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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
What the…They’re Babies!
Outside of the babies easily scaling that fence, there wasn’t much in this area for either episode.
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.
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
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.
I’m not sure I’ll ever get off the fence about this show.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I’m gonna make Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer into a movie!
1998: “Uhhh, isn’t that already a thing?”
Yeah, but that was made in 1964. People who were kids in that year are old people now. We need to jazz things up a bit for the 90s. Say, did your precious 60s version have the northern lights depicted as fairies in silk robes?
Did it have an ice queen named Stormella?
1998: “Alright, that name’s just lazy.”
Did it have a polar bear named Leonard?
1998: “How is that relevant?”
Here, let’s talk about it in excruciatingly unnecessary detail.
1998: “I would, but I have to catch up on Pokemon. I might miss out on all of Ash’s character development.”
…..Trust me, sweetie, you won’t be missing anything for about a decade – and then they just reboot the franchise.
Welcome everyone to that other Rudolph movie that no one asked for and really no one ever wanted ever.
And a fond welcome to GoodTimes Entertainment – the animated Asylum of the 90’s. Alright, maybe that’s a bit harsh. The production values on GoodTimes movies never seemed to get Asylum bad (Dangerously close once, but we’ll address that another time), but the same skeevy production practices were similar. Namely in that GoodTimes had a habit of releasing movies that were based on stories that anyone could easily base a movie off of BUT that already had a major motion picture made of it (usually by Disney) so it would trick consumers (IE grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles who don’t know any better) into buying it, believing it to be the blockbuster hits. For instance, some of GoodTimes more notable works were Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Thumbelina, Sleeping Beauty, Pinocchio, Cinderella, Pocahontas, Sinbad and, well, *pokes title*
They not only had the same titles, but they also intentionally made their VHS covers to emulate the Disney movie covers. Their similarities were so stark that Disney filed a lawsuit against them and won. They now had to clearly print ‘GoodTimes Entertainment’ and their logo on the boxes to differentiate themselves more clearly, but the damage had been done.
GoodTimes was now largely known as a knockoff company, but that didn’t stop them from producing these kinds of movies since public domain is free game for anyone, no matter how massively successful some movies based on public domain works are.
In comes Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Movie. A film with a mouthful of a title made by GoodTimes in conjunction with Golden Books Family Entertainment. Yup. Those Golden Books. The gold leaf spined books from your childhood that are still going strong today – including adaptations of two Star Wars movies. *shrug*
But let’s wait. Reserve judgment. I am a fair person. Let’s go over this movie and see how it stands up, objectively.
The northern lights, portrayed as the aforementioned fairies, visit Blitzen and his wife, Mitzi, as they welcome their son, Rudolph, into the world. I have to ask, does Rudolph have a canon father? Because in the 60s version, Donner was his father.
We then get some of the most boring opening credits I’ve ever seen as we just watch snow fall on a faraway shot of some house while Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer plays.
And nothing gears you up for a movie more than hearing Richard Simmons is doing voice work for it.
Hey, who wants to hear the northern lights sing their introductions?!
1998: “Not me.”
I knew you did! This 15 second song break explains that the pink fairy is Aurora, the blue one is Sparkle, the yellow one is Twinkle and the pink one is Glitter. It never matters, so don’t bother remembering it.
I actually wouldn’t mind this as much if not for the fact that this did not, in any way, need to be a song break, and if the song didn’t end abruptly on a note that doesn’t sound the least bit like a finale note.
As Blitzen and Mitzi show Rudolph around Christmas Town and introduce him to snow, we get his ear-piercing, high-pitched shrill of a voice. You know when a kid is having a temper tantrum and they let out this scream from the pits of hell they keep locked in the back of their throat? Imagine that scream in a happy context and that’s Rudolph’s speaking voice. I was going to give this movie points for at least not having that terrible screeching noise that Rankin/Bass Rudolph had when his nose glowed, but if you’re just going to shift that sound to his speaking voice, why bother?
Blitzen starts having concerns over Rudolph’s glowing nose when his other reindeer buddies show up, Comet, Cupid and Dasher. Cupid has a heart on his forehead, by the way. I would complain more, but I actually like that there are different markings and colors for each reindeer. It’s easier to tell them apart. Blitzen, for example, has lightning bolts under his eyes like Ash Ketchum.
