AVAHS – Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Movie (GoodTimes Entertainment)

Box cover artwork may be ridiculously higher quality than actual art.

Plot: Rudolph the Red—We’ve been over this.

Breakdown: Hi 1998!

1998: “Err…hi.”

I was nine in 1998!

1998: “Congratulations.”

Hey 1998, I’m gonna do you a favor!

1998: “What?”

I’m gonna make Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer into a movie!

1998: “Uhhh, isn’t that already a thing?”

Yeah, but that was made in 1964. People who were kids in that year are old people now. We need to jazz things up a bit for the 90s. Say, did your precious 60s version have the northern lights depicted as fairies in silk robes?

1998: “…..Noooooooooo.”

Did it have an ice queen named Stormella?

1998: “Alright, that name’s just lazy.”

Did it have a polar bear named Leonard?

1998: “How is that relevant?”

Here, let’s talk about it in excruciatingly unnecessary detail.

1998: “I would, but I have to catch up on Pokemon. I might miss out on all of Ash’s character development.”

…..Trust me, sweetie, you won’t be missing anything for about a decade – and then they just reboot the franchise.

Welcome everyone to that other Rudolph movie that no one asked for and really no one ever wanted ever.

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And a fond welcome to GoodTimes Entertainment – the animated Asylum of the 90’s. Alright, maybe that’s a bit harsh. The production values on GoodTimes movies never seemed to get Asylum bad (Dangerously close once, but we’ll address that another time), but the same skeevy production practices were similar. Namely in that GoodTimes had a habit of releasing movies that were based on stories that anyone could easily base a movie off of BUT that already had a major motion picture made of it (usually by Disney) so it would trick consumers (IE grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles who don’t know any better) into buying it, believing it to be the blockbuster hits. For instance, some of GoodTimes more notable works were Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Thumbelina, Sleeping Beauty, Pinocchio, Cinderella, Pocahontas, Sinbad and, well, *pokes title*

They not only had the same titles, but they also intentionally made their VHS covers to emulate the Disney movie covers. Their similarities were so stark that Disney filed a lawsuit against them and won. They now had to clearly print ‘GoodTimes Entertainment’ and their logo on the boxes to differentiate themselves more clearly, but the damage had been done.

GoodTimes was now largely known as a knockoff company, but that didn’t stop them from producing these kinds of movies since public domain is free game for anyone, no matter how massively successful some movies based on public domain works are.

In comes Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Movie. A film with a mouthful of a title made by GoodTimes in conjunction with Golden Books Family Entertainment. Yup. Those Golden Books. The gold leaf spined books from your childhood that are still going strong today – including adaptations of two Star Wars movies. *shrug*

But let’s wait. Reserve judgment. I am a fair person. Let’s go over this movie and see how it stands up, objectively.

The northern lights, portrayed as the aforementioned fairies, visit Blitzen and his wife, Mitzi, as they welcome their son, Rudolph, into the world. I have to ask, does Rudolph have a canon father? Because in the 60s version, Donner was his father.

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We then get some of the most boring opening credits I’ve ever seen as we just watch snow fall on a faraway shot of some house while Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer plays.

And nothing gears you up for a movie more than hearing Richard Simmons is doing voice work for it.

Hey, who wants to hear the northern lights sing their introductions?!

1998: “Not me.”

I knew you did! This 15 second song break explains that the pink fairy is Aurora, the blue one is Sparkle, the yellow one is Twinkle and the pink one is Glitter. It never matters, so don’t bother remembering it.

I actually wouldn’t mind this as much if not for the fact that this did not, in any way, need to be a song break, and if the song didn’t end abruptly on a note that doesn’t sound the least bit like a finale note.

As Blitzen and Mitzi show Rudolph around Christmas Town and introduce him to snow, we get his ear-piercing, high-pitched shrill of a voice. You know when a kid is having a temper tantrum and they let out this scream from the pits of hell they keep locked in the back of their throat? Imagine that scream in a happy context and that’s Rudolph’s speaking voice. I was going to give this movie points for at least not having that terrible screeching noise that Rankin/Bass Rudolph had when his nose glowed, but if you’re just going to shift that sound to his speaking voice, why bother?

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Blitzen starts having concerns over Rudolph’s glowing nose when his other reindeer buddies show up, Comet, Cupid and Dasher. Cupid has a heart on his forehead, by the way. I would complain more, but I actually like that there are different markings and colors for each reindeer. It’s easier to tell them apart. Blitzen, for example, has lightning bolts under his eyes like Ash Ketchum.

Blitzen tries to hide Rudolph, and I feel like this movie is shaming Rankin/Bass Donner a bit by having Mitzi chastise Blitzen for seemingly being ashamed of his son.

Despite a crowd gathering, no one actually makes fun of Rudolph’s nose and Rudolph doesn’t seem bothered by it. When you think Blitzen is taking them home because he’s embarrassed by Rudolph, he actually says he’ll fight the next person who makes fun of his nose. But no one did. It’s only natural for people to at least want to look at a reindeer with a 30 watt nose.

I like that they’re making out Blitzen to be much more understanding and loving of Rudolph, worried that Rudolph will be mocked as he grows up and not being a shameful ass like Rankin/Bass Donner was. They even have a song break about how great they think Rudolph (nicknamed Rudy….not sure how I feel about that) is, which is where we finally get at least a bit of actual mocking towards Rudolph. They don’t particularly say anything worse than ‘put a lampshade on it’ but just having an entire town sing about your nose would be traumatizing to the poor kid.

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Emotional Scarring: The Musical

Two elves named Boone (voiced by Richard Simmons) and Doggle pick up Santa’s mail. They get all excited over a possible promotion to the factory floor….wait, not all elves are toy-making slaves? And being a toy-making slave in a factory is something you get PROMOTED to? Wow. Being an elf sucks.

They crash into Stormella’s (Voiced by Whoopi Goldberg) ice garden and flee the scene.

Blitzen and Mitzi bring Rudolph to the factory where we get another song break about the elves making toys for Christmas. It’s not terrible, but it’s about as memorable as that thing you forgot at the store earlier.

Stormella bursts in and starts icing the joint, furious that an elf destroyed her garden. In order to quell the attack, Santa (Voiced by John Goodman – Mrs. Claus is voiced by Debbie Reynolds, by the way. It’s not that important, but I really miss her) intervenes and asks the elf responsible to come forward. Boone and Doggle come forward, and Stormella demands to take them to her ice castle or else she’ll close off her ice bridge to the public.

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Movie about body acceptance – Makes the villain an overweight woman.

Santa says ‘pfft, who cares? I have flying reindeer.’ and Stormella leaves in a huff—oh sorry, that’s the scene that makes sense. Santa still vehemently refuses, despite that being the only way across the Grand Chasm. Stormella says if anyone crosses the bridge, she’ll bring the worst storm ever to the village, destroying everything and ruining Christmas for good.

Later, when she’s alone, she says she looks forward to someone trying to cross the bridge so she can start the storm and shut down Santa forever…..Uh….lady…if you want Santa gone so badly, why can’t you start the storm now? Who cares if there was a condition to starting the storm? If you’re so powerful and evil, start the storm anyway if that’s what you really want. Villains with integrity rarely ever win.

The northern lights give another micro-song, this time just to tell us that a year has passed. Thanks, you utterly useless wastes of 1950’s fashion.

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Mrs. Prancer starts…reindeer class? They explain that Santa picks his ‘flyers’ by holding a junior reindeer competition every year. Whomever ‘shines’ the best will be considered for a position on Santa’s team.

Rudolph proves to be loud and obnoxiously voiced even with a new voice actor for his older version. Like you’d expect, he’s made fun of for his nose. And, like in the other movie, it makes no sense to me that they’re saying he can’t be a flyer because his nose is red and glows. They are laughing WAY too much. It’s been a year since everyone’s found out about Rudolph’s nose – the ‘joke’ of its mere existence gets a bit old, guys.

Rudolph wants a normal nose, so he hides it in the snow and says he’ll stay like that forever. Yeah, no one will ever make fun of a reindeer with his face jammed in a snowbanking.

Santa: *looking at Rudolph’s glowing red nose* “You must be Rudolph!”

Rudolph: *completely seriously* “How’d you guess?”

Rudolph, please stop being stupid. At this rate, I’m going to have to make another Ash Ketchum reference and I’m only allowed three per review.

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Rudolph, don’t stick your nose where it doesn’t belong.

Santa gives Rudolph a nice scarf and tells him he likes his nose. +1 over Rankin/Bass Santa. Rudolph tells him about everyone mocking him.

Rudolph: “It hurts, your honor.” Your honor? The hell? He’s not a judge. That sounds so weird.

He believes he can’t be a flyer because of his nose, but Santa tells him everyone’s different and that he has a big heart. Song break time as Santa tells Rudolph that everyone’s important in Santa’s family, and Rudolph’s a part of that family. John Goodman’s singing this, so it’s alright, but the song is mediocre to say the least. Also, I’ll be addressing the animation later, but they very clearly show Santa talking/singing for about three seconds in the sleigh with no singing or talking actually happening.

This is nice and all, but that just begs the question, if Santa likes Rudolph in this version and everyone highly respects him (to the point where he’s called ‘your honor’) why can’t Santa just tell everyone to stop mocking Rudolph? They would most likely listen. I know Santa just met Rudolph, which is odd considering he’s a fawn of one of his flyers, but he must’ve heard about him and known everyone makes fun of him. And why are the elves, who have also been making fun of Rudolph, now singing along in this song of acceptance to him?

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Another pointless and, at this point, friggin’ annoying micro song break by the northern lights to alert us that it’s now Christmas Eve and Santa’s heading out. Thanks. As Rudolph tries to get a better view of them heading off, we get understanding of where a good chunk of the budget probably went – Paul McCartney’s Wonderful Christmastime.

As they fly away, Rudolph starts talking to himself, imagining being the new reindeer on Santa’s team and making an acceptance speech about it. Really not making him anymore likable. If he’s not being annoying or stupid, he’s being embarrassingly awkward. He thanks his crush, a doe we barely know named Zoey. Even though the rest of the voice acting hasn’t been spectacular, Zoey’s is about as awkward as Rudolph’s imaginary speech. She doesn’t sound like she’s in the scene at all – she just seems like she’s whizzing through her lines without paying attention.

