AVAHS – Futurama: A Tale of Two Santas

AVAHS Futurama 2

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.

 

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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.

frosty
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 – 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.

AVAHS Doug's christmas story 2

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!♫

Episode One-Derland (Cartoons) The Mighty B!

That tagline should give you an idea of some of the humor…

Plot: Bessie Higgenbottom is a passionate Honeybee scout who wants to earn over 4000 badges in order to become the superhero, the Mighty B!

Breakdown: My background with The Mighty B! Is rather cut and dry. Despite the fact that I was still an avid Nickelodeon watcher back when this first aired, I never watched it because, quite frankly, even in promos it looked really obnoxious. I’m happy to report that young me is smarter than older me because at least she had the sense to listen to herself because this is really obnoxious.

And no, no I don’t care that it was co-created and voiced by Amy Phoeler. Love ya, girl, but no.

How about we start at the very beginning – What the unholy hell is that theme song? That has to be the worst theme song I’ve ever heard. It’s like they took 20 different theme songs cut them into two second blurbs, smushed one longer song on top of it and called it a day. It has no rhythm, whatever melody it has makes me want to gnash my teeth and I was so baffled by the lack of….everything in this song that I forced myself to listen to it three times just to see if there was a real song in there and I’m still not convinced there is.

Hey, put this song on a loop and we can propose this as an alternative to waterboarding.

That’s the first time since Scaredy Squirrel where I’ve been so annoyed by a theme song that I was actually considering not even giving the show a chance because of it. But I’d listen to Scaredy Squirrel’s theme song every day for the rest of my life if it meant I never had to listen to The Mighty B’s ever again.

Let’s just give Episode 1A the rundown.

Bessie Higgenbottom is a passionate and hyper Honeybee Girl Scout, and not even 30 seconds into the episode you can tell this is definitely one of those loud irritating shows where the comedy mostly lies in the characters yelling and being hyper and never slowing down for five seconds. Bessie seems to be well-known and liked by everyone in town. She enters a Chinese restaurant, suddenly make believes everyone including the customers and owner are Chinese warriors trying to fight her, with her taking the form of a huge (and male….??) superhero called The Mighty B!

She gets praised by the owner, Mr. Wu for….swinging her hands around like an idiot at nothing throughout the restaurant while being kinda racist and then she leaves. She steals some kid named Rocky’s skateboard and skates down a hill, flying off on an incline, pretending she’s flying as The Mighty B again, then falling over and over.

She lands right in front of Annoying Rich Self-Absorbed Bitches Batch 345F, AKA Rich bitch whose parents run the show and her two sheep bitch friends.

They reveal the plot of the episode, which is that Honeybees are holding a dog show and Bitch A is entering with her dog for an animal appreciation badge.

We also get this line.

Bitch A: “Guess you didn’t get the B-mail” GET IT!? B-MAIL?! Because BEES! HONEYBEE TROUPE! If this turns into The Bee Movie, there better be tons of mildly humorous parody videos of it on the Internet.

Bessie then literally, and I do mean literally, annoys her mother into letting her get a dog by pestering her day in and day out with hundreds of reasons why she should get a dog.

The next day we learn that Bessie actually believes that she’ll become the real Mighty B if she gets 4000+ some odd scout badges….Kay.

Enter a stray dog, whom she promptly kidnaps and names Happy.

That night, she gives him a bath in her beehive fort on the roof of her building. I only mentioned that because I wanted to show you how crazy this girl is. I’m all for imagination, but this girl seriously has a bee hive fort on her roof….

Then she ‘trains’ Happy, who clearly is anything but happy about being held hostage by this crazy girl who talks to a Sharpie’d smiley face on her finger that she named Finger (not kidding) and hugs him so hard, she basically Elmyra’s him and he explodes.

The next day, what a shock, Bitch A’s mother is obviously paying off the judges and they’re even evil laughing together. Oh and Bitch A’s name? Guess. You have half a second. Go. You’re right. It’s Portia. Fun fact. While trying to figure out how this is properly spelled, I learned the name Portia derives from the word ‘Pig’. I always assumed they were going for an off-shoot of Porches, adhering to the trend of sports car names for bitches, but here we are.

Happy runs away before the dog show because Portia and bitches B and C mock him. Bessie tries to stop him, but he ‘explains’ to her that he hates dog shows and wants his old life back. She accepts his decision and he bolts.

She then has a damn near scary 15 seconds of going back and forth between being incredibly sad he’s leaving and being enraged before Finger talks her down. Sooooo….all I’m getting is that this is a show about a girl with severe undiagnosed mental illnesses being played for cheap slapstick and screaming comedy.

After Portia and her dog, Precious, woo the audience, Bessie sadly announces that Happy’s not going to be in the show. Unsurprisingly, Happy shows back up and does the dog show, impressing the audience with a random rushed cluster of ‘tricks’ like flexing, dancing and playing basketball, sloppily mushed together with another ‘song’.

