Seriously, is there that much nostalgia for old light bulbs? And not just these dumb incandescents, but the old 80′s box?
Most of the specials I’m writing about I’m seeing for the first time, or at least the first time I can remember. A handful I have proper memories of, but only a few do I have fond memories of. This is one of those specials.
I don’t know what it was about The Chipmunks that I loved so much as as a kid. Their Saturday morning show, Alvin and the Chipmunks started when I was two years old, and I probably watched it until its demise in 1990. Nickelodeon reran the show as I became a teenager, and it was a daily view for me. It was probably something about cartoon animals singing popular hit songs with high-pitched voices. I can’t really explain it otherwise.
Sometimes, I’d go out of my way to make my own Chipmunk records. Switching an LP from 33⅓ RPM to 45 or even 78 RPM gave you an instant Chipmunk sound. It also caused utter panic in your older cousin who was worried you’d ruin her album, turntable, or both with your silly desire to hear David Lee Roth singing in a crazy high voice.
The Chipmunks were also closely tied to Christmas. Their legendary “The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late)” was released in 1958. Most of your parents aren’t that old. It seems like we always had a copy of the subsequent album, Christmas with The Chipmunks, around our house, likely driving my mother crazy. Like most small children, my front teeth fell out. My anthem then became “All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth” as performed by Theodore, the chubby Chipmunk. This was logical, as I was a little fat kid with no front teeth.
Joining the fat one were the annoying one and the smart one: Alvin and Simon 1. It became clear that Alvin was the leader of this band of three. He was also the most likely to get everyone into trouble, must to the chagrin 2 of their manager and adoptive father, Dave Seville 3.
After the demise of the original Chipmunk’s TV show, The Alvin Show and just prior to their return in Alvin and the Chipmunks, a Chuck Jones 4 -produced special hit the air in 1981 simply called, as they all seem to be, A Chipmunk Christmas. I can safely say that this was a favorite, and even as a cynical adult, I still love it.
The plot is simple, yet effective: Alvin encounters a sick child named Tommy 5 who really wants a Golden Echo harmonica for Christmas. Upon hearing that his family cannot afford it as his medical bills are insane, Alvin selflessly gives away his harmonica, making the kid’s Christmas. Oddly, this happens toward the beginning of the special. Usually the jerkwad character doesn’t start acting really nice until the end.
I think that’s what sets this special apart. Rather than focusing on redemption, it simply puts the main character into a tight spot and he has to get his way out. The kind of story you’d typically tell outside of holiday programming. In this case, Dave books the Chipmunks for a Christmas Eve performance at Carnegie Hall 6, including a harmonica solo from Alvin. The boys then attempt to raise the money for a new harmonica, as Alvin is convinced he’ll get in trouble for giving his away. Everyone watching is yelling “Just tell Dave, you dumb tree rat!” I can forgive this as kids are silly.
Christmas Eve rolls around and all attempts to raise money are thwarted. Alvin takes their collective savings to the store, knowing full well he can’t afford a new harmonica. While awaiting his return, Tommy’s mom calls Dave to tell him that Tommy is doing amazing and she owed it all to Alvin’s gift. It would appear that the cure for all childhood terminal illness is crusty chipmunk saliva.
Meanwhile, Alvin encounters a creepy old lady at the store. Well, we think she’s creepy. In television land, she’s sweet and matronly, the opposite of how old ladies act in reality. She randomly purchases Alvin a new harmonica in exchange for a song, then disappears into the crowd. We learn later that this is Mrs. Claus, getting a taste of the pleasure of giving her husband gets to experience every year 7.
Alvin is collected by Dave, Simon and Theodore and they take a sleigh ride to Carnegie Hall, which is crazy baffling as it isn’t 1842. Alvin does his solo and Dave surprises him by having Tommy backstage. They duet on stage and a merry Christmas was had by all.
Yeah, I still like this one, silly as it is. It disappeared from television some time ago, but there is a DVD floating around. Hopefully, those ugly CGI Chipmunks 8 don’t entirely displace the hand drawn, adorable Chipmunks my sisters and I grew up with.
