AVAHS – A Pinky and the Brain Christmas Review

Plot: Brain has a plan to take over the minds of people across the globe by planting his mind-controlling Noodle Noggin dolls in Santa’s sleigh.

Breakdown: I watched a lot of Pinky and the Brain when I was a kid. I wasn’t as big of a fan of the series as Animaniacs, the series on which Pinky and the Brain spun off, or even Tiny Toon Adventures, but I did like it quite a lot.

I only vaguely remember this special, but I’m very glad I rediscovered it because this is a really great Christmas special. Not only does Brain have a pretty good plan that very nearly works, not only do they get into some pretty funny shenanigans in the meantime, but they also manage to end on a legitimately heartwarming moment. It was kinda predictable, admittedly, but it was also super sweet. I audibly said “Aww!” at least four times when watching the final five minutes. Pinky is just the sweetest sweetheart in the world.

What’s weird is that the quality of the footage is quite bad on Hulu. It’s available on DVD, but the quality of the episode on Hulu is kinda bad for some reason.

Anyhoo, this is a very sweet and funny Christmas special that I recommend to anyone.


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AVAHS – Prep and Landing Review

Plot: Prep and Landing is a special covert team of elves who go out every Christmas Eve night to prepare the homes of children all across the globe for Santa’s arrival. Their services are vital to ensuring that Santa can land, deliver gifts without being seen and leave without being caught. Wayne is a legendary member of Prep and Landing, but he’s burned out and ready to leave those days behind him for a cushy life in a higher position. When that doesn’t work out, he becomes lackadaisical and uncaring about his job, which leads to a major catastrophe that puts the Christmas spirit of an innocent child on the line.

Breakdown: This is an interesting one for me, because I know for a fact that I heard of this special when it first came out, and it seems kinda familiar, but for the life of me I don’t remember sitting down and watching it. Shame if I didn’t, because this is an excellent Christmas special.

Someone said this seemed very reminiscent of Arthur Christmas, and I agree, to an extent. While it doesn’t have the Aardman style to the artwork, the way Santa and the elves are portrayed comes off a lot like the way they were portrayed in Arthur Christmas, only not in a negative slant. In Arthur Christmas, they were getting so reliant on technology that it really seemed like Santa didn’t need to go out to visit houses every year, the elves were being phased out or just made to be tech specialists, and the spirit of Christmas was dying as the use of technology was increasing.

However, this special portrays the integration of technology in a much more positive light. Santa’s still Santa, and the elves are still the elves, but they have new jobs to ensure that Christmas magic stays alive and well. For example, while they treat the launching of Santa’s sleigh almost as if it’s a rocket launch, they toy with the process to not diminish the original roles of Santa’s reindeer and sleigh. When they say to “Rev up the engines” they send down an elf who basically acts as the hype man for the reindeer who gets them super excited before they head out.

It’s a much more natural and fun integration than they had in Arthur Christmas, but, then again, that was the point in that movie. The technology here is more of a fun backdrop for the antics of the story, not a focal part of the story.

I really like how Prep and Landing is made out to be such an integral part of the process. It’s a pretty unique idea to have elves who prepare the house before Santa visits to help ensure everything goes smoothly. It’s pretty realistic, too – at least in regards to the Santa mythos. An operation like Santa’s would want to make their activities as efficient and covert as humanly possible, and having a special team of elves preparing the house beforehand while also doing everything in their power to streamline everything back at the North Pole makes it much easier to pull off this job every year.

In regards to the story, I feel like this plot lends itself more to adults than children, and not because it’s mature or anything, but the themes surrounding it give me a feeling like if I watched it and enjoyed it as a child I’d have more of an appreciation for it as an adult.

Wayne starts out the special being arrogant and uncaring. We don’t really spend a lot of time with him as a young and enthusiastic Prep and Landing agent. Once we learn of his backstory, we see him as a cocky guy who thinks he’s about to land (hehe) a fancy promotion to being head of the naughty list. While he is being arrogant and kinda rude, he’s not being so bad that he’s obnoxious or your don’t sympathize with him.

As we learn later, he’s just a very, very burned out elf who, despite being top of his game in Prep and Landing, wants to go higher and get more respect. That position is ripped from him for no given reason, and the promotion is handed to his partner – an elf he trained. We never learn much about his partner nor do we ever see him after the backstory portion. Him getting the job doesn’t matter as much as Wayne not getting it.

