Episode One-Derland (Cartoons) | Chaotic

Plot: The trading card game, Chaotic, is sweeping the world by storm. Tom and his best friend, Kaz, love the game and play with their other friends all the time. When Tom gets a mysterious code for Chaotic, Kaz tells him it’s a special password in order to enter the REAL world of Chaotic. Tom doesn’t believe him until he finally gives in and inputs the code into his scanner. Turns out, Kaz was right. Tom is instantly transported to a virtual world where Chaotic players gather to have ‘real’ Chaotic battles, with themselves as the creatures. In his first game, Tom chooses his favorite creature, Maxxor, and faces off against his opponent, who takes the form of a Takinom. Tom can certainly win his fair share of card games, but can he find a way to win when he’s playing for real?

Breakdown: I have been aware of Chaotic for a while, but never gave it a chance in the past. When I wrote about the whole huge mess with 4Kids and Chaotic in my retrospective blog post series, I became very curious about the series and game. Since the TCG hasn’t been re-released yet as far as I know, nor has the online version of the game, and I’m not particularly interested in buying the old cards, especially since they seem expensive, I decided to just watch the cartoon series.

The series is entirely available on Peacock (And Tubi) for free, so that was lucky.

As for the first episode…..it’s one of the messiest first episodes I’ve seen for a show in recent memory.

I came out of it not only not understanding how the hell to play Chaotic even a little bit (they never once play a full or even half game in the entire first episode, and we only see a few cards) but I’m also entirely confused as to what even happened to Tom when he entered Chaotic, what the ‘real’ world of Chaotic even is, and they had the gall to end the episode by circling around to the literal cliffhanger that was at the start of the episode in a flashback and barely continuing it at all before putting a ‘To Be Continued’ on the screen and ending it.

I get that this is a two-parter, but at least do something more substantial with your part one to help the audience understand what the hell is going on or make things interesting.

To summarize, the episode starts with a fire-wielding harpy-esque character named Takinom, chasing after and attacking a muscly green dude named Maxxor through a frozen tundra. He’s cornered on a cliffside, our main character, Tom, explains in narration that he is actually Maxxor, Takinom blows fire on him and then the theme song starts. After the theme song, we flash back to how he got in that situation.

Tom is a new-ish/not new (?) player to Chaotic, which is a TCG that has an online version of the game where you can enter codes to obtain digital copies of your real cards, just like the TCG and online game 4Kids and CUSA acquired and adapted for the US. Tom is playing Chaotic with some random guy after school in the cafeteria, which….why wouldn’t you do that literally anywhere else? Unless it’s a legitimate after-school activity, most schools don’t allow you to just hang out in the school for any reason, let alone to play trading card games. There are so many kids there just hanging out in cafeteria – it’s like no one went home.

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It’s not just that they’re there when they shouldn’t be, it’s also weird because what kid wants to just hang out at school after hours, unless, again, you were part of an after-school activity? Usually any kid would want to be anywhere else BUT school – their house, a friend’s house, a local hangout, a rec center, a park, a basketball court, etc. That looks like a really nice school in a nice area. I can’t imagine aren’t options.

But whatever, they montage this game in about 20 seconds so you really have no clue what’s going on. They attack each other, Tom says something about sending his opposing monster to Nauthilax, his enemy’s energy is depleted, and that’s it. That is the first, and, no I’m not kidding, only time we see this game played in the entire episode. I never thought I’d say this, but, Bakugan, you have been surpassed in awful game explanations. I at least had some minor degree of understanding how Bakugan worked a little when I saw the first episode, and at least they showed a full game. Not Chaotic. Who cares about properly explaining that game this cartoon was literally created to help advertise?

After he wins, he gets a message over the game. It automatically opens, and a password pops up on his screen that makes his best friend, Kaz, super excited because he knows that’s a special invitation to the real world of Chaotic where he can play for real. Why he got this for just beating some rando at school, I have no idea. Kaz has been a part of the real Chaotic for a while and excitedly told Tom stories about it, but Tom never believed him. Considering Kaz is yelling all of this information in a crowded cafeteria and has told Tom about it a lot, I’d guess it’s not a secret. But also, like….no one seems to know about it? Even rumors? There are a lot of people in Chaotic when they get there – how is this not more common? I know that would be a really difficult thing to believe without proof, but there would be chatter about it.

Then again, maybe they wouldn’t, because apparently these kids are all 15 years old. I was about to criticize this further, but then I remembered all of the characters in Yu-Gi-Oh! are in the their mid to late teens….

Anyway, Tom blows him off until Kaz calls him in a panic in the middle of the night. He tells him he has to input the code into his scanner before midnight otherwise the offer to join the real Chaotic will end. Why exactly isn’t this information given in the message that contains the password? What if you need to wait to input the code? What if you don’t have access to your scanner for a few days? What if you don’t personally know someone who has already been to Chaotic? What if you don’t want to input the code at all because it’s some random code on a blank message from no one?

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Also, if you’re wondering what the scanner is for, apparently, later in the show, they can scan real creatures to get information on them I think – like a Pokedex. It also kinda works as a smartphone in that it’s also a camera, can be used for video chat, has a music player and a flashlight. As for the purpose of the scanner in their real lives in regards to the game, I have no idea. Chaotic cards have codes on them that are manually input into the online game to create digital copies of your cards – they’re not scanned. I have to wonder if 4Kids originally planned to make the real life cards scannable, including creating a real scanner kids would have to use to scan the cards, but then realized that was too expensive or impractical or something so they opted to keep the code system instead but forgot that made the scanner concept nonsensical in the TV series.

The scanners really have no real world purposes for the game, so why do they even exist? Why do any of these players buy them? Kaz tells him to input the code into his scanner, but also the scanner doesn’t have a keyboard, not even a virtual one, it just has a d-pad like thing, so I can’t imagine it’s for the purpose of inputting codes. Since the game is played online, you can probably just input the codes on your laptop.

Tom gives in, and, when he inputs the code, it at first seems like it didn’t work. His screen flashes, goes black and the scanner won’t turn back on. He then throws the scanner out the window into the garbage can on the sidewalk like a douchebag. Yeah, I imagine that scanner was expensive, you little shit. And I bet anything your parents paid for it. Don’t try to troubleshoot it, don’t see if you can get it fixed, just chuck it out the window into the garbage. Don’t tell me Dan has competition for one of the most obnoxious gaming show protagonists too….

Anyway, that’s not what happened….but it also is? In narration, Tom says that’s what happened, but he didn’t realize that there was more. We then cut to the ‘more’ in question. When Tom hit the button, he actually did go to Chaotic…..only not really? The best I can guess is that a duplicate of himself was sent to Chaotic – one that his real-world self is not aware of? How? Why? Dunno. They don’t explain anything.

When he gets there, it’s not any better. They basically just tell him “Hi Tom! Let’s get you to your first match!” without explaining where he is, what happened to him, how he got there, what the hell’s going on, why he’s being forced into a Chaotic match minutes after he got there and everyone knows he’s new, nothing.

Luckily, Kaz does help him a bit with setup through his scanner, but other than explaining how the interface works and giving him a hint about his opponent, he doesn’t explain anything else. Which you’d think he would because there’s that whole thing about him becoming the Chaotic creature and getting into a ‘real’ battle with another Chaotic creature would be something you should discuss a bit.

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When he is turned into Maxxor and his opponent into Takinom, he obviously has no clue what’s going on, what to do, how to utilize any of the game mechanics or anything – he just does what anyone would do in his situation and runs away. Kaz and a bunch of other players are watching the match from the lobby, and Kaz just acts horribly embarrassed for him and facepalms at the fact that he’s not playing properly, which, of course he’s not, no one’s telling him anything.

The end of the episode, like I said, is just barely a continuation of the first scene. Tom/Maxxor is cornered on a cliff by Takinom, who attacks him with fire. The continuation is that the fire causes Tom to fall off the cliff. We get a “To be continued” as Tom is falling and that’s it. They haven’t established any stakes here. This Tom isn’t real, right? His real self is still in his room, right? I can’t imagine him dying (or even getting hurt) in the game is akin to dying in real life because then narrator!Tom wouldn’t have been able to act as if the stuff about real Chaotic was something he learned about later. In addition, if this is a real Chaotic game, then I’d imagine him ‘dying’ at this point would just result in his creature dying and then moving on.

What even happens if he loses the game? I can’t imagine they bar him from Chaotic or anything. I don’t get it. What is on the line here? I doubt even kids would find tension in this.

It’s just so baffling. 4Kids – the kings of overexplaining every single thing – made a show where they just don’t explain anything out the gate.

I didn’t even touch upon the fact that the art and animation are awful. I know that they switch studios after season one from Bardel Entertainment to Dong Woo Animation and the art and animation get better for seasons two and three (Looking ahead though….not that much better. Definitely much better art, but the animation is still pretty rough.), but wow, this is just bad. It reminds me so much of the art and animation from those old eSurance commercials with that Erin lady. Old Flash animation leaves a lot to be desired as is, but this is not good.

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Overall, I’m kinda torn. If I had just watched this without doing all that research on Chaotic beforehand, I’d most likely drop it, but the fanbase seems to genuinely enjoy the show as much as the game. Bryan Gannon, head of Chaotic USA, said he planned on continuing the show, not rebooting it, which means there must be something to the story worth keeping, I’d assume.

I’ll probably wind up finishing this series just casually, maybe throwing out a review here or there, maybe for full seasons, but this, as a first episode, just failed so badly that I feel like I can’t really suggest it. There are several more card game or gaming related shows out there that I’d recommend way above Chaotic. I guess I’ll just leave this as an undecided and make firmer opinions down the line.

Verdict:

Continue Uncertain


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Watching the Blue Sky – Robots (2005) Review

Plot: Young Rodney is a robot who always aspired to be a famous inventor like his idol, Mr. Bigweld, who is viewed as one of the best bots in the world. When he moves out to the big city to show Mr. Bigweld his inventions and try to work for him, he finds that Mr. Bigweld is gone. In his place is a tyrannical robot named Ratchet who is using his business to force all robots into upgrading instead of repairing or replacing. Thousands of bots who can’t afford to upgrade are being labeled as “outmodes” and being sent to the scrapyard. Rodney has to find Mr. Bigweld and stop Ratchet before it’s too late.