- Sounds like Borscht Belt comedy, right? ↩
- It’s not a writing experiment until you get to use the word “chagrin.” ↩
- Seville was also the stage name taken by musician Ross Bagdasarian on his recording of “Witch Doctor.” By doubling the speed, he created a high-pitched chorus. The same year, he used this pitch-fiddling trick to create The Chipmunks and their Christmas song. ↩
- Yes, Chuck freaking Jones. While the animation wasn’t great, it wasn’t terrible either . Many of the backgrounds put other specials to shame, and I entirely credit Jones for this. ↩
- Another reason I probably loved this as a kid: The sick kid had my name! Kinda. ↩
- Seriously. It sells out too. And yet there’s no traffic to get there. I adore this fantasy version of Manhattan they live in. ↩
- Can we consider this a feminist piece? Combined with the talking animals who are pop stars, it might be good fodder for the Feminist Science Fiction group I’m in. ↩
- CINO: Chipmunks in Name Only. ↩
I’ve seen a number of films and read a few books wherein technology exists that allows you to view the dreams of another person. On the surface, this is a wonderful idea. You can peek in on a person’s subconscious and see what’s in their nightmares, fantasies and, if you’re a hardcore voyeur, their wet dreams.
In reality, this is probably a horrible idea. I know this because I watched A Flintstone Christmas and it was terrifying.
You say “But Tom, that’s just a children’s cartoon, not someone’s dream!” and normally, I’d be rational enough to agree with you. That can’t happen right now. I’m convinced this horrible cartoon is actually a printing of Ken Ham’s 1 recurring dream.
After looking at me funny, you say “But Tom, what do the Flintstones have to do with the young earth movement?” and cock your head sideways. I respond with my prepared statement as such:
We’ve all seen The Flintstones. We know that it’s like The Honeymooners in prehistoric times. We know it’s far from scientifically accurate, as humans did not coexist with dinosaurs, let alone have dominion over them.
But until this special, there were things we didn’t know about them. And I’m not talking about how the concept of Santa Claus existed in prehistoric times. Santa is going to end up in Pac-Land as well 2, so we can expect that all these specials will use Santa in places he doesn’t belong.
I’m also not talking about Fred Flintstone’s new voice. This special premiered in 1977, the same year Harry Corden took over from Alan Reed following his death. Corden seemed to take the whole “Fred Flintstone is Ralph Kramden in a loincloth” concept too far and does a horrible Jackie Gleason impression the entire time. He even does a song that made me long for a Gleason and The June Taylor Dancers to attack the Hanna-Barbera studios and cut him off something fierce.
Bad impressions aside, the real issue I had was that the Flintstone, the Rubbles and the Slates are celebrating a holiday called Christmas.
It would be bad form to assume that early man didn’t have festivals. They understood the changing of seasons and had means of marking time. I’m not averse to the notion that they’d have a nice party commemorating the equinoxes and solstices as it makes sense to me.
I’m okay with the Flintstones having all our modern Christmas traditions represented as well. The whole point was that they were just like us, but with less clothes and more animal-powered technology. Of course they’ll have a Christmas tree, and give gifts and dress like Santa for the kids. Calling it Christmas is what strikes me as odd.
That designation for the winter holiday did not appear until the time of the Roman Empire. The Flintstones takes place hundreds, if not thousands of years prior to the event Christmas is supposed to celebrate. Even taking into account the facts that it’s designed to be silly, that birds can’t be record players, and no humans ever really rode a dinosaur, I just see it as baffling that another name isn’t used. Perhaps only George Lucas was smart enough to realize that anything taking place a long time ago couldn’t have Christmas 3 so you’d have to call it Life Day or something equally goofy. Suspension of disbelief only goes so far.
Yes, I know I’m picking nits here. I have to, as A Flintstone Christmas creates a perfect storm for Ken Ham and his supporters, even if it was created before their movement got big. There are early humans, coexisting with dinosaurs, and they’re celebrating Christmas. Not the Winter Solstice, not Saturnalia, not Yule, not Life Day, but Christmas.