The audience loves them because the plot said so, but Portia’s mother is pressuring the judge to stick to the plan and let Portia and Precious win. The judge tries to call a tie, but the audience boos at him until he makes a fair tie-breaker. He says he’ll decide based on breeding. Since Happy is a torn-eared mutt and Precious is an expensive purebred, he awards Portia the win.

Set to that stock sad music we’ve heard a million times, Bessie announces to the audience that she’s fine with losing because she loves Happy and he loves her. The audience gets upset again, and even though the judge has already declared Precious the winner, he decides to check its teeth, revealing that Precious is actually a rat.

Bessie’s little brother, Ben, then takes the badge and rightfully gives it to Bessie.

I have so many questions.

First of all, how the hell do you not notice that a dog is a rat? She had that dog for quite some time it seems, but despite the training and grooming and pampering and whatnot, neither her nor her friends or her parents noticed that it was a rat? How did it go through the show without anyone noticing? I know some small dogs look weird, but mistaking them for a real rat should never be a thing.

Second of all, where the hell did she get that ‘dog’? If this were backwards, as in Precious being found on the street, I might be able to start to justify why this happened, but she touts Precious as a prebred, which means it had to have come from a breeder, she had to have paid big money for it and she has to have papers for it that prove it’s a purebred. How do you jump through all those hoops to end up with a rat?

Third, they don’t even have anything like a covering or something like they sometimes do with ‘that’s really a…!’ reveals. He looks like any other tiny toy designer dog before then, but when they check its teeth it suddenly morphs into a disgusting rat. It’s a cheap reveal because it seems like they realized they wanted Bessie to win but couldn’t be arsed to think of any better way to have it happen so they magically turned the dog into a rat to disqualify it.

All in all, this is not only an annoying show with a complete lack of humor, clever or otherwise, but the story itself is incredibly predictable (though I will give them props for poking the ‘he showed up afterall’ trope by having Bessie hear a dog bark only to see it’s a different dog in the audience. I can’t give it a lot of props, though, because they do end up just doing the trope anyway.) and ends on a note that seems incredibly sloppily written for the sake of getting Bessie the badge.

Only thing I kinda liked about it was Ben because he hero worships Bessie instead of being the typical annoying little brother, but even he could be annoying.

Final Verdict:

750spsl

I am just not a fan of the ‘never stop talking, go a mile a minute and loud=funny’ genre. Despite winning several awards, The Mighty B! Only lasted two seasons, so I guess I’m not alone in this.

Dissecting the Disquels: Stitch! The Movie

* “Meet two other experiments, see previews of about ten others and watch the TV series and other sequels to get at least glimpses of the rest. Also, 625 is not their friend, I don’t know why he’s in the dune buggy or hanging out with Lilo and Stitch.”…What? Not a catchy tagline?

Rating: 7/10

Plot: Dr. Hamsterviel, former evil assistant of Jumba, is after the other 625 experiments that came before Stitch. In an effort to retrieve them, he enlists the help of Gantu, who kidnaps Jumba and obtains the pod for experiment 625. Lilo and Stitch have to protect Stitch’s cousins and rescue Jumba or else the universe will be threatened by the powers of the failed experiments.

Breakdown: We’re kinda nudging what might be considered a real Disquel here, but it fits the criteria well enough. It’s a sequel of what many would call a recent Disney classic. It was a direct-to-DVD movie. And, best of all, it’s obviously masquerading as a sequel when it’s really the pilot to a TV series.

However, unlike many other Disquels, I think this works quite well as both a sequel and a TV pilot.

Exploring what the other 625 experiments are like is a valid question left behind from the original movie. One can assume that a good chunk of them are just duds, but many of them have to have amazing powers and abilities as well as interesting character designs.

Finding and reforming each experiment by finding where they truly belong is actually a great idea for a long-running series, even if we don’t ever get to formerly meet all 625 experiments (Damn the Disney 65 episode rule), and this movie sets up this plot in such a way that doesn’t seem incredibly forced or like it’s a bunch of episodes stitched (puns!) together. It’s also interesting to note, though it’s not mentioned in the movie, that each experiment had a different purpose in addition to power set. While Stitch was designed purely for chaos and destruction, other experiments were designed with different purposes such as psychological warfare and elemental manipulation.

Even the art and animation don’t take a huge hit. It’s obviously nowhere near the original movie’s, but it’s still some of the best animation we’ve gotten for a Disquel. It’s somewhere between the original movie’s and the TV show’s quality. Some of the CGI is noticeable, but it’s alright.

The writing is still pretty good, though what the hell is up with David? Was he always such an apathetic asswad? ‘Gee, a little girl and her alien pet as well as her two alien babysitters are missing, the spaceship is missing, the door is broken down and there’s a big hole in the roof?….Eh I’m sure she’s fine. I’ll fall asleep watching TV while her older sister, my sorta girlfriend, searches over the island for her in a panic.’

There are still many jokes and funny scenes that work well and I was never rolling my eyes at anything. However, unlike in the original movie, there is a distinct lack of heartwarming scenes. Lilo and Stitch share one while imprisoned, but that’s about it.