Being burned out, wanting more out of your job and losing promotions to younger people who may or may not have snaked them from you are all very real situations adults find themselves in more and more. Not to mention that the office-esque vibe the entire factory gives off (while still being loaded with Christmas stuff, of course) makes it feel, almost sadly, very familiar to adults. They’re not really aspects of the story that kids get – and they don’t really have to connect with that aspect of the story. They really just need to know that Wayne is a grump who is fed up with doing the same stuff over and over, and he needs to rediscover his Christmas spirit to get back in the swing of things.

Wayne does get dangerously close to being obnoxious when they enter their first house. Wayne is so done with his job after losing his promotion that he leaves every task in the home up to the brand-new rookie, Lanny, who, despite being enthusiastic and skilled, is still extremely inexperienced and self-conscious. He idolizes Wayne since he’s such a legend in Prep and Landing, but Wayne just dumps all of the work on him while he goes to laze around and take advantage of the comforts of the home.

Lanny does his best, but he still screws up some stuff because he’s never done this before. Wayne won’t help him because he doesn’t take his job seriously anymore.

This, of course, leads to them getting caught by the kid in the house. He’s a nice young lad who immediately starts taking pictures of them, because, well duh. Most kids, especially after the advent of digital cameras and smartphones, would immediately jump on taking pictures of elves in the house. Though Lanny was smart enough to delete the pictures when they managed to knock the kid out.

Wayne still doesn’t care all that much about causing this mess until he realizes that they still haven’t prepared the landing strip on the roof, and there’s a big snowstorm coming through. Santa is unable to land safely, so they’re forced to do something they almost never do – call off a visit to a house.

Only then, when he completely screws up Christmas for an innocent boy, does he both see how badly he’s messed up and how important their job truly is. They save Christmas for the boy together, and Wayne isn’t hailed as a hero or anything (which he shouldn’t) but he’s offered a promotion to director of the nice list, and he turns it down because his true place is with Prep and Landing.

All the way through, this special was very entertaining. It wasn’t the most emotional thing it the world, but it’s not trying to be, and I think it could have stood being a little longer, but it was funny, well-animated, a little heartwarming and managed to create fairly memorable, likable and relatable characters in a short 22 minute time frame. It’s a special I really feel would instantly become a classic for families. I’m certainly thinking about putting it on my annual watch list for the holiday season.

It received an Emmy for Outstanding Animated Program (for Programming Less than One Hour), it was nominated for nine Annie awards – winning three – and it was so popular that it actually dethroned the Rankin-Bass Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer special as the number one Christmas special on TV.

Prep and Landing went on to have a sequel called Prep and Landing: Naughty vs. Nice, which I may get around to watching and reviewing this month, several shorter spin-offs and even a comic book crossover where Wayne and Lanny prepare the Avengers mansion for Christmas. However, nowadays, Prep and Landing is all but dead, and it seems the sequel is kinda the reason for that. There was a third Prep and Landing special meant to come out some time after 2011, but the plans were scrapped because reception for the second special was too disappointing.

Still, Prep and Landing and Naughty vs. Nice air every year to this day (although, for some reason, they stopped in 2020, they’re set to return to Freeform, ABC and the Disney Channel this year.) and it seems to be a well-remembered short for many people. I certainly enjoyed myself, and I recommend anyone reading to give it a shot. It’s available on Disney+, but will also be airing on Disney Channel, Freeform and ABC throughout the month.


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AVAHS – Casper’s First Christmas Review

Plot: Casper tries to celebrate Christmas while waiting for the impending demolition of his home. Meanwhile, the other Hanna-Barbera characters visit the home, not realizing it’s haunted, to have a fun Christmas together.

Breakdown: Ladies and gentlemen….we have been lied to.

Yogi Bear is in this special.

He’s supposed to be hibernating.

This deception cannot go unpunished!

Blatant filthy lies aside, this is a pretty okay special, although there is something inherently depressing about a dead child trying to celebrate Christmas. Also, doesn’t that technically mean the title is incorrect? Casper certainly had to have had Christmases while he was alive, right?