Blitzen tries to hide Rudolph, and I feel like this movie is shaming Rankin/Bass Donner a bit by having Mitzi chastise Blitzen for seemingly being ashamed of his son.
Despite a crowd gathering, no one actually makes fun of Rudolph’s nose and Rudolph doesn’t seem bothered by it. When you think Blitzen is taking them home because he’s embarrassed by Rudolph, he actually says he’ll fight the next person who makes fun of his nose. But no one did. It’s only natural for people to at least want to look at a reindeer with a 30 watt nose.
I like that they’re making out Blitzen to be much more understanding and loving of Rudolph, worried that Rudolph will be mocked as he grows up and not being a shameful ass like Rankin/Bass Donner was. They even have a song break about how great they think Rudolph (nicknamed Rudy….not sure how I feel about that) is, which is where we finally get at least a bit of actual mocking towards Rudolph. They don’t particularly say anything worse than ‘put a lampshade on it’ but just having an entire town sing about your nose would be traumatizing to the poor kid.
Two elves named Boone (voiced by Richard Simmons) and Doggle pick up Santa’s mail. They get all excited over a possible promotion to the factory floor….wait, not all elves are toy-making slaves? And being a toy-making slave in a factory is something you get PROMOTED to? Wow. Being an elf sucks.
They crash into Stormella’s (Voiced by Whoopi Goldberg) ice garden and flee the scene.
Blitzen and Mitzi bring Rudolph to the factory where we get another song break about the elves making toys for Christmas. It’s not terrible, but it’s about as memorable as that thing you forgot at the store earlier.
Stormella bursts in and starts icing the joint, furious that an elf destroyed her garden. In order to quell the attack, Santa (Voiced by John Goodman – Mrs. Claus is voiced by Debbie Reynolds, by the way. It’s not that important, but I really miss her) intervenes and asks the elf responsible to come forward. Boone and Doggle come forward, and Stormella demands to take them to her ice castle or else she’ll close off her ice bridge to the public.
Santa says ‘pfft, who cares? I have flying reindeer.’ and Stormella leaves in a huff—oh sorry, that’s the scene that makes sense. Santa still vehemently refuses, despite that being the only way across the Grand Chasm. Stormella says if anyone crosses the bridge, she’ll bring the worst storm ever to the village, destroying everything and ruining Christmas for good.
Later, when she’s alone, she says she looks forward to someone trying to cross the bridge so she can start the storm and shut down Santa forever…..Uh….lady…if you want Santa gone so badly, why can’t you start the storm now? Who cares if there was a condition to starting the storm? If you’re so powerful and evil, start the storm anyway if that’s what you really want. Villains with integrity rarely ever win.
The northern lights give another micro-song, this time just to tell us that a year has passed. Thanks, you utterly useless wastes of 1950’s fashion.
Mrs. Prancer starts…reindeer class? They explain that Santa picks his ‘flyers’ by holding a junior reindeer competition every year. Whomever ‘shines’ the best will be considered for a position on Santa’s team.
Rudolph proves to be loud and obnoxiously voiced even with a new voice actor for his older version. Like you’d expect, he’s made fun of for his nose. And, like in the other movie, it makes no sense to me that they’re saying he can’t be a flyer because his nose is red and glows. They are laughing WAY too much. It’s been a year since everyone’s found out about Rudolph’s nose – the ‘joke’ of its mere existence gets a bit old, guys.
Rudolph wants a normal nose, so he hides it in the snow and says he’ll stay like that forever. Yeah, no one will ever make fun of a reindeer with his face jammed in a snowbanking.
Santa: *looking at Rudolph’s glowing red nose* “You must be Rudolph!”
Rudolph: *completely seriously* “How’d you guess?”
Rudolph, please stop being stupid. At this rate, I’m going to have to make another Ash Ketchum reference and I’m only allowed three per review.
Santa gives Rudolph a nice scarf and tells him he likes his nose. +1 over Rankin/Bass Santa. Rudolph tells him about everyone mocking him.
Rudolph: “It hurts, your honor.” Your honor? The hell? He’s not a judge. That sounds so weird.