Breakdown: Being honest, I wasn’t expecting too much going into this – and I say that as someone who sincerely loves robots. I haven’t heard a whole lot about this movie before now, and the only time I remember people talking about it was when people on Twitter started circulating that one joke about how “Making the baby is the fun part.”

However, I was pleasantly surprised. I very much enjoyed this movie all the way through. It’s not a masterpiece or anything, but it’s very fun, cool, funny and even a little emotional.

The animation is pretty good. I think it’s pretty cool how each robot has a fairly unique manner of moving depending on how they’re designed. The art is also stylized quite well and is fun to look at. The characters all mostly stand out from each other, are colorful and have little quirks that either add to their comedic factor or make them more useful. I also appreciate how well the sound design worked with the robots for the most part.

I also think the way the robots “age” is interesting. They get various replacement parts each year and, I guess, undergo some mild rebuilding every year to show their aging process.

The music was a mixed bag. The orchestral score works pretty well. It was nothing too unique or memorable, but it did keep me engaged and felt very fitting to each scene. My issue comes with the pop music. Taking a note from Dreamworks, I suppose, Blue Sky included some pop songs along with some more fitting but also kinda distracting older pop songs. There was one song in the middle where I really don’t think it is a pop song, because it sounds like a song written for the movie, but that would be the only time the movie would have a legit musical number, despite no characters singing. It’s very weird.

The absolute worst moment of this soundtrack being distracting was when Fender, a bot voiced by Robin Williams, so he’s basically just Robin Williams as a robot, fights off a bunch of robots by suddenly breaking out into “Hit Me Baby One More Time”….The joke is that he’s wearing a female lower half so he….sang a girl song? Also, the song was seven years old by this point, so it’s not even relevant. Definitely the worst moment in the movie.

And, of course, there was a dance party at the end because animated movie in the 00s.

The story was very cliché, but was strong enough to hold my attention. Also, they did throw me for one loop. When they introduced Mr. Bigweld, I thought for sure he’d be the villain. Rodney hero-worshiped him, he was a fat rich guy who seemed like he loved everyone and everyone loved him, he had statues made of him and everything. But nope. Mr. Bigweld was a good guy just overtaken by an evil guy who was a pawn for an evil woman.

Big corporation bad turned big corporation good as long as the people running it are good. Which, yeah, in an ideal world. That’s nice to think about.

Speaking of big corporation bad, dear god, the body count of this movie. I can only imagine how many “outmodes” got sent to the scrapyard IE murdered because they couldn’t afford the upgrades. It’s actually kinda disturbing how many parallels you can make to our world if you imagine all the characters as people….

There are no subplots in the movie, it’s right on one track and we keep going until the end. If I had any real complaints about the story it’s that I really wish Rodney had spent more time struggling and living with the other downtrodden robots, because, as far as I see, he arrived in this city, realized the problems involving an incredibly huge and influential corporation and fixed the issue entirely in like three days.

I didn’t much care for the romantic…..anything in this movie. Fender getting a love interest, I’m cool with. However, Rodney has two love interests in this movie, Piper, who is Fender’s little sister, and Cappy, who is an employee of Bigweld Industries. He has more screen time with Piper, but it’s like she’s not considered an actual romantic interest because she’s too young, but Rodney is only supposed to be like 18 or 19 while Piper is like 16 or 17 at least.

Cappy, whose age I’d imagine is in her late 20s or so, considering she’s a high-ranked employee at Bigweld Industries, is definitely framed as the main love interest, but they barely spend any time together, and the time they do spend together is usually with a lot of other people. They don’t get any moments together, alone or otherwise, they just get a few knowing glances between them. Cappy doesn’t even have a personality. She’s just a nice lady who works at Bigweld and constantly gets sexually harassed by Ratchet because that trope has to stay alive I guess.

And, yes, even in robot world, we can’t escape women being sexually harassed.

Speaking of women, I get that this movie was made in 2005, but some of the humor around women was a little uncomfortable. Like when Rodney gets a new torso for his senior year, he has to use a hand-me-down from his cousin….who is a girl. So he has a pink torso with a boob curve to it.

Rodney finds a new lower half in a panic after losing his in the scrap yard, and it’s a woman’s. So he goes “This is so wrong!”

When they meet Ratchet’s eviler mom, Fender calls her a “sir” and she points out that she’s a woman, so Fender says “Ouch!” and one of the other robots has his lightbulb eyes burst. Some of the humor hasn’t aged well, is all.

I don’t think this movie is sexist, for the most part, as the women do get a decent degree of things to do, including fighting, but there’s the whole ‘Cappy has no personality’ thing, and the fact that nearly all of the women in this movie just act as love interests.

I also didn’t think Ratchet needed an even more evil mother running the scrapyard to basically be his puppeteer. Ratchet is evil enough on his own. Although, this did make for a few good jokes, so it doesn’t bother me too much.

The comedy was pretty good. I was laughing fairly consistently. Not busting a gut or anything, but quite a surprising amount of chuckles. They’re probably cheating a little bit because I’m a sucker for puns and there are just so many robot puns and visual gags in this movie.

The action was also alright. I think the first action scene where Rodney and Fender are being flung all around town on that transport ball went on just a little too long, though.

The emotional moments hit a little more than I expected them to. I wasn’t choking up, but it did manage to connect with me several times. I think it was a really good idea to start this movie with Rodney’s dad super excited about being a dad and watching Rodney grow up for a bit before getting into the main story. It didn’t drag, and it made me feel a lot more for him and his parents than if we just started with him as an adult.

The characters all work well enough. I like Rodney and his parents quite a bit, Piper can be kinda cool, Mr. Bigweld was pretty funny and cool, and Fender has his moments. Sometimes he can really be too much, though. Even Genie knew when to tone it down, but Fender just never stops. I also never once felt like he and Piper were siblings.

I want to really lay out why this relationship doesn’t work. Fender is voiced by Robin Williams. Piper is voiced by Amanda Bynes. When this movie came out, Amanda Bynes was 19. Robin Williams was 54….They just don’t sound, in any way, like siblings. They’re written like siblings, they act like siblings, kinda, but they don’t sound like it. He just sounds like her dad or uncle.

Overall, Robots was an enjoyable experience that I had quite a bit of fun with. You’re not going to get much in the way of anything deep or new with it, but I do think you’ll be pretty entertained by it most of the time. I’d gladly watch it again in the future.

Recommended Audience: There are a few iffy jokes in there, but they never go too far. There’s the “making the baby” joke and they make a penis joke when Rodney is finished because they forgot to attach it………….I know you’re probably wondering a lot about how sex and sexes/genders in robots works in this world…..well, me too. And I wish I wasn’t. I guess you can also say there’s some scary imagery what with the robots being destroyed and picked apart. There was one moment where they officially announced that replacement parts were being discontinued. The robots were panicking because they thought they’d wind up dying if they couldn’t pay for upgrades. A robot fell apart in front of them and the vultures just started grabbing any parts of him they could. It’s hilarious, but also really messed up when you remember these are sentient beings. I guess 7+.


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An Absurdly Deep Dive Into the History of 4Kids | Table of Contents

Part 1 – 4Kids as a 4Baby (1970-1997)

Part 2 – Pokemon, I License You! (1998-1999)

Part 3 – 4Kids 2000 (2000)

Part 4 – Entering Unown Territory (2001)

Part 5 – I Summon Yu-Gi-Oh! In Attack Mode! (2001 cont.)

Part 6 – 4Kids 4Ever (2002)

Part 7 – A Fox in a Box and a 4Kids with a Block (2002 cont.)

Part 8 – Miramax Killed the Movie Theater Star (2003)

Part 9 – Be Careful What You Wish For (2004)

Part 10 – One Piece in Pieces (2004 cont.)

Part 11 – Playing Their Cards Wrong (2004 cont.)

Part 12 – Out of the Box (2005)

Part 13 – Pikachu’s Goodbye (2005 cont.)

Part 14 – (The Time Has Come) (2006)

Part 15 – The Chaotic Nature of Rumors (2005/2006 cont.)

Part 16 – Yu-Gi-Oh No! (2005/2006 cont.)

Part 17 – 4Kids TV 2: The Kidsening (2007)

Part 18 – 4Kids is No Longer Foxy (2008)

Part 19 – 4Kids’ Pre-Death Dead Period (2009-2010)

Part 20 – Get Your Game Revved Up! (2011)

Part 21 – It’s Time to S-S-S-S-S-S-S-S-SUE! (2011-2012)

Part 22 – Time 4 Change (2012-2017 | Closure)

Part 23 – Where in the World is Kahnmen Sandiego? (2012-Present)

Part 24 – Everything Changes (Conclusion)


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An Absurdly Deep Dive into the History of 4Kids | Part 1: 4Kids as a 4Baby (1970-1997)

Table of Contents

I’ve been consuming English dubbed anime for the majority of my life. Back when I was about nine years old, I was introduced to shows that would become landmarks in my childhood such as Sailor Moon, dubbed by DiC, Digimon, dubbed by Saban, and Pokemon, dubbed by one of the most infamous and nefarious dubbing companies known to time – 4Kids Entertainment.

Shows dubbed by 4Kids have had such an impact on me both as a child and as an adult, that it sparked my interest in comparing dubbed anime, usually aimed towards kids, with its original Japanese counterpart to see what got censored, what got changed for whatever reason, what got changed for no reason, and what got Americanized in a seeming effort to appeal to American children more so they could sell more toys and other merchandise. In fact, of the 13 shows I am currently comparing for my Sub/Dub Comparisons, six were dubbed by 4Kids. I can confirm that there would be several more if not for the fact that either the dubbed version of the other shows in question are incomplete or lost or the original Japanese version of the shows is lost or not subtitled.

To be honest, 4Kids is incredibly interesting to me as a company. The decisions they made, their edits, their weird views on kids and anime, the shows they selected, their business practices, their skeeviness, their ridiculousness, their misinformed statements, how they could go from being top in their field one minute to seemingly making the most basic mistakes the next – all of it is just so….intriguing and strange. Maybe not entirely surprising because, at the end of the day, they were a cold and calculating company who focused on their bottom line above all else, but there’s a reason that they stand out among other dubbing companies as being the worst. 4Kids definitely has their own style to dubbing outside of just being bad or kiddified. You can typically tell when a show is dubbed by 4Kids even if you have no prior knowledge of it, and that’s oddly impressive.

