CSBS – Rugrats Episode 2 Review

Rugrats episode 2 title

Plot: 2A – Barbecue Story: The adults are having a barbecue, and Angelica sends Tommy’s ball flying into the neighbor’s yard. Tommy sets off on a mission to get it back.

2B – Waiter, There’s a Baby in my Soup: Stu and Didi are forced to bring Tommy to a fancy dinner with a man who is listening to Stu’s presentation on why he should market his toys.


2A – Something I kinda dread about rewatching this series as an adult is knowing there will be many moments that will make me cringe in how possibly horrifying the real-world result could’ve been.

Case and point, this segment.

During a barbecue, Angelica, being a bitch, decides to swat Tommy’s ball into the neighbor’s yard for kicks. Tommy breaks into the neighbor’s yard to retrieve it and is forced to go over a secondary fence into an area meant for a vicious guard dog. The dog very nearly (and, if you watch closely, honestly should have) mauls Tommy to death, until he’s suddenly saved by Spike.

Spike returns Tommy to the barbecue and is rewarded with a plate of burnt burgers.

At face value, this is an alright episode. Not the funniest in the world, and there are several annoying aspects I’ll get to in a minute, but it’s decent.

However, as an adult…..I’ve read several news stories about little kids being mauled by dogs, sometimes to death and others severely injured with many scars and deformities left behind. I could not stop myself from imagining Tommy getting viciously attacked by this dog.

Rugrats episode 2 - 2A 1

When Tommy’s parents discover him missing, I thought they’d hear his panicked cries and rescue him, but no. They never hear his cries nor discover where he went. Despite being just next door, Spike is the only one who hears poor Tommy and comes to the rescue. Granted, this scene is one awesome Spike moment. He is a total dog badass here, but Jesus Christ, these parents will never not win the worst parents ever award.

To put more clarity on this situation, when Tommy was crying in his playpen after Angelica swatted his ball, every single adult there diverted their attention to Tommy. When he’s screaming and wailing in terror with a huge bulldog snapping his teeth mere inches from his face, everyone besides Spike suddenly becomes deaf.

The ending is a very sweet moment between Tommy and Spike, but the rest of the episode just leaves me feeling uneasy.

The aforementioned annoying aspects come in Angelica and Chuckie. Angelica never gets any comeuppance for what she did, even though her actions very nearly lead to her cousin’s death. Chuckie has a moment of complaining that seemed more whiny than he normally is, mostly because he’s blaming his misfortunes on Tommy when he didn’t force him to come along.

2B – As big of a Rugrats nut as I was when I was a kid, I did have those episodes I didn’t care for. This is one of them. However, back then, my reasoning was entirely for the obnoxious antics of Mr. Mucklehoney. Nowadays, adult me can see that this whole episode doesn’t work.

It’s main premise is built on sand. Didi and Stu are ‘forced’ to bring Tommy to a fancy restaurant because their babysitter canceled last minute, Grandpa Lou is on a bowling date, and they have a presentation with Mr. Mucklehoney – an obnoxious prankster who is constantly laughing.

Rugrats episode 2 - 2B 1

Oh, excuse me, I mean Stu has a presentation with Mr. Mucklehoney. Didi has no purpose here.

This whole plot could’ve been avoided had Didi just stayed home with Tommy. What’s more disruptive? Stating a superfluous third party couldn’t attend a dinner because she had to watch their infant son or bringing a one year old to a fancy restaurant? Keep in mind, Tommy himself is being obnoxious in this episode. When they find out their babysitter needs to cancel, Tommy is on the floor having strewn all of the pots and pans in the kitchen on the floor and dumped a garbage can full of trash all over himself, the floor and the pans.

People find babies in cheap family restaurants to be an annoyance, but bringing a one year old to a fancy restaurant? When you have a very good reason not to? And when you’re having dinner with someone very important? Come on.

What’s even worse is that they set up an out and don’t take it just so it can be more believable when Tommy manages to escape. Didi gets a call from Grandpa Lou right before they order. He needs a ride home because he had a fight with his date and she was his ride. Didi agrees and is about to take Tommy, who is drumming on the dinnerware with a fork and spoon, with her because she realizes he’s being a nuisance. However, Mr. Mucklehoney offers to have the two of them watch him and she’s just like ‘alright’ and even gives the spoon back to Tommy so he can continue being loud and irritating to everyone around them.

Rugrats episode 2 - 2B 2

Of course, Tommy quickly slips out of his high chair and, of course, Stu is none the wiser. He slips into the kitchen and, I might need to add a ‘third-party adult fail’ section because not a damn person in that kitchen realizes a baby is crawling around on the countertops making a mess and destroying stuff. I feel really bad for the people who get that cream pie filled with silverware. Thank God Tommy never reached the stove. He fell into a bowl of pasta – he could’ve easily fallen into a pot of boiling water.

When he gets back to the table, he’s superheated Mucklehoney’s soup, bubblegum’d his shoes to the table, tied Stu’s shoes to the table and caused the entire table to topple over on top of Mucklehoney.

And, of course, Mr. Mucklehoney is one of those sitcom schmucks who has all this crap happen to him and, because it would be unfair to have Stu suffer for Tommy’s actions, he loves the crazy antics Stu has caused and offers him a job.

Rugrats episode 2 - 2B 3

This episode is poorly written and riddled with plot conveniences. You can practically see them drawing a map to the plot they were trying to get to. “Okay, how about we have Tommy let loose in a restaurant making all sorts of trouble? We’ll work out the details of how this happens right before we animate it. No storyboards. They’re a hassle.”

Not to mention, Tommy just doesn’t work well on his own. Rugrats always worked best when the babies were playing off of each other. Even if the plot is obviously focused on one character, you need at least one or two more to make the story as a whole work. Tommy is completely on his own here. There’s not even any minor Angelica cameo. Not to mention, they seem like they upped his annoying level so they could get more comedy out of him.

Parenting Fails

2A – No one notices or cares that Angelica took Tommy’s ball and threw it over the fence. Even if it’s understandable to maybe not catch her taunting him with it, surely someone had to have seen her throw the thing.

No one notices them breaking out of their playpen, even though they’re all in the side yard, nor do they see the babies escaping into the neighbor’s yard.

If you have babies or pets, don’t leave loose or broken boards in your fence.

I applaud the neighbor for having a second fence within his fence for his vicious dog, but I’ll add some neighbor fails for making this fence all of a foot and a half tall (the babies can get over it just by giving each other a little boost.) and chaining the large and very strong dog to a rickety dog house that is half-assedly nailed to boards in the ground.

It takes them way too long to notice the babies missing, especially considering the babies were looking in the neighbor’s first yard for quite a while.

No one hears Tommy’s terrified cries merely a yard away.

X10 fails just because I can’t get the image of Tommy being mauled out of my head. The fact that their dog was a better parent here than anyone else is ridiculous.

2B – Nobody notices that Tommy is playing with the toilet – a possible drowning hazard because it’s one of those toilets that seems to hold three gallons of water in the bowl.

Nobody notices that Tommy spreads out all of the pots and pans in the kitchen on the floor. Even if you can say they didn’t see it, there’s no way they didn’t hear it because that would be insanely loud.

Nobody notices that Tommy knocks the garbage over.

When they do notice, they don’t give a crap.

Gonna count them bringing Tommy to this meeting as a fail. If they really had no choice, I’d understand, but not only is Didi a perfectly good option, they don’t even consider contacting any of the other parents to see if they can do it. Any adult should know that bringing a baby to a fancy restaurant is inconsiderate. And this is coming from someone who’s never had a child or been to a particularly fancy restaurant. Unless you have the most angelic baby in the world, or they’re comatose, they’re going to cry, smell and be obnoxious. They even show how annoyingly he’s behaving before they even leave, and he wastes no time before he starts drumming on his dinnerware.

Didi leaving Tommy alone with these two.

Stu not noticing Tommy has escaped. He is literally seated a foot away from him.

If I don’t have a ‘third party adult’ tally, we’re skipping six points.

Tally: 26

What the…They’re Babies!

Outside of the babies easily scaling that fence, there wasn’t much in this area for either episode.


Episode One-Derland (Cartoons): Winx Club

Plot: A teenage girl named Bloom finds a fairy named Stella being attacked by an ogre out in the woods. In an effort to save her, Bloom discovers that she has fairy magic too. This is just the start of something much bigger for Bloom.