She accepts Rudolph for who he is and doesn’t care about his nose. They’re about to kiss under the mistletoe when Arrow, one of their classmates and son of Cupid, shows up. (Get it? Cupid’s arrow?) It should be noted that there’s someone else in Rudolph’s class with a heart shaped mark on their forehead, but Arrow has no mark yet is actually Cupid’s kid. I guess he could be his brother, but I feel like there was a miscommunication in the art department.

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Arrow’s basically Ronno from Bambi, which is strange because his father’s namesake is the god of love. He makes fun of Rudolph and is trying to get in Zoey’s metaphoric pants. Here’s the thing, despite standing up for Rudolph and coaxing him into kissing her, Zoey says they’re only friends and even follows Arrow when he tells her to, even though there seems to be no reason for it. Give Faline some credit – when she went with Ronno, it was because he was obviously forcing her to go. Here, it just seems like Zoey really doesn’t want to be seen with Rudolph or is, for some reason, obligated to go with Arrow.

Rudolph gets all excited when Zoey looks back at him and yells out that she likes him, but again, dude, she just totally ditched you to walk home with Arrow. You might be able to argue that she left so Arrow would leave Rudolph alone, but leaving with him just gives him all the power in that situation. He got the last word, the last laugh and the girl.

The northern lights show up again to tell us yet another year has passed and Rudolph has been training the whole year for the junior reindeer games. Thanks for continuously breaking the ‘show, don’t tell’ rule of filmmaking in such a terrible and sloppy manner, you animated canker sores.

Zoey gives Rudolph her heart pendant for luck, and they all start the games, which begin with a race.

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Arrow’s purposely crashing people but Rudolph manages to keep up with him. Arrow pisses him off by telling him Zoey’s only nice to him because she feels sorry for him, prompting Rudolph to shine his nose and temporarily blind Arrow, sending him crashing. Rudolph wins, but is disqualified for illegal use of a glowing red nose (that’s actually a rule?) and is banned from the rest of the games.

And, of course, Arrow wins by default.

Oh boy! I get to rant! Whee!

First of all, this is one of those irritating as hell times where an antagonist is clearly cheating, tons of people witness it, yet no one cares. Rudolph and Doggle even point out that he’s cheating, but don’t say a thing as Arrow’s crowned winner. He’s purposely crashing people – you can tell without so much as a question. Did Rudolph technically win illegally too? Yeah. And he shouldn’t win the race like that, but disqualifying him and not Arrow is ridiculously stupid and unfair.

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Second, Santa and Mrs. Claus also agree that this isn’t fair yet Santa says the judge has the final say in this, not them. Uh, no. You’re Santa Goddamn Claus. You have the final say in everything. Even if you were just a spectator, if you feel something’s been done unfairly, you have a responsibility to speak up and ensure fairness in the competition.

Third, why the hell does Arrow win by default? If the first place winner is disqualified, the honor usually goes to the second place winner, who was Zoey. Arrow didn’t even cross the finish line from what we saw. It went number five, who was Rudolph, seven, who was Zoey, and four who was some other reindeer. Arrow was one and he never crossed.

Are you telling me he won because he was neck and neck with Rudolph before his nose glowed? That’s not how races work.

Zoey angrily tells off Arrow, saying he’s a cheater. So you know he cheated too…..TELL SOMEONE. There are several officials around you – say something!

Arrow doesn’t care, and Zoey says he doesn’t deserve to be a flyer because true flyers are brave, have character and true hearts, like Rudolph. To which Arrow responds.

Arrow: “Tch, but he has a red nose.”

Air tight logic, there.

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It occurs to me that one of the more common design elements of Santa himself is a big red nose. It doesn’t glow and it’s probably due to cold, but it’s true.

Zoey: “I don’t want to be your doefriend anymore.” Wait, what the hell? She really was dating Arrow this whole time?…..Two-timing whore! Why would she be with him anyway? For over a year! She doesn’t even seem to like him. What is with this girl?

Rudolph, hearing his father refer to his nose as an ‘accident’, runs away, even though his father was actually trying to defend him.

We get another song break, Show Me the Light, which is a duet between Rudolph and Zoey. It’s alright, but fairly short and pointless. He’s lead to a frozen lake that seems to be bathed in rainbow light. Just when you think the northern lights might actually be useful to the plot, he turns away from it. ‘Show me the light….so that I can walk away from it.’ The northern lights actually do show up and light up a cave….that is literally ten feet away from him. Good job.

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Taste the rainbow, idiot.

He tries to lie down for the night when he meets Slyly the fox – one of those characters who acts like a tough guy and picks fights, but is really an idiot a coward. To make things worse, he has a mobster accent.

One of the most pointless and annoying song breaks ever comes up next. It’s just Slyly trying to cheer up Rudolph by saying it could always be worse, and 95% of the song is just him and his creepy background singers saying ‘Remember, it could always be worse.’

Rudolph reveals his nose to Slyly and has a ball, completely unprompted, making fun of himself before he believes Slyly will. Whatever develops your characters.

Blitzen and Mitzi go to ask Santa to help them search for Rudolph. He thinks about it for a while when Zoey’s parents burst in asking Santa to help them find Zoey since she went off to find Rudolph. Santa immediately pops up and says he’ll send a search party out as soon as possible. Guess he didn’t like Rudolph as much as he let on.

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Zoey tries to cross Stormella’s bridge to find Rudolph. Zoey, sweetie, please use your brain. If the only way over this chasm is over this bridge and Stormella hasn’t opened a meteorological can of whup-ass on the village, then Rudolph probably went a different way.

Stormella catches her and relishes the fact that she can now set that terrible storm that she could’ve created at any time without conditions on the village.

Did I say ‘damsel in distress plot’? Mmm that’s some grade A trope right there.

Rudolph and Slyly are ousted from their cave by an avalanche that was caused by ‘the plot said so’ and they travel to another cave owned by Leonard the polar bear – another one of those characters who sounds like a complete dumbass because they have to preface nearly everything with ‘duuhhhhh’. They trick him out, they make friends – it really doesn’t matter.

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The northern lights finally make themselves useful as plot advancers and tell Rudolph that Zoey’s been kidnapped by Stormella. Rudolph’s the only one who can save her for some reason, because….his nose light….is full of love and….stuff?

Rudolph and Leonard cross the bridge and head towards the ice catacombs of the ice fortress without Slyly because he’s too scared. Gee, I wonder if this is the last we’ll see of him. I sure hope he shows up in a pinch moment to save the day out of nowhere because that would be unexpected. But what are the odds of that?

Stormella can’t see who’s crossing the bridge through her crystal ball thing because the light is blinding her view, and she just thinks the alarm is malfunctioning…..you’re telling me people could’ve easily crossed the bridge as long as they had a relatively strong light with them? You’re a horrible villain. And why is a polar bear wearing a snow hat?

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1998: “Huh?”

Sorry. It was bugging me.

Zoey starts a reprise of ‘Show Me the Light.’ The song actually has a point this time because they follow her voice to find her through the maze, which wouldn’t actually work in real life, right? Don’t echoes within areas like that make finding people through sound near impossible?

They’re lucky Stormella’s too stupid to have guards set up in the prison, but they get caught by Stormella anyway. How she knew they were in there, I have no clue. The point is, now Rudolph and Leonard are imprisoned too.

Stormella: “That doe crossed my forbidden bridge, and now I’m throwing the storm of the century.”

Zoey: “But…but it’s almost Christmas! A storm will ruin everything!”

Stormella: “Hit it, Ridley.”

*Ridley appears on a turnstile piano behind the wall and starts playing the next musical number.*

*Stormella uses her magic to put on a different gown, change her hair, make a microphone and put a spotlight on her*

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Stormella: “I get a certain thrill from every fallen snowflake.”

Nope, nope. Stop. Stop! Too many questions! Let me catch up!

*sigh* Alright.

First, how does ‘You’ll ruin everything’ instantly translate to a song cue?

Second, how long was Ridley waiting behind that wall? Did they rehearse this? Did she wake him up just to say ‘Hey, we have a musical number coming up’?

Third, why is there is a grand piano on a turnstile behind the wall of this dungeon? Does Stormella really like entertaining her prisoners?

Fourth, why are they taking the time out to sing a song right now if she’s so antsy to get her storm brewing? This is worse than monologuing.

Fifth, is there a ladder in her hair? That definitely looks like a ladder.

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Addressing the song as a whole, it’s terrible and only serves the purpose of explaining two things – she loves storms and hates Santa. For no reason. None whatsoever. She just hates him. The song is literally titled ‘I Hate Santa Claus’, but she gives absolutely no reason why. Character motivations sure are hard to write.

Zoey: “Rudolph, you mean everything to me.” That’s why I was banging that complete jackass behind your back for over a year. Love youuuu!

Stormella starts her storm, and guess who shows up? Plot conven—Slyly! He gets the key from a sleeping Storme—sleeping Stormella? Literally ten seconds ago she was making her huge Santa-ruining storm and now she’s sound asleep in her bed? Who is editing this? And why would she fall asleep now? Wouldn’t she stay awake to watch her plan unfold?

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They start to escape but Stormella wakes up and corners them. In an effort to save Zoey from her wrath, Rudolph shines his nose so bright that it temporarily blinds Stormella and knocks her off a cliff. As she hangs from the cliffside, she begs for help and Rudolph goes to save her. She’s a witch who can create storms, ice formations and evening wear with a flick of the wrist, but she can’t fly or use magic to help herself up?

Rudolph and everyone else, including Stormella’s wolves, pull her up. She’s very thankful and even lets them go, but Slyly says that since Rudolph saved her life, she owes Rudolph one wish – such are the rules of the north pole…..those rules would only apply to magical beings who can grant wishes….did they make this weird rule purely for Stormella and maybe Santa? That’s stupid.

He wishes for Stormella to be nice, and I’ll admit him responding to her resistances to his wish by just repeating ‘I want you to be nice’ over and over is a bit humorous. It works, but she can’t stop the storm.

They leave, but can’t navigate in the storm. Rudolph lights up his nose, but even though it lights the way, they still say they won’t make it home in the bad weather—wow, that kinda pokes a hole in the finale of the song, doesn’t it?