If this special isn’t Ham’s dream, he’s got it running on a loop in his office, reassuring him that Hanna-Barbera was touched to provide this evidence for him.
- Ken Ham is the founder of Answers in Genesis and one of the big whigs at the Creation Museum. I’m not linking to him. He doesn’t deserve the traffic and you can’t make me. Google him if you want. ↩
- I’ll get to that one. It’s terrible, but it doesn’t have these kinds of implications ↩
- Beg me and give me cheesecake and I might write up The Star Wars Holiday Special. ↩
There’s a site I frequent called WrestleCrap that for 51 weeks out of the year is about moments in professional wrestling that are so bad, they’re funny. Stupid stuff, like the Gobbledy-Gooker, The Handsome Stranger, a Turkey on a Pole match and everything Michael Cole. It’s a lot of fun, so you should go check it out 1.
The other week, they review a non-wrestling related holiday item. It’s usually some movie, old or new, that stinks of holiday cheer and talking animals and Santa. One year, though, it was something so nightmarishly awful it might be criminal to talk about it here.
Of course, we’re going to do that anyway. In 1982, Mattel released a new line of action figures designed to compete with the increasingly popular Star Wars line from Kenner. They decided to create a new property, rather than license an existing one, similar to what Hasbro was doing with their GI-Joe line. Packaging the 6″ toys with weapon accessories and a mini comic, the toys were a big hit with young boys. Add an animated television series to the mix in 1983, and Mattel had a hot franchise on their hands.
What Mattel had created was the Masters of the Universe line, also commonly known as He-Man. Set on the distant planet of Eternia, Masters of the Universe was the story of a a half-Eterian, half-Earthling man named Prince Adam. Using a magic sword given to him by the Sorceress, he would transform into He-Man, legendary warrior. Of course, all that really changed was his clothing and his voice deepened. He typically sounded like Matthew Broderick when he plays a wormy guy 2.
Men my age probably get a tinge of nostalgic bliss when they hear about He-Man. The animation didn’t age well, but damn if it wasn’t one of the best toylines of the time. Then things started getting weird. Mattel, not satisfied in already owning the little girl market with the Barbie line, decided to create a He-Man like character targeted at girls 3. Their incredibly creative name for the line? She-Ra.
Their plan was to have She-Ra exist in the same universe as He-Man. They’d be long lost siblings, reunited in 1985′s The Secret of the Sword, introducing the character and setting up her backstory. The ensuing television series highlighted She-Ra and other strong female characters. Not bad for the mid-eighties.
What was bad was the turd I’ve been building up to talking about. I guess I shouldn’t put it off any longer.
It seems that all major franchises that decade had to do some kind of Holiday Special. Even the California Raisins of the California Raisin Marketing Board commercials starred in a holiday special. We’ll talk about them later.
Today, sadly, we’re talking about He-Man and She-Ra: A Christmas Special 4. Of all the specials I’ve seen so far this year, this one was easily the worst. At least with Yogi I could come up with some goofy Patty Hearst jokes. This one just left me face palming for a a few hours.
I’ll get one thing out of the way. He-Man and She-Ra seem really close for brother and sister. It’s pretty creepy the way he looks at her sometimes. This is likely due to the limited animation, but it’ll give you chills. Super chills.
I don’t remember most of the plot of this thing, as it’s mostly clouded by the terrible animation, the eight thousand characters, and this terrible song that I’m trying to repress. I’m pretty sure that everything starts when Orko, the floating magician thing, accidentally finds himself on Earth. There he encounters two children, who instead of running away from him, decide to tell him all about Christmas.
The only person on Eternia who knows about Christmas is He-Man’s mom, Queen Marlena, because she’s from Earth. How she got to Eternia and was able to pop out King Randor’s twins is beyond me.
In any event, She-Ra has to go get some rock thing to bring Orko back. He-Man just stands around for most of the middle of the special. Can’t sell the new toys if you don’t use the new character.