Breakdown: Alright, I need to prepare myself for this one. Just gonna jump into my subconscious for a tad.


Girly part of me! Where are you?! I need you for 20 minutes and 14 seconds! I know you’re in here! I felt your presence when I was looking at puppy pictures earlier! Ah there you are. I don’t know why I don’t always look in the nook with my Beanie Baby collection first.



So, yeah, as you can probably guess, despite having the girl parts, I’ve never been that girly. I’ve always been more into things that were more traditionally boy-like. I had some regular girly stuff like Barbies and bead sets and a fake plastic kitchen (I make the best plastic omelets), I’ve even had the tea parties and dressed like a fairy princess once. But if you ever asked me to choose between something like Power Rangers and My Little Pony, I’d be imagining piloting the Megazord before you’d finish your sentence. I never really disliked girly things, I was just more interested in boy-ish stuff…..It was cooler….No My Little Pony dolls shoot lasers or explode, okay?

With that in mind, it goes without saying that I never really watched Winx Club. I caught a few minutes of it here and there but—OOH BEYBLADE’S ON!

*cough* Something else would usually come on.

But I’m not without my girliness. My femininity. My female…itude…..I have a purse.

Let’s see if I can get into Winx Club.

*one episode later*


Alright, let me level with you. This show is not terrible on the basis of rampant girliness. The girliness levels are high, damn near ridiculous (The main character’s animal sidekick is a damn bunny for crying out loud), but I was able to get through that relatively fine…

This episode is just poorly written.

Right off the bat, the pacing for the first half is breakneck. In the first three minutes, we’re briefly introduced to our main character, Bloom, who is a normal average teenage girl, she sees a fairy girl with a valley girl accent fighting an ogre, she starts to be defeated, Bloom goes to help her, reveals she suddenly has powers, knocks the ogre away, the fairy girl, named Stella, gets back up, defeats the ogre with ease and then faints.

The pacing slows down a bit then ramps right back up after the ten minute mark. For example, in the time span of a minute, Stella brings Bloom to Alfea, an all-girls boarding college for fairies, pixies and something called…gowylians? Gowillians?….Uh those – Most of whom are princesses because of course they are. They learn to be magic users, protectors of their realms and queens.

This place is right down the road from the boy’s school – The Red Fountain School for Heroics and Bravery (A place ‘full of hunks’ according to Stella), where young men learn to become military heroes utilizing such things as hand to hand combat, weapon use, basic survival, magic swords and DRAGONS. Look! Look! The boys get magic swords and dragons! They get the cool stuff!

They’re also closeby to the Clow Tower School for Witches, which could not be more designed to be a villain factory if you tried.

Then, in the same minute mind you, she informs Bloom that she already invited some of the boys from the Red Fountain school to her house. When did she do this? She never had the opportunity as far as I saw.

If the pacing doesn’t get you, the story won’t do you any favors. It is extremely cut and dry ‘normal person discovers she has magic powers and is tasked to save the world’ schtick. The good guys are obvious, the bad guys are even more obvious and they practically go out of their way to separate everyone into their respective groups. For God’s sake, if sectioning off good from evil wasn’t enough, they have to cordon off the boys into their own school too. So we can wrangle the love interests? What’s that about?

Wait a minute.

*One Wiki Later*

Yup, that’s literally it’s purpose. All of the future members of the Winx club will have either fiances or boyfriends and, you guessed it, they all, barring one, come from the Red Fountain school. Wow.

Bloom’s parents are unreasonably stupid. Not believing your daughter brought home a fairy is one thing, being one room away from a door that is being brutally pounded on by someone, seeing a pet freaking out about it and constantly wondering why the animal is freaking out and pointing to the aforementioned door is another. They have to shake the whole house and actually enter before they realize, holy crap, someone’s at the door.

Anyone familiar with Tuxedo Mask Syndrome in magical girl shows can rest assured that the girls do indeed get rescued in the end by the hero boys she mentioned. At the very least, they barely know what they’re doing too.

The dialogue is okay at best and cringe-worthy at worst. There’s a lot of lame slang, valley girl speak and just horribly written lines delivered in lackluster ways. Par for the course for 4Kids.

The art and animation are horrid. It’s not the absolute worst I’ve seen, but it is quite a ways down there. Italy, I hate to keep giving you crap, but….you kinda keep giving me crap. It’s weird. There isn’t really a tidal wave of animation errors – it’s moreso like an unfinished animation or just sloppily done. The action actually isn’t the worst part of it. The bad animation is most highlighted in the speaking scenes. I laughed out loud when we saw Brendan speaking in that extreme closeup. If there was ever a shot where bobble-head physics applied, it’s that one.

The music is about what you’d expect from a girl-targeted show from 4Kids. Girly earworms. I will wag my finger in 4Kids face for one moment of music faux pas. They very clearly use a piece of BG music from Pokemon when Bloom wakes up. Tsk tsk.

As a first episode, it does the job just fine. Mostly because they’re mowing down the plot of the episode to shove every bit of exposition down our throats as quickly as possible. It introduces us to the characters and their universe just fine. They don’t really explain too well what fairies are in terms of what they do, nor do they explain how their magic works. They also never explain why or how Bloom is a fairy. She just shows she has powers and Stella spends half the episode gushing about how awesome she is.

They show the big bads, but we have no clue what they want beside power and I can only assume world domination.

Final Verdict—wait a minute.

While this first episode, in my opinion, is a hot mess that doesn’t make me want to want to watch anymore, I will concede for a bit. Winx Club is a huge franchise spanning over several seasons, movies and even comics.

I’ve read some stuff from future storylines and it seems somewhat interesting. I don’t want to write off the entire franchise for you all here, so let’s leave this as an;


I, personally, won’t be continuing because it’s just not my cup of tea. However, if you can find yourself getting into shows of this vein, I recommend giving it a go for a few episodes. If anything, the art and animation seem to improve over time.

Exploring Disney’s Castle: Dinosaur (2000)

Rating: 7/10

Plot: The egg of an iguanodon is separated from its parents and ends up traveling far away from any dinosaurs on an island where he’s found and cared by a family of lemurs who name him Aladar. Despite being vastly different from anyone on the island, he lives a very happy life with his family. One day, a horrible meteor shower wipes out their home and most of the animals that they knew. While escaping the aftermath, Aladar and his family, his mother, grandfather, sister and uncle, run into a herd of many dinosaurs trying to make it back to their nesting grounds since they believe it may be a safe haven from this catastrophe. Lead by Cron, a cruel iguanodon who believes in survival of the fittest, the herd tries to make it to their nesting grounds alive, but Aladar doesn’t agree with Cron’s methods and wishes to get everyone, the old, young, sick and injured there alive no matter what.

Breakdown: I remember seeing this a while back and not getting a huge impression about it. It’s not bad, there are many good points, but there’s nothing very fantastic about it. The visuals, especially during the meteor shower and Aladar’s egg traveling to the island are wonderful, but unlike what I first thought, the backgrounds are almost always actual footage of real locations with only the animals and the effects CGI. The visuals are still great, though, and the CGI meshes well with the environment.

The story’s somewhat predictable, though the meteor shower comes right out of nowhere. There’s still several parts that are heartwarming, tragic and impacting, especially when Eema, one of the elderly dinosaurs, starts to deteriorate.

The romance is predictable as well. Only female iguanodon tail meet only other iguanodon around that isn’t your brother or a dick (Cron being both)

The characters are where it loses me a bit. We have Zini who is Aladar’s lemur uncle. He’s obnoxious and that’s all there is to it. We’re supposed to feel bad for him because he can’t find a mate, but if you watched him for five minutes you’d know why he can’t find one. And of course he’s a total playboy by the end for no reason. His character does nothing in the slightest. His little sister, Suri, does way more than Zini does.

The lemurs on their own don’t do much anyway. They ride the backs of the dinosaurs and make comments about what’s happening around them. That’s about it. The mom does some stuff, as does Suri, but after the opening scene they’re just kinda there.

Then we have I guess his name is Url. He’s a ankylosaurus that acts like a dog for reasons beyond my understanding. I don’t know why some of these dinosaurs are smart and can speak but then we have dog-like dinosaurs like Url and carnosaurus who are nothing but hungry beasts incapable of rational thought.