Over the years, 4Kids has become little more than a punchline in the world of anime. Their use of quickly outdated slang (some slang that was more than outdated even when they used it), terrible catchphrases, over-the-top and sometimes downright confusing censorship, awful dialogue, questionable acting, rap songs, odd edits, scene swaps, scene deletions, episode number restructuring, episode removals, and, of course, the birth of such memes as the Shadow Realm, hammerguns and smoking lollipops, cemented their reputation as such.

The day that 4Kids died was one many people rejoiced, but it’s hard to imagine many of their fans back in their heyday would have had the same response when they were enjoying such favorites as Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and more. How did 4Kids go from a dubbing company that had many beloved fans and was one of the largest licensing entities in North America, to one of if not the most, hated dubbing company in history that died a slow and horrifically painful death? Was 4Kids really as horrible as its reputation and many fans, even myself included, have asserted in the past two decades? Why did they do the things they did? Finally, how and why did 4Kids die?

To understand all that, we need to go back to the beginning – back to before 4Kids was even 4Kids.

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4Kids started life way back in 1970 as a licensing company called Leisure Concepts Inc., also known as LCI. Formed by two of the biggest names in classic 80s cartoons and toys – Stan Weston, creator of GI Joe, and Mike Germakian, who laid the design groundwork, designed the logo and came up with the idea for Thundercats – LCI licensed many media products back in the day such as Star Wars, Thundercats, StormHawks, The Legend of Zelda and even Farrah Fawcett’s likeness.

LCI would continue to enjoy success for years, licensing a wide array of properties and making several deals with TV production companies and toy manufacturers to create numerous cartoons and toy lines based on their licenses. Their best deal was in 1987 with Nintendo of America Inc., with whom they established a full licensing deal to market software that would go with their gaming systems. Of course, the biggest benefit of this partnership would not be apparent for over a decade.

In 1987, LCI hired a new Vice Chairman and member of the board of directors – a man who would later become the father of 4Kids as we knew it while also becoming one of the most controversial figureheads in all of English dubbed anime – Alfred Kahn.

Kahn was already well-known in the world of children’s entertainment, previously being the Executive Vice President of Marketing at Coleco Industries, and being credited as the man responsible for making, of all things, the Cabbage Patch Kids a household name. In fact, once Coleco filed for bankruptcy in 1988 and the property passed on to Hasbro and then Mattel, Al Kahn once again picked the property up in 2001 in a partnership with Toys R Us to produce the dolls, other merchandise and animated movies based on the series. Cabbage Patch Kids created a steady source of income for 4Kids that would continue to be a significant part of their revenue stream up until 4Kids’ eventual death, being one of the only properties they kept as 4Licensing up until the moment even that died off.

As a result of its success, LCI started expanding in the early 1990s and started producing TV series in-house as opposed to relying on third-party production companies. At the same time, in 1991, Alfred Kahn had become Chairman, CEO and Director of LCI. This expansion and change of leadership spawned two media-based subsidiaries in 1992 – The Summit Media Group, and, of course, 4Kids Productions. The Summit Media Group was meant to handle the syndication and distribution side of any properties they acquired, in addition to media planning, buying and marketing services for toy and video game properties, while 4Kids Productions was intended to both produce its own series based on properties they had acquired and, eventually, dub and localize anime and other foreign animated series.

Around the same time that LCI had officially changed its name to 4Kids Entertainment, they also began creating their first ever show. Yes, that’s right everyone. It’s time to talk about the show that put 4Kids Productions on the map.

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WMAC Masters

Yep, it might be hard to believe, but Pokemon was not the first show 4Kids Productions ever handled. In a really weird twist, the first show 4Kids managed was not only a fully in-house production of something completely new (they even created the World Martial Arts Council or WMAC that is displayed in the show) but it was also a live-action show co-created by Al Kahn with Carlin West. In addition, it had a very unique concept. It was, as many commenters and fans pointed out, exactly like real-life martial arts (with a real full cast of professional martial artists) mixed with a fighting video game and pro wrestling.

It was the short-lived 1995 show, WMAC Masters.

Each episode would have (staged) matches between the characters, each of whom having their own gimmicks and martial arts styles. The episodes would also have rough stories and life lessons for the kids. During the matches, the characters would have energy or ki meters that would go down depending on how tired they were or how many hits they took. A victor was called when one of the fighters’ energy meters was depleted. The fighters all collected disks on their dragon belts to win a chance to fight the reigning champion for the much-coveted dragon star, which indicated them as the best martial artist in the world.

In order to give the show more credibility as a legitimate martial arts show, they brought in Shannon Lee, daughter of Bruce Lee and sister of Brandon Lee, to host. Although, honestly, she looks like she’d rather be anywhere else.

I feel like 4Kids definitely got some inspiration from Saban and Power Rangers, because this show has such a strong vibe from them that I had to double check to make sure this was 4Kids and not Saban.

I was blown away by how complex this show is on paper and just how detailed the Wiki page was. There are definitely some hardcore fans of this little-known martial arts show who wrote that up.

4Kids’ first production was not without its hiccups. After season one, Shannon Lee either left the show or wasn’t called back to do season two. In addition, season two decided to focus more on action and fantasy plotlines instead of real-world martial arts, and the important life-lessons on real issues fell the wayside. It was canceled after season two, due to low ratings and poor merchandise sales, and only six episodes were ever released on VHS, but all of the episodes are available in high quality on Youtube, much to the delight of the small group of avid fans who loved the entirety of the show, even if most agreed that it started falling off in season two.

Truth be told, this definitely seems like the type of show I would’ve fallen in love with once upon a time. When I was young, like between the ages of five and seven, I went through a huge pro wrestling phase, which immediately coincided with my obsession with Power Rangers. If I had ever known this show existed, I probably would have been all over it, but, sadly, I don’t remember it ever being on TV, even though the Wiki states it was shown in syndication on 4Kids TV on Saturday mornings from 2002 to 2003.

The show ended in 1997, which meant that 4Kids had struck out on its first production venture. No matter, though, because for several years 4Kids Entertainment had still enjoyed a mass of revenue from its dealings with Nintendo, which was reaching a massive boom in popularity with the premiere of properties such as the Mario Bros., Donkey Kong and Legend of Zelda as well as their new gaming system, the Game Boy.

Oh, and, in 1996, one other game series was becoming more popular than anyone had ever dreamed in Japan. So popular, in fact, that it would only be a year before it earned its own anime.

Next – Part 2: Pokemon – I License You!


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Episode One-Derland (Cartoons) Delta State

Plot: Four amnesiac twenty-somethings with psychic powers are recruited to protect the world from fellow psychic beings called Rifters. The Rifters originate from the mysterious dream-like realm called the Delta State, and their main intent is to control the minds of everyone in the world. The four have no choice but to accept this dangerous task as it is their best chance at remembering their pasts.

Breakdown: This is one of those shows where I find myself struggling to discuss it properly.

Let’s start with the basics. Delta State is a show based on a (never released) comic book of the same name by Douglas Gayeton. It was produced by Nelvana and released by Teletoons on Canadian television in 2004, and it has the honor of being the first ever fully rotoscoped animated TV series.

The art style really makes it stand out from other animated TV shows I’ve covered. I’ve seen numerous fully rotoscoped animated movies and short films, but they typically do this to gain a more realistic appearance while also taking advantage of the creative benefits that come with animation.

Rotoscoping itself is largely viewed as a lazy form of animating since you’re literally taking frames of live action footage and tracing over them, but I do believe this form of animation was the right way to go for this specific series.

Delta State has a very….college-esque kind of vibe to it. That makes sense considering that the characters are all in their early twenties, live together and basically act like college students. Not to mention the fact that doing a Google search on this title results in mostly colleges.

The show also doesn’t have tons of background music and utilizes natural idle conversations quite well. It doesn’t feel like a show where the fate of the world rests on the shoulders of the four main characters, but by the end you start feeling the stakes.

The reason rotoscoping works well for Delta State is because of the Delta State. Technically, all of their psychic powers could be done in live-action just fine. Claire has the power of remote viewing, which can easily be done with practical effects. Martin is a telepath, which is done even more easily since no effects are needed. Philip has the power of psychometry, which allows him to have visions of past events related to items, which can also be done fairly easily with editing. Finally, Luna has precognition, which can also be done easily with editing.

The Delta State, however, is meant to be a dream-like realm – and in dreams anything can happen. In addition, like lucid dreams, various aspects of the world can be controlled with enough focus and effort. In fact, the name Delta State comes from the stage of deep sleep where delta waves develop. The Delta State sequences obviously benefit from being animated because animation allows you the same creative freedom that are necessary for dreams.

Additionally, we can gain a better understanding of how surreal or off this realm is considering that everything else is rotoscoped realistically. It’s just a normal city with normal people. The main four don’t even look like anything special. Since it’s rotoscoped and not live-action, we’re not distracted by the contrast of the live action versus the animation. It could have been fully animated as well, but then we would have lost the more realistic feeling the show is going for.

This is truly one instance where I really think full rotoscoping was the absolute best option to present the exact experience that the creators were going for.

…….But that’s not to say it’s perfect.

While the rotoscoping job was done well enough, I don’t care much for the character designs. The facial features of the people are done in such a craggy manner. In a way, it does help it stand out even more, but it’s just flatout ugly, especially the ‘noses,’ I don’t know why the noses are almost always just triangles. It baffles me. Why are they just triangles? It’s so distracting.

For everything else, I’m not really bothered by the craggyness. It gives it more of a cartoon/comic book style, and I like that. But the faces are just really….no. Martin in particular has it bad because not only does his face suffer like everyone else’s but his hair is just an anomaly. I get that it’s supposed to be spiky white hair or frosted tips, but it comes off more like his hair is Elmer’s glue, they stuck it to a wall, pulled him off when it was half dry and left it like that.

There is a sense of emptiness to the city as well, which is strange. There just aren’t that many people around. It’s understandable, because rotoscoping that many people would be a pain in the ass and expensive, but it kinda loses the realistic feeling if we’re in the heart of downtown and there are barely a handful of people here and there. Most of the time it really feels like only the most necessary people even exist in the city.

Speaking of characters, it’s also a bit difficult to get a grasp on the main four at this point. Admittedly, this first episode is a part one, so maybe the second part will allow me to get a better idea of the true personalities of each character, but so far the only one I feel I have a decent idea about is Philip. He’s a pretty nice and laid back guy who loves books. He’s also an awkward but not fully shy dude that I could definitely see myself hanging out with.