I honestly don’t have much to say about this special because nothing much happens. Hairy Scary scares the other characters when they visit the house and is a grump about Christmas, but then he changes his mind, his house is saved, and everyone has a merry Christmas. It’s plenty Christmassy, there’s just not much to it. If you like Casper and Hanna-Barbera stuff, it’s a fine little special to watch around the holidays.


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AVAHS – Thomas and Friends: Percy the Snowman Review

Thomas and Friends Percy the Snowman

Plot: Thomas gets a special job for the holiday, but Percy is stuck in the snow. Thomas is determined to share his special with Percy, but he may be doing more harm than good.

Breakdown: I watched my fair share of Thomas the Tank Engine back in the day. It was a quaint and unique, if not somewhat creepy in its presentation, little show that holds a special place in my heart. When I heard they were rebooting the series in CGI and actually animating the characters I kinda had mixed feelings. I wasn’t really going to watch it either way, but I felt like it would lose a special little something having it animated like that. Sure, their non-moving faces were creepy, but their creepiness was, oddly, part of their charm.

No harm, no foul, though. This is for a new generation, so they can do whatever they want. I’m probably just being an old curmudgeon anyway.

I was actually looking forward to checking out this episode because it’s been a LONG time since I’ve seen anything Thomas the Tank Engine that wasn’t a meme. When I Googled the episode, I found the IMDB page for it, and uh…….It had a 2/10 rating (with 36 ratings) with no written reviews. I got a little baffled, to say the least.

I haven’t heard anything about this reboot, and I don’t think people who are grumpy old curmudgeons would bother review bombing a random episode of this series, so I didn’t know how to take this.

There were two versions of the show on the (Official?) Thomas the Tank Engine HD version Youtube channel – The UK version and the US version. I was more than curious to see how the two versions differed, so I watched both side-by-side. Basically, the entirety of the show is completely the same outside of the accents (and voices) and two details. The first is the most obvious – when referring to Sir Topham Hatt, the UK version constantly calls him the Fat Controller, but the US version always says Sir Topham Hatt to avoid offensive language. The second was when Sir Topham Hatt came out dressed up like Santa, the UK version called him Father Christmas while the US version called him Santa Claus. No idea why they felt that had to be changed. Pretty sure US kids know that term for Santa, but whatever.

As I was watching, I thought it was a pretty cute little show. I think it retained enough of the spirit of the original, though maybe a more hardcore Thomas fan would disagree with me.

But as I got about halfway through, I started noticing something concerning.

The plot is that Percy’s railcars slipped on the track because of the ice and snow, causing him to get stuck, but Thomas has a big plow so the snow isn’t a problem for him. Thomas gets assigned a special job to transport Sir Topham Hatt to the Town Square later to light up the town Christmas tree. Percy is upset that he basically can’t do anything while he’s stuck in the snow, so Thomas promises to finish up his jobs for the day as quickly as possible and share his special job with Percy somehow.

Each time Thomas passes back and forth past Percy as he does his jobs, he covers Percy in more and more snow. It takes until he’s done with his jobs to realize Percy is now entirely buried in snow….and also that, of course, being stuck in snow in the first place means he can’t participate in Thomas’ special.

Thomas rushes to town to bring the kids and Sir Topham Hatt to Percy so he can share in his special with him. (By the way, I’m not typoing “special job.” They consistently just call it a special.) He tells the kids that the snow-covered Percy is a Snow Engine, which makes both the children and Percy very happy.

That’s great and all…………Is uh…..anyone gonna get him out of the goddamn snowbank? Why is the solution to this problem bringing people to Percy to have fun instead of finding a way to help him escape from his snowy purgatory?

I went through this entire episode expecting the big climax to be Percy getting out of the snow, but no. No one cares enough to get him out. Is he going to be stuck there for the entire winter? Why is no one even concerned about him?

I was also disappointed that they didn’t do anything to Percy to actually make him look like a snowman or something to that effect. It’s literally just that he’s a snowbank with his face peeking out. And, for some reason, the kids are incredibly impressed by this. (Bear in mind they live in a world where they already know the trains are sentient and can talk.)