Cron’s a pretty decent bad guy, but you can’t sympathize with him very much. I know that in dire circumstances sometimes you need to do harsh things in order to ensure that even some survive instead of none, but by the end it really seems like he didn’t give a crap about any of the herd and that if any of them didn’t make it they didn’t deserve to make it. In some circumstances he was nearly causing their death by his blowhard plans.

That’s supposed to make Aladar look like a real hero by contrast, which it does, but they clearly want you to have some sort of connection to him since he’s noted as being Neera’s (female iguanodon) brother.

Bottomline: This isn’t a fantastic movie, but it’s still a very enjoyable film with plenty of suspense, action, some romance, and likable characters especially in Eema and Baylene. The story is predictable, but it’s not horribly cliché. The art and animation along with the music are fantastic, with maybe the lemurs looking the worst. You may get annoyed by Zini, but he gets hardly any screentime so I wouldn’t worry about it. I’d still watch it if it was randomly airing on TV.

Recommended Audience: This is a Disney production, so it’s not too bad in the content department, but you do have sudden apocalyptic conditions, corpses, some dinosaurs die on screen, some dinosaur corpses are eaten by raptors and carnosaurs, non-graphically for the most part, and a good chunk of it takes place off camera, there’s some blood….eh 10+.

Cartoons Step-By-Step: Dave the Barbarian Episode 2


Plot: 2a – Pet Threat: It’s dragon appreciation week and Dave the others have completely forgotten to do anything special for Faaffy. They rush out on the final day of the week to get him a gift, and Dave decides to buy him a new best friend – a diseased weasel he names Carl. However, Carl is not nearly as sickly and innocent as he seems, and no one will believe Faffy when he tries to warn the others.

2b – Lula’s First Barbarian: Lula spots her first owner and lost love, Argan the Ageless, at the marketplace and the flames of her love instantly start growing again. Despite the fact that he’s an obvious jerk who left her for stupid reasons thousands of years ago, she is more than willing to drop Dave the instant he seems to want her back. Worried about her welfare, Dave, Fang, Candy and Oswidge band together to save her heart from getting broken again.


2a – Pet Threat: This is a rather tired plot that is predictable from start to finish. Not to mention the fact that a good chunk of it doesn’t make any sense.

Dark Lord Chuckles, the Silly Piggy, is actually the diseased weasel, Carl, and he plans on stealing the magical grape of bobobidobo from Faffy’s room. Okay, that’s fine. But uh, how did Chuckles know Dave would be in that marketplace? Or that specific store? Or that the owner would pull him out of that basket to show Dave? Or that Dave would even be remotely interested in buying a diseased weasel? Or that he was buying the diseased weasel to be the new companion to Faffy? Or that the grape was even in Faffy’s room?

Not to mention the fact that Faffy gets treated fairly badly in this episode for no reason. Oswidge eats the ham Dave’s parents sent him for dragon appreciation week. The others forget dragon appreciation week, which depresses Faffy. They buy him a ratty diseased animal as a gift and don’t take Faffy’s feelings into consideration. Dave even completely writes him off when Faffy explicitly points out that Dave is treating Carl better than he’s treating him, when it’s completely obvious. (Then again, Dave is an idiot.) No one believes him for a second when he tries to warn them about what Carl is doing. He runs away, no one notices or seems to care. He comes back, no one notices or seems to care.

They show a little bit of concern when Faffy appears to sacrifice himself to beat Chuckles, and you think for a second they’ll actually do something nice for him on the final day of dragon appreciation week. They seem like they do by preparing a nice meal for Faffy only to reveal it’s Chuckles dressed as a ham. Dave breaks the fourth wall and tells the audience that Faffy’s not really going to eat him and that it’s all for a joke and Faffy’s in the background with a distraught look on his face.

So, in the end, Faffy gets treated like crap for dragon appreciation week and the one moment of redemption for the others is just a visual gag that screws Faffy out of a meal. Lovely.

Not only that, but there weren’t very many jokes in this segment that worked for me and several were gross-out gags.

This was not a very enjoyable segment to me. It just seemed mean-spirited and lacking in several departments.

2b – Lula’s First Barbarian: This segment basically has the same problems as 2a, but at least the plot makes more sense. Again, you know from the very instant you learn anything about Argan, which is the first minute he’s on screen, that he’ll be a complete dickhead to Lula, she’ll fall for him anyway and Dave and the others will rip off her love goggles before she gets in too deep.

Lula’s being an idiot and a bitch in this episode because not only is she completely denying that Argan is anything but an amazing love muffin, no matter how he continues to treat her and has in the past (he literally uses her as a nose for a snowman tens of thousands of years ago and just left her there, never to return.), but she’s also more than willing to leave Dave because he’s such a prissy barbarian.

And, again, Dave doesn’t seem to care. He cares about Lula’s well-being enough to help create a plan to get her away from him, but even he doesn’t see what a jackass Argan is until his newer sword, Judy, explains that he traded her away to some toothless villager for a potato. I don’t know if this is a testament to how much of an idiot Dave is or he just doesn’t have strong connections with the people (and dragons….and swords) who are supposedly closest to him.

Candy was surprisingly supportive of this clearly unhealthy relationship, even making a montage out of her using tips from a teen magazine to help Lula bag her man.

Fang’s the only one with an ounce of sense in this episode and she doesn’t get to do much.

This episode was light on jokes that worked but, like 2a, there were some smile-worthy moments.

Overall, I’d give 2a a rating of 3/10 and 2b a 4/10, giving the overall episode a 3.5/10

Episode One-Derland (Cartoons) The Amazing World of Gumball

Plot: Gumball and his brother, Darwin, ruin a DVD they rented. Afraid of facing their mother, they decide to plot and scheme to either replace the DVD or get the money needed to pay off the fee.

Breakdown: Gumball is a show I’ve seen in passing a few times on Cartoon Network, and I always felt divisive about it. I liked some of the jokes and comedic timing, but the art style put me off, and sometimes it seems like they’re being far more annoying than they are funny.

After sitting down and watching the first episode (first segment, DVD, I should say), I just can’t help but feel the same way. Again, I ended up liking some moments – there are pretty good jokes and clever writing in there, but Gumball and Darwin sometimes piss me off with their voice acting, Gumball annoys me with how stereotypical he is as a character (irresponsible scheming troublemaker – that’s new) and the art style has its moments where it works and others where it’s just odd.

This particular episode was also very cliché. Two brothers do something wrong so they get into a bunch of wacky shenanigans while trying to fix it without their parent knowing. I think that plot is a legal requirement of any sitcom or comedy cartoon with children that was ever made.

The actual art style is fine, it’s the fact that it’s always coupled with live action shots that puts me at odds – add that to the fact that you also have fully CGI characters and shifting art styles between characters and I just don’t know what to make of it. At the very least, it’s pretty unique.

Final Verdict:


I’m not sure I’ll ever get off the fence about this show.

Pixar’s Lamp: A Bug’s Life

Rating: 8/10

Plot: A colony of ants has been essentially been enslaved by a group of grasshoppers lead by the cruel…well, Hopper. They’re tasked year after year with gathering a food offering for the grasshoppers in addition to the amount of food that they need for themselves before the rainy season comes. An ant named Flik who tends to cause trouble all the time with his gadgets and inventions accidentally knocks the annual food offering in the waters surrounding their home. As punishment for their lack of offering, Hopper demands a double offering after summer and fall have ended when the final leaf on the tree above the ant hill falls. Flik gets an idea to find help outside of the colony by bigger and tougher bugs and the colony’s princess and soon-to-be queen, Atta, agrees in order to keep him out of trouble while the rest of the ants gather food.

Flik eventually finds a circus troupe whom he believes are actually warrior bugs. Likewise, the troupe believes him to be a talent scout with his story of the grasshoppers being the story of the show and agree to help him. However, everything falls apart when the truth is revealed and the last few leaves begin to fall from the tree.

Breakdown: I’ve already reviewed Antz and explained the little ‘who ripped off who’ war with Dreamworks. I also noted how it’s somewhat unfair to compare these two movies in terms of being ‘rip-offs’, whichever one you may believe is the rip-off, because they are two fairly distinct movies with seemingly different target audiences, plot points, characters, art styles and side characters.

So since it wouldn’t be entirely fair to compare these two side by side, let’s do it anyway!