While retrieving this rock, She-Ra encounters a “beast-monster.” Yes, it was so nasty, they named it twice. After soundly defeating it, three transforming robots show up. After her talking horse 5 asks about them, she called them “evil.”
The transforming robots are “evil.” It seems Mattel was really worried about their latest competition from Hasbro, The Transformers toyline.
Orko makes it back to Eternia, but the dingbat ended up bringing the children with him. This pisses off Horde Prime, the arch villain introduced late in the series. He tasks Skeletor, a hybrid man-skeleton thing with just a skull for a head who is out to kill He-Man, and Hordak, who I really can’t describe as more than She-Ra’s Skeletor, to bring him the kids. These two hate each other and constantly seek praise from Horde- rime, so they bring out various henchmen to try to intercept the kids.
Skeletor has no muscles in his head, and yet his jaw moves when he speaks. I guess it would have been scarier for kids who know nothing of the skeleto-muscular system to have him talk without moving his mouth. As an adult, seeing that job bob up and down creeps me out to no end.
The plan is to send the kids back as soon as possible. Queen Marlena laments that they’ll miss the Christmas party she was planning, but decided that because her twin children’s birthday is near Christmas, she’ll have a combined birthday and Christmas party. As someone whose birthday is near Christmas, and got a lot of combined gifts in this fashion, I just have to say “Sit on it, Queenie!”
I don’t remember what happened next as I was pissed at a cartoon character. This is where that bad song was. I don’t remember anything about it. My notes just say it’s terrible, and I’m damn sure not going back to listen to it.
Somehow the kids ended up with Hordak and the transformers then took them, and some little robot things that were apparently nice because they didn’t transform save them. Skeletor then takes the kids, but gets shot down by Hordak. Everyone survives, but now the kids are stuck in the cold with Skeletor.
This is where they ruin Skeletor forever.
The kids are so full of the Christmas spirit that Skeletor uses his magic to make them heavy winter coats to keep them warm. He laments about how good he feels, and that makes him feel terrible. Skeletor was full of holiday joy, and it was tearing his bony face apart.
They stopped making new He-Man shows after 1985. I think we know why.
He-Man and She-Ra catch up to the kids and the lame version of Skeletor. They have a chuckle and head to the party. The kids go home after a good time was had by all. The end, thankfully.
I watched this out of some hope that it would bring back good memories of childhood. All it did was make me hate everyone who ever worked for Filmation Studios ever.
WrestleCrap warned me, and I didn’t take the hint. I guess this one’s on me.
- When you’re done reading my site, smart guy. Close that other tab! ↩
- Bialystock and Bloom! ↩
- They still do this kind of crap today. As a popular Facebook share I saw today shows, unless it’s used on your bits, toys shouldn’t be gendered. ↩
- The creativity of Mattel and their animation cohorts at Filmation knew no bounds! ↩
- Can’t make a show for girls without a talking horse in the eighties! ↩
Okay, let’s just be frank about this one. It’s terrible, and the title is an outright lie. There’s no comedy in this 1982 stinker. None.
And “All-Star?” Huckleberry Hound and Snagglepuss, sure. Quick Draw McGraw, maybe. But Augie Doggie? Yakkie Doodle? Magilla Gorilla? Hokie Wolf? Who considers these people, er, anthropomorphic animals, stars?
And speaking of Hokie Wolf, did he really claim to Ranger Smith that he was friends with the Secretary of the Interior 1, and that if the Ranger didn’t wake Yogi from HIBERNATION he would call said Secretary? What kind of a sociopath does these things?
I guess the same kind of sociopath that would aid and abet Yogi as he kidnaps a little girl while dressed as Santa Claus 2. The girl doesn’t want to go back to her mostly-absent rich father. I half expected Yogi and his gang to show up months later with the girl, severely affected by Jellystone Syndrome, robbing a bank in San Francisco.
The heiress is eventually reunited with her father, but she refuses to throw Yogi and the rest of the YLA 3 under the bus. The bad dad agrees to be a better dad, and all the Hanna-Barbera characters that are talking animals have a nice christmas in the big city.