This special isn’t that Christmassy either. It showed one Christmas tree, and Sir Topham Hatt dressed up like Santa in the end. Other than that, there wasn’t much Christmas in this Christmas episode. Maybe I should give it some leeway because the title doesn’t imply it’s explicitly a Christmas special, but still. It takes place around Christmas, a Christmas tree is part of the plot, and a character dresses as Santa. You’re a Christmas special, Charlie Brown.

Do I think this episode deserves a 2/10? No, not by a long shot. But I definitely think either just the ending or the story as a whole should have been changed quite a bit to not leave Percy forever stuck in a mound of snow. Like what happens after the kids have to go home? Everyone just abandons Percy and the only times they ever see him again is when they look to the side and see a big pile of snow as they do their jobs, and then they remember he exists when the snow melts? Imagine if Percy was a human. How messed up would this be? It’s already pretty messed up. Even if Percy can’t die in there, he can still go mad being stuck in one spot for months – eventually being blinded and deafened to the world around him.

Still, I managed to enjoy it before I got distracted by the blatant train neglect. If you’re a fan of Thomas, either classic or the new stuff, this episode is fine. Not sure it’s a Christmas staple, but it’s fine for a quaint little brief watch during the holiday season.


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AVAHS – Veggietales: Saint Nicholas – A Story of Joyful Giving Review

Plot: Bob and Larry recount the story of Saint Nicholas to the kids in order for them to grasp the true meaning of Christmas.

Breakdown: I was never really into Veggietales when I was younger. It was just ever so slightly beyond my time, despite growing up in a Christian household. It didn’t really look that appealing to me when I finally did start seeing little bits of it around. I didn’t even really know much about it (outside of some Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything trailers I remember seeing when I was younger) until a few months ago when I watched a very interesting video on it by Saberspark. Go watch it. It’s fascinating.

I have heard pretty good things about Veggietales over the years. People have been praising it quite highly for being a rare Christian/religious program that is both entertaining and doesn’t tend to really alienate non-Christian/religious audiences.

So here I am finally giving something of Veggietales a true watch, and, yeah, I can see the appeal. I wasn’t blown away or anything, but it was indeed genuinely entertaining and, while the subject matter was very heavy in the realm of religion, I don’t think it was presented in such a way that it would alienate anyone watching, especially considering that Saint Nicholas was a religious figure.

While they obviously take a lot of liberties in the tale of how Saint Nicholas became Santa Claus, and I mean a lot, they kinda acknowledge that they’re taking these liberties since many of the things that are added or changed for the sake of making Santa connections are blatantly pointed out. However, they almost completely fabricate the backstory of Santa Claus as a child and his reasons for becoming such a giving figure.

They pretty much get a pass for this because we really don’t know much for certain about Saint Nicholas besides a handful of details. However, even these details they get wrong. One of the details, which is Saint Nicholas saving three girls, is changed for understandable reasons. Instead of saving them from lives of prostitution by paying their marriage dowries, the Nicholas in this story saved them from being sent to prison for giving gifts and being unable to pay the fine of one gold coin each.

What’s especially funny is that a detail they add is Nicholas’ parents suddenly dying of illness and Nicholas abandoning his friend to the mercy of demanding townsfolk and an oppressive fisherman because he thinks his friend’s presence will remind him too much of his parents as he journeys.

In this interpretation, Nicholas’ parents were religious, but he, as a kid who didn’t understand or care about that kinda stuff, just brushed it off whenever it came up. He even thought it was weird that his parents were so giving and caring. As local fishers, they would give away their fish to those who needed it, and would help anyone whenever they could. Nicholas didn’t understand truly why they did this until he traveled somewhere and found religion on his own. Then he made it his mission to pick up where his parents left off and start giving to the town again. When he returned to his hometown, he discovered that it was overtaken by the rival fisherman I mentioned, Gustav, who declared himself mayor and basically took over the whole town in tyranny. Everyone worked for him, and no one was allowed to ever give any gifts.

According to this version, Nicholas adopted his trademark outfit only eventually as a means to disguising himself to avoid getting caught while giving the townsfolk gifts.

This story is being told by Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber to a group of kids who are focused entirely on getting gifts for Christmas. Like in the story, a jerk named Gus is basically keeping a guy’s truck hostage when he needs to finish his delivery route in time to go get a Christmas tree with his daughter. And I mean it, he straight up stole this guy’s truck. He takes it from him, locks it in his garage and tells him he can’t get it out unless he pays for it – which he can’t afford.