Let’s tackle the art and animation first, shall we? The art is set more towards being cartoon-y with huge eyes and blue colored ants. I mentioned in the Antz review that the blue thing bothered me because ants aren’t blue and at least Antz was more realistic with having brown ants. I did find something called a blue ant, but it’s not blue (if anything it’s black with a metallic-like coating and red legs) and it’s more of a wasp than an ant. Then again, it seems like Antz was going more towards an older demographic that would probably want realism over cartoon style whereas A Bug’s Life is clearly aimed more for a younger audience. I can’t say either of them is really better in the art department. A Bug’s Life is definitely more visually appealing, but Antz was more of a stickler for details.

Animation-wise, though, there’s no denying that Pixar’s is a lot smoother.

In terms of characters, our main lead, Flik, is more relatable and likable than Z, end of story. Z, while meaning well, was a big whiner who was constantly complaining about how the conformity within the colony was stifling. While he had a point, that doesn’t mean I liked to hear his constant complaining.

Flik, on the other hand, wants nothing more than to help the colony do bigger and better things. He makes inventions and has ideas that sometimes end up screwing up and ruining everything, but he only wants to make things better and easier for the colony as a whole. He does mope for a bit, but it’s relatable moping of feeling like you’re a big screw up no matter how good your intentions are. In addition, he only does it a couple of times. He doesn’t spend half the movie doing it like Z. Dave Foley is also much easier to listen to than Woody Allen.

Princess Atta is much different than Bala. Bala wanted nothing more than to shed her royal duties and just relax every now and then with the commonfolk, which is pretty much a common princess plotline. Atta is the complete opposite as she wants nothing more than to do a good job as a princess and later on as a queen. She’s obsessed and a bit of a worry-wart about running everything and doing everything right. Therein lies her connection with Flik. Despite their drastically different stances in life, they both feel like they’re big screw ups.

Atta is definitely the more fleshed out and unique character, plus she actually evolves through the movie. Bala is pretty forgettable and has a cliché princess personality. She doesn’t change much throughout the movie.

The big conflict in A Bug’s Life is the fact that a group of grasshoppers, lead by the most originally named grasshopper ever, Hopper, have been terrorizing a colony of ants for a long time under the excuse that they protect them from harm, even though they live about a day away from them and would never be able to prevent trouble in time. Every year, the ants are forced to gather food for the grasshoppers in addition to themselves. The major issue is that they live on a very small island that has a limited supply of food. When Flik accidentally knocks the food offering into the water, which they can’t retrieve because they can’t swim, Hopper and his gang get pissed and demand that they offer twice as much food before the final leaf on the one tree of their island falls.

So they have to not only collect the double offering, but they also have to collect food for themselves, which will be difficult, if not impossible, under the circumstances as they barely manage to make their singular offering in time.

The conflict in Antz really doesn’t come to light until later, but the major issues are that the ants are a bunch of mindless conformists who only do what they’re told and nothing else. One of the soldier ants creates a Nazi-esque plan behind the scenes to wipe out all of the worker ants so only the princess and the more deserving soldier ants will live.

Two very different stories, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I thought A Bug’s Life’s was more interesting and could hold a longer run time. That is one of my main issues with Antz. To me, it was good, but forgettable. There are problems with A Bug’s Life that are glaring and will be addressed in a minute, but at the end of the day, despite those problems, A Bug’s Life was just more entertaining and enjoyable to me whereas Antz I could really give or take.

Finally, the message of A Bug’s Life was a combination of strength in numbers, the ‘power of one’ to unite them all, and standing up to bullies, as well as maybe being proud of the fact that you’re different no matter how much you may screw up because of it.

Antz’s message was a little confusing. It seemed to be that conforming, especially to the point of basically being robots, and living for nothing but work was bad, but then you have the fact that the ants were mindless drones no matter what they were told. They did shake off their blind obedience when Z showed them the error of their ways, but then they showed that non-conformity lead to complete and utter laziness and uncaring for your community. Then when they started to question Z in the slightest, they revolted against him in an instant as well. Perhaps the message is that conformity and living for work are wrong, but going too far in the other direction is just as wrong. Living a life in balance is a good lesson, but if that is the main message, they muddled it up horribly.

I should also mention that the little kids didn’t annoy me as much as I remember them doing. Those two little snots who tease Dot are still brats though.

Well, let’s stop with the comparison and get to what’s wrong with A Bug’s Life as a movie, in terms of story anyway. Three things, really.

First, this movie eventually gets to a point where it relies on the “main character lies to his friends and eventually gets found out” trope. Flik enlists the help of a circus troupe made of a (male) ladybug named Francis, a praying mantis named Manny, a black widow spider named Rosie, a dung beetle named Dim, a walking stick named Slim, a pair of pill bugs named Tuck and Roll, and a gypsy moth named….Gypsy. Besides the issue of ‘I hate this trope and it only makes for that incredibly awkward ‘reveal”, it also raises another issue. Flik never lied to begin with. At all. He told his story straight out to the troupe and even a second time to the pill bugs who don’t speak English and speak some kind of made-up language, but he wasn’t aware of that.

If anything, the troupe was at fault for making the totally unprompted assumption that he was a talent scout just really invested in this grasshopper story. They even fully believe it when they arrive at the colony and everyone’s cheering their heads off for the arrival of ‘the warriors’. It’s only until after a welcome dinner that the troupe figures it out and gets mad at Flik for lying to them even though he never ever did.

Hell, in addition to getting pissed and insulting him, the pill bugs slap him! FOR THEIR MISTAKE. Granted, once Flik finds out the truth, he eventually decides to actually lie to the colony about the troupe, which leads to the predictable awkward reveal, but the fact is that the troupe should have been the ones who looked like they were lying or at the very least made a grave error, not Flik.

Second, one other thing I will say in favor of Antz was the fact that they highlighted a big problem with A Bug’s Life. In Antz, the ants were divided up into workers and soldiers at birth and they remained widely segregated in their regular day to day lives.

In A Bug’s Life, there’s a noticeable lack of soldiers. They’re all workers. They have to be in order to be so firmly under Hopper’s thumb. That creates a problem and dare I say plot hole that could’ve just been patched up by saying that the soldiers all got overpowered by the grasshoppers or were killed or abandoned them or something. I’m not an entomologist, so I don’t know how likely it is that this species or specific colony of ants would just straight up have no soldiers, but it’s a noticeable issue to me.

Finally, the climax has a pretty big problem to it. All of the bugs, understandably, have a huge fear of birds. Hopper especially has a fear of birds since it’s implied that he got the big scar on his face and lost sight in his right eye because of a bird attack and is traumatized because of it. Flik, who is already in the trenches of his deception, decides to just screw the whole idea of the warriors in lieu of a new idea – making a mechanical bird made of sticks and leaves that will scare Hopper and the others away.

They complete the bird and are really optimistic about their chances. However, the colony finds out that the ‘warriors’ are really circus bugs and that Flik lied to them. Flik is then banished from the colony and goes off to join the circus troupe in shame while the colony panics because they spent all summer and fall mostly making the bird and hanging out with the warriors instead of gathering Hopper’s food because they no longer intended on paying him his tribute.

They scramble to gather food, which ends up not being nearly enough to offer to Hopper without leaving themselves to starve to death otherwise and completely lose hope.

The problem I have with this is…what the hell happened to the bird? Why is the bird thing no longer a feasible idea? I know it was Flik’s idea and he lied to them thus they might have lost some faith in the bird. Hell, Flik even loses faith in the bird as he’s riding with the troupe. But you have to remember something – the idea of the bird was presented to the circus troupe, who thought it was a great idea. The idea was then presented to the queen, Princess Atta and the royal council, who also thought it was brilliant. The idea was then shown to the entire colony who also had so much faith in it that they were cheering at the presentation. Why did they suddenly lose faith in the bird idea?

It can be argued that the stuff with the ‘warriors’ was moot by the time the bird was done, and the reveal was actually at a celebration party for the completion of the bird! In fact, Flik was figuring out a way for the troupe to escape without being noticed at the party so they could leave before the grasshoppers came. The troupe stayed of their own accord because they liked the colony and had recently lost their jobs anyway.

The bird was completely unrelated, so there’s no reason why they couldn’t have stuck with that plan in the end despite Flik’s deception and banishment. Did they really think they had more of a chance of gathering a double offering in a matter of days? It’s not like they couldn’t have done it since Flik comes back and actually pilots the bird just fine with only a girl scout troupe to help him operate it.