He believes he can’t be a flyer because of his nose, but Santa tells him everyone’s different and that he has a big heart. Song break time as Santa tells Rudolph that everyone’s important in Santa’s family, and Rudolph’s a part of that family. John Goodman’s singing this, so it’s alright, but the song is mediocre to say the least. Also, I’ll be addressing the animation later, but they very clearly show Santa talking/singing for about three seconds in the sleigh with no singing or talking actually happening.
This is nice and all, but that just begs the question, if Santa likes Rudolph in this version and everyone highly respects him (to the point where he’s called ‘your honor’) why can’t Santa just tell everyone to stop mocking Rudolph? They would most likely listen. I know Santa just met Rudolph, which is odd considering he’s a fawn of one of his flyers, but he must’ve heard about him and known everyone makes fun of him. And why are the elves, who have also been making fun of Rudolph, now singing along in this song of acceptance to him?
Another pointless and, at this point, friggin’ annoying micro song break by the northern lights to alert us that it’s now Christmas Eve and Santa’s heading out. Thanks. As Rudolph tries to get a better view of them heading off, we get understanding of where a good chunk of the budget probably went – Paul McCartney’s Wonderful Christmastime.
As they fly away, Rudolph starts talking to himself, imagining being the new reindeer on Santa’s team and making an acceptance speech about it. Really not making him anymore likable. If he’s not being annoying or stupid, he’s being embarrassingly awkward. He thanks his crush, a doe we barely know named Zoey. Even though the rest of the voice acting hasn’t been spectacular, Zoey’s is about as awkward as Rudolph’s imaginary speech. She doesn’t sound like she’s in the scene at all – she just seems like she’s whizzing through her lines without paying attention.
She accepts Rudolph for who he is and doesn’t care about his nose. They’re about to kiss under the mistletoe when Arrow, one of their classmates and son of Cupid, shows up. (Get it? Cupid’s arrow?) It should be noted that there’s someone else in Rudolph’s class with a heart shaped mark on their forehead, but Arrow has no mark yet is actually Cupid’s kid. I guess he could be his brother, but I feel like there was a miscommunication in the art department.
Arrow’s basically Ronno from Bambi, which is strange because his father’s namesake is the god of love. He makes fun of Rudolph and is trying to get in Zoey’s metaphoric pants. Here’s the thing, despite standing up for Rudolph and coaxing him into kissing her, Zoey says they’re only friends and even follows Arrow when he tells her to, even though there seems to be no reason for it. Give Faline some credit – when she went with Ronno, it was because he was obviously forcing her to go. Here, it just seems like Zoey really doesn’t want to be seen with Rudolph or is, for some reason, obligated to go with Arrow.
Rudolph gets all excited when Zoey looks back at him and yells out that she likes him, but again, dude, she just totally ditched you to walk home with Arrow. You might be able to argue that she left so Arrow would leave Rudolph alone, but leaving with him just gives him all the power in that situation. He got the last word, the last laugh and the girl.
The northern lights show up again to tell us yet another year has passed and Rudolph has been training the whole year for the junior reindeer games. Thanks for continuously breaking the ‘show, don’t tell’ rule of filmmaking in such a terrible and sloppy manner, you animated canker sores.
Zoey gives Rudolph her heart pendant for luck, and they all start the games, which begin with a race.
Arrow’s purposely crashing people but Rudolph manages to keep up with him. Arrow pisses him off by telling him Zoey’s only nice to him because she feels sorry for him, prompting Rudolph to shine his nose and temporarily blind Arrow, sending him crashing. Rudolph wins, but is disqualified for illegal use of a glowing red nose (that’s actually a rule?) and is banned from the rest of the games.
And, of course, Arrow wins by default.
Oh boy! I get to rant! Whee!
First of all, this is one of those irritating as hell times where an antagonist is clearly cheating, tons of people witness it, yet no one cares. Rudolph and Doggle even point out that he’s cheating, but don’t say a thing as Arrow’s crowned winner. He’s purposely crashing people – you can tell without so much as a question. Did Rudolph technically win illegally too? Yeah. And he shouldn’t win the race like that, but disqualifying him and not Arrow is ridiculously stupid and unfair.
Second, Santa and Mrs. Claus also agree that this isn’t fair yet Santa says the judge has the final say in this, not them. Uh, no. You’re Santa Goddamn Claus. You have the final say in everything. Even if you were just a spectator, if you feel something’s been done unfairly, you have a responsibility to speak up and ensure fairness in the competition.
