|Episode no. 320|
Written by Michael Price
Production code FABF02
|Directed by Steven Dean Moore|
Showrunner(s) Al Jean
Original air date December 14, 2003
"'Tis the Fifteenth Season" is the seventh episode of The Simpsons' fifteenth season, and the seventh Christmas-themed episode overall. It first aired on the Fox network in the United States on December 14, 2003. This episode is notable as being the first to make reference to Lisa's Buddhism since she converted in an earlier Christmas episode, "She of Little Faith".
For Christmas, Carl gives Homer a DVD player and the first season of Magnum, P.I. with commentary by John Hillerman. However, Homer forgets he is Lenny's secret Santa and gives him a pack of Certs out of desperation. Instead of giving bonuses, Mr. Burns gives everyone a cafeteria voucher and Homer a Joe DiMaggio rookie baseball card for Bart. To get money for Christmas shopping, Homer gives the card to Comic Book Guy, who gives Homer everything in his cash register. With their small fortune, the Simpsons go shopping at the Springfield Heights Promenade. Homer promises to buy a massive Christmas tree that will cause mudslides and flooding when it is removed, but he instead spends the tree money on a Personalized Talking Astrolabe for himself.
Homer gets shunned by his family when they find out, and becomes even more depressed when he finds out that the Astrolabe cannot be exchanged. While staying up late at night, Homer watches Mr. McGrew's Christmas Carol. There, he realizes just how selfish he is. Homer decides to reform his ways and become the nicest guy in town. Homer's acts include giving hobos his old clothes, giving Lenny a photo cube, giving Marge the last pork chop (causing her to break down in tears of joy) and building a skating rink in the Simpsons' backyard (to the delight of Comic Book Guy). After Gil Gunderson's comment of "Homer, you're the nicest man in town!", and Nelson Muntz's comment of "Haha! Your position has been usurped!", the actions cause jealousy to stir in Ned Flanders.
Flanders finds himself barely able to control his anger. He decides to buy everyone in town a Christmas present (and gets the money by renting out his house to a fraternity). Homer begins to think of beating Flanders by buying everyone a car. However, Lisa tells him not to and that, as a Buddhist, she believes people would be happier without presents. Homer gets the idea to do the ultimate good deed: steal Christmas. In the morning, an angry mob confronts Homer. The mob calms down when they see a star which they think is a sign from God; it is actually a flare from a trapped Hans Moleman. Homer gives everyone back their presents and the entire town sings Hark! The Herald Angels Sing. During the carol, however, Snake steals Homer's Astrolabe.
The episode was written by Michael Price, who has cited "Homer's summation of what Christmas means" as his favorite contribution to the show. He has said that the speech "pretty much stayed that way through all drafts of the episode."
On November 2, 2004, the episode was released in the United States on a DVD collection titled The Simpsons Christmas 2, along with the season twelve episodes "Homer vs. Dignity" and "Skinner's Sense of Snow" and the season fourteen episode "Dude, Where's My Ranch?". While reviewing the DVD, Brian James of PopMatters wrote that "'Tis the Fifteenth Season" is "hardly a masterpiece, but it does feature a talking astrolabe and the phrase 'double-bacon genius-burger,' two elements that deserve a spot in Simpson Valhalla. It’s a shame that such entries don’t come as fast and furious as they did a decade ago, but that The Simpsons does offer a few belly laughs now and then, rather than being a complete embarrassment this late in the game is a bigger accomplishment than anyone gives it credit for. It’s still just a cartoon, and still a pretty good one." Kyle Ryan of The A.V. Club praised the episode for "strik[ing] a nice balance between sharp satire and real heart."