The story of Saint Nicholas that they made up is believable enough, for the most part, and I was never bored or anything. Plus, it did manage to really get me in the Christmas spirit.

………I’m sorry, I can’t not talk about this anymore. How do they hold things?! They have no arms or hands. Things just float in front of them! It’s like they have telekinesis. It was freaking me out!

Sorry, I needed to get that off my chest.

Anyhoo, if you’re a Veggietales fan or even if you’re simply open to a more religious take on the origins of Santa Claus, check this out. I enjoyed it well enough, and I’d like to see more Veggietales stuff in the future.


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AVAHS – Back at the Barnyard: It’s an Udderful Life Review

BTTB - It's an Udderful Life

Plot: Otis and the other barnyard animals try to save Christmas after Santa falls ill.

Breakdown: I have never seen Barnyard, the movie on which this series is based, but I have seen an episode or two of the show in the past. And I thought it was very….fine. It had its moments, but nothing ever really stuck out. It’s one of those properties where I always forget it exists.

The show as a whole has a pretty strong Jimmy Neutron vibe, which makes sense because it was made and written by Steven Odekirk, the man who created Jimmy Neutron. Back at the Barnyard is not as good as Jimmy Neutron, in my limited opinion, but it’s still fine. I think the main problem is that Back at the Barnyard tries to be Jimmy Neutron without the fun science stuff, making it rely too heavily on stupid humor. Not that Jimmy Neutron was the most scientifically accurate show in the world, it most certainly wasn’t by a long shot, and it definitely had its fair share of dumb humor, but at least the science aspect was fun and was a strong hook. This show just has talking animals as a hook, and that’s been done to death even when this came out.

Just as Jimmy Neutron’s Christmas special was okay, so is this special. In fact, it basically has roughly the same-ish plot as the Jimmy Neutron special in needing to deliver presents in Santa’s stead because the main character incapacitated him on accident.

And, just as Jimmy Neutron’s special, I don’t think the overall plot makes a lot of sense. According to the lore in this universe, Santa needs to have a present under every tree by midnight or else Christmas will be over forever. But isn’t it supposed to be that he has until Christmas morning? I guess if you just count “morning” as being the AM hours, then this makes sense, but I still don’t think so.

It garnered a few smiles out of me, admittedly, but I don’t think I’ll be seeking out anymore Barnyard stuff in the future. Apparently, the movie was poorly received, and the TV show was one of those “kick it to Nicktoons so we can let it quietly die” situations, being sent there mid-season two. I really don’t think I’m missing much.

There was a musical number in the episode, produced by Guy Moon, whom you may know as the man who did a lot of musical work on Fairly Odd Parents, Danny Phantom – Basically any Butch Hartman show. It was a fine song, but, just like the songs in the Jimmy Neutron special, I forgot them as quickly as I heard them.


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AVAHS – Jimmy Neutron: Holly Jolly Jimmy Review

Plot: Jimmy, being a man of science, refutes the existence of Santa Claus. In order to prove once and for all that he doesn’t exist, he travels to the North Pole.

Breakdown: I’m a bit surprised that in all my years of reviewing I haven’t once reviewed anything Jimmy Neutron related. While I only saw the movie on which the TV series was based only a few times, I followed the show quite closely. It wasn’t one of my absolute favorite shows, but I enjoyed it and I watched it all the time. While the premise wasn’t all that unique, the sense of humor was good, the characters were memorable and it definitely had a unique and memorable art style, even if it did take some getting used to. I always wanted a toy of Goddard, and I’m sad I never got one. He’s one of the best robot pups.

Jimmy Neutron was such a popular property for Nickelodeon that they did three crossover specials with Fairy Odd Parents, and the show got a spin-off, kinda, with Planet Sheen. I say “kinda” because really the only link the show had with Jimmy Neutron was having Sheen as the main character. There was a Carl-like character, but it wasn’t him, and neither Jimmy nor any of the other characters from the show ever made an appearance….and it’s one of the most widely hated cartoons of the time.