Third, why the hell does Arrow win by default? If the first place winner is disqualified, the honor usually goes to the second place winner, who was Zoey. Arrow didn’t even cross the finish line from what we saw. It went number five, who was Rudolph, seven, who was Zoey, and four who was some other reindeer. Arrow was one and he never crossed.
Are you telling me he won because he was neck and neck with Rudolph before his nose glowed? That’s not how races work.
Zoey angrily tells off Arrow, saying he’s a cheater. So you know he cheated too…..TELL SOMEONE. There are several officials around you – say something!
Arrow doesn’t care, and Zoey says he doesn’t deserve to be a flyer because true flyers are brave, have character and true hearts, like Rudolph. To which Arrow responds.
Arrow: “Tch, but he has a red nose.”
Air tight logic, there.
It occurs to me that one of the more common design elements of Santa himself is a big red nose. It doesn’t glow and it’s probably due to cold, but it’s true.
Zoey: “I don’t want to be your doefriend anymore.” Wait, what the hell? She really was dating Arrow this whole time?…..Two-timing whore! Why would she be with him anyway? For over a year! She doesn’t even seem to like him. What is with this girl?
Rudolph, hearing his father refer to his nose as an ‘accident’, runs away, even though his father was actually trying to defend him.
We get another song break, Show Me the Light, which is a duet between Rudolph and Zoey. It’s alright, but fairly short and pointless. He’s lead to a frozen lake that seems to be bathed in rainbow light. Just when you think the northern lights might actually be useful to the plot, he turns away from it. ‘Show me the light….so that I can walk away from it.’ The northern lights actually do show up and light up a cave….that is literally ten feet away from him. Good job.
He tries to lie down for the night when he meets Slyly the fox – one of those characters who acts like a tough guy and picks fights, but is really an idiot a coward. To make things worse, he has a mobster accent.
One of the most pointless and annoying song breaks ever comes up next. It’s just Slyly trying to cheer up Rudolph by saying it could always be worse, and 95% of the song is just him and his creepy background singers saying ‘Remember, it could always be worse.’
Rudolph reveals his nose to Slyly and has a ball, completely unprompted, making fun of himself before he believes Slyly will. Whatever develops your characters.
Blitzen and Mitzi go to ask Santa to help them search for Rudolph. He thinks about it for a while when Zoey’s parents burst in asking Santa to help them find Zoey since she went off to find Rudolph. Santa immediately pops up and says he’ll send a search party out as soon as possible. Guess he didn’t like Rudolph as much as he let on.
Zoey tries to cross Stormella’s bridge to find Rudolph. Zoey, sweetie, please use your brain. If the only way over this chasm is over this bridge and Stormella hasn’t opened a meteorological can of whup-ass on the village, then Rudolph probably went a different way.
Stormella catches her and relishes the fact that she can now set that terrible storm that she could’ve created at any time without conditions on the village.
Did I say ‘damsel in distress plot’? Mmm that’s some grade A trope right there.
Rudolph and Slyly are ousted from their cave by an avalanche that was caused by ‘the plot said so’ and they travel to another cave owned by Leonard the polar bear – another one of those characters who sounds like a complete dumbass because they have to preface nearly everything with ‘duuhhhhh’. They trick him out, they make friends – it really doesn’t matter.
The northern lights finally make themselves useful as plot advancers and tell Rudolph that Zoey’s been kidnapped by Stormella. Rudolph’s the only one who can save her for some reason, because….his nose light….is full of love and….stuff?
Rudolph and Leonard cross the bridge and head towards the ice catacombs of the ice fortress without Slyly because he’s too scared. Gee, I wonder if this is the last we’ll see of him. I sure hope he shows up in a pinch moment to save the day out of nowhere because that would be unexpected. But what are the odds of that?
Stormella can’t see who’s crossing the bridge through her crystal ball thing because the light is blinding her view, and she just thinks the alarm is malfunctioning…..you’re telling me people could’ve easily crossed the bridge as long as they had a relatively strong light with them? You’re a horrible villain. And why is a polar bear wearing a snow hat?
Sorry. It was bugging me.