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Never the mind because Boone and Doggle, who have been miraculously following them despite having no clues (yeah, they found Rudolph’s stuff in the cave, but how’d they find the cave? And how’d it lead them to the fortress?)

The ever-annoying fairies pop up again for another micro-song interlude just to say it’s storming and Santa’s holding a meeting. Thank you. Please shut the hell up.

Santa cancels the trip because of the storm, and Rudolph and the others show up. Apparently, Boone and Doggle’s snowmobile doesn’t have headlights (seriously, it’s the late 90s now. There’s no excuse for lack of headlights on vehicles.) and despite the fact that they were navigating the storm perfectly fine without them, they use Rudolph’s nose light to guide their way back home.

Blah blah, guide my sleigh tonight.

Zoey gives Rudolph a kiss before he leaves, just to solidify that they’re a thing now….I still think she’s a two-timing whore.

Can I ask a question? From all we’ve seen of Rudolph so far, he can’t fly. Afterall, if he could, he wouldn’t worry about falling from the cliff on two separate occasions at the ice fortress. Does the medal give him the ability to fly or is this something we’re just ignoring?

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…..Something we’re just ignoring. Okay.

As Rudolph and the others make it through the storm, we get our last song, which is alright but….this is weird. I feel like the song is dated. The vocals, the music – it all sounds like a forgotten pop song from the Beetles era.

The next morning, everyone gets their gifts, including Stormella who didn’t deserve one. She’s been evil her whole life by choice and only became good by magic brain washing. Plus, she’s been nice all of 12 hours.

They return and the northern lights start singing the titular song. I don’t care what they’re singing – just make them go away. Also, it’s very weird that everyone knows the words to this completely new song. Did they rehearse this while they were away? Does this place have a popular theater department?

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The end.

Bottomline: This movie was bad, but not as horrible as it could’ve been. Comparing it to the Rankin/Bass movie, I like Donner/Blitzen and Santa better, but that’s about it. Taking RB out of the equation, Rudolph’s annoying, the love triangle shouldn’t have been a thing, Zoey’s a two-timing whore who is literally only there to be a damsel in distress love interest, Stormella’s such a pathetic villain she might as well not even be one, and there were way too many useless characters.

The northern lights had no purpose besides being a one-time plot device and providing us with pointless annoying as hell song interludes.

Slyly’s only purpose was freeing them from the dungeon, which was predictable and could’ve been done in a much more clever way without his help.

Leonard’s only purpose was…..he………Leonard didn’t do a damn thing, did he? He was legitimately entirely pointless. Wow.

Boone and Doggle were completely useless outside of causing the event that made Stormella close the bridge and make the storm condition, but I already explained how pointless that was. They came for Rudolph and the others in the end, but that could’ve easily been written as Rudolph and the others merely walking home. It would’ve been a nice use of his abilities before he went off with Santa. They didn’t even get a promotion in the end, and they barely talk at all in the second half. Santa just says they did a good job in one line and we hardly even see them again.

Arrow was completely dropped as a character after the reindeer games. He never appears again. He gets no comeuppance, he never gets ousted as a cheater, he never makes amends with Rudolph or anything – they just forget he existed.

The conflict was such a non-conflict that they had to force conditional conflicts on it in order to make it a conflict…..that makes sense, right? Not to mention that the plot was resolved in a completely lazy manner. They literally wished the problem away.

Plus, remember that thing I noted in the Rankin/Bass Rudolph review? About how it kinda fixed the problem with the moral that the song had by having everyone change their ways and apologize to Rudolph for how they acted before he saved Christmas instead of making it seem like he only gained respect and adoration because his nose finally proved useful to society?

This movie keeps that problem.

No one apologizes to Rudolph when he returns or says they were wrong for how they treated him. No one really shows respect for him until Santa asks Rudolph to light the way on his sleigh.

You could argue that they changed their minds about Rudolph before then by him defeating Stormella, but there are a few of problems with that.

First, he didn’t so much defeat Stormella as he just magically wished her evil away.

Second, the storm is still occurring either way, so ‘defeating’ her ultimately did little to nothing.

Third, Zoey stepped on the bridge and caused the storm to begin with. And why did she step on the bridge? Because she was looking for….

RUDOLPH! Meaning he, by proxy, sorta caused the problem in the first place.

There are definitely worse things to watch, and it’s not like the movie is really pushing bad messages, but it’s very lazily written, isn’t that Christmas-y and there are much better things you could be spending your time or money on.

Voice acting: Slyly and Leonard were annoyingly voiced, Rudolph’s child voice was one of the worst things I’ve ever heard, and Zoey always sounds like she’s just reading from a script and is never really acting. Blitzen sounds awkward numerous times, but other than that, everyone’s just mediocre. The best actors here are John Goodman, Debbie Reynolds and Whoppi Goldberg, who at least sound like they’re trying a little bit.

Art and Animation: Both the art and animation are pretty bad. Some of the background art and landscapes are alright, but otherwise it’s just a lot of very simple designs that barely stay consistent when moving. The animation is obviously very cheap. It juts, the cycles are very obvious, instances of cross eyes happen constantly, and there is even one occasion during Santa’s first run where you can actually see the frames overlap. It really just makes you wonder what the hell they did with the $10 million budget they had. Oh yeah, getting big name celebrities just to sell the movie.

Not like that helped because the movie only got $113k at the box office…..Wow.

Music: The background music is horrible. There are a lot of cartoony trumpet noises and doofy music when the scene doesn’t call for it. Plus, the sound effects are sometimes odd or just non-existent. The lyrical songs range from alright to terrible. Show me the Light is the best one, but that’s not saying much. The inclusion of Wonderful Christmastime brings a bit more Christmas feeling to the movie, but it feels really out of place when there are no other songs like that on the soundtrack. The rest are original songs meant for the movie, outside of the obvious.

So 1998, what do you think?

1998: “I think I just wasted an hour and 17 minutes of my life.”

What does time matter to a year?

1998: “Don’t get philosophical on me after that.”

The good news is, you didn’t get the worst of it!

1998: “What? Really?”

Yup! Farewell, 1998! I’m off to 2001!

1998: “I better warn 2001…..Wait, where’d she get a TARDIS?”

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AVAHS – Futurama: A Tale of Two Santas

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Plot: It’s Xmas again, and Fry, Leela and Bender are sent to Neptune to deliver Santa’s letters to him. Sick of cowering in fear every year by Robot Santa, they decide to try and destroy him. Their plan fails, but they accidentally encase him in ice. With Santa imprisoned, Bender takes over the role, but will people rejoice at the sleigh bells of a kind Santa, or will Robot Santa’s bad rep be thrown in Bender’s face?

Breakdown: Strangely enough, this Chri—Xmas special is the one I watch every year, over it’s predecessor, Xmas Story. Maybe that’s not so strange, because at this point in the series the writers had gained a better footing with their characters and humor, which hadn’t quite been cemented as firmly back when Xmas Story was made.

I love this episode. It has some great humor, no real tropes and is entertaining from start to finish. It addresses a few questions that were left behind from the last special like, why isn’t it more common to try and kill Robot Santa? He does have a lot of firepower, but you’re telling me the army or national guard couldn’t handle him? Apparently, no, they really can’t. The only reason they caught Bender was because he didn’t have the guns, rockets, missiles or toughness that Robot Santa had. Though that does beg the question as to why so many people are quick to combat Santa when, from all we’ve seen, everyone should be cowering in fear.

Still, if he can be thwarted by ice, surely there would’ve been a successful effort in capturing him in the past 200 years.

This episode reveals Robot Santa’s workshop, which is cleverly put on the north pole of Neptune with a bunch of growth-stunted Neptunians working as his slaves. They even add in that there are other holiday themed Robots like Kwanzaabot, who, understandably, feels ignored, and Hanukkah Zombie, which is never shown or explained, but I am endlessly intrigued by.

It’s interesting how Bender is actually putting effort into being Santa because it doesn’t benefit him at all. He does give up after getting attacked a bunch of times, but who wouldn’t? It’s also weird how just putting on the Santa outfit makes everyone mistake Bender for the real Robot Santa – he looks nothing like him otherwise.

The special is void of heartwarming moments – it’s a purely comedic holiday episode, which is perfectly fine. Not every holiday special has to tug the heartstrings, and there’s more than enough comedy to make up for it.

Finally, the song of the special, The Elves’ Song, is catchy, but a bit fast and cluttered. Makes it difficult to be one of those songs that you want to sing every Christmas, but you can’t help but try to sing along when you’re watching it.

 

AVAHS – Mickey’s Twice Upon a Christmas

Plot: A sequel to Once Upon a Christmas, this is basically the same premise just with different shorts and super duper early 2000s CGI.

Breakdown: Before we go any further, I want to address something that will bug the crap out of me if I don’t say anything. When I was looking for poster art to use on Once Upon a Christmas, I saw posters for Twice and the thumbnails constantly confused me because they all looked like they said ‘Twice a Christmas’ I thought maybe I was finding a screwed up poster or something, but then I watched the opening of the movie and saw this.

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For some stupid reason, they decided to make the word ‘upon’ really tiny and shove it in the line above everything else like it’s superscript. It’s like they had the template for the title card then realized the font wasn’t fitting in properly so they resized the words and forced it to fit.

Our first short is Belles on Ice, a Minnie and Daisy cartoon. You would never guess this is a Christmas short until the very end where they write ‘Peace on Earth’ in ribbon and wish each other a merry Christmas.

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Daisy and Minnie are in a figure skating competition, separately, and Daisy accidentally skates out when the announcer starts playing up the next competitor, which turns out to be Minnie. When everyone starts loving Minnie’s performance, Daisy gets very angry and decides to literally steal the show by skating out and being a showboat.

Understandably, Minnie starts to up her game even more to skew focus back on her. They keep going back and forth with this until Minnie suddenly wipes out. Daisy, seeing her friend fall, apologizes. Minnie apologizes too, even though she shouldn’t have to, and the two make a grand finale together.

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Realistically, there’s a bunch of issues with this short. First and foremost, it’s not Christmas-y. Like I already mentioned, outside of shoving two Christmas lines at the end, you’d never know this was a Christmas special.

