Original airdate: December 18th, 2000
Running time: 42 minutes
Director: Patrick R. Norris
Writer: Jason Katims
Cast: Shiri Appleby, Jason Behr, Majandra Delfino, Brendan Fehr, Katherine Heigl, William Sadler, Nick Wechsler
A friend of mine groaned this week because his colleagues at work were putting up a Christmas tree. “I don’t believe it – it’s only mid-December” he complained. Little did he realise that at that very moment I was browsing websites to find the perfect tree for this year and was already preparing the spot in my living room where it would stand proudly by the window, for all to see. I’ve even chosen the wrapping paper for this year’s wrapping paper colour scheme and made a shortlist of meals for the holidays that will be further shortlisted a few more times over the next coming days. Throughout the year I’m known by many names, but in December I have only one name and it stems from this episode of Roswell.
Set in Roswell, New Mexico, it’s a show that’s a mix of teen drama and science fiction revolving around the lives of one particular group of residents. Max (Jason Behrs), Michael (Brendan Fehr), Isabel (Katherine Heigl) and Tess (Emilie de Ravin) seem like normal high school students and although they try their best to be, they aren’t. They’re aliens living among humans. Their parents, teachers and neighbours have no idea, only a few people know the truth, like Max’s girlfriend Liz (Shiri Appleby), Michael’s girlfriend Maria (Majandra Delfino) and their friends Kyle (Nick Wechsler), Sheriff Jim Valenti (William Sadler) and Alex (Colin Hanks).
The space-kids have special powers but sometimes they have to rely on their friends to help them out. In the midst of a lot of drama and back and forth with Max and Liz, due to their on-again off-again romance, A Roswell Christmas Carol offers some festive comedy, although there’s still a huge amount of sentimentality attach to it – it’s Christmas after all! The episode begins with Max and Michael shopping for a Christmas tree.
MAX: It’s not so simple. This tree has to fall within certain parameters.
MAX: Height, circumference, colour, density of foliage. Look at this diagram.
Max shows him a very, very detailed diagram. Not unlike the one I would come up with if I was entrusting such an important task to someone else.
MICHAEL: The Christmas Nazi, driving everyone insane while trying to have the perfect Christmas. The worst thing you can do is play into it, Max. You’ve gotta fight it. You’ve gotta fight the Christmas Nazi.
Max takes out a measuring tape and gets to work measuring the poor tree.
MAX: Why? You gonna get her a ratchet set?
MICHAEL: Never mind. I’m under a lot of pressure. She’s been busting my ass for weeks about this present. She says it’s gotta be significant.
MAX: Then you might want to steer clear of the hardware store.
The moment is cut short by a car skidding on ice that’s about to knock over a little girl. Her father runs out to save her but he gets hit and killed instead. Yes, it’s very sad and Max will feel very guilty that he didn’t use his powers to save him, but as the episode progresses, he will get a chance to put things right. Meanwhile, back to Christmas, when Isabel sees the scrawny twig Max brings home as a Christmas tree, she’s less than pleased, “Did you even refer to my diagram?!” she balks at him, and rightly so. Yes, the Christmas Nazi is on the rampage, but Isabel puts even my obsessive festivities to shame with her rigorous schedule of carolling, food drives and volunteering at the nursing home.
While Max spaces out over his guilt for a letting someone die when he could have helped, Maria meets a little girl who’s terminally ill and begins to feel really bad about what the family is suffering. Elsewhere, Tess is determined to have a proper Christmas but first she’s gotta convince messy-boys Kyle and Jim to clean up their dump and stop using the Christmas tree in the garage to dry their socks on.
As the Christmas Nazi continues her crusade through Roswell and visiting the Christmas cheer on her nearest and dearest, Michael wonders if an electric toothbrush is the prefect gift for Maria.
ISABEL: Well, you could write that on the card when you give her a dental product for Christmas…
Still, with so much going on with Max and Maria, and even with Michael’s present dilemma, it’s comforting to know that it all works out in the end. Max gets the opportunity to use his powers and it’s a rare moment with him and Michael seeing eye to eye on something.
As a Christmas episode, it has a magical quality that makes it something really special for this time of year and by spitting the focus so that it’s not just about the teen drama but also about children in need, there’s a very heart-warming message about doing what we can to help others.
As for the Christmas Nazi, well, her heart has always been in the right place (although exactly where I’m not sure, seeing as she’s an alien!). Christmas is Christmas wherever you are, even in Roswell. That’s why this episode is in my Christmas collection of must-watch television episodes on Christmas Eve.
The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is a composer and music producer with a philosophy degree. Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and World Cinema, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.
You can find his music on Soundcloud .