Zoey starts a reprise of ‘Show Me the Light.’ The song actually has a point this time because they follow her voice to find her through the maze, which wouldn’t actually work in real life, right? Don’t echoes within areas like that make finding people through sound near impossible?
They’re lucky Stormella’s too stupid to have guards set up in the prison, but they get caught by Stormella anyway. How she knew they were in there, I have no clue. The point is, now Rudolph and Leonard are imprisoned too.
Stormella: “That doe crossed my forbidden bridge, and now I’m throwing the storm of the century.”
Zoey: “But…but it’s almost Christmas! A storm will ruin everything!”
Stormella: “Hit it, Ridley.”
*Ridley appears on a turnstile piano behind the wall and starts playing the next musical number.*
*Stormella uses her magic to put on a different gown, change her hair, make a microphone and put a spotlight on her*
Stormella: “I get a certain thrill from every fallen snowflake.”
Nope, nope. Stop. Stop! Too many questions! Let me catch up!
First, how does ‘You’ll ruin everything’ instantly translate to a song cue?
Second, how long was Ridley waiting behind that wall? Did they rehearse this? Did she wake him up just to say ‘Hey, we have a musical number coming up’?
Third, why is there is a grand piano on a turnstile behind the wall of this dungeon? Does Stormella really like entertaining her prisoners?
Fourth, why are they taking the time out to sing a song right now if she’s so antsy to get her storm brewing? This is worse than monologuing.
Fifth, is there a ladder in her hair? That definitely looks like a ladder.
Addressing the song as a whole, it’s terrible and only serves the purpose of explaining two things – she loves storms and hates Santa. For no reason. None whatsoever. She just hates him. The song is literally titled ‘I Hate Santa Claus’, but she gives absolutely no reason why. Character motivations sure are hard to write.
Zoey: “Rudolph, you mean everything to me.” That’s why I was banging that complete jackass behind your back for over a year. Love youuuu!
Stormella starts her storm, and guess who shows up? Plot conven—Slyly! He gets the key from a sleeping Storme—sleeping Stormella? Literally ten seconds ago she was making her huge Santa-ruining storm and now she’s sound asleep in her bed? Who is editing this? And why would she fall asleep now? Wouldn’t she stay awake to watch her plan unfold?
They start to escape but Stormella wakes up and corners them. In an effort to save Zoey from her wrath, Rudolph shines his nose so bright that it temporarily blinds Stormella and knocks her off a cliff. As she hangs from the cliffside, she begs for help and Rudolph goes to save her. She’s a witch who can create storms, ice formations and evening wear with a flick of the wrist, but she can’t fly or use magic to help herself up?
Rudolph and everyone else, including Stormella’s wolves, pull her up. She’s very thankful and even lets them go, but Slyly says that since Rudolph saved her life, she owes Rudolph one wish – such are the rules of the north pole…..those rules would only apply to magical beings who can grant wishes….did they make this weird rule purely for Stormella and maybe Santa? That’s stupid.
He wishes for Stormella to be nice, and I’ll admit him responding to her resistances to his wish by just repeating ‘I want you to be nice’ over and over is a bit humorous. It works, but she can’t stop the storm.
They leave, but can’t navigate in the storm. Rudolph lights up his nose, but even though it lights the way, they still say they won’t make it home in the bad weather—wow, that kinda pokes a hole in the finale of the song, doesn’t it?
Never the mind because Boone and Doggle, who have been miraculously following them despite having no clues (yeah, they found Rudolph’s stuff in the cave, but how’d they find the cave? And how’d it lead them to the fortress?)
The ever-annoying fairies pop up again for another micro-song interlude just to say it’s storming and Santa’s holding a meeting. Thank you. Please shut the hell up.
Santa cancels the trip because of the storm, and Rudolph and the others show up. Apparently, Boone and Doggle’s snowmobile doesn’t have headlights (seriously, it’s the late 90s now. There’s no excuse for lack of headlights on vehicles.) and despite the fact that they were navigating the storm perfectly fine without them, they use Rudolph’s nose light to guide their way back home.
Blah blah, guide my sleigh tonight.
Zoey gives Rudolph a kiss before he leaves, just to solidify that they’re a thing now….I still think she’s a two-timing whore.