Second, Minnie’s also made out to be in the wrong when she was just defending herself and trying to rightfully take back her performance.

Third, Daisy is incredibly petty and jealous here. She’s so intimidated by Minnie’s performance that she can’t even let her finish a full minute of it before she jumps out onto the ice and tries to steal her thunder.

If Daisy’s such an amazing skater to steal the show from Minnie, why didn’t she just wait until it was her own damn turn? The only reason I can think of is that she was pissed about being embarrassed for going out on the ice early, but Minnie didn’t do that – she was just assuming it was her turn based on how the announcer was building up the next performer. Surely they gave them a program that shows the order of participants so stuff like that doesn’t happen.

I didn’t like this segment very much. I liked the reactions of Donald and Mickey a bit and for some reason I was very entertained at the thought of Minnie’s background ice skaters being alligators, but Daisy’s being a bitch, we have two girls who are supposed to be friends being the petty vindictive stereotype that plagues so many girl friend characters and it has an ending that is unrealistic.

Daisy would be disqualified the instant she went out on the ice either for sabotage or trying to do her performance when it was someone else’s turn.

And I think they might both be disqualified at the end for having a duo performance when they didn’t enter as such.

The next short is a Huey, Dewey and Louie short called Christmas Impossible.

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The boys, Donald and Daisy are spending the holiday at Scrooge’s mansion. The boys have learned jack from last year’s Christmas because they’re back to being rude selfish brats. Scrooge tells the boys that he’s been selfish his whole life and never got on Santa’s nice list. The boys ask why that even matters since being selfish made him rich, but he says that being rich never got him what he really wanted. He tells the boys to not follow his example and to clean up their acts to make it on Santa’s nice list. However, it’s so close to Christmas that the boys conclude there’s no way for them to make up for all the crap they’ve done over the past year to be considered nice before Santa heads out to make his deliveries.

They decide to mail themselves to the north pole and write their names on Santa’s list themselves. By the way, Max, you could’ve saved yourself a lot of trouble with your Santa faith in the last movie if you just mailed yourself to the north pole. Apparently, they live in a world where you can mail yourself to the north pole and back within the time frame of a night on Christmas eve.

They’re still jackasses while traversing the workshop. They’re trying to get the key to Santa’s office so they can put their names on the list, but they end up destroying all of the wrapping on the gifts in order to find it. They don’t seem to care until they realize that their actions are going to ruin Christmas for everyone. They decide to fix their mistake and help the elves get everything back to normal, including a very distracting fast-motion scene that is ridiculous in CGI.

They finally get into Santa’s office and are about to write their names on the list when they decide to write Scrooge’s name instead. Why they didn’t write their names too, I don’t know. They never came to the realization that they didn’t deserve to be on the nice list, and there was plenty of room on that paper.

The next morning, they see Scrooge’s gift and it’s bagpipes…..I get that the message is that Scrooge wanted to be on the nice list and you can’t buy your way onto it, but the way it’s written, it was like he asked for something that money couldn’t buy and he never got it because he was never good enough to be on the nice list. Pretty sure you can buy bagpipes pretty easily.

Huey, Dewey and Louie are surprised to find that they also have a bunch of gifts from Santa, meaning they got on the nice list. A note from Santa states that there’s always room on the nice list for kids who put others before themselves and thanks them for helping out at the workshop.

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*sigh* First, the only reason they were even at the workshop to begin with was because they were putting themselves first. They wanted to fraudulently put themselves on a list they didn’t deserve to be on just to get toys.

Yes, they put Scrooge’s name on the list instead of their own, but that’s something else to ponder. If they had to write Scrooge’s name on the list, doesn’t that mean he didn’t deserve to be on the list either? Their hearts were in the right place when they did that, but they still technically tried to manipulate Santa for the sake of getting a naughty person a gift.

Second, they only helped clean up the mess they caused. It’s a good thing that they realized they should fix their mistake and help save Christmas, but they’re the reason it was ever in danger. It’s not like it was an accident either – they were purposely destroying everything to find the key to Santa’s office. It’s like thanking an arsonist for putting out their fire. And even after they did that, they were still planning on putting themselves on Santa’s list.

This short had its somewhat funny moments, but it’s a tad predictable and I can’t say I’m really understanding the full message here.

The next segment is a Goofy and Max short called Christmas Maximus, and I need a minute to understand the logistics of this one.

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I assumed that this movie was taking place only a year or two after the first one yet Huey, Dewey and Louie are still basically the same age, but Max is now in college. You can’t apply the excuse of the movies being shorts and not existing in the same timeline because the first movie ended with all of the characters meeting up to sing Christmas carols. The only logic I can apply to this is that dogs and ducks age differently? But if we’re taking that excuse, why isn’t Goofy in the least bit older looking?

Anyhoo, Max is coming home for Christmas with his girlfriend, Mona. He asks Goofy to be cool so he won’t embarrass him around his girl, but Goofy, being Goofy, can’t stop himself. Mona finds most of his shenanigans to be charming, but Max keeps getting irritated.

We suddenly get an original song break. The song is called ‘Make Me Look Good’ and it’s told by Max’s perspective. It’s basically what you’d think it is from the title. Max worrying internally about Goofy embarrassing him and telling him to make him look good. It’s not a musical number sung by Max – it’s just a background song that we’re meant to believe is being sung by someone who kinda sounds like Max.

I don’t get why this short and this situation is where we get a song break, which, by the way, is the only original lyrical song break of the movie. It’s not a Christmas-y song, and it’s hardly a song that works out of context. The song’s not even all that good. I suppose it’s catchy, but it’s a bit cluttered.

What’s even worse about this song break is that it’s the only thing moving the plot forward. It’s like this short is the song with the only dialogue being an intro to it, a minor interlude and a short finale. That’s the main reason it’s so cluttered. It’s trying to jam everything that would be in the short as regular scenes into short verses in a song.

Goofy does embarrassing things a few times, it’s obvious Mona’s charmed by it, but Max still gets pissed. He has the tiniest of blowups at Goofy, walks away about ten feet before realizing he’s been an ass and that Mona’s having a great time, then he returns and has a nice holiday with his dad and Mona. The clincher of her being ‘the one’ revealing that Mona has the same two lone teeth that the Goof’s have. Okay.

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I really think this short would’ve been a million times better if the song wasn’t there and they took the time to just run the segment like normal. It’s so rushed and awkward as a song. It’s a damn shame that this is so messy, because the Goofy short in the last movie was my favorite.

The next short is called Donald’s Gift.

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Donald wants nothing more than to go home and enjoy a nice mug of hot cocoa by the fire after a long day of shopping and people annoying him with Christmas stuff. Daisy, Huey, Dewey and Louie arrive, inviting Donald out to go to the mall. He says he doesn’t want to, but Daisy forces him to go. The boys want to see some spectacular display at Mousy’s, and while they’re waiting, Donald decides to get a hot cocoa. He’s bombarded with everything suddenly turning into sounds that play ‘We Wish You A Merry Christmas’, which leads him to accidentally destroying the Mousy display.

The boys and Daisy think he did it on purpose for some reason and leave him behind at the mall. Donald sulks around town for a while until he finds a bunch of carolers arguing over singing ‘We Wish You A Merry Christmas’ Donald, having learned the song inside and out by now, conducts for them. Their singing gathers a crowd, including Daisy and the boys who instantly forgive him and they all sing the finale of the song.

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This short was….confusing and hard to sympathize with. I didn’t dislike it, but I believe I would’ve liked it more if Donald actually deserved any of this crap. Was he a little bitchy about going to the mall? Sure. But what we saw of his day included a charity Santa literally grabbing him and holding him, singing ‘We Wish You A Merry Christmas’ until he donated some money, a barbershop quartet, singing the same song, cutting his hair into a powdered wig design for some reason as he ran by, and nearly getting run over by a bus which promptly burned his groceries to cinders. I don’t know if I’m just old, but I am very understanding of Donald’s desire to want to avoid Christmas stuff for a while and just sit home and relax if all that stuff happened to me, and I’m a Christmas junkie.

Daisy and the boys pestering him was also a bit hypocritical. Daisy’s telling him not to be selfish, but isn’t it selfish to force someone to do something they don’t want to do just because YOU want them to do it?

Donald wasn’t even ruining their outing at all. He went…to get….a drink. Something he could easily carry around with him while they did their mall stuff. Somehow, that means he’s being a selfish ass or something and deserves to have a ‘The Raven’ style torture of the aforementioned song haunting him until he accidentally causes the display to break because there was a ‘speed everything up to a point where everything spins out of control and breaks’ button right in plain sight.

And, again, for some reason, Daisy and the boys believe he’s that much of a vindictive ass that he would do that on purpose.

The final and longest short of the movie is Mickey’s Dog-gone Christmas – A Pluto short! HOORAY! I’m also happy to report this is the best short of either movie.

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Pluto is helping Mickey decorate for a big Christmas party he’s having, but Pluto accidentally breaks everything while trying to put up the star. Mickey yells at him for misbehaving, tells him he ruined Christmas and sends him out to his dog house while he goes out and buys more decorations.

Pluto is very guilty and depressed over what he did, and decides to ditch his collar and run away. He somehow ends up on a train to the north pole where he’s adopted by Donner, who is a much bigger sweetie than he is in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer….but also a lot stupider. He’s made a pseudo part of the reindeer team lead by Blitzen.

Pluto enjoys his time with the reindeer while Mickey fixes up the house. Once he’s gotten everything back to normal, he tries to make amends with Pluto and offers for him to put the star on top of the tree. He quickly realizes Pluto’s missing and drops everything to search all over town for him. He even goes to the mall Santa to wish for Pluto back.

Back at the north pole, Pluto is missing Mickey more and more, and it turns out that the mall Santa was the real Santa. He offers to take Pluto back home, and he happily agrees. He bids a fond farewell to Blitzen and Donner and reunites with Mickey, who proudly puts his collar back on and allows him to put the star on the tree.

The house is nearly demolished by a plow truck who has seemed to have it out for Mickey the whole short, but it’s revealed that Goofy was the one driving. He, Max, Scrooge, Donald, Daisy, the boys and Minnie have been driving all over town in the plow truck looking for Pluto. They enjoy the Christmas party and play us out with the same Christmas song mashup they had at the end of the first movie.