As for this Christmas special, I just barely remember it in tiny bits and pieces. It’s not the most memorable holiday special in the world to say the least. As I was watching, I slowly started remembering more, but most of it isn’t really worth remembering. There are pretty of good jokes here, it got a few chuckles out of me, but for the most part it’s very much forgettable. If I hadn’t probably watched it numerous times as a kid around the holidays just because it was on, then I probably would never remember it.

There’s nothing really wrong with it, there’s just not much to help it stand out. It also makes some weird decisions. For instance, this is….kinda a musical? There are two songs in this special (technically three, but the third is a reprise of the first.) which isn’t a bad or confusing decision, but they seriously didn’t seem like they wanted songs in this. The first song is very lackluster and took me off guard because I never remembered any musical numbers in Jimmy Neutron. I basically forgot the song as soon as it ended. Then there was Jimmy’s dad’s song about Pule, which is the holiday he made up to replace the seemingly ruined Christmas. It’s a mixture of ‘pie’ and ‘yule.’ The song is basically just “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” just replace “Christmas” with “Pule.”

Speaking of Pule, that part was just dumb. I get that Hugh is an idiot, I get that he loves pie, and I get that he had the best intentions, but that B-plot just wasn’t funny nor was the song that accompanied it.

In regards to the A-Plot, it’s the ol’ ‘Character wants to prove Santa doesn’t exist and accidentally screws everything up in the process and ruins Christmas’ plot. Not the most common plot, but simple and common enough to predict what will happen, more or less. My problem with it really is that it doesn’t make ANY sense.

Jimmy’s trying to disprove the existence of Santa because he doesn’t believe there’s any possible way for Santa to do the things everyone claims he does. Fine. He goes to the North Pole to investigate, finds Santa’s workshop and still doesn’t believe anything he’s seeing. He writes off the factory as if it’s just a normal factory, and he dismisses the elves as short people with an ear condition. He accidentally zaps Santa, who is in a different room, with his scanner, rendering him unable to go out and deliver presents. This gives Jimmy a great idea to prove Santa doesn’t exist.

His plan?

He will use his technology to deliver all of the presents in twelve hours. And if he’s successful, it will prove that Santa doesn’t exist……

I really feel like I need to repeat that.

Jimmy doesn’t believe Santa exists because he thinks what he does is physically impossible. So if Jimmy can manage to do it, that proves that Santa doesn’t exist…….???

Santa is able to later recover and save Jimmy, Sheen and Carl after they nearly die while failing in trying to deliver all the presents. Turns out, Santa’s basically Jimmy. He says his catchphrases, he’s a science genius, and he even does a Brain Blast. Santa utilizes a mixture of magic and science to do what he does. With the help of some of Jimmy’s tech, he’s able to deliver the last of the presents and return the three back home.

Jimmy now realizes that Santa truly does exist, and he even got a special present. The reason he actually stopped believing in Santa was because, like so many characters who stop believing in Santa, he didn’t get what he wanted one year. He asked for a core from a dwarf star when he was little, but he never got it. When Jimmy returned home from his Santa trip, he found the star core under the tree with a note apologizing for taking so long to get it to him, but Santa needed to wait five years for it to cool enough to give it to him. Why didn’t you just leave a note for him five years ago saying he got the star but it wasn’t safe to give to him until it cooled?

Again, seriously, this special wasn’t bad at all. It just doesn’t seem like much effort went into making it stand out or make sense. It really feels like another episode of the show instead of being a special. If you enjoyed Jimmy Neutron, then you’ll likely enjoy this special, but as a Christmas special on its own, it’s just not very special.


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AVAHS – The Town Santa Forgot Review

Plot: An extremely selfish brat named Jeremy Creek learns an important lesson after he sends Santa a massive list for Christmas.

Breakdown: This is a special I’ve definitely heard of, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen it. It’s certainly a heartwarming special. It’s short, sweet and to the point. It has plenty of Christmas warm fuzzies, and I can totally see this being on someone’s must-watch list every holiday season.

Jeremy is one of the biggest brats I’ve ever seen in animation, and his parents are bigger enablers than Angelica’s. He just constantly demands mountains of toys, and if he doesn’t get them he throws the loudest tantrums until he gets what he wants, and his parents almost always give in. Everyone in the neighborhood is sick of his tantrums, and the kids around town are sick of him bragging about his toys (of which he doesn’t share, obviously.)