Martin seems like the looser cannon of the two guys in the group. He’s also seen flirting with Luna and saying he has a connection to her, which may or may not be BS, I dunno.

Claire is a responsible person, but not all that proactive. When Luna runs off near the end, she doesn’t do much to stop her, and when Martin confronts her about why she didn’t do more to stop her she says she was waiting for him….which….huh?

Luna is the most emotional of the group. She doesn’t care for Martin invading her privacy by reading her mind, which is totally understandable, but she also, as I mentioned, runs away near the end because she can’t take the premonitions or the mission of the Delta State anymore. This is probably fine, but I feel like it’s way early in the show for someone to be running off because they can’t take the pressure anymore.

It’s like how I felt it was weird that the first episode of Teen Titans starts with Cyborg leaving the team because he’s fed up with Robin. Stuff like that needs to be built up.

Then there’s Bodie, who was only in this episode for a short while. Bodie is their handler/mentor figure. He knows about the Delta State, does…stuff related to it, and is the one who recruited them to begin with. He seems pretty okay for now. He’s somewhat mysterious and a bit rough around the edges, but he’s not setting off alarm bells for me yet.

In regards to the story, they’ve set things up pretty well so far. Them all having amnesia of their entire lives up until two months prior to the start of the series is pretty interesting, and them all having various psychic powers instead of the same set is cool. It makes all of the characters necessary in some way or another instead of having one or two characters who outshine the whole group. I especially like how they use their powers in creative ways to achieve their goals. For instance, Claire can sense/see things psychically, and in this episode she learns she can do that over the phone because she needs to covertly see inside of a bookstore.

The idea of the Delta State is fascinating. It’s a dream-like state clearly linked to their subconsciouses, but it’s also an entirely different realm that mirrors our own world while also not. They can see little clues to their pasts throughout the Delta State, but they’re typically too busy dealing with Rifters to really focus on these little flashes of memories.

Sadly, so far, the Rifters only seem like evil psychics so far, but, again, maybe that will be better fleshed out in part two.

In this episode, they’re tracking a Rifter named Karla who initially appears to Philip at the bookstore during a book signing. They’re alone in the store because the author suddenly left due to unknown circumstances and apparently the people who work in the store don’t exist and other customers never visit. They flirt for a while, but she decides to leave since she has prior engagements. When she gives her signed book to him as a gift, he’s able to psychically see events connected to the book – the most recent of which being the author of the book running away from the store after being touched by Karla, seemingly being spooked by her doing something to him psychically.

The group, sans Luna, go off into the Delta State to investigate. They’re caught by Karla and her cronies, however. Back in the real world, Brodie and Luna start experiencing, I’d call them, glitches in the fabric of reality because of disturbances in the Delta State. Luna decides to set aside her unease about their situation and head off after them. She’s somehow able to fight off Karla’s goons quite easily, but they’re confronted by the image from a vision Luna had earlier, which was of a car approaching her. What she didn’t initially see, however, was that the person driving the car was her in the past. This revelation is where the episode ends.

As a whole, this is a perfectly good introduction to the show, especially for a part one.

I’m disappointed that it seems like this show has been largely lost to time. It’s not streaming anywhere, there are barely any articles or discussion pieces about it – it’s just kinda drifting in a void. It is on DVD, but only the first ‘season’ (I say that because there’s only one season and 26 episodes. I guess they split up the first season and called it two seasons?) and barely anyone has bought it. As of right now, the first DVD set of it on Amazon has only nine reviews, though a bulk of them are very good. Also, the description barely has anything about the DVD set like…how many episodes it has, what other features are on it, what quality it’s in, etc.

I had to do a Google search just to find what the back cover of the DVD set looks like. It has 13 episodes, a ‘The Making of Delta State’ featurette, and electronic collectible cards.

Verdict:

Delta State seems like a very cool show to me so far. Maybe not masterpiece material, but I do strongly believe that I’ll have an enjoyable ride watching the rest of the series. From the sparse amount of people I’ve seen who have watched the entire show, it is indeed a good one with a strong finale, so I look forward to sharing more of this show in the future to hopefully draw more attention to this largely ignored, but interesting and well made, series.


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Sony Pictures Analyzamation – Open Season (2006) Review

Plot: Boog has been a domesticated bear for his entire life – ever since he was rescued by the forest ranger, Beth, as a cub. After meeting the deer, Elliot, who caused a lot of chaos and problems in Boog’s life, Beth realized that she finally had to bring Boog out into the wild and let him be free. Completely lost in the woods right before the start of Open Season, Boog and Elliot try to find their way back to town and Beth before the hunters or other animals get to them first.

Breakdown: Many years ago, I reviewed Open Season for my old blog on that old forum I’ve mentioned before. My review was….bad, like many of my old reviews. Most notably, it was a bit overly negative, again, like many of my old reviews. So, for the review series tackling all of Sony Pictures Animation’s movies, Sony Pictures Analyzamation – yes, that is a mouthful – I decided to rewatch and rewrite the review from scratch.

And I’m glad I did, because it allowed me to finally review this movie with a more level head.

One my biggest issues with the film on the first watch was Shaw and how ridiculous he was as a villain. If there was one critique that stood up from my previous review, it’s definitely that one.

Shaw is, indeed, a ridiculously awful villain. Technically he’s a fine villain because he’s VERY easily hateable. But he’s such a ridiculously over the top caricature of hunters that it’s almost too easy to hate him.

I’ll admit something, my dad is a hunter and I’ve been brought up my whole life to learn about responsible hunting practices and gun safety. While I can’t bring myself to kill an animal, I do respect responsible hunters (not trophy hunting. That can die.). I also completely understand and respect people who are against hunting. It’s one of those issues where I’m probably a hypocrite, but the point is a hunter being a villain in a movie where a deer and a bear are the protagonists is completely understandable. It’s also understandable for them to be made unlikable, but Shaw is one of the biggest most over-the-top ridiculous parodies I’ve ever seen. I say this after pausing to write these notes at a moment where Shaw had just got done whipping his rifle out in a crowd of people to try and shoot a deer and bear in the head at once with one bullet, and then, once he’s heading off in his car to chase them once they’re returned to the woods, he says this.

“A bear and a deer working together. How far does this conspiracy go? How many other animals are involved? God bless America! I hope the bald eagle hasn’t turned!”

No, I’m not kidding. He even tucks his gun into bed at night…. Shaw is an evil person, but he’s also a complete dumbass, spending a good chunk of the movie thinking the animals are taking over the world and enslaving humans….

Shaw’s not the only ridiculously overdone hunter either. Later in the movie, a giant group of hunters all go out at the start of open season being loud and rowdy on the way up there with one of them yakking about how they’re going to blow the animals’ heads off. All of these people seem to be one big hunting group, which isn’t typically allowed for a multitude of reasons.

Not to mention the fact that the only cop in the area, the sheriff, is entirely useless. He sees Shaw have a clearly illegally killed deer on the hood of his truck, splayed out, which is also against the law, and is just like ‘eh’. He sees Shaw try to shoot his gun into a crowd of people, Shaw leaves when he’s not looking and he’s just like ‘eh’ and never tries to pursue him.

But enough of that malarky. How is everything else? Well, considering how I slammed it in my first review, upon rewatching, it’s pretty okay. It’s not gonna win any awards with me, but I had a fine time watching it. Smiled a few times, kinda chuckled a bit, got a bit moved by the emotional moments and had some fun. It’s a very okay movie and decent enough first outing for Sony.

I do agree with some of the critics who said that it’s hard to get a lock on who the target audience is, however. Like, the humor is overall pretty juvenile, including an amount of toilet/poop humor, but some of the humor is somewhat adult and some of the imagery is actually pretty messed up for a kids movie.

For example, there’s a joke where Shaw warns a couple to watch out or their weiner dog will shank them, and the lady said ‘Oh no, we don’t have to worry about that. We got him fixed.’ I want to believe with all my heart and soul that I didn’t just hear a dog humping/bestiality joke in this movie. I want to believe so badly.

There’s a scene where Boog and Elliot are behind a curtain at a show Boog is doing. They get into a fight, and their shadows are meant to convey an extremely bloody and gory murder of Elliot. Boog ‘skins’ him, ‘disembowels’ him and splatters his ‘blood’ all over the curtain. And what’s even weirder is that Beth is also watching this from in front of the curtain and she won’t go behind the curtain to stop Boog from slaughtering this innocent deer. She just keeps yelling for Boog to stop while in front of the curtain.

Shaw’s cabin legitimately freaked me out. Many times when (kids) cartoons will show taxidermy, even if it’s in a scary manner, they won’t choose to design the taxidermy in the same general style as the other animals. Because showing the cutesy big-eyed goofy cartoons as a dead-eyed lifeless decorations is kinda scary to many kids. If they do maintain the style, they typically don’t try to make the scene scary. It will just be dark humor. However, in the scene in Shaw’s cabin, his walls are covered in heads that are all the exact same goofy cartoony style as the other alive animals we were watching earlier. And this scene, while having brief few frames of humor, was definitely meant to be shocking and scary. It was meant to show how ruthless and bloodthirsty Shaw really is. He’s not just a dopey hunter. He’s a violent, dangerous killer.

Then there’s all the obvious gun play and talk of violent acts on animals, it’s all very iffy.

While they didn’t spend a whole lot of time together, I think they did a good job at making Beth and Boog’s relationship feel very genuine. I felt like they were truly attached to each other and watching her have to say goodbye to him was pretty emotional.

I will, however, call her (and the sheriff) out for sending Boog off into the woods like that, though. Boog had spent his entire life in captivity, and he has to be several years old. He had his own ‘apartment’, he had a teddy bear, tons of treats, his own TV – for god’s sake, this bear is literally toilet trained. And yet they think it’s okay to send him off to live in the woods with no preparation whatsoever.

While many of the animal characters were just annoying as sin (except the porcupine, who was adorable, and Giselle, who is just a VERY typical and bland love interest) including Elliot, I don’t think they did a bad job redeeming them in the end. They ended up being pretty entertaining in their own rights. I just think it was all fairly rushed. Too many of them were flatout jerks for me to be all that glad for their happy endings. And is it really all that happy? Did the animals end hunting in that area forever?…..I mean….they did literally bomb the hunters out, so maybe they did.