Can I ask a question? From all we’ve seen of Rudolph so far, he can’t fly. Afterall, if he could, he wouldn’t worry about falling from the cliff on two separate occasions at the ice fortress. Does the medal give him the ability to fly or is this something we’re just ignoring?
…..Something we’re just ignoring. Okay.
As Rudolph and the others make it through the storm, we get our last song, which is alright but….this is weird. I feel like the song is dated. The vocals, the music – it all sounds like a forgotten pop song from the Beetles era.
The next morning, everyone gets their gifts, including Stormella who didn’t deserve one. She’s been evil her whole life by choice and only became good by magic brain washing. Plus, she’s been nice all of 12 hours.
They return and the northern lights start singing the titular song. I don’t care what they’re singing – just make them go away. Also, it’s very weird that everyone knows the words to this completely new song. Did they rehearse this while they were away? Does this place have a popular theater department?
Bottomline: This movie was bad, but not as horrible as it could’ve been. Comparing it to the Rankin/Bass movie, I like Donner/Blitzen and Santa better, but that’s about it. Taking RB out of the equation, Rudolph’s annoying, the love triangle shouldn’t have been a thing, Zoey’s a two-timing whore who is literally only there to be a damsel in distress love interest, Stormella’s such a pathetic villain she might as well not even be one, and there were way too many useless characters.
The northern lights had no purpose besides being a one-time plot device and providing us with pointless annoying as hell song interludes.
Slyly’s only purpose was freeing them from the dungeon, which was predictable and could’ve been done in a much more clever way without his help.
Leonard’s only purpose was…..he………Leonard didn’t do a damn thing, did he? He was legitimately entirely pointless. Wow.
Boone and Doggle were completely useless outside of causing the event that made Stormella close the bridge and make the storm condition, but I already explained how pointless that was. They came for Rudolph and the others in the end, but that could’ve easily been written as Rudolph and the others merely walking home. It would’ve been a nice use of his abilities before he went off with Santa. They didn’t even get a promotion in the end, and they barely talk at all in the second half. Santa just says they did a good job in one line and we hardly even see them again.
Arrow was completely dropped as a character after the reindeer games. He never appears again. He gets no comeuppance, he never gets ousted as a cheater, he never makes amends with Rudolph or anything – they just forget he existed.
The conflict was such a non-conflict that they had to force conditional conflicts on it in order to make it a conflict…..that makes sense, right? Not to mention that the plot was resolved in a completely lazy manner. They literally wished the problem away.
Plus, remember that thing I noted in the Rankin/Bass Rudolph review? About how it kinda fixed the problem with the moral that the song had by having everyone change their ways and apologize to Rudolph for how they acted before he saved Christmas instead of making it seem like he only gained respect and adoration because his nose finally proved useful to society?
This movie keeps that problem.
No one apologizes to Rudolph when he returns or says they were wrong for how they treated him. No one really shows respect for him until Santa asks Rudolph to light the way on his sleigh.
You could argue that they changed their minds about Rudolph before then by him defeating Stormella, but there are a few of problems with that.
First, he didn’t so much defeat Stormella as he just magically wished her evil away.
Second, the storm is still occurring either way, so ‘defeating’ her ultimately did little to nothing.
Third, Zoey stepped on the bridge and caused the storm to begin with. And why did she step on the bridge? Because she was looking for….
RUDOLPH! Meaning he, by proxy, sorta caused the problem in the first place.
There are definitely worse things to watch, and it’s not like the movie is really pushing bad messages, but it’s very lazily written, isn’t that Christmas-y and there are much better things you could be spending your time or money on.
Voice acting: Slyly and Leonard were annoyingly voiced, Rudolph’s child voice was one of the worst things I’ve ever heard, and Zoey always sounds like she’s just reading from a script and is never really acting. Blitzen sounds awkward numerous times, but other than that, everyone’s just mediocre. The best actors here are John Goodman, Debbie Reynolds and Whoppi Goldberg, who at least sound like they’re trying a little bit.
Art and Animation: Both the art and animation are pretty bad. Some of the background art and landscapes are alright, but otherwise it’s just a lot of very simple designs that barely stay consistent when moving. The animation is obviously very cheap. It juts, the cycles are very obvious, instances of cross eyes happen constantly, and there is even one occasion during Santa’s first run where you can actually see the frames overlap. It really just makes you wonder what the hell they did with the $10 million budget they had. Oh yeah, getting big name celebrities just to sell the movie.