The end.

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I thoroughly enjoyed this short. It’s almost hard for me to believe it’s a part of the same movie as the others. Each short has a different set of writers, so maybe Colin Goldman and Matthew O’Callaghan just had a bit more Christmas spark than the others….including someone named, not kidding, Carole Holliday. It has some great comedy, nice character interactions with everyone, especially Blitzen and Donner, whom I really wish come back in some way in another Christmas special, and heartwarming moments. Plus, it’s a Pluto short – who can resist that?

It’s also, a bit sadly, relatable. I can’t count how many times I’ve lost my temper because my dogs have ruined something I worked hard for. If my dogs could understand human language, I can bet there’d be at least a couple times they would’ve felt like running away. But no, they have to make you feel like garbage by giving you the sad eyes, cowering over to you and asking for pets. Of course I forgive you, you furry source of utter destruction.

I do have a few questions, though, like why let Goofy drive? And why buy a whole plow truck company just because you need to use one plow truck? Why is Mickey suddenly very comfortable financially again? Also, since everyone’s back together again, it proves that Max grew up by about a decade yet Huey, Dewey and Louie didn’t grow at all.

This is a great short that would be an awesome standalone for Christmas, but the movie as a whole….

Well, I really enjoyed how the bookends are done in a narrated pop-up book style. I thought that was very clever and a great way to retain some of the traditional-style artwork. It was also a better way of bookending each story than the three random presents holding title cards from the first movie. The CGI had its moments of downright terribleness (I’m looking at you fast-forward scene) but it actually stands up very well for a fully CGI movie from 2004.

Most of the shorts are very weak, though the last one is worth the trouble. I didn’t necessarily hate or even seriously dislike any of the segments. It wasn’t a chore to sit through them, but most of them had glaring logic issues or vaguely bad or unclear messages, and they just weren’t very funny or heartwarming most of the time.

I would’ve been content if the whole movie was just the Pluto short, to be honest.

 

AVAHS – Frosty the Snowman (Rankin/Bass)

Plot: Frosty the snowman was a jolly happy soul. With a corncob pipe and a button nose and two eyes made out of coal. Frosty—Again, there’s no way you haven’t heard this song. You get it.

Breakdown: Surprisingly, this is one Rankin/Bass special I don’t watch very often. I guess because the story never interested me as much as some of the other Christmas specials. It’s even more cut and dry than Rudolph’s. He’s a snowman who came to life, started melting and then he had to go somewhere colder to stay alive. The song’s kinda long but most of it is padding. Not to mention, I don’t know what it is about him, but I never got too invested in the endearment of Frosty as a character. He’s nice, sure, but I find him a little annoying. Especially when he yells out ‘Happy birthday!’ when he’s brought to life. It wasn’t funny the first time, it’s not funny the second or third times.

Even the voice acting is a bit of an off-key aspect to me. Jimmy Durante as the narrator and Jackie Vernon as Frosty just never sat well with me…..Boy, I’m complaining a lot more than I thought I would.

They extend the story for a film version, like Rudolph, but they couldn’t even get half the time (25 minutes) without it really seeming like it’s dragged on.

Not to mention they added an antagonist in Professor Hinkle who really isn’t wrong in his pursuit. He’s wrong to nearly kill a kid by letting her freeze to death unless she handed him a damn hat, but they act like they’re entitled to steal his hat because it made Frosty come to life. Even the narrator agrees that the hat is rightfully theirs.

A quick rundown of the story – Professor Hinkle is a failed magician who is putting on a show for the kids in school for the Christmas party. He sucks, and the kids go out to make a snowman during recess.

They have the snowcrafting skills of gods because they somehow mold an anthropomorphic snow person instead of a traditional snowman. He can even stand on two feet with that big belly. Hinkle’s hat accidentally lands on Frosty’s head by his rabbit, Hocus Pocus. He’s brought to life for a brief moment before Hinkle takes his hat back. The kids are indignant, but can’t do anything about it because they’re kids. Hocus Pocus returns the hat to Frosty, though, and they have a fun day together.

Frosty starts to melt and they decide to take him by train to the north pole, which defies all laws of everything. One of the kids, Karen, decides to join him. They hop a train since they can’t pay for the $3000 impossible magic train ticket. Frosty stays cool in a refrigerated car, but it makes Karen slowly freeze. Hinkle hitches a ride underneath the train to pursue them.

At a stop, Frosty hops out and tries to save Karen, but instead of going to the town they’re clearly close to and finding her shelter and warmth, they go into the snowy tundra of the woods and wander aimlessly while Frosty, the man made of snow, carries her. Frosty, your heart’s in the right place, but she’s going to lose her toes. Put her down.

Hinkle tries to get off too, but ends up crashing down a mountainside and gets snow plopped on him. And if the sound effects are any indication, the snow was made of pans.

Frosty, the anthropomorphic snowman, does not possess the ability to make a fire, so he enlists the help of woodland creatures to do it. I get that he can’t be near fire but surely he can make one then back away once it’s going. Snow doesn’t melt that fast.

Frosty and Hocus decide to enlist Santa’s help in getting Karen home and him to the north pole. However, Hinkle shows back up, blows out Karen’s fire and attempts to get the hat back again. Frosty and Karen manage to get away and conveniently end up in front of a greenhouse. Frosty, instead of just letting Karen down and allowing her to walk in the greenhouse by herself, carries her in quite a ways, allowing Hinkle to easily trap them inside when he catches up.

Santa flies overhead and stops because….I actually don’t know why. He and Hocus find Frosty as a puddle in the greenhouse with Karen sobbing over him. Santa cheers her up by saying Frosty was made out of Christmas snow, and that kind of snow never goes away, even when it’s melted. He demonstrates how special the snow is by opening the greenhouse door and allowing the chilly air inside, instantly transporting the puddle outside and molding Frosty back to the way he was, button nose, broom and corncob pipe and all. Karen’s about to free us of the cold demonic stare of Frosty’s dead black eyes until Hinkle pops back up to get his hat back.

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The hat is fueled on the souls of the damned.

Santa stops him by saying if he tries to take the hat back, he’ll never give him another Christmas gift. I don’t know why he’d be getting them anyway. He’s clearly a naughty person. He even describes himself as an evil magician. Santa tells him to go home and write “I am very sorry for what I did to Frosty” a hundred zillion times in order to get his gift. If Hinkle asked for Carpal Tunnel and hospitalization for exhaustion in trying to complete this impossible goal, he’ll certainly have a merry Christmas.

Hinkle agrees, Frosty’s brought back to life and Santa returns Karen to her house….leaving her on the roof….with no method of getting down….good job, Santa. Also, her parents probably aren’t home since they likely formed a search team to find their lost daughter. He leaves for the north pole with Frosty, bringing him back every year in the future so he could reunite with his friends.

Despite my nitpicks and complaints, I do see the appeal of this special, and I can get how this would be adopted as an annual Christmas tradition. I’ll watch it every few years or so, but it just never caught onto me as a must-see Christmas special. It also neglected to address something that I always wondered about – where did they get this hat? I know it’s Hinkle’s, but where did he get a legit magic hat?

AVAHS – Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas

Plot: Our favorite Disney characters celebrate Christmas in three short specials.

Breakdown: Despite the fact that this used to play all the time on Disney Channel, I’ll admit, I never watched it. Why? I have no clue. But who am I to neglect giving it a looksee when it pops up on my watch list?

The first short is a Donald Duck short called Stuck on Christmas.

Huey, Dewey and Louie have a great Christmas, though they seem utterly unappreciative and selfish throughout the whole day. Not enough to ruin Christmas for everyone else, including Daisy, Gertie and Scrooge, but still enough to show that they’re more focused on the presents and food than the true meaning of Christmas.

They wish on a star for Christmas to last every day and lo and behold their wish comes true. Christmas, as in a Groundhog’s Day-esque recreation of that exact Christmas, continues over and over and over. They get their same gifts, they ride their same sleds and eat the same turkey dinner day after day. They enjoy it for a while, but quickly grow miserable of doing the same thing every day. Bored, the boys decide that the next Christmas will be spiced up a bit by abusing the knowledge they have of the exact events that will happen.

They freeze Chip and Dale, ruining their morning fun with their train, purposely knock Donald, who is carrying a tray of breakfast items, down with their gifted toys, protect themselves from Gertie’s kisses with wet suits, replace the Christmas turkey with a live one who runs through the house destroying everything, including the piano, preventing Scrooge from enjoying his Christmas carols, and the tree even falls over on Donald.

As the boys are about to sled off and avoid the rage of Donald, they stop in their tracks when they realize he’s not mad – he’s incredibly sad that their Christmas has been ruined. Donald’s card to them, which they just discard every time they grab their sleds, has been focused on, but not read, throughout each day so far. They finally read it on this Christmas, showing that Donald and Daisy wrote a heartfelt message to them about the true meaning of Christmas not being toys or even decorations, but about caring and touching each other’s hearts. They slink off to bed and promise to make the next Christmas the best one ever.

They stay true to this promise and indeed do everything in their power to make the next Christmas great for everyone. They even chop up their sleds and make it into Donald’s dreamboat/sled. Though this is a bit ruined at the very end when the sled doesn’t hold up on its first run and Donald ends up crashing.

I liked this short, but it’s insanely predictable. Not to mention, I don’t know which came first, but I’ve already seen a Christmas special about wishing for Christmas everyday – and, honestly, I think that special did it better. It was the Christmas special for Fairly Odd Parents. Timmy wishes for Christmas every day and his fairies, Cosmo and Wanda, have to grant it for him. The difference here is that everyone is cognizant of it being Christmas every day. They all get beyond sick of it, but can’t stop it for some reason. The rest of the plot really can’t be compared because it involves Santa and draining his power – I might give it a real review this month.

The only thing I didn’t really predict was that Huey, Dewey and Louie would actually aim to destroy Christmas for everyone. You could argue that they were just goofing around, but no. Donald makes a nice breakfast for all of them and they purposely knock him over to make him spill it all over himself. They open their gifts early over and over even though they know what they are and know Donald will keep getting mad at them for doing it. They disrespect Gertie with the wet suits, and completely destroy the house by letting a wild turkey loose. The only thing I can say they didn’t do was knock over the tree. That just kinda fell on its own and they didn’t care. I get that they had to reach a new low to reach the high point, but that segment really just made me think these three are some of the worst brats ever.