The animation was okay. Bouncy and cartoony, and stands up alright after 15 years. I think the art style is very ugly, however. Nearly every animal and human is just butt-ugly. They have incredibly odd proportions, and few of them look appealing. I thought the beavers and porcupine were cute, but that’s about all. I will give them a good amount of credit for Boog’s fur, though. While it definitely doesn’t look like what you’d see on a realistic grizzly bear, it does look fluffy and soft, kinda like what you’d get on a toy bear. I would say maybe that’s on purpose because he’s a domestic bear, but I don’t think they’d think that far ahead.

The music was alright. Some of the songs were very fitting for the scenes, but the soundtrack is overall fairly forgettable.

In the end, Open Season is okay. I don’t think I’ll ever watch it a third time, but if you’re up for a predictable but reasonably entertaining movie, then have at it.

I am not, however, looking forward to the THREE DIRECT-TO-VIDEO SEQUELS at all. Hopefully they’ll be alright, but I am reading up on them and I’m not gonna hold my breath.


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AVAHS – Abominable Christmas (A Monster Christmas 2012) Review

Plot: Two young yetis go to a nearby town for Christmas in hopes of getting to see what a real human Christmas looks like. While they have their fun, their dad rushes around trying to return them to the safety of their mountain before Margaret, a crazy scientist intent on proving the existence of the abominable snowman, catches them.

Breakdown: During last year’s AVAHS, while I was trying to find information on A Monster Christmas, a 1994 seldom-known animated Christmas special, I stumbled upon information for another Christmas movie of the same name, also known as Abominable Christmas. The premise and odd cast threw me off, but I didn’t really have time to watch and review that last year, so I continued on my quest to find information on the 1994 special and mosied along.

This year, I decided to see what this movie was about. It did not look promising at all. Cheap animation, by-the-numbers plot and really nothing seemed that interesting to sink my teeth into, but, surprisingly, this special was pretty okay. It even made me smile a few times and kinda consider laughing.

It’s a little cheesy, but there’s a charm to it. Everyone is mostly likable, and they all get along quite well (except Margaret, because she’s the bad guy). The special’s also well paced. It never really felt like it was dragging its feet or rushing, even if the end was fairly abrupt to me.

I think this movie’s biggest problem is that nothing really feels impacting or big. The funny moments are never that funny. The heartwarming moments are never very emotional. The stakes don’t feel very high, even when the lives of two ‘children’ and their dad are at stake. The action never feels that exciting. Things happen, but they never feel like they’re happening, if that makes any sense. Let me put it this way – many good movies are a series of twists and turns and ups and downs, like a back road with a lot of steep hills. This movie is like a straight road with a poorly maintained rumble strip. You’re aware when you’re driving on the strip, but it never increases or decreases your blood pressure.

The characters, while being fairly well-established, also don’t do much to stand out or be memorable. Everyone fits a certain role – Abby is the adventurous little sister who is bound to get into trouble, Adam is her neurotic older brother who tries to keep her in line, and their dad is protective and kinda strict without being overly protective or mean. In the human side, you have Lily, who is a Christmas-loving kinda sad little kid who wants to celebrate Christmas with her family but her dad is a workaholic, and her brother, Matt, constantly, and I do mean constantly, has his nose in his computer.

There’s also the dog catcher who actually breaks the movie stereotype of dog catchers being these horrible evil people who take pleasure in the pain of dogs. He’s kinda nuts in that he’s too into his job, but he’s also very dedicated to doing his job properly and not harming any animals. In fact, he became a master of martial arts to protect the dogs in his care.

Many times in these movies where the main characters are dogs/animals and they get sent to the pound but the movie ends without getting the other animals out of the pound, you feel bad because you know they’ll still be tormented by the dog catcher, but in this movie I’m kinda okay with it. I think they’ll be fine and maybe find good homes. One of them actually does find a good home at the end, which was sweet.

Finally, we have our main antagonist, Margaret, who is probably the most bland character here. Her character is simply the crazy person who is trying to prove the existence of (x) and will do anything to get it. Except she’s so blah about it that she’ll willingly follow dog catcher protocol and bureaucracy and not actually do anything underhanded to get what she wants. The worst that she does is trick the dog catcher into thinking that the two yeti kids are actually unlicensed dogs so he’ll go to their house and take them away, which isn’t what would happen in real life. As far as I know, you’d just be fined, and even the fine isn’t that bad. It’s like $250-300 dollars per year if you never license them. Her big plan was to get the yeti kids caught that way and then wait three to five business days for her paperwork to go through to she could take the abominable snow children away. That is, unless, Lily’s dad’s paperwork goes through before hers so he can license and reclaim them.

She doesn’t even have a plan for stealing them once they’re in the pound. She just waits for the paperwork to go through.

Paperwork’s the real villain here….or wait, I guess it actually saved them, so it’s the hero?

In the final confrontation, Margaret confronts them with flea spray and then stands there doing nothing while Abby takes forever to tackle her and bury her in cans of dog food, which would probably kill her. I don’t know why kids shows keep acting like full unopened cans of food don’t weigh anything. Those things could definitely kill you or at least cause significant brain damage if one fell on your head from a high shelf.

Even when she had a perfect opportunity to take pictures of the abominable snow people, when they were imprisoned in the pound, Margaret just doesn’t take pictures of them. She tried earlier in the movie, but got nothing usable because they were moving. Here they are standing still in front of her with nowhere to go and she doesn’t even think to take out her cameraphone. She even asked the dog catcher if she could take pictures of them at the pound, he said yes, and she still doesn’t do it.

Margaret and the father yeti have a past, which I thought would be much more interesting than it ended up being. She used to be a respected scientist until she spotted the young father yeti in his more reckless years. She tried to convince her colleagues about what she saw, but no one believed her, and she went crazy trying to prove the existence of abominable snowmen ever since. In turn, he became much more cautious around humans.

Yep, no big consequences for what he did. No one died or got hurt or anything. He just got spotted by someone and no one believed her and that changed him forever.

Considering he’s a single father, I thought we’d learn that his mate was killed by Margaret or something. But nope. We never learn what happens to the yeti mama.

Speaking of single parenthood, it seems like no family in this movie has two parents. In addition to the yeti family having a single dad, Lily and Matt have a single father as well. Their mom, I guess, died (they use the term “gone” for both her and Matt’s mother and Abby and Adam’s mother) fairly recently considering how Lily looks about the same age as she is in the pictures with her mother. It’s such a passing mention, though. She says she used to decorate the tree with her mother and is sad about it, but after that her mother is never mentioned again. She doesn’t even seem distressed when Adam and Abby nearly break the framed picture of her mother, she just laughs about it.

Later, when the dad yeti is dressed up as Santa for a disguise, he speaks with a young boy who has a single mother who has been terribly sad since her husband “went away”. I thought for sure they’d have that woman and her son appear again and imply that she’d start dating Lily and Matt’s dad, but nope. She never appears again.

However, I did think the manner in which they handled that particular case was really good. Instead of promising the kid he’d get his mom a new husband or something cheesy like that, the yeti dad reasonably tells the boy that making his mother happy again will be complicated and take time, but the best thing he can do for his mother in the meantime is be there for her and give her lots of hugs, which was very sweet and definitely better than some hollow promise.

I’m not saying that any single parent Christmas scenario needs to be addressed by having the movie end with them hooking up with someone. In fact, I find it rather welcome that they don’t even attempt this with any of the single parents. I’m just saying that it’s weird that is pops up three different times, but none of these single parent situations have a bearing to the plot, and it’s hardly ever actually discussed. The most we get is that Lily is bummed about having to do Christmas stuff by herself because her dad is constantly working and her brother is too glued to his computer to even glance at her. However, it doesn’t take long before Lily’s dad’s workaholic nature is almost completely forgotten and he’s spending time with Lily. This minor conflict is another victim claimed by the rumble strip of a plot.

And Abby and Adam’s mother gets even less focus put on her.

The conflict with Abby learning to be more careful and the dad learning to be less strict is also not really resolved or much of a conflict. She’s like ‘Oh I’m sorry, you were right about humans.’ But I’m just like, ‘What? You just befriended a bunch of humans who are currently helping you escape the one bad and one kinda-ish bad-in-a-way humans you’ve met.’

Matt’s ‘arc’ if you want to call it that is literally just him not responding to anyone or anything the entire special until the very end where he finally speaks. It takes until this hour long feature is nearly seven minutes from the end before he finally speaks his first line. I point this out mostly because Drake “ruiner of childhoods and overall icky person” Bell gets second to top billing in the credits and he plays Matt.

Matt just acts like a deus ex machina. Turns out, he was paying attention to everything the entire time and even became somewhat internet famous for his blog posts about the abominable snowmen stuff, which is the most confusing thing about this movie. They’re trying desperately to keep the yetis a secret, but Matt’s been blogging about them and becoming internet famous because of everything his family is going through because of them….but he’s somehow not compromising their secret? He did say he was speaking mostly to the conspiracy theorist crowd, but still, he’s being treated like a hero when he’s pretty much doing exactly what Margaret was trying to do.

He knows and has everything he needs to free their dad and the yetis immediately when they’re captured by the dog catcher as well. And thus was the power of the internet.

Speaking of the odd cast, this cast is odd. This is a very “Did everyone need a quick paycheck?” cast. Ariel Winter (I see what you did there, casting department) plays Abby, Ray Liotta plays the yeti dad, Emilio Estevez plays Lily’s dad, Matthew Lillard plays the dog catcher, and Jane Lynch plays Margaret. Everyone does pretty okay in their roles, especially Ariel Winter, Matthew Lillard and Jane Lynch, but it’s such a weirdly star-studded cast for a movie that I’ve never even heard of before last year.

Well, enough of me tearing apart the minor issues. For what it’s worth, this is a pretty laid back and chill Christmas special. I can totally see myself watching it again just for the heck of it during the holidays. There are some legitimately clever, cute and funny moments in here, but, like I said, there’s just not a lot of stuff actually happening.

I wanted to make a step-by-step review of this movie, but once I got about 15 minutes in I knew I wouldn’t have much to work with. It just felt pointless. There’s not much to poke fun at and there’s nothing much to discuss. Even the animation, while being cheap, isn’t THAT bad. It’s pretty okay for a TV movie made in 2012. I feel like it’s the budget that held it back above all else, because I really feel like the animators were at least trying and were definitely competent….however, the human faces are kinda dead, and Lily’s eyes are WAY too big.

