AVAHS – Lloyd in Space: Cheery Theerlap, Lloyd! Review (Hanukkah Special!….Kinda!)

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Plot: Droimatz is everyone’s favorite holiday. People give gifts, sing songs, eat delicious foods and spread holiday cheer. However, Lloyd’s people celebrates a different holiday this time of year – Theerlap – so he feels awkward around everyone else as they prep for their Droimatz pageant.

In an effort to be respectful of Lloyd’s culture, they offer to have Lloyd put on his version of the Theerlap story for the holiday pageant. Problem is, he barely knows anything about the holiday nor has he ever really celebrated it. When he asks his grandpa about it, he’s extremely disappointed to learn that Theerlap’s origins and customs are boring, so he worries he’ll look foolish at school. He creates an “improved” version of the story for the pageant to liven things up without realizing how disrespectful it is to his culture and his grandpa.

Breakdown: I did it! I found another Hanukkah special!……Kinda!

Yeah, this isn’t directly a Hanukkah special, but it is obviously implying that Droimatz is Christmas and Theerlap is Hanukkah.

It’s also highlighting something that the other Hanukkah specials really haven’t focused on much and that’s the awkward feeling Jewish people, especially kids, might have when everyone around them is celebrating Christmas and they’re not.

Being completely clear, I’m not Jewish, so I won’t speak for any Jewish person’s experiences, but I imagine it’s not terribly uncommon for Jewish people, again, particularly children, to feel this way around the holidays.

Although, considering Lloyd barely knows anything about Theerlap and has seemingly never celebrated it, I do have to wonder why he and his family never just decided to join in on the Droimatz stuff. Even Lloyd’s mother admits that she never much cared about Theerlap and never bothered getting into the tradition because she was rebellious. She doesn’t even know enough about the holiday to tell Lloyd simple things about it like the origin story or what songs they sing – she really doesn’t care even now. So why is Lloyd acting like Droimatz is something he can’t celebrate because his family celebrates a different holiday? It’s not like they can’t celebrate both either. Unlike Hanukkah and Christmas, there’s no conflicting religious basis to consider.

Also, they DO make Theerlap seem significantly goofy in comparison to Hanukkah. The story goes that some guy named Nimrod left the door to the food supply hut, also known as a theerlap, open, which spoiled all of the food except for some gross salty fish cakes. The villagers lived on those cakes for six days until the supply rocket came in with food from the grocery hub.

The end.

They never say that the villagers would have died if the rocket didn’t get there soon or if there was only a small amount of those cakes left to feed the villagers, so feeding them all for six days was very improbable, just that they were inconvenienced to have to eat one type of food for six days. I get that that’s not the point, but I feel like they could have made the effort to make the holiday seem more special and worthy of tradition instead of something so inconsequential.

Kinda makes you want to side with Lloyd in the realm of not wanting to explain Theerlap to a bunch of people jazzed on a holiday that seems pretty identical to Christmas. I always found Hanukkah to be a really interesting holiday with a great history, so this seems a little…I won’t go far as to say offensive because I can’t speak for any Jewish people watching this, but it’s at least iffy.

All of that aside, I did enjoy this episode much more than I did the pilot episode of Lloyd in Space I reviewed way back when. You understand where Lloyd is coming from, but your heart breaks for his poor grandpa who is in the audience watching this utter destruction of a holiday and part of his heritage that means a lot to him. He was SO happy that Lloyd wanted to learn about Theerlap, but Lloyd just crapped all over it.

When Lloyd gets ousted in front of the whole school, during the pageant no less, his grandpa explains that the holiday isn’t about excitement – it’s about remembering and celebrating their ancestors; the people who made future generations like him possible.

Lloyd finally gets it, and they all have a quiet Theerlap celebration at home. Lloyd even offers to read some of the Theerlap story as they enjoy their briny cakes and spend some quality time together.

I found it rather poignant that they zoom out of this shot to show an external shot of the space station and we see all of these Droimatz decorations. Among a sea of decorations focusing on a holiday they don’t celebrate, Lloyd’s family is perfectly content celebrating their culture’s holiday at home with each other because it’s not about the spectacle or excitement, it’s about family.

I think this is a pretty solid ‘Hanukkah’ special that most people would enjoy no matter if you celebrate Droimatz or Theerlap.

Sadly, however, I think this time I am seriously out of animated Hanukkah specials.

Have a Happy Hanukkah everyone!

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No, I still won’t review Eight Crazy Nights. No. Even I have limits.


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AVAHS – Rugrats: Chanukah

 

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Rating: 9/10

Plot: It’s Chanukah and the babies are trying to figure out exactly what it is. While Boris prepares for a Chanukah play, he feels overshadowed by a longstanding frenemy, Shlomo, who enjoyed plenty of business success while Boris was busy with his family. The babies assume that Shlomo is a ‘meanie of Chanukah’ after mis-hearing Boris talk about Shlomo ruining the meaning of Chanukah. They believe the only way to save Boris from the meanie is to put him down for a nap. All the while, the babies learn about the story or Chanukah and the miracle behind it.

Breakdown: One of my favorite things about Rugrats was that it would sometimes take somewhat more mature topics than the norm and give us a baby’s perspective on it, not only allowing younger audiences to gain a better grasp on the topic but also making said topic quite funny.

This is one of the shining examples in Rugrats as we go through the story of Chanukah, both directly and from a baby’s point of view, and we get the babies’ plot in the episode which takes the topic and makes it very funny.

The fact that the babies are trying to ‘save’ Grandpa Boris from ‘the meanie of Chanukah’ is funny enough, but the ways in which they try to do it are even funnier. The adults are given a bit of a stronger role here, allowing us to also see the situation from an adult’s perspective, which is just the babies goofing around like babies. It’s actually funnier now that I am an adult. The instant shift from the babies going towards Shlomo like they’re facing a huge threat to Shlomo seeing a bunch of babies dancing around in a pillowcase, babbling and waving around a book is a great example of this contrast.

I also like how Shlomo wasn’t made out to be a complete jerk. His story is actually a suddenly depressing shift in the episode. He and Boris have been at odds for years because Boris always thought he was upstaging him with his business success.

However, in a twist, Shlomo says Boris has always been upstaging him with his family. Boris believes Shlomo never had a family because he was too busy with his work, but he reveals that his now deceased wife simply never got pregnant. It can be assumed that she was unable to bear children. Shlomo wanted a family, but he could never have one. All he had was his business, and now he has no one to share his Jewish traditions and the celebration of Chanukah with.

You really feel for the guy after only a few lines, and that’s pretty damn good. I also appreciate that he got a happy ending here, and hopefully Shlomo celebrated many other Chanukahs with the Pickles’ family after this.

You simply don’t get many Chanukah specials. I mean, a character might state that they’re Jewish and celebrate Chanukah in a Christmas episode. It may even be a subplot to a Christmas episode. But rarely do you ever see a full-on Chanukah special, especially for a kids’ show.

While I am not Jewish, I feel like this special really does Chanukah justice. It’s a full celebration of not just the holiday but the traditions and history behind it, and it doesn’t skimp on the quality of the writing at all.

This is such a good special that I try to watch it every year around the holidays. It’s become a classic to me, and really the only criticisms I have are with the tiny subplots of Angelica wanting to watch A Very Cynthia Christmas and Stu trying to build a huge decked out menorah for Boris’ play. They’re just predictable and not very funny side-plots, but they don’t really ruin the flow of the episode or anything.

HAPPY (albeit late) CHANUKAH!

Recommended Audience: E for everyone!