Other characters show up, but none of the cool ones. Fred and Barney from The Flintstones appear, which makes absolutely no sense. None. And then they beat up Snagglepuss, which makes even less sense.
Ugh, I’m already tired of talking about this one. I’ll bash The Flintstones some more later this week. I guess I’m dumber than the average geek to have watched this one, and now I’ve made a major Boo-Boo 4 by writing about it.
- The actual Secretary of the Interior in 1982 was Regan sycophant James Watt. This goober was anti-environmental, and the Gipper put him in charge of the national parks. Watt is probably best known for canceling a Beach Boys concert on the National Mall, worried that rock bands would bring drugs, alcohol and “the wrong element” to DC. His response to a call from Hokie Wolf would have likely been “We have bears in the park? Have the ranger shoot them, then burn down all the trees!” ↩
- As part of his crime, Yogi uses a snowmobile as a getaway vehicle. This is all well and good, except that they’re indoors, where there is no snow. Must have been a magic snowmobile. ↩
- Yogianese LIberation Army. This special is totally about Patty Hearst, or at least I’m trying to make you think that. ↩
- Boooooo!!!!! ↩
Rankin-Bass Productions is probably best known for their stop-motion specials, which I’ve already revealed my distaste for, and for Frosty the Snowman. No matter the format, they seem to always have a featured star. Burl Ives was in Rudolph and the great Jimmy Durante in Frosty. Having a singer popular with adults narrating specials geared at children became the formula for years to come.
‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, first aired in 1974, features legend of stage and screen Joel Grey. This meant nothing to my sisters and I, but we enjoyed this one annually 1.
As an adult, I’ve come to really enjoy Grey’s work. The filmed version of Cabaret is a landmark in cinema 2 and I was fortunate to see him in Anything Goes on Broadway this year 3. So it was a small wonder to see his credit on this piece.
Grey voices a small-town clockmaker who, upon learning that Santa Claus will pass by his town, builds a massive clock to welcome the fat, jolly one on Christmas Eve. After an initial setback, the clock works and Santa shows up much to the delight of everyone. We’re treated to a reading of “A Visit From Saint Nicholas” by Grey and the special ends. Time for bed because we still have school tomorrow. Dratted early Christmas specials.
While the clockmaker played by the Broadway legend should be the centerpiece of the show, it’s really about a family of anthropomorphic mice 4 who live below the clockmaker. The oldest son of this mouse family is a wonderful little skeptic who hasn’t learned the finer points of being right just yet.
The mouse kid and his friends draft a letter to the local daily pronouncing that Santa Claus doesn’t exist and they don’t want anything to do with him. This is what sets Santa off. He’s so butthurt that about a single letter to the editor in Smalltown, USA, that he returns the letters everyone in town wrote him 5 and refuses to deliver any presents there.
The mouse dad is rather pissed about this. He gives his son a speech about how much he’s hurt everyone, even showing him the harm it’s done to the town residents. He takes this to heart, mostly, along with the lesson that he still has a lot to learn. His dad was trying to get across the point that he’ll learn that Santa is real, but the mouse kid does him one better.
He has to screw up again, of course. That setback with the clock? That was the mouse kid trying to see how it worked and eventually breaking it 6, bringing shame to the clockmaker. Nobody will use his services or buy clocks from him, sure they will fail.
The clockmaker and his kids try to fix the clock 7 to no avail. But the mouse kid comes to the rescue and the clock works and the day is saved!
The best line comes right before the mouse kid goes off to do the fixing. His father asks him if he now believes in Santa, and he give stye best possible response: “I don’t know. I don’t know, but I’ve learned i still got a lot to learn.” That’s the best possible answer to that question.
Who’d have thought that the true moral lesson of a 1970′s Christmas special would be “Be skeptical, be inquisitive, be free to admit that you don’t know, just don’t be a dick?”