You know your eyes are way too big when an anime fan is calling them out.

If you want to just put on something Christmassy and kinda fun without really needing to pay attention to it, check this out.


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Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all my beloved readers! And a Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Solstice and just an overall happy holiday season to everyone!

I know things have been pretty slow at the ol’ Madhouse, and I want to thank you all for being so patient and still reading/liking/commenting on what I have been able to put out while I’ve been dealing with all the hecticness this past several months. I was finally moved in just this last weekend (moving around Christmas is not recommended in case you’re wondering.) and we’re mostly settled in, though these are still various things that need to get done and some problems to deal with. I wasn’t able to do nearly as much for Christmas as I usually do, and moving just sucked all the Christmas cheer out of me, but I’m trying to make the best of it. My Internet is workable, and hopefully I’ll be back to a more regular posting schedule after the holidays while still squeaking out one or two more things for AVAHS.

Through all the stress and headaches, you guys continue to make things so much more bearable, and I couldn’t be more thankful to you all. Have a very merry and safe holiday, and I hope next year is awesome for you. 🙂

~Twix 💚❤️

AVAHS | Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July (1979) Review

Plot: A powerful ancient being named Winterbolt returns to the North Pole after being sent into a deep sleep for hundreds of years. He yearns to take down Santa for taking over the North Pole in his absence, but Rudolph’s shining red nose is getting in his way.

Breakdown: Readers! Guess what?! It’s that time of year again! It’s time for A Very Animated Holiday Special! This year, we’re starting out AVAHS with yet another Rankin/Bass classic, Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July.

I only very vaguely remember watching this movie when I was a kid. It was barely a blip on my Christmas movie radar, which kinda makes sense because, again, even though the movie is centered on Christmas, the title leads you believe this is a film best enjoyed in July when most people don’t think to celebrate the whole ‘Christmas in July’ thing that I’m not even sure happens anywhere anymore and was barely a thing when it was a thing.

The movie starts out with teenage Rudolph (because Adult Rudolph just doesn’t exist anymore apparently) spending some time with Frosty and his two children, Chilly and Milly. Just to be clear, you have Frosty, Chilly, Frosty’s wife, Crystal, and then, randomly, Milly. Why is Milly the only one who isn’t given a snow/ice/cold themed name? Also, how did they make these kids? Did they just use snow or……….You know what, never mind.

AVAHS - RFCJ1

The kids ask their Uncle Rudolph if he’ll light up his nose for them, which he does, but then suddenly realizes the light is fading away.

After the opening song, we get some backstory about the North Pole.

Long before Santa made his way up there, the land was ruled by the fearsome tyrant, Winterbolt, who has a name that is way too cool (Pun not intended, but welcome). As you can guess, he’s a lot like Snow Miser. You might even say he’s exactly like Snow Miser….Or Jack Frost…..Or Stormella…..There are a lot of ice-controlling antagonists in Rudolph movies, is what I’m trying to say. Actually, being completely fair, but also calling them out a bit, Winterbolt looks exactly like an aged-down slightly Winter Warlock from Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town.

He also has two ridiculously animated snow dragons, which I laughed at for several minutes. Look, I respect the hell out of stop motion animation, but the dragons seems to have just been ‘animated’ with strings and bouncing their heads up and down.

The Aurora Borealis, referred to as Lady Boreal, took corporeal human form when she got fed up with Winterbolt’s BS. Using her powerful magic, she forced Winterbolt into a deep slumber for however many years. In the meantime, the innocent animals were able to return to the land to live happily while Santa arrived with his wife and posse to establish his toy factory and become the Santa Claus we know and love.

Growing weak from all the years of using her magic to keep Winterbolt at rest, Lady Boreal starts to fade away from her human form, but she can rest easy knowing that Santa’s around to be a true leader to everyone at the North Pole.

As her grip on him weakens, Winterbolt awakens and catches up on the goings on at the North Pole via the genie that lives in his staff…..I know what I said. He’s appalled (or aPOLEd :D) to see Santa has taken over as leader or ‘king’ as he puts it, and is seemingly more powerful than him. He asks the genie what he can do about it.

The genie suggests that he use his snow dragons to make a powerful snow storm and wall of fog next Christmas Eve to get Santa hopelessly lost, making him unable to deliver the toys.

Winterbolt concocts his master plan – he’ll do as the genie instructs, but he’ll also go out and deliver twice as many toys on Christmas, causing the children of the world to love him so much that they become dependent on his deliveries and making him so powerful that he’ll

Lady Boreal hears his plot and, using the last of her power, gives some of her light to a newborn reindeer. That’s right – newborn baby Rudolph! Who…..has a red nose before Lady Boreal even gives him the power. So….he was born with a big red nose, but it only glowed because it was infused with Aurora Borealis magic….?

Here’s where they start losing me. They’re kinda retconning Rudolph’s origin here. Lady Boreal appears to Rudolph and gives him the light in his nose. Why it has to be in his clearly already gonna get him bullied red nose, I have no idea. Lady Boreal seems like a bit of a bitch here, if you ask me.

The power/light activates when he thinks good thoughts. The better his thoughts, the brighter the light shines. However, if he ever tries to use the power for evil purposes, the light will be extinguished forever. Lady Boreal also puts a neat snowflake and star design on the bottom of his hoof as a mark of the power or something….which I’m 99.9999% certain he doesn’t have in the original movie and 100% certain does not matter in any way, shape or form. It’s just kinda something he has now.

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Oh, by the way, none of this is being heard by Rudolph’s mom or dad because his mom is asleep because she’s exhausted from giving birth and Donner’s out with the guys doing…guy…reindeer….things…..games? So convenient. Or I guess I should say inconvenient. Hey Lady, maybe tell Santa or either of Rudolph’s parents that you’re giving him a magical power for the sake of saving Christmas in a year? So maybe they won’t ostracize him, his father won’t be ashamed of him and he won’t run away from home?

Lady Boreal: “Use your secret magic well.”

WHY IS IT SECRET?!

Jeez, this is Naruto all over again.

That’s another point – why isn’t she warning Santa of the storm? She’s just giving this flashlight power to a newborn reindeer who can’t even speak yet, nor will he probably be able to remember this conversation, and hoping for the best. She’s not even telling Rudolph about Winterbolt’s plan. Out of context, she’s just giving a random baby reindeer (who is still so adorable it hurts) the power to turn his nose into a laser pointer. You suck, Lady.

We get a brief retelling of Rudolph’s story that pretty much omits everything that’s not in the song. Makes out like Rudolph was just chillin’ in the stalls on Christmas Eve and Santa was like “Oh yeah, you have highbeams! Come with me, Rudolph!” and the movie based on these clips was probably like five minutes long.

Also, he’s still not adult Rudolph in that shot. They really didn’t want him to grow up.

Looping back around to the starting scene, Winterbolt is enraged that his plan failed because of Rudolph, so he decides to snuff out his light. However, Rudolph’s resolve is so powerful that it overcomes Winterbolt’s magic. Also, it seems like Rudolph is physically weakening as his light goes out, like he’s a Charizard or something. Will he die if his light goes out? He’s passing out because it’s flickering.

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Winterbolt’s genie tells him the only way to extinguish the light forever is if he gets Rudolph to use his powers for evil, even if it’s just once.

What powers, exactly? Rudolph has the power to create a mildly bright red light. How could that ever be used for evil?……I guess he could shine it into a cockpit and cause a Boeing to crash. Kinda dark there, Rankin/Bass.

Milton the Ice Cream Man pops by on his hot air balloon with bad news. He was going to marry his love, Lanie Loraine – a circus performer – right at her mother’s circus on the high wire, but a shady businessman named Sam Spangles came by during their wedding to buy out the circus. Lanie is so distraught that she can’t think about getting married, and if the circus gets sold, Sam will force her and her family to move all over the country, meaning she and Milton will likely never get married. They need to have a great performance on the Fourth of July to earn enough revenue to prevent Sam Spangles from buying them out on the sixth….however that works.

Okay, that’s sad, really, but, uh, this also doesn’t make any sense. Her being too sad or concerned to get married right now, I understand. But the idea that they’ll be torn asunder if her mother’s circus gets sold because they’ll be moving around a lot is just nonsensical.

First of all, do they not already move around a lot as a circus? Isn’t that just what circuses do?

Secondly, I really need to point out something extremely obvious right now….Milton is traveling to the North Pole from, what I’ve researched, his home somewhere in Florida…on a hot air balloon.

He’s doing this because he keeps his ice cream stock at the North Pole to keep it cold.

Because yes.

That.

Is the most logical solution to that issue. Do freezers not exist in the Rankin/Bassverse?

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Winterbolt uses magic snow to send psychic suggestions to Milton to get Rudolph to go to the circus to drum up customers. Crystal and the kids want to go, but Frosty points out the obvious that it will be the Fourth of July on the seacoast, meaning they’ll certainly be puddles if they go there. It sucks, but that’s the way of the snowpeople.

Crystal apologizes for making the suggestion, and apparently feels so bad about it that she feels the need to break out into song about how much she loves Frosty. It’s a fine song and sequence but a really weird way of segueing to it.

Rudolph comforts them and says they’re not misfits because they melt, but he does wish they could be unmeltable so they could come with him.

In comes Winterbolt, who is WAY bigger than I thought he’d be.

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He acts like an innocent frail old man and offers them a solution to their problem – four amulets that will make them virtually unmeltable, even in temperatures so high it’d melt steel. However, there’s a catch – each amulet has a design on it made out of F’s.

Frosty: “Yeah! F! F! F! F!” We get it, Frosty. You really want to pay your respects. Stop spamming.

The four F’s stand for when the Final Firework Fades on the Fourth, which is when the amulets’ power ceases to work and the snow family will melt unless they’re back in snowy lands by then.

As quickly as he arrived, Winterbolt vanishes, and the group all become excited about going to the circus.

……Uhm….I know this is for kids, I know, I do, but Frosty and the others are insanely naïve right now. Like, how convenient, a strange giant ice wizard offers us the perfect solution to our fatal problem out of nowhere and without asking anything in return. Boy, this couldn’t be any more legitimate if we met him on Craigslist!

At least Santa is slightly suspicious of this situation, but not enough to stop them from going. Also, goddamn, this movie is from 1979 and Mickey Rooney already sounds like he’s in his 80s. I get that he’s trying to sound old because this is Santa, but he sounds really weak like Santa’s on his death bed. He was only 52 or so at the time.

