Photo: ‘The Simpsons Meet The Bocellis In Feliz Navidad’
‘The Simpsons Meet the Bocelli’s In Feliz Navidad’ is the latest entry in a recent series of Simpsons shorts that began premiering on Disney Plus, shortly after the entirety of the series became available to stream on the platform. These shorts began exclusively as multiversal parodies, which featured main characters from ‘The Simpsons’, entering the worlds of several Disney-owned intellectual properties (Marvel, Star Wars, etc). The idea for The Simpsons to “invade the rest of Disney Plus” was originally proposed by series co-creator James L. Brooks. This proposition led to the creation of a handful of comedic shorts entitled, ‘The Force Awakens From It’s Nap’, ‘The Good, The Bart, and The Loki’, and ‘Welcome to the Club’, respectively. More recently, these shorts have become tantamount to flashy musical crossovers with prominent pop artists (‘Te Deseo Lo Mejor’ featuring an animated Bad Bunny, and ‘When Billie Met Lisa’ featuring an animated Billie Eilish). This time around, our well-loved crew of bug-eyed yellow buffoons, are welcoming none other than the world-renowned Italian Tenor extraordinaire Andrea Bocelli (alongside his son Matteo and Granddaughter Virginia), into their living room, for a Holiday sing-a-long, on Christmas morning.
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Since The Walt Disney Company purchased the vast majority of 21st Century Fox’s catalog of intellectual properties back in 2017, ‘The Simpsons’, has found itself in a fascinating transitional period, being the goliath-sized, cultural entity that it is. Many diehard fans can’t help but pose the question, “Can the original comedic essence of this groundbreaking show still exist under the all-seeing gaze of the mighty mouse?” Luckily, The Simpson’s Disney Plus shorts, with ‘The Simpsons Meet The Bocelli’s In Feliz Navidad’, being the most recent example, have all still very much maintained the irreverent tongue-in-cheek humor, and an overall emphasis on the importance of family, that ‘The Simpsons’ has exemplified in its best episodes.
‘The Simpsons Meet the Bocellis In Feliz Navidad’ – The Very First Christmas
Believe it or not, the very first episode of ‘The Simpsons’ that ever premiered on television, was in fact, a Christmas Special. This yuletide pilot episode, titled, “Simpsons Roasting On An Open Fire”, aired on Fox on December 17, 1989. So much has changed since the world got its first glimpse of Springfield back in the holiday season of 1989, but one element of the show’s production that has remained a constant, is recurring series director and producer David Silverman. Silverman has directed everything from the aforementioned series pilot, to ‘The Simpsons Meet The Bocelli’s In Feliz Navidad’, to virtually every installment of ‘The Simpsons’ series of Disney Plus shorts. The Silverman-directed, “Simpsons Roasting On An Open Fire” (an episode that is now more than 33 years old) established the overall tone of the show, and invented all of the specific iconography that now comprises a typical, “Simpsons Christmas”. Every new Simpsons Christmas Special – good, bad, or indifferent – promises a fresh and unexpected take on the show’s comedic and heartfelt method of holiday storytelling.
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However, one can almost always count on seeing at least one of a few signature, holiday-themed, Simpsons gags (all of which date back to the pilot episode) that appear at some point in any given Simpson Christmas special: Homer destroying the Simpson family’s Christmas light display (à la Clark Griswald in ‘National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation’), Flanders thoroughly outdoing Homer (much to his chagrin) in every possible aspect of holiday festivities, from decoration to gift-giving, Mr. Burns withholding his yearly Christmas bonuses from his “unskilled workers” (timeless Simpsons’ political commentary), little Maggie dressed up in her signature star-shaped onesie, and (traditionally speaking), some kind of razor-sharp commentary on the utter frivolity of America’s favorite, yearly capitalist extravaganza, that we all know as Christmas.