Bottomline: Despite those plot issues, I have to stick by my stance and just say it’s a more enjoyable, memorable and funnier movie than Antz. I commend Antz for trying to be more realistic in their designs and I still enjoyed the movie just fine, but in the end the one who will always win out for me is A Bug’s Life. I’ve gained much more appreciation of Dreamworks productions in recent time, despite the fact I haven’t gotten to their later work, but I still remain as a loyal soldier in Pixar’s colony……Oh wait. Damn you, ant puns!

Recommended Audience: There’s some drawings of bug gore by the little kids (their teacher actually told them to draw one of the good guys as dead to make it more dramatic. The amount of flying that wouldn’t do in an actual school setting is amazing.) no swearing, no innuendos that I remember. Some minor violence, some grasshoppers get killed although not graphically. It’s fine for all ages.

AVAHS – Fairly Oddparents: Christmas Everyday!

Plot: After enjoying another awesome Christmas, Timmy wishes it could be Christmas every day. His fairy godparents grant him his wish, and he enjoys toys and time with his family for weeks to come. Too much of a good thing is never a bad thing……right?

Breakdown: There aren’t many Christmas specials that I would say are better enjoyed after Christmas is already over, but if there’s one that makes that list, it’s this episode.

So many Christmas specials leave you wishing that Christmas came every day, but it’s really not a great idea. Eventually, you will get sick of it because one of the reasons amazing things like Christmas are so special is because they only come once a year. If you had it all year round, you wouldn’t appreciate it anymore.

I mentioned this episode in the Stuck on Christmas segment in my Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas review. In that segment, the only ones aware that Christmas was repeating itself were Huey, Dewey and Louie. Donald, Daisy, Gertie and Scrooge were none the wiser, making it have a Groundhog’s Day effect. In that version, it would be damn near hell because you’d be hearing the exact same words and experiencing the exact same events over and over and over.

I find this version of the setup to be more interesting because everyone’s cognizant of what’s happening. It’s not a matter of reliving the same day – it’s reliving the same holiday, which I find to be more complex and open to a wider range of possibilities.

I also find Timmy’s reasons for wishing such a thing to be better than Huey, Dewey and Louie’s. While Timmy obviously wants to bathe in gifts day after day, the main reason he wants it to be Christmas every day is because his parents stay at home with him instead of being away at work. For the three ducks, all they wants are gifts and Christmas dinner.

But away from the comparisons, we still have a very original and interesting interpretation of what would happen when wishing such a thing in this universe. After a while, everyone starts to get sick of the carols, dinners and basically everything Christmasy. They get so sick of Christmas every day that when they spot Santa in the sky, they try to shoot down his sleigh.

Businesses and schools remain closed, meaning people can’t buy anything or get anything done. (Plus, I assume, people would eventually lose their jobs and society would collapse…)

Not even the kids make off well for long since everyone starts getting fewer and fewer gifts each day.

After a while, Timmy finally realizes that Christmas every day wasn’t a good idea afterall and that everyone’s had enough, so he wishes for Christmas to be over. However, as we’ve learned is common whenever Timmy makes a bad wish, Cosmo and Wanda can’t reverse it. This time, they simply don’t have the magic for such a thing.

Every year on Christmas, the fairies all lend their magic to Santa so he can be the one to grant the various wishes of the children on Christmas. They get their magic back the day after Christmas, which creates the obvious problem. They can still do minor things like disguise themselves and poof places, but they’re ultimately powerless to make such a big wish.

However, I don’t quite get this. Timmy made this wish on Christmas night – meaning Cosmo and Wanda shouldn’t have had the magic to make the wish come true in the first place.

Another interesting repercussion of Christmas happening every day is that the other holidays can’t occur – meaning the representatives of those holidays are extremely angry. Not only do they already feel inferior to Christmas and Santa, but now Christmas has stolen whatever enjoyment they got from people celebrating their holidays.

They want to take Santa down by transferring his powers to them with the unwilling help of Cosmo and Wanda. After they do so, they plan on sending Santa to the imaginary date of February 33rd.

Meanwhile, Timmy snowmobiles to the north pole with the help of every Christmas celebrating kid with Internet access across the globe. When he arrives, the kids all follow to help save Santa.

Santa is extremely overworked and running out of presents to give the kids since he can’t make enough toys every single day to meet demand. Even with magic, he won’t be able to do anything if this continues.

The main confrontation is really my only major negative point about this episode. The other holidays very nearly succeed in taking over and banishing Santa, but Timmy tries to talk some reason into them. When the army of every web-enabled Christmas celebrating kid in the world comes, the other holidays can’t find it in them to fight off kids since their main intentions in the first place was to bring their own brand of holiday joy to the kids of the world and be loved.

Timmy says they are loved, just not as much as Santa. He brings them toys, and Christmas brings their families together. The holidays realize he’s right. They all then lament that their holidays are all kinda lame like Easter with eggs that go bad if you don’t find them, April Fools day with making kids play mean pranks on each other and Cupid saying Valentines Day makes kids fall in love, which he only realizes is a bad thing when the kids all express disgust.

Understanding that Christmas is just a better holiday and that Santa will always be loved more than them, they decide to let Santa go and reverse everything.


I know the important thing is that they know they’re loved either way, but the fact remains that this started with the other holidays being upset that they were being massively eclipsed by Christmas and Santa. Resolving this plotline by saying ‘well, yeah, that’s because he’s better than you guys.’ ‘Oh, yeah, you’re right. Guess we better fix everything.’ END. Just seems nonsensical and lazy.

A better option would’ve been to explain the reasons why those holidays are special to the kids too in their own ways. Like Easter is fun for egg hunts and candy, April Fools day is great to make up creative pranks for everyone to get a laugh, and Valentines day, as much as it makes some kids gag, gives them a bit of courage and hope to make a special connection with someone they like. Maybe say that Christmas may get the most attention, but all holidays have a special place in the hearts of children.

Everything gets changed back to normal, a new rule is made in Da Rules to never allow another kid to wish it were Christmas every day, and, to make it up to Santa, the holidays and Timmy take over delivering presents for next year’s Christmas.

All in all, I still love this Christmas special, even if the climax is a bit poorly written in my opinion. It’s a great way to ease out of Christmas highs as well. I’m sure many people have that same wish when December 26th rolls around, and this is a pretty good way to remind us that special rare events such as Christmas lose their magic and wonder if we live it every single day.

The song in this special is also one of the best Christmas special songs to debut in recent years. I Wish Every Day Could Be Christmas is catchy, Christmasy, funny and sweet. I listen to it on a fairly regular basis, and I sing it in the off-season.

AVAHS – Rugrats: Babies in Toyland Part 2

AVAHS - Rugrats babies in toyland part 2 title

Plot: The adults are snowed in at a 19th century cabin. The babies are battling in The Nutcracker and trying desperately to make Dil’s first Christmas a good one so he’ll have more Christmases in the future. Angelica is hellbent on getting Santa’s toys all for herself. Is anyone going to have a good Christmas?

Breakdown: This review didn’t need to be two parts, but if they’re going to stretch out the special and yuk out some bonus points, I’m gonna.

This episode starts with five minutes worth of two things – Angelica being a thieving bratty bitch and the babies taking part in a mechanical representation of The Nutcracker.

Angelica grabs an armful of cookies that were meant to be taken one by one by the children listening to the carolers and they don’t do a damn thing about it. She took all of them yet no one even calls out to her to stop. Someone loses their snow hat in front of her so she just decides it’s hers now, even though that hat shouldn’t really fit her. Then she jumps into a group of carolers singing her rendition of ‘Joy to the World’ where she inserts herself as the main focus of the song. Yes, Angelica is now literally comparing herself to Jesus. Maybe not intentionally, but it’s there.

AVAHS - Rugrats babies in toyland part 2 image 1

I don’t understand why she’s screwing around so much. The only reason I can figure is that they want to keep showing Angelica being a witch so we’ll better understand why she’s supposedly not on Santa’s nice list…………………………….but……come on. Even people who have never seen a frame of Rugrats know that Angelica’s one of the most notoriously bratty bully characters to ever be shown in any form of media. She has her moments where she thaws her heart, but there is never any question that she is mostly a terrible and selfish person.

Even so, couldn’t they have put this in the first episode? She sent the babies off on a wild goose chase so she could find Santa’s toys first, yet she’s not even actively looking for them until she runs into the babies again.