Frosty is excited to go, but sad that they’ll have to leave before they see the fireworks or else they won’t be able to reach the North Pole in time. Santa believes all children should see fireworks at least once in their lives, so he starts thinking. Winterbolt takes his cue and sends a psychic magic snow message to Santa suggesting that he grab his sleigh and head down to the circus on the Fourth of July to pick up Frosty and his family right before the final firework goes off. I guess he moves so fast that he could get them back almost immediately?

…..Can’t they just have fireworks at the North Pole? Is that too simple? Why do you need to tempt fate like that?

After another song break where Milton sings the same song Crystal sang, only he’s singing his to a poster of Lanie, they head to the circus.

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When they arrive;

Lanie: “He’s the greatest ice cream man in the world!”

He travels 3813 miles via a hot air balloon every time he needs to restock on his ice cream (7626 miles round trip) because he thought storing his ice cream on a polar ice cap was better than buying a freezer.

No, he’s not the greatest ice cream man in the world.

After a song break about Christmas by Lanie’s mother, Lily, voiced by the legendary Ethel Merman, Winterbolt continues on with his plan by awakening his snow dragons and asking the genie to bring him a reindeer who is the polar opposite to Rudolph – terrible in every way. The genie directs him to the cave of lost rejections. There, Winterbolt recruits the reindouche, Scratcher, who blames Rudolph for taking his future spot on the team of Santa’s reindeer despite 1) he very obviously wouldn’t have been, considering he admits that he did a bunch of bad stuff that would have prevented from being promoted, and 2) Rudolph didn’t even take a spot on the team. Santa originally had a team of eight reindeer, but he took the lead as the ninth.

Cut back to the circus for another song break by Lily, this time about how life in the circus has its ups and downs, but she doesn’t care as long as she has her….guy? Guide? It’s hard to understand, and neither lyric really makes any sense. It’s a fine song, I just don’t understand why it’s here.

After going over the plan, Winterbolt gives Scratcher some magical feed corn before he heads off to meet Sam Spangles.

Scratcher: “Hey….that’s means I’ll be able to fly like Donner and Blitzen!”

I’m sorry….what? Now Santa’s reindeer only fly because of literal magic corn?

….I–…..magic…corn.

It’s magic….corn.

I always thought Santa’s reindeer could just fly naturally….Unless you’re a girl, of course. Then you’re just a dumb normal reindeer…..with a bow in your hair….or no identity besides being Mrs. Donner….Actually, they do claim that Santa’s team of reindeer are all, realistically, female because they have their antlers in winter when males lose their antlers at that time, and the females keep them all year round. I mean, that’s obviously not canon in this continuity, but it’s interesting all the same.

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We pop in for a really sweet scene between Santa and Mrs. Claus as they pack for their trip. Not sure why they need to pack if they’re just heading down there to rescue some snowpeople, but okay. They head off on their sleigh, and…I need to ask something awkward. Mrs. Claus refers to Santa as ‘Papa’, Santa calls her ‘Mama’ and they just called the elves ‘Little Kringles’….Are….the elves….their children?

As Santa and Mrs. Claus depart, Winterbolt uses his snow dragons to implement his plan. He will create a storm of ice and fog even worse than the Christmas Eve where Rudolph saved the day. Santa and Mrs. Claus get caught up in the storm, and it’s so severe that a frickin’ ice tornado forms and sucks the sleigh into the vortex.

Santa: “If only Rudolph were here!”

Yeah, he could….uhm…..give us a pretty red light to look at while we’re still being sucked into the tornado because that’s literally his only power.

Also, do the reindeer no longer possess the ability to talk? All of them seem so dead-eyed and aren’t reacting at all to Santa’s directions. Not even Donner is saying anything. He did talk in the flashback, but that’s it.

Santa sings a sweet song to Mrs. Claus about how much he loves her in order to comfort her as they wait in the eye of the storm. Mrs. Claus suggests they try to hoof it (literally) on the ground instead of trying to fly through the storm, and Santa agrees.

Back in the circus, they’re holding a parade, accompanied by another song sung by Lily, which is pretty catchy and definitely parade-y. Crystal tells Frosty to smile because you’re supposed to smile when you’re in show business, but he clearly already is smiling….Anyhoo, the reason he’s invisibly not smiling is because he’s worried that Santa won’t arrive in time. However, his family assuages his fears, for the most part.

Meanwhile, Scratcher meets up with Rudolph and convinces him to get him a job with the circus by pretending he’s starving, putting Winterbolt’s plan into motion.

Winterbolt himself is moving out with his own brand-new ice sleigh complete with a team of giant flying snow snakes, which is too awesome to poke fun at even a little. They also give Winterbolt his own ‘evil’ version of Santa’s take off manta.

“To the top of the porch,

to the top of the wall!

Now slink away, slink away, slink away all!”

…….Yeah, I think we need to workshop that.

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The circus is underway, and Frosty and family take their positions to do their act.

Chilly: “Stick to the script, Daddy.”

Frosty: “If Santa doesn’t get here soon, we’ll be sticking to everything!”……What?

Scratcher tries to lure Rudolph over to a tent by pretending he needs his red nose to see in there and retrieve something, and Rudolph agrees, but like…could Rudolph not just tell him to go get a flashlight or something?

Rudolph has to go do his act, so he leaves Scratcher, promising to help him afterward.

Rudolph’s act is to burn off a shroud of fog…..I guess it’s to replicate what he did for Santa, but he didn’t burn off the fog….I don’t even think that’s a thing you can do (and why do the movies keep wanting to push the idea that Rudolph’s nose also gives off a lot of heat? If his nose really is the power of the Aurora Borealis, it shouldn’t be emitting any heat.) He was just a light that Santa used to see through the storm.

Once he’s done with that, Rudolph returns to Scratcher to help him find what he’s looking for. Scratcher tricks Rudolph into stealing a suitcase full of money, the funds collected from the day’s show, from Lily’s wagon. Rudolph’s very suspicious, but does the deed anyway.

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I really really needed to post this screencap. I feel better now. Thank you derp-face Rudolph.

After a pretty cool Christmas show back at the circus, complete with Rudolph’s nose making the star on top of the Christmas tree, everyone gets set for the fireworks. Frosty’s so concerned that Santa won’t arrive in time that he rushes to stop them from being set off, but it’s too late. Lily lit the main fuse, and the fireworks sequence can’t be stopped once that’s done. There are 100 fireworks in total, and, for some reason, they’re wired to go off one at a time like once every few seconds. Kinda sounds like a crappy fireworks show, but I get that it’s moreso designed to raise tension with Frosty and his family’s situation.

Speaking of their situation, there aren’t really any stakes here, right? In the original Frosty the Snowman movie, Frosty melted in a hot greenhouse, but he was revived because he was made of magic Christmas snow. All he needed was to return to the cold and put his hat back on. I don’t know what exactly is the magical life item for all of the other snowpeople (Crystal was shown to be brought to life by a kiss on the cheek by Frosty) but I assume that the situation is the same for all of them. Melting isn’t necessarily a death sentence for them, so why do they seem like they’re all heading for the pearly gates? Just wait for the final firework while sitting in a few tubs or buckets, make sure someone has all of your personal/magical effects and you’ll be fine, right? Or maybe just remove the 100th firework from the platform somehow?

Winterbolt shows up as the fireworks start winding down. They beg him to extend the power of the magical amulets a while longer so Frosty and the others won’t melt. Winterbolt agrees, but only if Rudolph’s nose remains extinguished. Rudolph is confused because he believes his nose isn’t currently extinguished, but when he tries to light it he realizes that Winterbolt is right – his light is gone.

The reason being – he stole the money from the circus. Since that’s an evil deed that he technically performed while using his nose light, it has been extinguished.

I’m calling foul on that. Sure, he did a bad thing, but he didn’t think he was doing anything wrong. He didn’t have evil intentions and was being manipulated. I really don’t think that should count. Also, he didn’t actually use his nose for evil. He just used it to see what he was being tricked into stealing.

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He says he’ll clear things up with Lily to seemingly make everything better and get his nose to light up, but Winterbolt won’t help Frosty and his family unless Rudolph takes the blame. I’m a little confused. Shouldn’t it just be bad enough that he did the deed not that he’s taking the blame for it? I was confused earlier too because he stole the money but his nose still lit up at the finale of the circus. Was the deed only bad when it got discovered?

Rudolph goes to take the blame for the theft, devastating Lily and making Rudolph incredibly guilty and sad. To make matters worse, Crystal now doesn’t want Chilly and Milly associating with their Uncle Rudolph anymore because he’s now a criminal.

Frosty feels awful, Rudolph feels awful, that snowflake star mark thing on Rudolph’s hoof is gone, I still don’t get what the point of that was, but to its credit, this was a genuinely sad scene.

Winterbolt and Scratcher fly off to take over the North Pole now that Rudolph’s nose is out. Meanwhile…I guess there’s another show the following night? And Rudolph humiliates himself by not being able to light his nose for the audience, who proceed to boo him off stage.

Rudolph’s existence is so sad. First he’s hated because of his glowing red nose, then he’s heralded as a hero because of his glowing red nose, now he’s back to being hated because he can’t make his red nose glow. It sucks so much that public opinion on Rudolph is so largely dependent on his nose. Like no one cares that he’s a hero or can frickin’ fly or even that he personally knows Santa – it’s all just the nose for all of these ungrateful bastards.

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Everyone else in the circus understandably hates Rudolph now, and Rudolph walks off to sing a sad song called ‘A Bed of Roses.’ It’s my favorite song of the lot, but I did have a giggle at Rudolph with red glitter all over his face. I mean, it’s very sad that he’s just trying to replicate the glow of his nose, but it looks like he snorted glitter.

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By the way, Rudolph was clearly very weak when his light was fading in the beginning of the movie. Now he loses it entirely and he’s completely fine.

Frosty is so guilty about what happened to Rudolph that he wonders if there’s something he could do to help Rudolph without putting his family in harm’s way. Winterbolt hears his plight, but doesn’t think Frosty has anything of benefit to take from him. His genie, however, informs him of Frosty’s trademark hat. Winterbolt believes that he could use Frosty’s hat, replicate the life-granting magic from within, and create his own army of living snowmen.

They animate this imagery in an interesting way. I’m pretty sure they only animated one snowman soldier, but they used mirrors to replicate the animated image to make it look like there were many.