While the story is sweet, I kinda find it hard to believe that Santa just overlooked an entire town of people. They act like the town is so small that they never noticed, but like….a population of 8800?….come on. My town has a population of 1800.

Isn’t Santa supposed to be omniscient? Didn’t any of these kids ever send a letter to Santa at some point? And what a coincidence that the town in question just so happens to be one where everyone’s dirt poor.

I also thought it was sweet that Jeremy got to be Santa’s helper after this……even though….ya know…………he didn’t do the good thing on purpose. He may have changed after he realized how happy his toys made everyone, but it was a total accident. He didn’t intend on those kids getting his presents. Wouldn’t it have been nicer to make one of the children from Jeremy Creek (the town, not the kid) his assistant to maybe help make up for an eternity of never visiting them on Christmas? How did Jeremy outgrow the sleigh? Santa is surely bigger, and you clearly showed earlier that one of his powers is to smush himself into smaller/thinner forms to get down chimneys and rain spouts. He can’t help make room for a 12 year old?

Despite my grumblings over the details, this is still a very sweet special to watch around the holidays. I think the twist at the end was kinda cute too. I’d certainly watch it again.


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AVAHS – Snowden’s Christmas Review

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Plot: A little boy’s toys fly out of the moving van while moving all the way to New York. Lead by Snowden the stuffed snowman, the toys all try make the long journey back to him.

Breakdown: So, uh, Target…..Did you try to pull a Rudolph? Unrelated, but did you also recently watch Toy Story? Because I feel like you did.

I’m just kidding. Anyway, it’s the 2022 A Very Animated Holiday Special!

Starting out our reviews this holiday season is Snowden’s Christmas. Snowden is a Christmas plushie that was made in 1997 exclusively for Target stores. It was available until 1999, so it didn’t really have a long life. However, it did somehow manage to have five Christmas specials based off of it. You heard me. Five Christmas specials in two years. They must have had a lot of blind faith that Snowden would take off.

Spoiler alert: It didn’t.

I was never aware of Snowden as a child. We don’t have Target nearby. I think the closest one is about 40 minutes from my house, and I think that was built when I was a little older.

We have K-Mart and Walmart. And I don’t think K-Mart or Walmart ever had their own Christmas plush or holiday specials.

While I haven’t seen the other four specials, only two of which being animated, I went into this one because the Christmas Special Fandom page has a randomizer and that’s how I pick my AVAHS entries…..It’s times like this where I’m pretty glad that is the method with which I choose what I watch for these review series, because this was a pretty entertaining special. It was kinda funny and kinda heartwarming. Definitely worth my time.

It’s nothing groundbreaking or anything, but it’s a lot more than I’d expect from a Target promotional toy-based holiday special. It has some pretty nice stop-motion animation courtesy of Cuppa Coffee Studios, and even the voice acting is pretty alright. They hired some big names for the time like Peter MacNicol voices Snowden, Michael McKean voices Drummer, Kathy Najimy voices Tiny and Ed Asner voices Big Daddy. Only one character is voiced by a professional voice actor, and that belongs to Footloose the rabbit voiced by Rosalynn Taylor, who is probably most well-known for playing Queen Rapsheeba in Chalkzone or Mackenzie in Rocket Power, but she had numerous other cartoon roles.

The characters, while being fairly one-note, were all likable. They had their annoying spots, especially Drummer, who was basically just a jerk, and Tiny who was pretty much just constantly panicking about everything.

Snowden’s a confusing character. He’s like the leader, everyone listens to him, but he’s also frequently mocked and belittled by Drummer and sometimes Tiny. Snowden is very sweet, and I love his dedication to Adam, I’m just a bit confused as to what his role was meant to be. Is he leader because he’s seemingly Adam’s favorite toy so it doesn’t matter that he’s timid and looked down upon?

I did mention that they seemed to be taking some inspiration from Toy Story in regards to the…..uhm…story, and you can definitely get that vibe numerous times, but it’s not copying them or anything, especially considering there’s no “Buzz” stand-in. It’s just a story of some toys trying to get back to their owner. Adam loves his toys so much that he doesn’t even want new toys for Christmas, he just wants his old ones back.