- They enjoyed it a lot more frequently. This one was on a homemade VHS compilation of Christmas crap, and they’d watch it all the time. It’s not like we didn’t have any other videos. We had real, commercially produced, store-bought tapes, and they’d watch this over and over again. The hell was wrong with you ladies? ↩
- Tomorrow belongs to me! ↩
- Missed Sutton Foster though, but her understudy was off the charts. ↩
- IT was the 70′s, man. Everything was talking animals. ↩
- Really, everyone. The adults in this craphole town write letters to Santa. Simpler times, I guess? ↩
- Told you he was a wonderful little skeptic ↩
- They have a musical number here that you’ve probably heard in “A Very Crappy Christmas,” the fourth South Park Christmas episode. ↩
Newspaper comics are, for the most part, terrible. There’s the occasional bright spots, like Bloom County and The Far Side. But most of it is dreck. Like Cathy 1.
A few strips get so big that they cross into other media. Most get collected and shoved into the funny corner of the bookstore with all The National Lampoon books you spent many an afternoon chuckling at while your parents shopped elsewhere in the mall. Some get animated television specials, or even series. There was once a Doonesbury musical.
The absolute king of the comic strips that went on to become more has to be Garfield. Sure, Peanuts produced better content, but it was a while before you could get properly collected strips. And nobody really had a Snoopy plush doll with suction cups on it. No, those ridiculous creations were always orange and black, and they were always in the window of the jerk cutting you off.
Since I’m likely to end this series with A Charlie Brown Christmas, it’s fitting that I begin with A Garfield Christmas. If the former wasn’t a popular annual television tradition, the latter would never have been made. We might have been better off, but that’s probably just my hatred of Garfield speaking 2.
First broadcast in 1987, A Garfield Christmas is a pretty basic special. Production values were low, as is to be expected for one-off television animation. The story is simple: Garfield, an obese cat, accompanies his owner, idiot man-child Jon Arbuckle, and Jon’s other pet, seemingly vacuous dog Odie, on a trip to the Arbuckle family farm for a Christmas celebration. Over the course of 23 minutes, Garfield learns the true meaning of Christmas and makes an old lady happy. Lou Rawls 3 sings some songs and everyone has a great country Christmas.
The show’s too short for anything of interest to happen. There isn’t any real conflict, and the only germ of an actual story lies in Garfield finding some letters Jon’s grandfather wrote to his grandmother when their relationship began. Grandma Arbuckle is easily the most interesting character. Of course, this was the late Eighties, and every attempt was made to make old people seem hip. Cocoon is the prime example of this.
What we do encounter is Jon’s mutant family. Jon is already drawn to have giant eyes. His brother, Doc Boy 4 also has giant eyes, which seems to indicate this ocular condition is genetic. Their dad 5 also has large eyes, but he can’t open them all the way. I guess Jon and Doc Boy have that to look forward to.
Grandma has big eyes as well, and she needs glasses the size of saucers to see. Not entirely surprising, as she’s of rather advanced age and there were no good glasses in 1987. The real kicker, though, is Jon’s mom. Mom has no eyes.
I’ll give that a moment to sink in.
Hurts, doesn’t it? This lady somehow has no eyes. I can’t tell if that makes me angry or scares me to no end. You’d also think that genetically, the younger generation of Arbuckles would have smaller eyes due to their mother’s lack thereof, but Jim Davis was too busy counting his merch money to consider this problem.
Another problem is that Jon and Doc Boy are the dumbest men alive. Watching them drool over the Binky the Clown story 6 was horrifying. I referred to Jon as an idiot man-child earlier. He and his brother are idiot men-children 7. Our only reprieve is that they’re obviously not reproducing.
The kids who watched this special 24 years ago are now adults and are cranking out babies left and right 8, yet it’s unlikely they will get to experience this oddity with those kids. The special has only aired once in the US since 2000 and that was in 2008. The Canadians got it last year. You have to see this thing out to see it in the United States.
I have two hypotheses as to why it’s become so rare here. The obviously, and likely correct one, is that nobody cared about Garfield any longer. Once we collectively realized that removing Garfield from the strip and turning it into a depressing, existential piece about Jon’s mental issues 9 we gave up on the the fat cat and his merchandise empire. Irrelevancy leads to obscurity, and we bid the special adieu.