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The main reason this is appealing to Winterbolt is because getting rid of Frosty means getting rid of the only other person who knows the truth about the theft.

Can I ask a question? Why can’t Rudolph just bring Frosty and co. To the North Pole via Milton’s hot air balloon and then tell everyone what happened? It’s not like Winterbolt put a curse on Rudolph to forever extinguish his light. He just agreed to never get it back to save Frosty, but if Frosty and his family are no longer in danger then he doesn’t need to keep his end of the bargain.

Winterbolt’s plan has so many holes in it that Spongebob’s jealous.

Couldn’t he have saved himself a lot of trouble and just frozen Rudolph in some sort of super unmeltable ice? He has access to that because that’s supposedly what Frosty and his family are with those amulets on.

Back with Rudolph, Lady Boreal, still in her light form, comforts Rudolph, telling him that she watches over him and he should be brave as he protects the helpless. If he is brave, his snowflake and star mark and his glowing red nose will return.

Wait…..so…Lady Boreal knows that Rudolph didn’t do anything wrong and only said he did because he was protecting Frosty….So why he did his light go away!?

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Big Ben, the whale with a clock on his tail from Rudolph’s Shiny New Year, suddenly pops up in the ocean near Rudolph and offers a shoulder (or fin) to cry on. After hearing his story, Ben rushes off to South America, much to Rudolph’s confusion.

Meanwhile, Winterbolt is making his deal with Frosty. He tells Frosty that, in exchange for his hat, he’ll turn Rudolph’s nose light back on, but he’s lying of course.

Frosty sings one last romantic song to Crystal, who doesn’t know he’s doing this and isn’t in the room.

Gotta say, while some of these sweet romantic musical numbers are nice, they’re getting to a point where the movie is oversaturated with them. Each pairing has like two romantic song breaks (Frosty and Crystal are on their third or fourth right now), and there’s no point in them. Don’t get me wrong, they’re very sweet, but they pump the brakes on the entire movie and aren’t very interesting. At least this one is about saying goodbye to her (and their kids) but still.

I also find it funny that we have all of these romantic pairings getting focus, but Rudolph only gets a brief shot of a picture of Clarice cut into a heart with the words “Love you, Clarice.” on it.

As Crystal and the kids weep over Frosty’s….corpse? Rudolph chases after Winterbolt to get the hat back.

Insert Rudolph vs. Flying magical snow snake scene here and soak it in. It is marvelous.

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So is this.

Winterbolt: “You don’t frighten me! The hat is mine! Try and get it!”

*Rudolph easily headbutts Winterbolt in the stomach*

Winterbolt: “Oof!”

*drops hat*

That could not have been more hilarious if you tried.

Also, Rudolph in Frosty’s hat is too adorable for words.

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Rudolph’s act of bravery allows him to get his light and little hoof mark back. I don’t know how or why. If he really did perform an evil deed with his nose light and that’s why it went out, which, as indicated by the mark also going away, is indeed what happened, then, by Lady Boreal’s wording, it should have been gone forever. If it wasn’t and never should have been taken in the first place, what was the point of the past half hour?

Rudolph heads off to set things straight. He gets a real cop to return the money (How did he find that?) to Lily, explains that he was tricked, and they returns Frosty’s hat and life back to him. Everyone makes up, Sam Spangle gets sent to prison, and Frosty and Rudolph reprise the misfit song from the original movie.

However, Winterbolt’s not done. He wants his revenge on Rudolph and Frosty. Lily steps up to the plate and, I’m not kidding, throws her guns at Winterbolt’s ice staff and shatters it, causing his power to deplete, and then he turns into a tree.

Okay…so….first of all, Winterbolt’s magical ice staff can be broken if someone throws a couple revolvers at it?

Secondly, that was the source of all of his power? He wasn’t just powerful on his own?

Third, how is it that Lady Boreal never thought to break or steal his staff? Why put him in a deep sleep and deplete your own energy for how many hundreds/thousands of years instead of just taking a baseball bat to that staff? Do it while he’s sleeping!

Fourth, taking away his power kills him? If that’s true, why wouldn’t he take more measures to protect that staff? He has his own amazing ice powers and a magical genie that lives within the staff. There’s no reason this thing isn’t protected by a barrier or something.

Fifth, why a tree? I could understand him melting as he loses his power and dies, he’s an ice wizard and everything, but why does he turn into a tree? A dead one, I might add, so he is definitely dead. They even have one of his arm/branches snap afterward.

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Lily: “Wow! Hehe, what an exit!” You just took a life.

With Winterbolt out of the way, the storm clears, allowing Santa and Mrs. Claus to safely fly again and head to the circus.

But also the other obvious thing happens – Frosty and his family melt because the amulets worked off of Winterbolt’s magic and he’s dead now.

Good job, Lily.

When will your murder spree end?!

Rudolph: “Gee whiz….”

Old phrases really seem goofy sometimes. “Well, gosh, it sure is awful that two adults and two children just died horrifically and now we’re gazing upon their liquified remains. Golly gee.”

Seriously, it was bad enough to see Frosty as a lifeless snowman or to see his or Crystal’s puddles with their hat and hair on top, but it’s borderline morbid to see Chilly and Milly’s puddles with their hat and bow on top.

Rudolph: “When Frosty melts, nothing can help except a magic December wind to help him, and this is July!”

Hold up. When did the qualifier of ‘December’ wind get squeaked in there? I thought it was just any cold temperature on his magic snow body.

Big Ben arrives with a special guest, Jack Frost, who was hanging out in South America where winter goes during the summer months of the Northern Hemisphere. Jack Frost resurrects Frosty and his family with his frigid breath right as Santa arrives to pick them up. Jack Frost joins them in order to keep the snowpeople family cool during their trip.

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Rudolph has to stay behind to help with the shows until the circus is out of debt (I could swear this started out as a ‘one show to save us’ type deal, but okay) but Santa says he’ll be back soon because he gave some of his magic feed corn to Lily to allow her animals to fly, so she’ll be sure to drum up a lot of business quickly.

What happens when she runs out, though? How long do the effects of that stuff last?

We close out on the entire flying circus being lead by Rudolph flying around as Santa, Frosty and the others depart.

Milton and Lanie seem to be poised to be wed once more, and everyone lives happily ever….Well, we never learn what happened to Scratcher. He could be trapped in Winterbolt’s cave lair for all eternity…..Happily ever after! The end.

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Well…..that was a mess. Nothing made me angry or anything, but I did get incredibly confused along the way. So much of the story just seemed completely pointless and like they were overcomplicating what should have been a very easy plan.

I don’t much care for the fact that they basically confirmed that the stakes in this movie were fake by having Frosty and his family melt in the end even after Winterbolt died just to go ‘Oh we can bring them back!’ Even if Jack Frost didn’t make a cameo, they could have just scooped up the water in the puddles and taken it back to the North Pole or South America/some other location experiencing winter at the time, if that was necessary.

The aspect of Rudolph’s nose light being extinguished also made no sense. It didn’t follow any of the rules Lady Boreal set for the power. It went away for no reason and came back when it should have been gone forever if it did get taken away.

It’s a shame because Winterbolt is a fairly good villain. He has strong presence, a decent, but possibly mostly recycled, design, and I love all of his snow creatures and his genie, but he’s just kinda dumb. He’s an all-powerful being who had a firm grip on the entire North Pole for hundreds or thousands of years. He was so powerful that an Aurora Borealis demi-god had to expend most of her power just keeping him asleep for however long.

Yet he had to jump through so many hoops simply to get a reindeer out of the way.

And he was felled because a circus owner threw guns at him.

Not to mention that this comes at the expense of kinda ruining Rudolph’s backstory. So now instead of him having this glowing red nose on complete random circumstance, he was given this light as a sort of destiny thing to defeat Winterbolt when he made his attack on Christmas. And she had to make it super secret for literally no reason, leaving Rudolph open to ridicule for years and putting Santa in danger. All she needed to do was tell Santa about the upcoming storm, explain that she put her power in a reindeer’s sinuses and that, as long as he stays there and happy, everything will be cool.

But no.

This movie feels like it has no direction. Half the time it’s Winterbolt and his already ridiculous plan, and the rest is filled with random love songs and stuff that is cool to look at usually but isn’t contributing much to the story.

If you just want a dose of Rudolph and Frosty for Christmas or…Summer, I guess, then this will do fine. There are numerous sweet, funny and heartwarming moments scattered throughout. But, as a whole, and even just compared to the other Rankin/Bass specials, this isn’t anything to write home about at best and is pretty frustratingly nonsensical at worst. I give a lot of leeway to Rankin/Bass specials in terms of logic, but this went pretty damn far.


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Animating Halloween: Noctober | The Scooby-Doo Show: The Headless Horseman of Halloween Review

Plot: On the night of Halloween, Shaggy, Scooby-Doo, Velma, Fred, Daphne and Scooby’s cousin, Scooby-Dum, attend a costume party at the mansion of the descendant of Icabod Crane. In this universe, Icabod Crane was indeed real, and he supposedly was killed after a run-in with the legendary Headless Horseman. It’s nothing but a story, but the Headless Horseman makes an appearance at the party looking for a replacement head.

Breakdown: Well, it just wouldn’t be Halloween without some Scooby-Doo, would it? Plus, a send-up to The Legend of Sleepy Hollow? Count me in!

While this episode/special is enjoyable enough, made me smile several times, there’s not a whole lot to separate it from your typical Scooby-Doo episode outside of one element – Scooby-Dum.

So, uh…where did this character come from, and why does he exist? He’s literally just Scooby-Doo if he were a lot, well, dumber, and if he was a bit of a hick. That’s it. He’s likable and endearing, but his shtick is constantly just ‘he’s super dumb’ and also ‘haha, he’s named Scooby-Dum BECAUSE HE’S DUMB!’

The mystery was also kinda weak if you ask me. I mean, it’s almost never actually a supernatural being in Scooby-Doo, and if you go into this knowing that fact then the actual culprit will be very obvious about halfway into the episode.

…Although, I do wonder, if Icabod Crane was real in this universe, and he was supposedly killed by the Headless Horseman, but this one was fake…..does that mean…..Hmmmm.

The Headless Horseman of Halloween is a pretty decent Scooby-Doo Halloween special, so if you have the means and you love yourself some Scooby goodness check it out.


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