Let’s be honest – we say “Holiday Season” but its Christmas that soaks up most of the end-of-the-year attention. It has all the movies, all the TV specials, all the music. Sure, New Year’s has Auld Lang Syne, a sad Ella Fitzgerald song, and a really good U2 track, but what else is there to rev up your enthusiasm for December 31st? Here are five TV episodes to help you get in the mood for your New Year’s celebrations – and just for fun, let’s count them down in reverse order!
“Space Pilot 3000″ Season 1, Episode 1 – Airdate March 28, 1999
New Year’s Eve 1999 is not just a pivotal moment in the life of pizza delivery boy Phillip J. Frye, but in the life of the entire series, as that’s the night Frye is flash-frozen in suspended animation, only to be revived in the year 3000 and into a franchise of futuristic hijinks, shenanigans, and tomfoolery. This episode is so important to the mythology of the series, and its events revisited “Rashamon”-style more than once during the remainder of the series. Listen for cameos by Leonard Nimoy and Dick Clark!
4. THE SIMPSONS
“Treehouse of Horror X: Life’s a Glitch, Then You Die” Season 11, Episode 4 – Airdate October 31, 1999
Gather ‘round, children, and let me tell you a tale of a monster called Y2K, a prophesied computer code glitch that was foretold to cripple modern society and send the world back into a dark age. Needless to say, it didn’t happen, but the possibility added to the inchoate dread as the turn of the millennium approached, and it sure made fodder for movies and TV shows! The writers on The Simpsons made broadcast hay of the impending catastrophe by turning it into a segment on the annual Halloween show in which Homer’s incompetence as the Y2K compliance officer at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant causes a cascade effect that wrecks society. Homer and Bart eventually find themselves on a rocketship headed into the sun along with Al Sharpton, Paulie Shore, and Courtney Love. If only … And listen for a Dick Clark cameo!
3. DOCTOR WHO
TV Movie Airdate May 14, 1996 (US)
The venerable Doctor’s television fortunes had taken a downturn in the late ‘80s, to the extent that the long-running series went on a long hiatus starting in 1989. An attempted revival surfaced in 1996 in the form of a TV movie that was contemplated as a backdoor pilot for an American-produced series. Paul McGann was introduced as the regenerated Eighth Doctor after the TARDIS has to make an emergency stop in San Francisco’s Chinatown on December 30, 1999, with an oddly cast Eric Roberts as The Master hot on his trail. Whatever the world was watching in 1996 (I dunno? Friends, maybe? The Drew Carey Show?), it wasn’t this revival of Doctor Who, and so the series went back into hibernation, only to reassert itself a few years later in a mammoth and wildly popular way.
2. KING OF THE HILL
“Hillennium” Season 4, Episode 10 – Airdate December 19, 1999
Y2K makes another appearance on this list as the paranoia of impending disaster strikes the tranquil suburban community of Arlen, Texas and rattles even the cool, practical, flattopped head of Hank Rutherford Hill. In what is a wonderful snapshot of the cultural moment, the no-nonsense Hank Hill makes a full journey from Y2K skeptic to full-on panic and back again within the course of 22 minutes with a pep talk from a hallucinated Tom Landry, with plenty of nods along the way to the millennial fear and paranoia that took the form of two letters and a digit as the world waited for 1999 to clock over to 2000. If you lived through the era, it’s a fun little time capsule.
1. THE X-FILES
“Millennium” Season 7, Episode 4 – Airdate November 28, 1999
A plot by a religious fanatic to resurrect four dead men as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and use them to unleash the End of Days is the canvas for an episode that is in fact designed to do three things: wrap up the lose ends from Chris Carter’s prematurely cancelled “Millennium” series as elegantly as possible, showcase a guest appearance by the eternally awesome Lance Henriksen, and most significantly, give millions of Mulder & Scully ‘shippers the moment they had been waiting for – and at the stroke of midnight, no less! Watch for a guest appearance by Holmes Osborne and an early role for Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer. Listen for a Dick Clark cameo!
Should old episodes be forgot and never brought to mind? Not as long as you have Netflix and Amazon Prime or a good DVD and bluray collection! HAPPY NEW YEAR, everybody!