The Simpsons celebrates the holidays with a re-airing of its debut episode "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire," and a Jane Lynch guest appearance. While things like soap operas, game shows, and talk shows often run for multiple decades, it's quite rare for a weekly primetime scripted series to manage that same feat. In fact, only four such shows have managed to hit the 20-year mark, those being the classic western Gunsmoke, Law & Order and its SVU spinoff, and of course, FOX's animated institution The Simpsons.
The Simpsons is currently in the midst of airing season 30, an absolutely staggering number when one considers just how much of the population has never known a world without the show, or at the very least have been watching it their entire adult lives. A whopping 648 episodes have aired to date, and with no announced end point for the series, it's quite possible the 700-episode mark gets crossed within the next few years. The Simpsons holds the record for both most seasons for a weekly primetime scripted show and most episodes, and one wonders if those records can ever conceivably be broken.
To celebrate both the holidays and its 30-year anniversary, The Simpsons has some fun events planned, as revealed by FOX. First, on Sunday, December 9, The Simpsons season 30's holiday episode will air, entitled "Tis the 30th Season." Jane Lynch (Glee, Ralph Breaks the Internet) will guest star during that episode as a character named Jeanie. Then, on Sunday, December 23, FOX will re-air "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire," the Christmas episode that started it all by also serving as The Simpsons' 1989 series premiere.
This won't mark Lynch's first guest appearance on The Simpsons, as she previously played Homer's scheming assistant Roz Davis in the season 23 episode "Replaceable You." FOX's press release doesn't spell out what Jeanie will be doing in "Tis the 30th Season," but the episode itself will see the Simpson family travel to a Disney World-esque resort in Florida in an effort to cheer Marge up after Christmas shopping during Black Friday goes wrong.
For younger fans of The Simpsons who might be wondering why the arguably quite odd decision was made to debut the show with a Christmas episode back in 1989, here's some backstory. The season 1 episode "Some Enchanted Evening" - featuring Bart and Lisa encountering a dangerous babysitter - was originally planned as the series premiere, but issues with its animation ended up pushing it to the end of the season, and "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire" was moved up in the line-up to take its place. Episode two didn't air until January, giving "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire" the distinction of being the only full-length Simpsons episode to air during the 1980s, after having debuted during the decade as a series of shorts on The Tracey Ullman Show.
The Simpsons season 30 airs Sundays on FOX.