All in all, it had its entertaining spots, but it’s predictable and some moments kinda ruin the feel and even make me a little mad.

The second short is A Very Goofy Christmas.

This segment was a little awkward due to so much slapstick (I know that’s Goofy’s forte, but even for him it was forced here) and the awkwardness of seeing someone try desperately to prove that Santa exists when another character is presenting all of the logical evidence that such a thing is impossible. However, the ending more than makes up for it, and the premise is more original than you’d be lead to believe.

Max and Goofy are excited for Santa’s arrival, but Pete, being Pete, has to be an ass and laugh at both Goofy and Max for believing in Santa. He even straight up tells Max to his face that several aspects of him just make no sense. Max has a crisis of holiday faith and gets both depressed and frustrated that Santa doesn’t really exist. Max’s reaction in this situation is extremely realistic. He flip flops a bit between believing and not, and you can really see that he genuinely wants to believe, but everything he’s seeing and hearing is telling him otherwise.

Goofy’s belief in Santa never wavers, and he tries desperately to get Max to keep up the faith. Goofy is being such a sweetheart and wonderful father here. He cooks a huge dinner for his less fortunate neighbors and even dresses up like Santa for their kids. I was a bit unsure about this short until my heart melted when Goofy shoveled the words ‘Don’t forget Max’ in the snow.

The original aspect I was talking about was Goofy’s belief in Santa. Parents trying to keep their kids believing in Santa is nothing new, but the parents legitimately believing in Santa is an oddity. It’s especially impacting when Goofy’s faith finally falters and Max does his best to cheer him up.

Of course, Santa is real and brings Max the snowboard he wanted. When Max asks why Goofy didn’t get anything, he says he asks for the same thing every year and gets it every year – Max’s happiness. And then I got a mop because my heart exploded.

Pete even gets his comeuppance by learning Santa does exist and having Santa take all the snow from Goofy’s yard and plopping it into his (After he snowblowed his snow into their yard earlier). No gift for assholes who ruin Santa for children – and this is coming from someone who never believed in him.

Our final short is Gift of the Magi, a Mickey and Minnie short, and it’s the weakest of the bunch.

It’s insanely predictable from start to finish. They’re focusing on a trope that is so overused, I’ve already watched a Christmas special that parodied this trope for this year’s AVAHS. In Futurama’s Xmas Story, Zoidberg buys a pair of combs for Amy’s hair but she said she sold it to buy combs for Hermes. In turn, Hermes said he sold his hair to buy combs for Zoidberg, who reveals he bought both of their hair and now has a luxurious head of hair to comb.

Mickey has a nice gold harmonica that he loves and Minnie has a nice gold pocket watch that she loves. Minnie obviously intends on buying Mickey a case for his harmonica. Mickey intends on buying Minnie a nice gold chain for her watch. This is established within the first few minutes of the short. Gee. I sure wonder where this is headed.

By the way, am I not up to date on Disney characters or something? When did Mickey and Minnie get so destitute? They live in a crappy house, wear patched up clothes and they keep their money in a sack.

Also, Pete is again hateable by trying to force an expensive ten foot tree on a clearly poor family by making the parents feel like garbage if they don’t. At least he still gets comeuppance.

Mickey’s being a sweetheart, like Goofy. He plays a harmonica concert for a charity toy drive and nearly misses getting to the store before closing because of it.

Though, really, poor guy playing harmonica. Come on, tropes. Chill out.

——————————

As a whole, this movie definitely has its ups and downs, but it’s a nice film to watch around the holidays. The Goofy special is definitely the best with Donald’s short coming in second and Mickey’s in last purely because at least Donald’s short had its funny moments and Goofy had its heartwarming moments.

This movie had a sequel aptly named Mickey’s Twice Upon a Christmas. I shall get to that before the season’s over.

AVAHS – Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (Rankin/Bass)

Plot: Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer had a very shiny nose. And if you ever saw it, you would even say it glows. All of the other reindeer used to laugh and call him names. They never—you’ve heard the song before. Don’t act like you haven’t.

Breakdown: I was on the fence about doing this review because, while I do watch this special every year like many people, it’s a time honored classic that’s just hard to review. So let’s look at this objectively and see what problems there are with this story.

Donner, one of Santa’s flying reindeer, is a new father to a fawn named Rudolph. However, he’s appalled when he discovers that his new son has a glowing red nose. And I mean absolutely appalled, like he’s the anti-christ or something. When introduced to Santa, he basically acts the same way. He even goes so far as to imply that Rudolph will never be a reindeer on his team because of his nose…..which I don’t understand at all. What does a glowing red nose have to do with pulling a sleigh? It may be a tad distracting, but no worse than a little red light on your dash from a GPS or a security system or something.

I will admit that the three-year-old-with-a-recorder sound effect that comes up when his nose glows is annoying, though.

AVAHS Rudolph 1
Too cute to stay angry about the noise.

As Rudolph gets a little older, Donner, still ashamed of his demon spawn, actually gets him a fake nose so he’ll be more socially acceptable. And, really, it only seems like Donner gives a crap about his son when his nose is covered up. This special made me really hate Donner. Dasher all the way, man!

The prosthetic nose seems to work as Rudolph is very accepted by the other reindeer. He manages to make a new friend in Fireball, who inexplicably has hair on his head (also, what a rip off to be named Rudolph when your friends have names like Fireball) and he catches the eye of a doe named Clarice.

They’re about to start reindeer training with Comet, but Rudolph chats up Clarice because he’s a baller.

After hitting it off with Clarice, he starts flying all over the place in gleeful excitement, which impresses Comet and Santa. But his fake nose falls off and everyone starts making fun of him. Comet tells them to stop it and continues on with the training, but he bans Rudolph from the training and says the familiar phrase of not letting Rudolph join in any reindeer games.

Even Santa’s a jerk here because he chastises Donner for lying and then says it’s a shame Rudolph still has that nose because he did a great job flying. I still don’t get it. Also, if his nose was covered successfully before, just get him a better fake nose if the glowing is such an issue. This is like someone getting rejected from a IT job because they have an eleventh toe.

Luckily, Clarice is a nice doe who sounds eons too old for Rudolph. She cheers him up through a song so angelic that she pulls a Disney Princess and gets the woodland creatures to sing too. And like a good Disney Princess, she also falls in love with Rudolph in the time frame of four minutes.

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He’s about to walk her home when her father arrives and forces her to go back to their cave, banning her from associating herself with a red-nosed reindeer.

Meanwhile, we have the plot with Hermey the elf, who is not happy being a toy making elf and wants to be a dentist. However, all elves are damned from birth to live a life slaving in a toy factory. Also, dentists don’t exist, I guess, which is weird because they’re in a world where you’d assume they live on a diet of candy and cookies.

He gets fired from his job and meets up with Rudolph, accepting him for who he is because he’s a fellow misfit. After an ear-worm song break, the two go off on an adventure.

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After surviving the first night in the frozen tundra, they meet Yukon Cornelius, an eccentric mountaineer and prospector who travels by sled dog and hunts for silver and gold. He also likes to lick his pickaxe…..he can taste minerals or ore….I don’t….he licks his pickaxe is all you really need to know.

Throughout the movie, there’s been one thing we’ve been warned of in regards to a threat – The Abominable Snowmonster of the North, Bumble. A monster who scared the hell out of me as a kid and still kinda does. The design of the thing is offputting enough, but the first time you see him, all you see are his legs and feet, which are immensely larger than Donner and Rudolph. But really the thing that gets me about him is his voice. Or should I say his ear-piercing screech? You expect monsters to roar, but this thing has a shrill yell so loud I think this movie should be re-edited with warnings in place for headphone users.

Bumble is following Rudolph’s nose light, which results in them reaching a dead end in the ice. Yukon saves them by chipping off the part of the ice they’re on, which allows them to escape since Bumble can’t swim.

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Please make this go away.

And hey, let’s have some good ol’ fashioned 1960’s sexism!

Narrator: “You can bet that Donner felt pretty bad about how he had treated Rudolph, and he knew that the only thing left to do was to go out and look for his little buck. Mrs. Donner wanted to go along, naturally. But Donner said ‘NO! This is man’s work!’” No worries, though, because Mrs. Donner and Clarice go off on their own anyway because they don’t need no man.

Floating on the ice, Rudolph, Hermey and Yukon crash into the island of misfit toys, which is self-explanatory. I don’t really understand why some of these toys are outcasts, though. The first toy we meet is a Jack-in-the-box who no one wants because his name is Charlie…..Uh, dude, just change your name. It’s not like it’s written on you….just call yourself Jack. I get that it’s not about changing yourself to suit societal norms, but it’s a name – something that was given to you and something that is easily changeable…

Then we have matryoshka doll whose final doll is a wind-up mouse, which I guess makes sense.

A pink polka dotted stuffed elephant which makes a little sense, but since when do kids complain about not getting color accurate to real life version stuffed animals?

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A doll, which looks normal, a toy airplane, which looks normal, a teddy bear, which looks normal – just a lot of toys which look normal. There’s a toy train with square wheels, which must be the fault of a drunk elf because that’s ridiculous, and a toy gun that squirts jelly……….uhhh…..empty the jelly and fill yourself up with water….it’s not that hard….there’s water right there.

There’s also a bird that doesn’t fly and instead swims…..that’s called a penguin, just in case you’re wondering. A cowboy riding an ostrich, which, come on, that’s awesome. What kid wouldn’t want that?

We also have a boat that can’t stay afloat……alright, I concede on that one.

Rudolph asks if they can stay on the island since they’re misfits too and Charlie tells them to ask King Moonracer, who not only has a kickass name, but he’s also a damn winged lion with his own castle.

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I need a Moonracer doll right now.

They ask if they can stay on the island, but Moonracer refuses, stating that living beings, unlike toys, cannot hide themselves away on an island. Don’t worry, Yukon points out the irony that Hermey and Rudolph can’t even belong with other misfits. Moonracer asks them for a favor to help the misfits toys. Since they live in Christmas Town, Moonracer asks them if they’ll tell Santa about this island to help find good homes for the misfit toys. They agree and Moonracer gives them a place to sleep for the night.