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It’s Snowing In Springfield
So how smoothly does a show that was once staging ruthlessly defamatory Disney parodies on ‘The Itchy and Scratchy Show’, make the transition into producing an authentically warm and gooey Christmas Special, for the very company that they were at one point, openly clowning? Well, much smoother than one might expect, actually. ‘The Simpsons Meet The Bocelli’s In Feliz Navidad’ is a brief and decidedly sweet little Christmas Special, that still contains the biting, and morbidly sarcastic humor that has always balanced this show’s signature combination, of mean-spirited tomfoolery and effectively saccharine sentimentality. ‘The Simpsons Meet The Bocelli’s In Feliz Navidad’ packs several memorable bits of holiday-themed humor, such as Chief Wiggum roasting his Christmas turkey in the police department’s electric chair, or Cletus and Brandine hanging up a truly preposterous amount of stockings over their fire, to accommodate their absurdly large brood of children, into its less-than five minutes of total runtime.
Before the caroling and cavorting ensue, Bocelli himself delivers the best and most meta joke of the entire special, “And since we are working for Disney Plus, no one gets paid. The mouse is a real miser!” Bart even joins Bocelli in belting out a few notes of his iconic ballad “Por ti Volare (Con te Partiro)”, just before the Bocelli family’s legitimately heartwarming rendition of the timeless international holiday hit ‘Felix Navidad” (amazing pipes run in the Bocelli family evidently). The song plays as a wonderfully ironic backing-track to the special’s closing montage of Christmas Time hijinx, which is transpiring all across the snow-laden streets of Springfield.
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Ho, Ho, D’oh!
One classic Christmas episode of ‘The Simpsons’ called “Miracle On Evergreen Terrace”, contains a single, wordless shot, of Bart and Lisa cozying up on the couch, watching their TV project a digital image of a crackling yule-log fire. Both brother and sister smile contently at this digital approximation of a holiday staple, while the actual thing itself, is crackling with life, just behind their TV set. This ironic visual gag is precisely the kind of hilarious, simple, but an incredibly subtle commentary on capitalism, couch-bound American lethargy, and the encroaching nature of consumerism, that made ‘The Simpsons’ such a special show in the fabric of American culture to begin with. Another canonical Simpsons Christmas installment from 2005 called, “Simpsons Christmas Stories” is centered around Homer being tasked with recounting the story of Jesus of Nazareth, to a packed Springfield church congregation on Christmas morning. Of course, Homer’s regaling of the Biblical epic goes about as well as one would expect. These are the kinds of Christmas stories that ‘The Simpsons’ has historically, told better than anyone else on television.
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‘The Simpsons Meet The Bocelli’s In Feliz Navidad’ is hardly a radical return to the hardcore brand of brilliant societal commentary, which made ‘The Simpsons’ a household name in animated TV comedy to begin with. However, this new special does manage to effectively showcase the much-needed air of edginess that the show has always thrived within, comically speaking. So even under the corporate patina of a Disney Plus Christmas Special, all the folks who are currently working on ‘The Simpsons’, whether they be series legends like David Silverman, or newcomers who have dreamt their entire lives of working on the show, clearly understand what makes this show work on a fundamental level. And with that gift in mind, Simpson’s fans everywhere should kick back, turn on their digital fireplace, put on ‘The Simpsons Meet The Bocelli’s In Feliz Navidad’, on Disney Plus, and rest easy this Holiday season.
Creator: Matt Groening
Director: David Silverman
Writer: Al Jean
Cast: Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Yeardley Smith, Andrea Bocelli,
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Dillon is a writer, and a lover of storytelling and creativity across all mediums. He studied Film and Digital Media at UC Santa Cruz, where he became a voracious consumer and ponderer of the creative arts. He has a background in screenwriting, as well as freelance film theory and pop culture journalism. Dillon connected to the inclusive, empowering mission statement of The Hollywood Insider, because of his shared belief in the power of storytelling, and its facility to engender empathy and understanding, as well as entertain. He believes in finding joy and purpose through making, watching, discussing, and dissecting the diverse collection of creative media that inspires him. He has particular interest in stories that come from largely unheard, historically excluded perspectives.