Speaking of the babies, there’s not much to say about them for a while. Like I said, they accidentally partake in a mechanical rendition of The Nutcracker and all sorts of shenanigans happen. Some of it’s a little funny, but it’s still mostly padding. There’s also one aspect I don’t understand about it.

They’re first being ‘attacked’ by the Nutcracker and are saved by the Mouse King and his soldiers, but when Kimi decides they should fight too, she immediately decides to kick the crap out of one of the mice soldiers. I know they’re animatronics who aren’t taking sides, but from their perspective, Kimi is beating up someone who just saved them.

AVAHS - Rugrats babies in toyland part 2 image 2
I owe you my life, and an asskicking!

Then it turns around and the Mouse King is attacking them, but the Nutcracker saves them and winks at them. I don’t understand.

Once we get to the actual plot, Angelica has an acid trip after she breaks into a fake Santa’s Workshop. Nothing says ‘I deserve presents’ like breaking and entering. She imagines the workshop is real, along with the toy reindeer Santa handed her, named Prancey, and the employee elf from earlier, Hermie, being a real elf. He breaks the news to her that she’s not getting any presents since she’s not on the nice list and even Prancey abandons her after she called him a dumb toy.

We get an alright, but incredibly forgettable song called “Treat Each Day Like Christmas (And Your World’s a Holiday)” where Angelica learns to not be a bitch, I guess. The problem I have with this song is that it’s not really treating Angelica to be a better person on the grounds of just being a better person – it’s basically telling her to be a better person or you end up with no presents. Which is already pretty pointless because she already did get a present – the aforementioned reindeer doll Prancey. She didn’t like it at first, but obviously grew to like it. So, yes, if you’re a bratty little sack of reindeer crap, you do indeed get presents. Maybe not the one you wanted, but it’s far better than–

Hermie: “We give the good kids lots of toys and give the bad ones lice!”

Yeah, lice……Wait, what?

AVAHS - Rugrats babies in toyland part 2 image 3
Prancey is adorable, though….Man, I’m sure on a reindeer cuteness kick lately.

Plus, she’s guaranteed to get a bunch of stuff ‘from Santa’ from her parents.

Back with the adults, their plot literally resolves itself off-screen. They’re still trapped, but they learned to stop fighting, stop being angry about missing Christmas with the kids, stop worrying that they’re going to die from lack of oxygen, enjoy the rustic charm of the cabin, focus less on the Mega Corp stuff and commercialism of Christmas and have a nice Christmas together all doing various things like baking, making popcorn garland, decorating the tree and doing origami…..off-screen. Too bad every single scene in these two episodes has been everything but padding or else they could’ve had time to show all that.

They seem like they might get back to being Christmas grumps when Chaz accidentally sets off the sprinkler system and soaks everyone and everything, but, like before, when they return to the scene later, everything is mostly dry and they’re right back to singing carols and enjoying the holiday. They keep cutting out the most important parts of this subplot. It’s driving me nuts.

In the actual plot for the babies, they’re lead by a goat to a nativity scene, which in my opinion, is pretty much the only part of this special worth its salt. The babies all feel bad for the baby Jesus because he looks cold and itchy, barely clothed in a bed of hay. Though I don’t know why they’re not questioning why this baby is sleeping with his eyes wide open and isn’t moving at all.

AVAHS - Rugrats babies in toyland part 2 image 4
Baby Jesus went on to become a wonderful mime.

They believe Mary, Joseph and the wise men are all hoping the baby has a good first Christmas or else he won’t get any others, like Dil. In an effort to give him some semblance of a good first Christmas, they give the baby Jesus the special Christmas gifts they got from the Nutcracker battle. As soon as I saw they kept those things, I knew they’d reincorporate them, but the way they went about getting them and the fact that the items are totally random pieces of trash makes it seem like this was thrown together sloppily.

Lil gives her ribbon that she got from a ballerina robot, Phil gives a shoe that he took from that same robot, Chuckie gives the big walnut he got from the Nutcracker, Kimi gives a bell she got from the Mouse King and even Dil gives the hat that he got when it flew off of Angelica’s head (the same one she essentially stole).

Then the Jesus doll smiles.

……This is meant to be really cute and endearing and everything….but this is kinda creepy. Rugrats is known for the babies taking normal things and perceiving them as living or something else because they have such an active imagination. The Nutcracker battle, for example, kept switching back and forth between watching the robots fight to watching a real battle between mice and nutcrackers.

AVAHS - Rugrats babies in toyland part 2 image 5

They’re doing this with the Jesus doll…..but I just can’t shake off the creepy feeling. It’s not like they’re imagining the baby Jesus as a living, breathing baby now, fussing around like Dil does – they’re imagining the same doll just with a smile now. The smiling doll is cute, but the shift is what makes it creepy. It doesn’t even make sense with the way their imaginations work.

I will give this scene major props, though. They manage to make a mostly endearing and adorable scene of pure good will, kindness and charity, involving a nativity scene, and not shoving anything overtly Christmas-y or even religious down our throats – and this is coming from a Christian who loves having schmaltzy Christmas-y messages shoved down my throat.

With Lou, he takes up the Santa role since the last one quit, and pathetically dresses up for the job with nothing but his regular attire plus a Santa hat and a beard that is way too loose-fitting. It’s hanging so low on his face, it would never fool even the youngest child. He is being a good Santa, though, so I’ll give him that. He hears that six babies are riding a goat to the nativity scene so he rushes out on a sleigh and retrieves them.

Close by, he spots the cabin the others are trapped in and I almost facepalmed when I saw it from the outside.

AVAHS - Rugrats babies in toyland part 2 image 6

The snow is somehow only piled up around the cabin despite the snow machines being a fair distance away from it and the snow being spread out in a circular pattern. The only way to achieve this effect would be if there was only one snow machine and it was on the roof of the cabin.

They also don’t bother trying to open the window to climb out despite the fact that the snow barely reaches halfway up the window.

AVAHS - Rugrats babies in toyland part 2 image 7

In the end, Chuckie says Dil had a pretty good Christmas with or without presents because they had a lot of fun together. Angelica shows back up and somehow has a sack of gifts despite not being given one at the end of the ‘it totally happened’ acid trip. She kept the elf hat, but there was no sack of gifts. Angelica happily gives the babies their gifts. Chuckie gets a new snowsuit, complete with his trademark Saturn design, because his old one ripped during the Nutcracker battle. Kimi gets a glockenspiel….and she somehow calls it that instead of a xylophone, which is weird.

Yeah, they’re different, but most kids wouldn’t know the difference and much more commonly know the xylophone. How they mutter mispronounced words all the time but she manages to say ‘glockenspiel’ nearly perfectly is almost comical. Phil gets a new pair of snow boots. Lil gets a magic princess wand.

AVAHS - Rugrats babies in toyland part 2 image 8

Tommy doesn’t want to open his gift until Dil does (Tommy, you really are the best big brother) However, there’s, for some reason, nothing for Dil. I’m confused. If this bag is from Santa, there’s no reason why Dil wouldn’t get a gift. His name is even confirmed to be on the list from Angelica’s acid trip. If the bag is just something she put together herself, she wouldn’t say it’s from Santa and would’ve remembered Dil. Unless Santa wanted Angelica to give up her reindeer doll to make her story arc come to a head, I dunno.

Angelica tearfully yet happily gives Dil the doll and then prompts Tommy to open his gift. He says he already got his gift since all he wanted was for Dil to have a good Christmas. Then he offers his gift to Angelica since she doesn’t have a gift (you’re killing me, Tommy.) Angelica rejects it and tells him to open it. It’s a new camera, which may or may not be an intentional nudge at his future film career in All Grown Up. It’s a regular photo camera, not a video camera, so I can’t be certain.

The kids are reunited with the parents and they spend the rest of Christmas eve hanging out in the cabin.

AVAHS - Rugrats babies in toyland part 2 image 9

The end.


This special really didn’t need to be two parts, but at least most of part two was pretty good. Most of the plot with the adults didn’t have enough development on screen to have a strong impact, but it got the message across effectively enough.

The storyline with Angelica was poorly handled. Not only does she pull a complete 180 just because a song basically told her to be nice, but she magically gains a sack of toys from nowhere so we can wrap up the plot better. It is implied that the acid trip dream was real since she still had the elf hat and Santa does his tropey fly overhead in the last shot of the episode, but how and why did the warehouse instantly change back and forth to the mechanical representation? Please don’t say ‘magic’.

