Just when you thought ”South Park” had forever sullied animated Christmas specials with last year’s talking poop in a Santa cap, ”Simpsons” creator Matt Groening is returning sentimentality to the season. Kinda. This weekend Fox will air three Christmas shows Groening executive-produced: holiday episodes of ”Futurama” and ”The Simpsons” (Sunday beginning at 8 p.m.) and a brand new hour-long special called ”Olive, the Other Reindeer” (Friday at 8 p.m.), which features Drew Barrymore as a dog who attempts to save Christmas and Dan Castellaneta as the evil postman who tries to stop her. ”You know that sort of dull, queasy, headachy feeling you get around Christmas time when the house is too warm and kids are crying and dad’s passed out on the couch?” Groening asks. ”This will cheer everyone up.”
To help you prepare for this weekend’s cartoon-fest, EW Online asked Groening to critique the animated specials of Christmases past. His one caveat: ”You have to remember that when these came out I was 8 years old. And I was on eggnog.”
A Charlie Brown Christmas ”That’s one I have fond memories of, and we pay tribute to it in our Christmas episode of ‘Futurama.’ Charles Schulz is probably my biggest influence as a cartoonist. [He has a] deceptively simple drawing style, but I think emotionally his stuff runs deep.”
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer ”Not a fan. There’s been a ton of Rudolph specials. They all sort of blob together in my mind.”
Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol ”It seemed like I watched that more often than any other Christmas special growing up. It was the best Mr. Magoo cartoon, I think. It was vaguely true to Dickens’ book.”
How the Grinch Stole Christmas ”Well that’s the granddaddy. That’s my favorite one. It’s the best Dr. Seuss adaptation, although they still haven’t captured Dr. Seuss completely.”
Frosty the Snowman ”’Frosty’ frightened me, actually, because it was about death and melting.”
Snow it goes, Matt.