Not like that helped because the movie only got $113k at the box office…..Wow.
Music: The background music is horrible. There are a lot of cartoony trumpet noises and doofy music when the scene doesn’t call for it. Plus, the sound effects are sometimes odd or just non-existent. The lyrical songs range from alright to terrible. Show me the Light is the best one, but that’s not saying much. The inclusion of Wonderful Christmastime brings a bit more Christmas feeling to the movie, but it feels really out of place when there are no other songs like that on the soundtrack. The rest are original songs meant for the movie, outside of the obvious.
So 1998, what do you think?
1998: “I think I just wasted an hour and 17 minutes of my life.”
What does time matter to a year?
1998: “Don’t get philosophical on me after that.”
The good news is, you didn’t get the worst of it!
1998: “What? Really?”
Yup! Farewell, 1998! I’m off to 2001!
1998: “I better warn 2001…..Wait, where’d she get a TARDIS?”
Plot: It’s Xmas again, and Fry, Leela and Bender are sent to Neptune to deliver Santa’s letters to him. Sick of cowering in fear every year by Robot Santa, they decide to try and destroy him. Their plan fails, but they accidentally encase him in ice. With Santa imprisoned, Bender takes over the role, but will people rejoice at the sleigh bells of a kind Santa, or will Robot Santa’s bad rep be thrown in Bender’s face?
Breakdown: Strangely enough, this Chri—Xmas special is the one I watch every year, over it’s predecessor, Xmas Story. Maybe that’s not so strange, because at this point in the series the writers had gained a better footing with their characters and humor, which hadn’t quite been cemented as firmly back when Xmas Story was made.
I love this episode. It has some great humor, no real tropes and is entertaining from start to finish. It addresses a few questions that were left behind from the last special like, why isn’t it more common to try and kill Robot Santa? He does have a lot of firepower, but you’re telling me the army or national guard couldn’t handle him? Apparently, no, they really can’t. The only reason they caught Bender was because he didn’t have the guns, rockets, missiles or toughness that Robot Santa had. Though that does beg the question as to why so many people are quick to combat Santa when, from all we’ve seen, everyone should be cowering in fear.
Still, if he can be thwarted by ice, surely there would’ve been a successful effort in capturing him in the past 200 years.
This episode reveals Robot Santa’s workshop, which is cleverly put on the north pole of Neptune with a bunch of growth-stunted Neptunians working as his slaves. They even add in that there are other holiday themed Robots like Kwanzaabot, who, understandably, feels ignored, and Hanukkah Zombie, which is never shown or explained, but I am endlessly intrigued by.
It’s interesting how Bender is actually putting effort into being Santa because it doesn’t benefit him at all. He does give up after getting attacked a bunch of times, but who wouldn’t? It’s also weird how just putting on the Santa outfit makes everyone mistake Bender for the real Robot Santa – he looks nothing like him otherwise.
The special is void of heartwarming moments – it’s a purely comedic holiday episode, which is perfectly fine. Not every holiday special has to tug the heartstrings, and there’s more than enough comedy to make up for it.
Finally, the song of the special, The Elves’ Song, is catchy, but a bit fast and cluttered. Makes it difficult to be one of those songs that you want to sing every Christmas, but you can’t help but try to sing along when you’re watching it.
Plot: Frosty the snowman was a jolly happy soul. With a corncob pipe and a button nose and two eyes made out of coal. Frosty—Again, there’s no way you haven’t heard this song. You get it.
Breakdown: Surprisingly, this is one Rankin/Bass special I don’t watch very often. I guess because the story never interested me as much as some of the other Christmas specials. It’s even more cut and dry than Rudolph’s. He’s a snowman who came to life, started melting and then he had to go somewhere colder to stay alive. The song’s kinda long but most of it is padding. Not to mention, I don’t know what it is about him, but I never got too invested in the endearment of Frosty as a character. He’s nice, sure, but I find him a little annoying. Especially when he yells out ‘Happy birthday!’ when he’s brought to life. It wasn’t funny the first time, it’s not funny the second or third times.
Even the voice acting is a bit of an off-key aspect to me. Jimmy Durante as the narrator and Jackie Vernon as Frosty just never sat well with me…..Boy, I’m complaining a lot more than I thought I would.