The fact that Stitch can’t fit in with people also doesn’t mesh very well with the end of the first movie. I thought he was going out in public and being around people just fine, but here he is making almost as much of a mess as he was when he was evil. They didn’t need to make Stitch feel like an outsider to make the connections to his ‘cousins’ worthwhile. How about him wanting to give his cousins what he’s found? A true home, family and happiness.

At the end of the day, this is still one of the better Disquels and it actually spawned a TV series that was pretty good. I followed it somewhat closely when I was younger, and I enjoyed it a lot. It was interesting to see the various experiments and their varying powers and personalities. I may even do a Cartoon Step-by-Step for it.

It’s certainly not as grand as the first movie, and the tension is basically non-existent due to everything about Hamsterviel being a joke (and the whole ‘I’m a hamster not a gerbil/rat/whathaveyou’ schtick is already really old) and the fact that the only experiment he has in his possession is also an annoying joke.

Experiment 625, later named Reuben, is obviously the last experiment to be made before Stitch. He has all of the powers and abilities of Stitch, but the catch is that he’s incredibly lazy and never follows orders. His one schtick, that never was or is funny, is that he does nothing but make and eat tons of sandwiches, hence his name. That’s it. How funny. Bust a gut.

Still, it’s a fun movie that doesn’t lose the style or appeal of the original movie. It’s probably the shortest of the Disquels, clocking it at a flat hour including credits, but it has more quality than several Disquels combined.

As a final note, there’s no real memorable soundtrack this time around. The original Lilo and Stitch had several Elvis songs as well as numerous Hawaiian songs made specifically for the movie. However, here, all we have is one Elvis song and one custom Hawaiian song that isn’t even really all that Hawaiian. Plus, I think that song was made specifically for the TV series not necessarily the movie because that song, Aloha e Komo Mai, will later be the Lilo and Stitch The Series theme song.

Oh well, at least there’s no song about friendship or makeovers.

Recommended Audience: E for everyone!

Final Notes: I have a Stitch Doll from the Disney Store. It’s one of my favorite things that my dad ever got me.

Also, I’m aware of the Stitch anime and the Chinese cartoon. I haven’t seen either and I’m not entirely sure I will.

Animating Halloween: Recess – Terrifying Tales of Recess

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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?

Animating Halloween: Extreme Dinosaurs – Night of the Living Pumpkins

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A pterodactyl in a bunny costume is the most EXTREME!

Plot: A few weeks before Halloween, the Extreme Dinosaurs try to thwart the raptors plans of drilling for lava in a volcano and weaponizing it. They get exposed to some weird gas that turns them all into completely gentle pacifists who have no interest in pursuing the raptors. When the raptors realize what the gas did, they try to weaponize that instead and infect millions of pumpkins with it. Distribution of pumpkins go worldwide, and the raptors hope to have an easy time taking over the country with no one to stop them. What can cure the Extreme Dinosaurs before Halloween becomes a nightmare?

Breakdown: I gave Extreme Dinosaurs some crap when I reviewed it for Episode One-Derland, but 30 episodes in, they must’ve found better footing because this was actually a pretty entertaining episode.

Halloween is basically used as a set piece here as it’s really not important to the plot at all. The raptors could just as easily be infecting chocolate bars or some other widely distributed item and the story would remain the same. Really the only justification for it is that the gas, which are really microbes, need heat in order to activate, otherwise they’re harmless. Being in jack–lanterns exposes them to the heat from candles. That’s why the Extreme Dinosaurs got affected in the volcano. How and why such a microbe was in the volcano to begin with is never explained.

Bullseye is excited about Halloween and going trick-or-treating, pumpkins/jack-o-lanterns are used to distribute the microbes and somehow a bunch of humanoid raptors got a monopoly on pumpkin selling across the entire US in a fortnight in October.

Still, the dinosaurs being extremely prissy was more entertaining than I ever thought it would be. There’s just something very funny about a T-rex knitting a sweater, a pterodactyl hopping in a bunny costume while singing a song to the tune of ‘When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again’ and a triceratops being preoccupied with growing flowers. Them reacting to damn near everything with a smile and a conversation was also funny.

The resolution to their behavior was a bit cheap, though. The whole issue with these microbes is that they make you insanely gentle, happy, calm and pacifistic. So what do you do to cure that? Just intentionally piss them off.

That makes zero sense. Anger should not cure anti-anger. Plus, the way they get pissed is a little too lame for me to believe.

You’re telling me they can hear that the raptors are planning to take over the country and they want to go off and have a tea party with them, but hearing that the TV is busted or seeing flowers get destroyed is enough to make their anger shine through biological manipulation?

I also noticed that they included a character that wasn’t present in the pilot, an ankylosaurus named Hard Rock. He’s a good character that adds a level of maturity and level headedness that helps even out the annoying hover-mom rule-lover that is Chedra.

All in all, this is a good and funny episode of Extreme Dinosaurs that actually makes me want to give the show another chance. However, it’s not really the best Halloween episode due to lack of Halloween atmosphere. It just seems like it’s an afterthought most of the time.

Not to mention that the title doesn’t make sense. The pumpkins never come to life.