Afraid that he’ll put his friends in danger with his nose calling Bumble, Rudolph leaves in the middle of the night and floats off on his own. He spends months on the run from Bumble, and no matter who he meets, he still gets treated like a freak. He grows into a full grown buck and decides to return to Christmas Town to face his problems head on. The other bucks are still jackasses, and when Rudolph returns home, he finds that his mother, father and Clarice have been gone searching for him the whole time he’s been gone.

Santa says he’ll never be able to fly without Donner, and with Christmas days away, it’s a real emergency……uh….Donner’s been gone for months and you’ve clearly been training other reindeer. Why not use one of them?

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Just then, a massive snow storm hits, which also threatens Christmas. Rudolph has to brave the storm to find his parents and Clarice, but luckily he knows exactly where to look – the cave of the abominable snowmonster. And luckily he knows exactly where that is. And luckily they do just so happen to be there. And luckily, despite being held hostage by Bumble for god knows how long, he has yet to kill them.

Rudolph and Bumble start an epic battle and Rudolph gets beaten to death with a stalactite. What’s that?…..He lives? No, no, that’s not a livable event……Really?….Whatever.

Luckily, Hermey and Yukon have been looking for Rudolph since he left and, luckily, they just happen to decide to go back to Christmas Town right when Rudolph went, and, luckily, they learned where Rudolph was going and got there quickly. Plot convenience is hella fun.

Yukon knocks Bumble out with a rock and Hermey pulls out all of his teeth (!!!), rendering him harmless. But I guess that’s not enough because Yukon also knocks him off a cliff, taking him with him.

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I feel like I’m watching a serial killer origin story.

Rudolph and the others return home where the worry over their safety has made the citizens of Christmas Town all realize what jerks they were. Santa and Donner apologize to Rudolph, Santa promises to find homes for all of the misfit toys and Hermey’s boss apologizes to him, telling him he can open a dentist office next week after Christmas is over…without proper schooling or a license. Let me remind everyone that earlier he was performing dental work on a doll by tapping her teeth with a hammer.

Yukon reveals that he not only survived, but so did Bumble, who is now inexplicably reformed and wants a job in Christmas town. How did Yukon survive? Because Bumbles bounce…..Hmm…..rant about physics or biology? Decisions, decisions.

Business as usual at Christmas Town until the song’s plot continues. There’s a terrible storm and Santa can’t navigate in such terrible conditions, so Christmas is canceled.

But then…..one foggy Christmas Eve, Santa came to say ‘Rudolph with your nose so bright, won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?’ Then the FiddleTwix complained, because that’s not how it works. The weather conditions have been changed from fog to one of the worst blizzards in history. A dinky red light is not going to help you much. Not only is red probably the worst color to use for a navigation light, but it certainly won’t help combat the winds and snow. Even if it was fog, the light would just reflect off of it. That’s why you don’t use your high beams in fog…Why hasn’t Santa ever thought to add headlights to his sleigh anyway? It’s 1964. At least have a lantern or something. I’ll shut up now.

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And then all of the other reindeer mocked Rudolph for his pink harness and Rudolph flew them into a mountainside.

Donner: “I knew that nose would be useful someday. I knew it all along.” Shut up, Donner. No one likes you.

I guess that leads us to one of the more prominent issues with the message here. The movie actually fixes the message problem that the song has. In the song, you’re lead to believe that Rudolph only gained social acceptance because his shiny red nose was useful to Santa, meaning you’ll be treated as an outcast if whatever deformity or issue you have doesn’t contribute to society. Here, though, the other reindeer, Santa and Donner all feel remorse and accept Rudolph before this ever happens. While he does gain higher social status because of it, he doesn’t gain acceptance because, hey, we can actually use laser face over there to further our needs.

I’d still say Donner is adhering to this because while he seems accepting of Rudolph before, he really only seems proud of him after he saves Christmas……also, why is Donner being left behind? Rudolph’s at the front on his own. Donner should still be in the pack.

I think we should be more concerned about the message Mrs. Claus is giving. Her one role over this whole movie is obsessing over fattening Santa up because kids expect a fat Santa….even though….ya know….they shouldn’t be seeing him at all. She actually seems to force feed him from skinny to about 200 pounds heavier in the course of a day. Merry Christmas, kid! I got you a Santa dying from a heart attack under your tree! After Santa wakes from his coma, he’ll enjoy his gift of an eternity of body image issues!

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I would complain more about this, but I’m actually more distracted by the background. Why did they put up the alphabet with a bunch of random arrows?

Santa goes to the island of misfit toys and rescues them all. How Santa knows what kid would like what deformed toy, I don’t know. Also, the bird who couldn’t fly gets murdered because the elf sending off the packages pushes him out of the sleigh without giving him the umbrella. Did you not listen to the song, elf?!

What else is there to say about this special besides stop motion is creepy?……Sorry, I couldn’t stop myself anymore. I love those old Rankin/Bass specials too, but it doesn’t change the fact that I still find stop-motion, especially old stop-motion, to be incredibly creepy. Not as bad as claymation, but still creepy.

It’s Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. It’s a heartwarmer for people of all ages. It has its oddities, and a terrifying snowmonster and logic problems up the wazoo, but it’s still fun, endearing, has some nice music both original and songs by Burl Ives, and it’s a staple for any household around Christmas. If, somehow, you’ve never seen it before, give it a watch. Maybe you can make it a Christmas tradition too.

Then all the reindeer loved him, and they shouted out with glee.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, you’ll down in history!

AVAHS – Nickelodeon’s Doug: Doug’s Christmas Story

AVAHS Doug's christmas story 3

Plot: Around Christmas, Porkchop seemingly attacks Beebe and injures her leg, which causes him to be detained by the authorities. Porkchop will be put on trial for his crimes and Doug’s the only one with any faith in his buddy. Can Doug save Porkchop, or will the Funnies have to live every future Christmas without him?

Breakdown: There aren’t too many classic holiday specials that I actively avoid…..but this one of them. Not because it’s badly written or unmemorable or because there are bad messages in it – on a technical level it’s about as good as Doug ever got. My problem is….Holy crap, it is so depressing. Most of the episode has Doug worried sick that Porkchop’s going to be put down for what he did and listening to a bunch of people badmouth Porkchop when all he was trying to do was save Beebe’s life.

Even when they skew back to Christmas stuff, like showing that Doug got Porkchop for Christmas when he was a little kid or that Porkchop gave Doug his signature journal, it’s depressing because it just reminds you that Porkchop’s in a high-security dog prison awaiting a trial that might result in him immediately being euthanized. And I’m not exaggerating or giving the ‘real world’ take on what would happen in this situation – Doug actually imagines that this Christmas will be spent at Porkchop’s grave.

The story goes that, as Doug and his friends are playing hockey at Lucky Duck Lake, Beebe fails to notice a ‘Thin Ice’ sign that Porkchop is able to notice and read. As the ice starts to crack and open up around her, unbeknownst to her for some reason, Porkchop grabs her the only way a dog can grab something, with his mouth (though it’s been shown that he is frequently bipedal and has front legs and paws that basically act as human arms and hands. See exhibit A: AVAHS Doug's christmas story 1 So, yeah, logically, this story kinda falls apart already.) He grabs her leg with his teeth and pulls her into thicker ice, subsequently saving her life.

However, Beebe’s leg is injured, and everyone interprets the event as Porkchop having randomly attacked Beebe, because I guess they’re also too stupid to read the sign or even notice the gaping hole in the ice mere feet away.

They call animal control and take Porkchop away, leaving his fate to the decision of a court. The incident gets wildly sensationalized, and the entire town turns on Porkchop, refusing to sign a petition to save him. The news is even making ridiculous recreations of the event where Porkchop is a rabid bulldog who grabs Beebe and whips her back and forth like a ragdoll.

Doug tries to talk directly to Beebe, but Mr. Bluff, her father, refuses to let him into the hospital room and doesn’t give a crap about Doug’s dog. Why is she still in the hospital? I doubt such a bite would even cause initial hospitalization. They’d probably fix it up in the ambulance – at worst they’d take her to the hospital to get an x-ray done.

Even Beebe later admits that the bite didn’t hurt, yet they put her in a wheelchair, put her leg in a cast and stuck her on crutches. If they’re saying he has the strength to fracture or break her leg, let alone that he did it with such a weak bite, bullshit. Mr. Bluff seems like he and his legal team are purposely dressing this up to make their case stronger. I don’t know why. It’s not like they’re getting any money out of this. The only result will be a dead dog.

What’s worse is even the judge seems like he’s biased against Porkchop because he refuses to let Doug cross-examine Beebe and even urges the audience to cheer for Beebe for being such a brave girl. This is such bullshit. There are victims of rape who get cross-examined so harshly it embarrasses and further traumatizes the hell out of them and they don’t get cheers for their bravery.

Doug asks if Porkchop can tell his side of the story and the judge mocks him asking how he’s going to do that since no one speaks dog……..well, then why the hell is this trial even happening? You can’t have a fair trial unless both parties are able to communicate their sides. If you won’t let Doug cross-examine anyone and you can’t hear Porkchop’s side, the whole trial is completely one-sided.

For some reason, this reminds me of that one episode of Family Guy where Brian violates the leash law and is about to be put down so he studies a bunch of law books and preps to represent himself. When it’s his turn in court, he starts an eloquent opening statement and then the judge goes ‘Wait, why are we listening to him? He’s a dog! Take him away!’

What’s even worse is that, according to Doug’s speech, Porkchop’s been a saint to nearly everyone in the courtroom. He babysits, he lends people money, he saves the hair of the balding, he fixes cars, he helps people rebuild burned down houses – and he even did something amazing for the judge. His daughter was in accident that robbed her of her ability to walk and Porkchop taught her how to walk again. And under the judge’s own admission, he barely helped her.

How the hell do you forget all of these things and immediately turn to massive town hatred? It would be more understandable if it was a case of a regular dog and just saying ‘oh it was such a sweet dog who must’ve snapped for a minute because of natural instincts.’ But this is an anthropomorphic intelligent dog who seems like he’s smarter and more valuable to society than his owners.

