not that that's a bad thing. I happen to love Beavis and Butthead, too. It's just a much rougher style than we've come to expect from The Simpsons.

Aside from all of that, though, this is a charming Christmas episode, almost a Simpsons version of A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965). Like that famous work, an elementary school pageant is featured prominently, there are problems procuring a Christmas tree, and the "true meaning of Christmas", aside from commercialism, is explored, although here it is done so unwillingly, and there are no religious-tinged speeches to accompany the proceedings--The Simpsons is known for its irreverence, after all. But at its heart, while humorously introducing us to the main characters, this really is a sweet Christmas story and worth watching for that purpose, which is what I plan to save future viewings for.

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7 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

A beautiful, sweet episode

10/10
Author: KatiesGhost from United States
2 November 2008

"Simpsons Roasting On An Open Fire" is one of the sweetest and greatest Simpsons episodes of all time, and this was the very first episode.

Even though the animation might be a little crude, but that's the fun of it! I actually thought the animation from "The Simpsons" back from Season 1 to Season 4 was actually really good.

This was the episode that we first fell in love with The Simpson family; Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie. It also marked for characters like Mr. Burns, Grandpa Abe, Patty & Selma, and of course, Santa's Little Helper.

Overall, this is a sweet, beautiful, and heartwarming Christmas episode that's great to watch around Christmas time.

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9 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

The One that Started It All

9/10
Author: travisimo from Pocatello, Idaho, USA
6 December 2003

I remember hearing about this special back in the third grade, "The Simpsons was the best cartoon, and you just had to see it!" Unfortunately, we didn't get Fox in my little Idaho town. Finally, when we did get Fox, I started my weekly ritual of visiting the Simpsons every Thursday and then on Sundays.

This is a solid Christmas special. It's a more heartfelt episode compared to the episodes produced today. Homer wasn't nearly as much of a buffoon as he is today, and this episode isn't as hysterical as future episodes, but what it may lack in some comedy, it makes up in story and character development. While Bart was quite the troublemaker, he still cared deeply for his father and his family. Plus, the family singing of Rudolph played in the credits was great!

This was our first meeting with the Simpsons, and it would continue to be a great relationship.

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10 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

If you're used to the "Simpsons" of today, you won't recognize this.

8/10
Author: MovieAddict2014 from UK
24 January 2006

I purchased the "Simpsons" first and second season box sets a couple years ago, and what I was most astonished at is the shift in animation (more so than the humor itself) - the Simpsons look more like the Berenstain Bears than the familiar yellow cartoon characters we've grown accustomed to over the years.

The animation is rough, edgy and the transitions are awkward - there are no quick cuts punctuated by clips from the "Simpsons" theme song (which is what they use today to often transition scenes) - all of this isn't instantly noticeable, but after seeing older episodes a couple times I started to realize what was subconsciously making it feel like an entirely different television show.

Still, they had to start somewhere, and for what it is this is a very good pilot for the TV show.

It takes place at Christmas time (obviously). Mr. Burns announces that there will be no Christmas bonuses this year, meaning less spending money. Bart goes to the mall and gets a tattoo, and when Marge has it removed, it costs them all of their Christmas stash.

Homer takes advice from Barney and dresses up as Santa Claus at the mall, then bets on a dog at a local race track with the poor amount of money he's earned, but things continue to spiral downhill and Homer is left feeling like a failure - until, of course, everything is wrapped up quite nicely (without spoiling it).

Compared to episodes from Seasons 4 & 5 this is a rather flat and poorly animated "Simpsons" fare. However, when you take into account that this was the pilot and the start of everything, you know they had to start somewhere and, all considered, this was a good place to begin.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

"Jingle bells, Batman smells..."

9/10
Author: Max_cinefilo89 from Italy
9 October 2008

It all begins with a school pageant: all the students make some kind of contribution since Christmas is coming, and in the audience one notices Homer (Dan Castellaneta) and Marge Simpson (Julie Kavner), eager to see their kids Bart (Nancy Cartwright) and Lisa (Yeardley Smith) perform. Inevitably, Bart screws everything up with his rendition of "Jingle Bells", prompting Principal Skinner (Harry Shearer) to throw him out. It's funny. It's the last thing one would expect from a Christmas special. And that's just the start of what became an American TV institution (some even consider it THE ultimate US series).