Like I mentioned, there was never any part where Angelica is handed a sack of toys and told to go deliver them for Santa or even saying ‘you’ll know what to do’. She just gets a sack of toys from nowhere and claims it’s from Santa.

Angelica was being a selfless girl at the end, especially giving up her reindeer for Dil and refusing to accept Tommy’s present as her own, but it loses a bit of its impact when you remember her parents will just shower her with everything she ever dreamed of at home. She doesn’t know that, so maybe it redeems her, but it was still a bit of a sloppy way of quickly changing her ways, which won’t even matter because Angelica is still a huge bitch after this even in All Grown Up.

The plotline with the babies was a good deal of padding, but for the most part the threads of it held together pretty well, even if I think it was also handled a tad sloppily. I did really enjoy the nativity scene…scene. It was definitely the best part of the episode, particularly with how unique it is. I can’t think of any Christmas special that has a scene even remotely similar to that. It was a very sweet and cute segment that didn’t seem forced or preachy. They weren’t even really giving their stuff over because it was Christmas, they legitimately felt bad for the baby.

All in all, this was an enjoyable Christmas special, but nothing fantastic. It had its funny lines and moments, but not enough to truly make the episode a must watch on Chrsitmas. It also had its touching moments, but only in part two. Tommy in particular is being a big sweetheart.

In all honestly, part two can be watched almost entirely on its own and it’s instantly made into a much better special. You could easily cut some fat from this and insert some exposition from part one to clean this up. The special is certainly worth watching, but it’s so hard to justify the 44 minute long cumulative runtime.

AVAHS – Rugrats: Babies in Toyland Part 1

AVAHS - Rugrats babies in toyland part 1

Plot: Charlotte has become the new CEO of Megacorp, and Stu has been contracted out to design and build a massive mechanical Christmas wonderland. Everyone is invited to come down on Christmas and enjoy the attractions in a private gathering before the kids are able to meet Santa. However, Angelica’s on a Christmas warpath to meet Santa first and demand all of the good presents before anyone else can get one. Tommy’s more preoccupied with making Dil’s first Christmas a great one, but Angelica tricks them into believing that Dil will never have another good Christmas if he doesn’t get a good present from Santa in his first year. They’re not that worried until Angelica drives Santa into quitting. Is Christmas ruined for everyone?

Breakdown: Babies in Toyland was a special I watched but wasn’t all that interested in. Despite being a Rugrats nut for most of my childhood, I admit, I never got too into the later seasons. Right about when they got a new theme song was when I started to fade out. I believe that was when I started getting more interested in Pokemon and anime as a whole.

Plus, it was getting that ‘we’re clearly running on fumes’ stink. That smell usually comes from the inclusion of many new characters. Dil was an alright addition and gave more depth to Tommy’s character. Kimi was also alright, but really seemed like a female Tommy. They didn’t really utilize her much as a new layer to Chuckie’s character in making him a brother. Kira never added anything to show besides making Chuckie’s life a little less sad, neither did Spike and Fifi’s puppies or Lulu. Before I rewatched this special, I legit forgot that Lulu even existed.

For some reason, Babies in Toyland is a two-parter Rugrats special, which I can’t make sense of. Rugrats has a decent library of holiday specials, all of which are better than this episode and all of which are merely one episode (technically two since Rugrats was usually split up into eleven minute segments. Meaning this special is actually taking up four ‘episodes’.) Considering this was right when Rugrats was starting to teeter off in popularity, I have to wonder why they’d give them a two-part Christmas special.

The only way I can figure it is that they knew the holiday specials were some of the most well-received episodes of Rugrats. In an effort to get more steam out of them, they stretched what would’ve easily been a singular episode special into two parts.

Let me highlight one of the biggest reasons why this doesn’t work as a two-parter. The to-be-continued cliffhanger is the babies approaching a giant nutcracker……..that’s it. They closeup on the nutcracker’s face, it’s not moving or doing anything…..and bam ‘to be continued’

The setup here is a bit interesting because it’s almost like they’re about to make this one of Stu’s big screwups on steroids. They’re surrounded by things he’s invented and, if you know Rugrats, you know it basically means they’re in a death trap. How the hell a multi-billion dollar corporation like Mega Corp hired a man like Stu in the first place is beyond me. They show that he literally holds parts of his machine together with paper clips, and should even one of said paper clips fail, the control panel bursts into sparks and causes a blizzard that could kill the people in Christmas Land in a matter of moments.

This wouldn’t be a big issue since most adults would just leave, but remember, this is Rugrats, meaning these dumbass idiots are always letting their babies run loose or leaving them with Grandpa Lou, who I’m starting to believe has baby-induced narcolepsy at this point. He obviously falls asleep, allowing the babies to escape, and when he wakes up he believes Lulu (his new wife) took the kids and left him hot cocoa, despite the fact that she went on the train with the others, no one else is seen returning, she didn’t leave a note or anything. The babies could be kidnapped and he’d be none the wiser.

Angelica is notorious for being one of the biggest animated bitches this side of media, but she seems like she’s turning up the obnoxious evil bitchery up in this episode. Being all pushy about seeing Santa and hilariously acting like she deserves all the best presents because she’s ‘worked so hard at being good this year’ is one thing, but lying like that to Tommy and the others about Dil was just evil for no reason. Angelica usually lied to the babies because it would benefit her in some way. Sometimes she was a bitch for the sake of being a bitch, but she mostly used her lies to manipulate the babies into either doing her bidding or getting her something.

I do find it funny that Angelica’s such an irritating slab of brat that she makes Santa of all people quit, but I think it would’ve been much funnier if the Santa was real. That doesn’t really mesh with the Rugrats universe, but it definitely would’ve been funnier. Plus, when they’re adding, in canon, a giant robot dinosaur being piloted by babies, having a battle in France against a giant robot snail being piloted by a Frenchman, I think we can justify squeezing real Santa in there.

There’s a subplot with the other adults that I don’t really care about. They visit some historically accurate cabin with animatronics (Yeah, that doesn’t make sense) and get snowed in by a blizzard caused by Stu and his dumb paper clips. The snow reaches six feet deep in about an hour, meaning if the babies were in the area they’d be long since dead by now. Good job, guys.

Lulu loves the cabin, but everyone else is bored or bickering.

In the end, the babies and Angelica, devastated that Santa quit, decide to look for the stash of Santa’s toys so Angelica can bathe in things she doesn’t deserve and Tommy can get Dil a good present for his first Christmas.

Despite not being terribly funny or even all that interesting, and clearly being stretched into a two-parter, there were some highlights. I love Tommy in this because he’s such a great big brother. He doesn’t care at all that he won’t get presents this year – he just wants a present for Dil to ensure all of his future Christmases are good. I liked that Chuckie offered to give Dil his blocks and pretend they were from Santa. That just shows what an awesome friend and person Chuckie is. I also liked one line from Phil where he suggests bringing Angelica back a witch’s broom as a present.

May I ask one final question before we get to the second part? The babies have now been through several holiday specials…….how old are they now? Tommy should be at least three by now, same with Phil and Lil, Chuckie should be like five, Angelica should be six and Dil should be less annoying….Seriously, why is Dil not at least conversing with the other babies by now? At any rate, they should definitely be older than they are now.

AVAHS – The Year Without a Santa Claus

Plot: Rudolph the red-nosed—oops, sorry. Felt like I was stuck in a loop there for a minute. Santa, feeling like the Christmas cheer and good will no longer exists, decides to spend this Christmas nursing his aching body and resting rather than going to deliver presents. Will a Christmas without Santa be no Christmas at all?

Breakdown: …..Mmm.

After trudging through those two GoodTimes Rudolph specials, I felt we needed a return to form. A nice review of a good Rankin/Bass Christmas special is what we need to get our Christmas spirit back.

The Year Without a Santa Claus is a special I usually watch every year, at least when I see it on, but it’s not on my absolutely must-watch list. Still, I’ve watched it since I was young and have a nostalgic love for it.

Well, it’s been a couple of years since my last viewing, and, for some reason, this was one of those moments where I rewatch a special with a critical eye and end up not being sure of where I stand with it anymore.

The plot is solid enough, though questionable. Santa feels like no one appreciates Christmas or him anymore so he feels fully justified in taking the year off to nurse a cold he’s having. Sick Santa I can deal with, but the only reason he really feels like no one appreciates him or Christmas anymore is because some grumpy doctor started an impromptu rant session about how Christmas sucks, and Santa was surprisingly swayed by this argument.