If there’s one scene I really want to bring up, it’s when the toys get put in the hands of some kids. They believe that they’re toys included in a kids’ meal from a burger joint. The kids just throw them around and get them sticky etc., which is understandable. I kinda like this whole scene because this is one of the most realistic families I’ve seen in animation in a while. Kids just being nightmares, the littlest kid just chillin’ and the parents losing their patience the longer it goes on.

What took me off guard was when the mom just threw all of the toys away when they stopped at a restroom. What a horrible thing to do. She got pissed because Drummer accidentally started drumming. Doesn’t he have batteries you can remove? The other toys don’t make noise. It just seemed so awful of that mother to trash her kids’ new toys just because they were being kinda rowdy. She justified it by saying that they’d get new toys on Christmas, but it’s still a mean thing to do.

Anyway, I recommend watching this one at least once. It’s a sweet and kinda funny little seldom-known special. And, hey, if you’re a Target fan, this was literally made for you.


If my work makes you feel jolly and you’d like to send some Christmas cheer my way, please consider leaving a gift under my Ko-Fi tree. Every donation goes to helping me pay my bills and keeping this blog running as like Santa’s Workshop. Thank you! Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and have a Wonderful New Year! 🎄☃️

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Animating Halloween | Invader Zim: Halloween Spectacular of Spooky Doom Review

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Plot: Zim learns about the horrors of Halloween while Dib struggles with randomly shifting between dimensions.

Breakdown: If there’s any show that is perfect for making a great Halloween special, it’s Invader Zim. It’s definitely not afraid to go all-in on the scares and the creepiness as much as possible (IE What Nickelodeon would allow.) It’s clear that the writers weren’t entirely invested in making a Halloween special so much as using the holiday as an excuse to get away with a particularly freaky and horrifying episode, and they used their opportunity quite well.

This is one of the most creative episodes of Invader Zim. While Zim is panicking over Halloween because he believes it’s a night where children turn into candy-crazed zombies, Dib causes an accident that makes it so he keeps getting transported to an alternate and frightening version of their world. If he doesn’t stop it, he’ll end up getting trapped in the other world forever.

The alternative world, it turns out, is actually based entirely from Dib’s imagination, making him a bit of god in that realm. However, he’s far from worshiped. The people in that realm want to use his portal-making head to get to the real world to take it over. Dib has to team up with Zim to escape from the alternates and stop the dimension jumping.

I really love whenever Zim and Dib need to work together. They’re one of the best volatile partner pairings in cartoons. They’re both quite smart, but also extremely eccentric, and despite their arch-enemy nature, they have a silent respect for the other’s skills. They’re always a lot of fun when they’re on screen together, whether they’re teamed up or not, but I slightly prefer seeing them teamed up.

Dib’s weird and creepy as hell imagination world is disturbing to say the least. While there is definitely something to be said about the kinda offensive “crazy kid” cards that instantly slap a collar onto whatever “crazy” kid is in the classroom only to forcibly be taken away by people with ‘crazy’ emojis on their helmets and thrown into a padded truck, I think we can safely say that Dib maybe does need some therapy at least. Literally nothing in this world isn’t horrendously mutated. His school looks like hell, his teacher is the leader of pretty much everyone while also being a horrifying insect creature, and while his father and sister look the closest to normal as they can get in this world, even they turn on him and don’t care about him at all.

What I find especially weird is that Zim doesn’t seem to exist in this world. Dib thinks about Zim constantly. How is there not some alternative Zim in this universe?

While the Halloween stuff isn’t really utilized much outside of just showing characters in their costumes at school and having a brief couple scenes with Zim and Gir fighting off trick-or-treaters, the designs of the creatures within the alternate dimension are so weird, cool and frightening that it definitely makes up for it.

I don’t mind much that this episode is only barely a Halloween special in regards to the holiday because we so rarely ever get cool horror imagery in kids Halloween specials. It was a refreshing change of pace, and definitely something I’m glad Invader Zim chose to do. The series is just such a fun and creepy ride every time, and it has such a unique vibe to it that I can’t seem to find anywhere else.

And, with that, we close out this year’s Animating Halloween! Hope everyone has a safe and fun night carving all the jack-o-lanterns, eating all the candy, dressing up in all the costumes, ignoring that thing in the corner of your room that’s slowly approaching you right now and watching fun Halloween movies and specials!

Happy Halloween!


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