Following the school incident, further trouble awaits Homer when he learns he won't receive a Christmas bonus that year. Knowing he'll otherwise disappoint his family and be taunted by Marge's unbearable sisters, he accepts the humiliation of dressing up as Santa Claus at the local mall. Naturally, Bart decides to have fun at his expense once again. Yes, it's not gonna be a normal holiday in the Simpson family.

Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire was actually the eighth episode made for the series, but since the show was scheduled to begin airing just before Christmas (the precise date is December 17th, 1989), it became the series premiere, which resulted in at least one blatant plot hole (Santa's Little Helper, introduced here, is an absentee for most of Season One). On a technical level, the episode is also less polished than later efforts, still baring a resemblance to the original Tracey Ullman Show shorts (the same goes for Castellaneta's vocal characterization of Homer, which started out as a Walter Matthau impression).

The dodgy animation does not, however, detract from The Simpsons' primary quality: it's really, really funny, in a bold, merciless way. In fact, it should be noted that from the very beginning (as relative a concept as that is), Matt Groening, James L. Brooks and the others knew exactly what would get the most laughs: any scene featuring Homer and Bart together. Proof? Two lines spoken by the kid: "Dad, there's one fat guy who gives us presents for Christmas, and his name ain't Santa Claus.", and, when he sees his father doing the Santa job, "Hi, I'm Bart Simpson. Who the hell are you?". That and so much more made this the ideal Christmas gift for TV audiences in 1989.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

The First Episode Ever

9/10
Author: I_Am_The_Taylrus from Minnesota
8 October 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

SPOILERS

Well, except for the shorts back in the Tracey Ullman days. Anyway, Bart gets a tattoo and Marge has to spend all of the Christmas money to get it surgically removed. Homer did not get a Christmas raise at work and is forced to become a mall Santa. He only receives thirteen dollars and Barney tells him about the dog races and Whirlwind, the fastest dog there. Of course Homer bets on the slowest dog there, Santa's Little Helper. He of course loses but is adopted by the Simpson family. I couldn't help notice in the end, the background is upside down because of the animation mistakes. Also, Ralph does appear in this episode but with an entirely different voice. This is a good television series opener, except for the shorts.

9/10

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

A Great Kickoff To the Best TV Series!

9/10
Author: g-bodyl from United States
8 August 2013

The Simpsons is one of the best, if not the best animated television series to exist. This episode, "The Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire" is a great pilot. Since this is the pilot, the animation is a little rough and the voices are not as coherent, but would you expect on such a cheap budget? This episode is pretty funny, but not hilarious. However, this episode features heartwarming, earnest moments from the Simpson family.

This first episode is set at Christmas time. Homer does not receive his Christmas bonus this year, so he thinks he will ruin Christmas because Marge had to use her money to remove Bart's tattoo. But he gets a job as Santa thinking this will help his family out. But will it? Overall, this is a great start to a long-running series.

This is one of the heartwarming episodes you will encounter in this series. I rate this episode 9/10.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Great Start to the best series ever

10/10
Author: MarvelFan4321 from United Kingdom
27 November 2010

Simpsons roasting on a open fire is not the quality of a episode today but it is very funny.The story works and is in deph with the characters well developed and always giving something to do.

The emotional side of this story is very well balanced out with the humour with Homer trying to get a job so he can get Christmas presents for everyone after he does not get his Christmas bonus from Mr.burns and Bart gets a tattoo and Marge spends all the money she has to remove it.

The ending is a turning point when Santas little helper jumps into homers arms and a happy ending to a great episode with more episodes coming. My Final Rating:96%

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

The Best Christmas Special Since Charlie Brown Killed that Tree (Revised and Expanded)

10/10
Author: cinemastupid from United States
6 December 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Everyone loves the Simpsons. They are the modern dysfunctional family. They first got noticed on the Tracy Ullman show, but were given an entire show, that outlived the previous by years. This is the first episode to premiere of the Simpsons on television, over 20 years ago. Today's youth is probably familiar with the movie, which was good, but this is truly the Simpsons. It is intelligent, funny, strange, and overall great. Not to mention the first appearance of Santa's Little Helper. If you're looking for a laugh, or just some classic Simpsons-Mania, go to the store and purchase season one. Some of the following seasons are completely better, like 4,5,7 but this... this is just fantastic. Trust me, you will not regret it. Just remember, though, the Simpson's has been declining in quality, but this isn't a threat to get old Simpson's back.

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