The only reason I have an issue with this is because it seems out of left field without some event providing support for Santa changing his mind about this outside of ‘yeah, he’s right.’ Maybe preface the movie with last year and how the letters were more selfish or demanding or picky. Have him seeing more bad behavior and whatnot over the course of the year. Don’t just suddenly flip a ‘yeah, kids are little brats’ switch, especially from a character who never appears again.

What’s weird is how the people react to this. First of all, they somehow caught wind of the story that Santa’s taking the year off almost immediately after he makes the decision. This means that, not only do the people supposedly have proof that Santa’s real, but they also have a person on the inside feeding them gossip.

Second, despite part of a following song showing the kids deeply saddened by this news and even believing Santa to be dead, soon after the end of the song, we see a group of kids who all collectively give zero shits that Santa’s not coming for Christmas AND…..we learn that they don’t believe in Santa.

We all asked to be more contradictory for Christmas.

Uh….what? How do you go from stopping two people talking about Santa by saying Santa’s taking the year off to saying you don’t believe in him? How do you mourn the loss of Santa and then not believe in him? How do you have newspaper headlines about Santa with PHOTOS OF SANTA AND MRS. CLAUS and then not believe in Santa?

It’s really surprising that people really don’t seem to care that Santa’s not coming. Even if people have lost their Christmas cheer and good will, surely they’d be sad or angry about missing out on presents.

Another odd thing about the story is that it seems slightly disjointed. At the beginning, you’re kinda tricked into believing that Mrs. Claus might go out and do Santa’s job behind his back, which is actually a very interesting idea considering Mrs. Claus hardly ever gets to do anything outside of cater to Santa’s every whim. But then they scrap the idea after a musical number.

It’s also a bit weird that the song Mrs. Claus sings about being Santa includes lines like ‘anyone can be Santa’. The guy feels like no one appreciates him so straight out say that he’s easily replaceable.

Mrs. C, rocking the red coat.

Mrs. Claus sends out two elves, Jingle and Jangle, along with the most adorable reindeer ever, baby Vixen, down to earth to see if they can get some proof that Christmas cheer and good will is still alive and well in the hearts of the people.

Vixen, who has been dressed up as a dog (adorable!) gets sick from the hot weather in Southtown and is caught by a dog catcher. They try to free Vixen by talking to the Mayor, only to get shot down. The only way he’ll free Vixen is if they prove their Santa story by making it snow in Southtown, where it never snows.

They recruit Mrs. Claus and a kid they met, Iggy, to help them by talking to Snowmeiser, the creator of ice and snow and master of the north. They have to deal with the bickering of Snowmeiser and Heatmeiser in order to get it to snow in Southtown, so they decide to go to their mother, Mother Nature, to sort everything out. Snowmeiser makes it snow in Southtown while Heatmeiser agrees to not melt the snow and gets to bring summer time weather to the north pole – successfully confirming global warming and drowning Florida.

We hate each other but sing songs that are virtually identical barring some details and have a direct line to each others lairs with giant video screens.

Might I add that I love how Mrs. Claus and the others patiently wait as Snow and Heatmeiser finish their unprompted song numbers about themselves?

Meanwhile, Santa heads down to earth after figuring out what Jingle and Jangle were up to and meets Iggy, who was one of the kids who lost his faith in Santa and didn’t care that he was taking a vacation. Santa and his parents convince him otherwise with a very touching song and Santa goes off to free Vixen so he can take her back to the north pole, which he does, without the knowledge of Jingle, Jangle, Iggy or Mrs. Claus.

Despite the snow now being unnecessary for Vixen’s release, there was another condition of the agreement – giving Santa an official holiday so he can have a vacation. Just to keep score, Santa now has two official holidays. Most presidents don’t even get that.

Santa is happy that he gets to rest and relax on Christmas, but after a couple of days of rest, he realizes he’s making a big mistake. He gets sent a bunch of presents from the kids on Christmas eve, and he gets letters that show him how much he’ll be missed on Christmas day.


Guilt-ridden, Santa decides to make the flight and even publicly flies around greeting the townsfolk. Christmas is saved, hooray!

While Rankin/Bass specials are no stranger to odd additions to their films, the side-plot with Snowmeiser and Heatmeiser seems so out of place that it feels like it belongs in another movie.

Don’t get me wrong, I really like Snow and Heatmeiser (Snow’s better, but maybe I’m biased, being from the north), they have some funny interactions, very catchy songs and good dialogue, but I can’t help feeling like the plot of the snow could’ve been done better without them.

I actually wish this movie had been more down to earth. Maybe had Santa have a bad couple of years or something and send him down to earth on the off-season to see how much Christmas spirit is truly alive in the hearts of the people himself instead of sending Jingle and Jangle off to do it. That song that Santa sings really seems like it belongs in the third act of such a movie instead of the second act of this one.

And, really, what did Jingle and Jangle do that helped Santa recognize the Christmas spirit in others? They, or mostly Mrs. Claus, got snow in Southtown, but it’s not like the rest of the residents knew that was a sign of Santa….in fact, it really wasn’t, because he didn’t make it snow – the meiser brothers did.

Wait, what about the menagerie breaking loose?

It appears as though Iggy changing his mind about it prompted everyone else to start doing the same, even if he never shared these opinions with anyone else outside of his parents.

I will admit, the kids making presents for Santa on Christmas was really sweet. You never think of giving Santa anything but milk, cookies, and a higher risk of diabetes. However, it’s still bugging me that Christmas spirit is waning when they have solid proof that he exists, no matter how many aliases him and his associates use (such as the ever clever “Mr. Claus” (Pronounced “kl-ow-s.”). The fact that he feels free to fly around town, even landing and walking around to talk to people and wave to them, is also very strange. Santa could’ve solved all of his problems if he just did that to begin with if Christmas spirit works that way.

The wonder and magic of Christmas where Santa is involved is in the belief that he exists. Hearing reindeer hooves on the roof, seeing a puff of soot fall from the chimney in the dead of night, seeing the empty plate of cookies and glass of milk etc. I’m almost jealous of kids who still believe in Santa because I never really got to experience that level of belief in something so magical. I don’t really know why – I just never believed in him.

It’s all the more confusing when ‘Santa Claus Comes Tonight’ plays and you see Iggy hiding under his covers to not see Santa….spliced in with Santa flying around town, waving to people like he’s in a parade.


Another thing I have to point out about this movie is the animation. I already addressed the ‘stop motion is creepy, and Rankin/Bass productions are no exception’ thing, but I have never been more aware that I’m watching animated dolls while watching one of these movies. I don’t know if it’s the lighting or the fact that this special is so much more focused on human characters, but every scene screams ‘dolls’ and ‘stop motion’, which is indeed very weird of me to note considering this is stop motion with dolls, but let me explain.

When Rankin/Bass does specials with non-human characters, it’s much easier to get immersed in the environment and forget that these are models, puppets and dolls being animated, no matter how creepy or obvious the animation is. When you have nearly everyone in the special being human, it somehow breaks the immersion much more and makes the animation quirks even more apparent. It’s not necessarily bad, it just takes you out of the full experience a bit.

Look at Vixen, though! ❤

Where does that leave this special as a whole, though? Well, it has some very great and memorable songs that I would say are even better than the songs in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. That song about Santa is heartstring tugger all the way. I like the idea of the plot, Mrs. Claus, the meiser brothers and the adorable little baby Vixen, but I really feel like the execution could’ve been better. The set up is also pretty flimsy without stronger support as to why Santa suddenly feels this way.

Do I even need to bring up one of the most common criticisms of Santa? Dude, you work one day a year, but you need a damn vacation? I’m aware that he still has a cold and doesn’t do this for any compensation, but it’s still just one day a year.

Do his elves get any days off? I doubt it. They work their asses off all year trying to make toys for millions of kids, probably even through illness, yet they get no respect from the children of the world and no compensation to speak of outside of maybe a place to live. I can even bet they’re back to work on Christmas day to get the jump on next year.

All in all, I still very much enjoyed this special no matter the qualms I have with it. It’s sweet, humorous and definitely has its heart in the right place. I’m still not sure this is an unmissable Christmas tradition, but I would understand if it was or became as such. Like many of Rankin/Bass’s works, it just has a certain charm and warmth about it that you just don’t get today.