Alternatively, were realize that the entire special is a metaphor for self-pleasure. Odie gets very, very excited by the cat scratcher he builds for Garfield. Grandma delivers a short speech about how she misses Grandpa, so she’s outside, stroking her kitty. She’s talking about Garfield, right?
Either way, I’d be remiss to talk about the voice of Garfield, Lorenzo Music. A legend of comedy writing. He got his start with The Smothers Brothers and went on to create The Bob Newhart Show. Of course, we all remember him for his distinctive voice, be it telling Rhoda she has a visitor or kicking a drooling dog off a table. Looking back, I think the only thing that made animated Garfield enjoyable was Lorenzo Music’s signature voice. He was one of the people that provided the soundtrack to my childhood. Between that and his contributions to television comedy, he’ll be truly missed.
Too bad he didn’t get to write A Garfield Christmas. Perhaps it would have been awesome, but it merely serves as a novelty, a relic of a time long gone. When comic strip cats ruled the universe.
- Seriously, I couldn’t stand Cathy. Why was a comic supposedly about a modern women so loaded with internalized misogyny? I’m sure I spent part of a Sunday or two hoping that Hagar the Horrible would lop the heads off of both Cathy and Irving. ↩
- I’m mostly against the notion that there are things that you have to stop enjoying when you become an adult. But if you have a career and live on your own, and you laugh at Garfield, I don’t know if I want to know you anymore ↩
- Yes, him. Either he was a big fan or the check cleared. ↩
- Who the crap names their child that? Damn Arbuckle rednecks. ↩
- The dude who played Schneider on One Day At a Time voices the dad. Nothing snarky to say about that, as that is awesome. ↩
- Rather than use a public domain story for the Christmas Eve tradition, like “A Visit From Saint Nicholas”, they wrote their own. This is the most creative thing in this special. And it’s possibly the only creative thing. ↩
- Man-children? Man-childs? ↩
- Slow down, will ya? It’s not a race to the top of Baby Mountain here! ↩
- Garfield Minus Garfield. Go read it. ↩
I recently came into a large pile of holiday specials, most of them old. Slowly, but surely, I’ve gotten the ones deemed watchable converted and ready to play on the Apple TV.
While watching a handful of the lesser specials the other night, I noticed that being an adult changes one’s perception of them greatly. Sure, there will be the handful that always hold up, but those still have their flaws. And some are so silly that they deserve a roasting.
Most of these specials I haven’t seen in a long time, or ever. Most of my holiday watching has been limited to feature films and The Muppets, which tend to be more geared at an adult audience as it is. This year, we’re in the trenches with animated specials, and you’re in it with me, patient reader.
Every special I watch is getting a few paragraphs on this blog. I’ll likely have more to say about some, and less to say about others, but it beats me simply snarking on Facebook.
We’ll start with what I refer to as “lesser specials,” those made to quickly cash in on whatever was hot that year, or ones that never really caught on with the kids, or ones that simply disappeared, to be rarely seen again on US television.
As we get closer to the sacred baby festival, we’ll broach some that can be considered classic, and then the holy trinity of specials: Charlie Brown, How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Frosty the Snowman 1.
I’ll still try to squeeze in my usual film watching, but they won’t get write ups unless I find something to say. I might do a single post discussing some of the older Muppet specials if I get the time.
That gets the setup post out of the way. Let’s talk specials, shall we?
- No, you don’t see any reindeer in that list. I really don’t like the stop motion Rankin-Bass specials. Had they spent five more minutes on the models, they wouldn’t look so creepy as to frighten children. In the era of Harryhousen, they really could have done better. I’ll be reviewing some, but I don’t consider them required annual viewing. ↩
I’ve got this iPad now and I’m playing with as many of my neglected iPhone apps on it as I can. Fired up the WordPress app and now I’m posting to my well neglected blog.
I’m pretty much digging what they’ve done recently, especially the extra row of keys for doing WordPressy stuffs. I might update from here again, but I might not.