They extend the story for a film version, like Rudolph, but they couldn’t even get half the time (25 minutes) without it really seeming like it’s dragged on.
Not to mention they added an antagonist in Professor Hinkle who really isn’t wrong in his pursuit. He’s wrong to nearly kill a kid by letting her freeze to death unless she handed him a damn hat, but they act like they’re entitled to steal his hat because it made Frosty come to life. Even the narrator agrees that the hat is rightfully theirs.
A quick rundown of the story – Professor Hinkle is a failed magician who is putting on a show for the kids in school for the Christmas party. He sucks, and the kids go out to make a snowman during recess.
They have the snowcrafting skills of gods because they somehow mold an anthropomorphic snow person instead of a traditional snowman. He can even stand on two feet with that big belly. Hinkle’s hat accidentally lands on Frosty’s head by his rabbit, Hocus Pocus. He’s brought to life for a brief moment before Hinkle takes his hat back. The kids are indignant, but can’t do anything about it because they’re kids. Hocus Pocus returns the hat to Frosty, though, and they have a fun day together.
Frosty starts to melt and they decide to take him by train to the north pole, which defies all laws of everything. One of the kids, Karen, decides to join him. They hop a train since they can’t pay for the $3000 impossible magic train ticket. Frosty stays cool in a refrigerated car, but it makes Karen slowly freeze. Hinkle hitches a ride underneath the train to pursue them.
At a stop, Frosty hops out and tries to save Karen, but instead of going to the town they’re clearly close to and finding her shelter and warmth, they go into the snowy tundra of the woods and wander aimlessly while Frosty, the man made of snow, carries her. Frosty, your heart’s in the right place, but she’s going to lose her toes. Put her down.
Hinkle tries to get off too, but ends up crashing down a mountainside and gets snow plopped on him. And if the sound effects are any indication, the snow was made of pans.
Frosty, the anthropomorphic snowman, does not possess the ability to make a fire, so he enlists the help of woodland creatures to do it. I get that he can’t be near fire but surely he can make one then back away once it’s going. Snow doesn’t melt that fast.
Frosty and Hocus decide to enlist Santa’s help in getting Karen home and him to the north pole. However, Hinkle shows back up, blows out Karen’s fire and attempts to get the hat back again. Frosty and Karen manage to get away and conveniently end up in front of a greenhouse. Frosty, instead of just letting Karen down and allowing her to walk in the greenhouse by herself, carries her in quite a ways, allowing Hinkle to easily trap them inside when he catches up.
Santa flies overhead and stops because….I actually don’t know why. He and Hocus find Frosty as a puddle in the greenhouse with Karen sobbing over him. Santa cheers her up by saying Frosty was made out of Christmas snow, and that kind of snow never goes away, even when it’s melted. He demonstrates how special the snow is by opening the greenhouse door and allowing the chilly air inside, instantly transporting the puddle outside and molding Frosty back to the way he was, button nose, broom and corncob pipe and all. Karen’s about to free us of the cold demonic stare of Frosty’s dead black eyes until Hinkle pops back up to get his hat back.
Santa stops him by saying if he tries to take the hat back, he’ll never give him another Christmas gift. I don’t know why he’d be getting them anyway. He’s clearly a naughty person. He even describes himself as an evil magician. Santa tells him to go home and write “I am very sorry for what I did to Frosty” a hundred zillion times in order to get his gift. If Hinkle asked for Carpal Tunnel and hospitalization for exhaustion in trying to complete this impossible goal, he’ll certainly have a merry Christmas.
Hinkle agrees, Frosty’s brought back to life and Santa returns Karen to her house….leaving her on the roof….with no method of getting down….good job, Santa. Also, her parents probably aren’t home since they likely formed a search team to find their lost daughter. He leaves for the north pole with Frosty, bringing him back every year in the future so he could reunite with his friends.
Despite my nitpicks and complaints, I do see the appeal of this special, and I can get how this would be adopted as an annual Christmas tradition. I’ll watch it every few years or so, but it just never caught onto me as a must-see Christmas special. It also neglected to address something that I always wondered about – where did they get this hat? I know it’s Hinkle’s, but where did he get a legit magic hat?