It takes Porkchop having to save her a second time, this time when she’s actually drowning in freezing cold waters (and I guess because the crowd of people mere feet away can’t be arsed) in order to finally convince them that he was saving her and not attacking her.

I’d just like to point out that Patti has a keen enough eye to notice and recognize the pine cone they were using as a puck on the day of the incident, but is too stupid and blind to see the ‘Thin Ice’ sign floating in the giant gaping hole….and, oh yeah, they’re all too stupid to notice the GIANT GAPING HOLE. I even have to call out Beebe here, because she’s heading for the same spot with the hole right there but she also won’t notice the danger. I wonder how many bodies are in Lucky Duck Lake due to lack of sign awareness.

Of course, everything ends up being okay. Porkchop has the charges dropped against him and is even hailed as a hero. Mr. Bluff put on a huge party for Porkchop and all of the dogs of the pound, and the former Mayor White used his radio show to find homes for all of them, which I find illogical because some of those dogs had to be legit threats but whatever. Porkchop gets an adorable hat and everyone has a merry Christmas.

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An aspect of this episode that I neglected was Doug’s struggle throughout this whole ordeal. Like always, he approaches his problem with a lot of fantasies and some crazy schemes, but this time he’s upped the ante and even reaches a point of burnout. He has all three of his main dream versions of himself, Smash Adams, the James Bond character, Quailman, the superhero persona, and the Indiana Jones spoof, Race Canyon, meeting inside of his head to help him with Porkchop throughout a good chunk of the episode. However, their ideas always seem crazy and eventually it gets to a point where they’re all so much in conflict with each other that Doug refuses to escape to his fantasy for help coping with this anymore and relies on himself.

This is a pretty big deal for Doug because, like I said, he almost always relies on fantasies for ideas and support in whatever challenges he faces, to the point where you’d believe he could really use a psych eval and some therapy, but this time the challenge is so great and the stakes are so high than he forces himself out of the fantasy and faces everything on his own. This is even mirrored a bit in Doug’s face as the trial goes on. He gets lines under his eyes that either convey exhaustion, great concern or both.

And, in the end, it really was Doug who saved the day. He had to be Porkchop’s voice and convince everyone to do whatever they could to understand what really happened that day. Without him, Porkchop would be dead.

Like I said, this episode is not badly written – In fact, I’d say it’s one of the better written episodes of the entire series, and it’s definitely one that stands out when I think of plot lines of Doug offhand. My issue with this episode has always been the tone. It’s a dark and depressing episode that you almost forget is set around Christmas most of the time. Of course, as adults, we know they’d never kill off Porkchop, especially in a Christmas special, but as a kid, I was worried sick about the fate of Porkchop. No matter if the ending was happy or not, watching the episode still always soured my holiday mood.

It doesn’t help that, like most Christmas specials, they only aired this episode around the holidays.

All in all, I’d actually recommend this episode, but if you’re anything like me, don’t watch it around the holidays.

AVAHS – Rocket Power: A Rocket X-mas

AVAHS Rocket Power

Plot: Raymundo wants to celebrate all of the Rocket family Christmas traditions, but Otto and Reggie find most of them to be lame and try to avoid them. They take up jobs as dog walkers to earn enough money to buy a long board for their dad, but their jobs and attitudes get in the way of the holidays.

Breakdown: Despite me watching Rocket Power fairly regularly as a kid, I will admit, I’m hard-pressed to remember damn near any episode. There was that episode where Otto broke his leg snowboarding…that episode with the neon skateboards…..that’s pretty much it, off hand. Rocket Power just wasn’t known for having deep and meaningful storylines. It was usually just extreme sports, slang, smacktalk and maybe an obvious moral.

Which is probably why I can’t, for the life of me, remember this special. Any of it. At all.

I know I must’ve watched it, but I have no recollection whatsoever of even a second of footage.

Alright, that’s a small lie. I remember nothing about it, BUT I did get a spur of ‘OH YEAH’ when Otto and Reggie got their gifts. Just a spur though because, while I remembered they got gifts that were mementos of their mother, I completely forgot what they were and what their significance was.

Outside of that one kinda touching moment that is really only touching because it’s a rare occasion where they reminisce on their late mother, this is a completely forgettable and boring episode.

It’s predictable, it’s not funny, it’s not very full of Christmas-y feels, and unlike other episodes that can offset this by having at least some cool tricks and sports, this one has nothing because the focus is either on groaning over Raymundo’s Christmas traditions or walking dogs. The most they do is allow themselves to be pulled on skateboards and rollerblades by the dogs, which is dangerous.

I think a good chunk of people can relate to outgrowing Christmas traditions….but I obviously can’t. I’m all about Christmas. Hell, I’m usually the one who has to prod my parents to do our traditions.

And I think the moment where Raymundo admits that he was trying so hard to uphold the traditions because their mother loved them so much should’ve been a more impacting moment. It’s more like a fleeting line.

All in all, this really isn’t that good of a Christmas special – or a regular episode for that matter, which doubly sucks because this is a special full half-hour long episode as opposed to the eleven minute half episodes they usually got. Oh well, at least they didn’t do one of those lame shots where they say a slang word and an exaggerated title card with the word pops up on screen.

AVAHS – Futurama: Xmas Story

AVAHS Futurama

Plot: It’s Fry’s first Christm—Xmas in the year 3000, and he becomes very depressed when thinking about how different the holidays are celebrated now and the fact that his family is no longer around to celebrate it with him. Leela, being an orphan and the last of her species, never even knew a family to celebrate Christmas. When Fry goes out to buy a nice gift for Leela to cheer her up, he meets Robot Santa, who has been programmed to see nearly everyone as naughty – and those who are naughty get ho-ho-holes shots through them.

Breakdown: While this special is not one I’ve held near and dear to my heart for years, it’s still a very enjoyable and fun Ch—Xmas special that I’ve grown to watch traditionally over the past few years.

It shakes off many Christmas special tropes and does press upon two serious aspects of Fry and Leela’s characters. We never really think about Fry missing his family much, but as the seasons go by (especially later ones) we learn that he truly does miss his family, and living in a world where everyone you ever knew or loved is dead is heartbreaking.

Leela’s situation is equally sad, if not moreso, since she never had a family to begin with and she was more or less treated as an outcast throughout her time at the orphanarium.

It’s sweet that Fry risks his life to get Leela a present for Xmas, even if it does lead into a near mistletoe trope.

The plot with Robot Santa is an interesting take on the character who definitely adds an entirely new spin to these Xmas specials. I will admit, Robot Santa is one of my favorite versions of Santa ever. I don’t know why, but I still get all happy when he gives Zoidberg a present.

Other than that, we have Bender who is off on a side plot in a booze kitchen for down and out robots. He recruits some homeless robots to help him scam and rob people, and it’s the introduction to Tinny Tim (no typo). I have no clue why, maybe I’m a little sadistic, but I love Tinny Tim and his interactions with Bender.

This episode is not particularly hilarious nor is it horribly heartwarming, but it is funny, has many memorable moments and will tug at the heartstrings a bit. It’s a great episode to watch around the holidays or anytime. Now let’s all sing A Xmas Carol to play us out!

♪ He knows when you are sleeping,

He knows when you’re on the can,

He’ll hunt you down and blast your ass from here to Pakistan!

~Oh~

You better not breathe, you better not move!

You’re better off dead, I’m telling you, dude.

Santa Claus is gunning you down!♫

Animating Halloween: Recess – Terrifying Tales of Recess

AHRTTOR

Plot: Butch tells some scary stories just in time for Halloween.

Breakdown: Alright, Recess! Yet another nostalgia bomb for me. I loved Recess. It’s one of those shows where I think it started and ended very strongly. They even got their own movie, which I hope to review sometime. Today, however, we’ll be addressing their Halloween special, Terrifying Tales of Recess.

I love a good horror anthology, as you can likely tell. But does Recess really have it in it to tell funny spooky stories?

As bookends to each story is Butch, Third Street’s resident story teller and bearer of bad news, addressing the audience with some information on each story. The first story is Children of the Corn Chip, which is about a ‘mystery’ involving a shop keeper getting attacked by a monster. TJ and the others have to determine who the monster is, what caused the transformation and stop the monster before it turns everyone else into monsters.

This was….kinda lame. It would’ve been better if they didn’t show the monster was Corn Chip Girl at the start and that the tainted item was corn chips. They could’ve just had the shopkeeper talk about some untested food and then Galileo (Gretchen’s computer) could reveal that the item was corn chips, leading them to Corn Chip Girl. It’s just not a mystery story with any sort of twist if you show us who and what it is at the very first scene.

Well, I guess there is a twist….Gus damn near murders Corn Chip Girl by knocking her off the roof. He tries to explain that monsters turn back to normal when they’re up that high and falling or something (it’s very poorly explained) and that he knew Mikey would catch her, but 1) They never explain well why he figured the height or fall would turn her back and 2) there’s no way he could’ve been entirely certain that Mikey would catch her. Geez.

The second segment is called When Bikes Attack. It’s about Mikey’s beloved bike, Pegasus, coming to life in a thunderstorm, angered that Mikey left it out in the rain. This is a pretty entertaining story and it doesn’t even have a happy ending like the first one basically did. The situation is more ‘frightening’ and out of control, and there are more funny moments.

I don’t have much else to say about besides that, so let’s move on to the final story, which is Night of the Living Finsters. This story centers around a hole that the Diggers dug. Seeing them run out of the hole screaming, Lawson dares Vince to spend the night in the hole all alone. Unable to refuse a dare, Vince does it (though how he’d prove it, I don’t know). TJ and the others arrive to support him, but since the rules of the dare were that Vince had to be alone, he triggers what is basically playground rule-breaking mojo.

The ground shakes and reveals the underground graveyard of Ms. Finsters ancestors, who all come back to life and chase the kids through the school. It ends in that familiar ‘it was all a dream?’ and then ‘dunanana, it wasn’t’

This was an alright story. It was a tiny bit scary-ish, but it didn’t really have any particularly funny moments.

All in all, this was a fairly entertaining Halloween special but I think Recess could’ve done a bit better. Maybe it’s just not suited to the anthology format and needed a full episode of just one story?