About Christmas TV History

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Christmas in July 2023: Family Guy (2017)


Merry Christmas in July! It is Day #27 in the month-long celebration of Christmas entertainment. Each day this month I will be sharing brief reminisces about Christmas TV episodes, specials, and movies that are a creative or imaginative adaptation of Charles Dickens' tale A CHRISTMAS CAROL. Just a little something different and a way for me to show off the diversity of holiday stories I've collected in the encyclopedia Tis the Season TV (the updated and expanded 2nd edition will be released soon). 

Today's discussion continues with parodies. Let's talk about the 2017 episode of the animated series Family Guy entitled "Don't Be a Dickens at Christmas." While several Family Guy holiday episodes make references to Dickens' "A Christmas Carol," I want to limit my essay to just the 2017 episode today.

The Ghost of actor Patrick Swayze is voiced by his real-life brother Don Swayze.

In this story, head of the family Peter Griffin acts selfishly when he says he doesn’t want to join the rest of the family volunteering at the homeless shelter during the holidays. Lois is so upset she takes the kids to her parents’ house on Christmas Eve. Alone in the house, Peter is visited by the ghost of actor Patrick Swayze who shows him visions of Christmases past, present, and future to convince him to stop being so selfish.



The parodies of popular culture in this episode are numerous, including the retelling of Charles Dickens’ literary classic “A Christmas Carol.” Other outstanding examples include the parody of the Cadillac car commercials starring Matthew McConaughey,  a segment with comedian Norm MacDonald in a Christmas TV special reading the poem “Twas the Night Before Christmas,” a reference to the TV series Game of Thrones mentioning Peter’s friend Holden (a reference to the character Hodor), and a scene with Peter and Swayze recreating the Chippendales’ audition sketch from Saturday Night Live to the tune of Loverboy’s hit song “Working for the Weekend.” 

What isn’t a parody here though is the 2008 Patrick Swayze movie Christmas in Wonderland--it actually exists! (and it’s awful).

The voice cast of this episode includes Seth MacFarlane as Peter Griffin/Stewie/Brian, Alex Borstein as Lois, Seth Green as Chris, Mila Kunis as Meg, and Norm MacDonald as Norm MacDonald. Patrick Swayze here is voiced by the actor’s real-life brother Don Swayze.


Joanna Wilson is a TV researcher and book author specializing in Christmas entertainment. More about the TV programs mentioned on this website can be found in her book "Tis the Season TV: the Encyclopedia of Christmas-themed Episodes, Specials, and Made-for-TV Movies." Her latest book "Triple Dog Dare: Watching--& Surviving--the 24-Hour Marathon of A Christmas Story" was released in 2016. She is currently updating and expanding the encyclopedia for an upcoming release. Her books can be found at the publisher's website: 1701 press.com

*Support this website and its research by purchasing the books at 1701 press.com


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