TV REVIEWS : 'The Simpsons' Get a Show of Their Own for Christmas

They're a bickering family of five, lovable mutants with yellow skin, golf-ball eyes and absolutely no resemblance to "The Brady Bunch."

They're the Simpson bunch, the more-than-a-little-strange family coming your way in an animated Sunday sitcom premiering Jan. 14 on Fox. You can get an advance look at "The Simpsons" when Fox airs the family's Christmas special, "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire," at 8:30 p.m. Sunday on Channels 11 and 6.

Do not miss this half hour. It's a flat-out howl. It's also warm . . . uh, I think.

Created by Matt Groening, the Simpson family is not really new, having spent the last few years as a fleeting animated interlude on Fox's "The Tracey Ullman Show." But now comes the big gig, their own series preceded by their own special, inventively written by Mimi Pond.

The terrific voices for Homer Simpson, who works in a nuclear plant, and his supportive wife, Marge, who has a tall cone of blue hair, are Ullman regulars Dan Castellaneta and Julie Kavner.

Tonight poor Homer faces a Christmas Eve crisis. When his plant fails to come through with its usual holiday bonus, he's forced to moonlight secretly as a department-store Santa to earn cash for Christmas presents and save face in front of Marge's visiting family. But Homer is discovered at the store, red-suited, by his spike-haired son Bart, who observes: "You must really love us to sink so low."

Weird . . . but wonderful.

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