Plot: Around Christmas, Porkchop seemingly attacks Beebe and injures her leg, which causes him to be detained by the authorities. Porkchop will be put on trial for his crimes, and Doug’s the only one with any faith in his buddy. Can Doug save Porkchop, or will the Funnies have to live every future Christmas without him?
Breakdown: There aren’t too many classic holiday specials that I actively avoid…..but this one of them. Not because it’s badly written or unmemorable or because there are bad messages in it – on a technical level it’s about as good as Doug ever got. My problem is….Holy crap, it is so depressing. Most of the episode has Doug worried sick that Porkchop’s going to be put down for what he did and listening to a bunch of people badmouth Porkchop when all he was trying to do was save Beebe’s life.
Even when they skew back to Christmas stuff, like showing that Doug got Porkchop for Christmas when he was a little kid or that Porkchop gave Doug his signature journal, it’s depressing because it just reminds you that Porkchop’s in a high-security dog prison awaiting a trial that might result in him immediately being euthanized. And I’m not exaggerating or giving the ‘real world’ take on what would happen in this situation – Doug actually imagines that this Christmas will be spent at Porkchop’s grave.
The story goes that, as Doug and his friends are playing hockey at Lucky Duck Lake, Beebe fails to notice a ‘Thin Ice’ sign that Porkchop is able to notice and read. As the ice starts to crack and open up around her, unbeknownst to her for some reason, Porkchop grabs her the only way a dog can grab something, with his mouth (though it’s been shown that he is frequently bipedal and has front legs and paws that basically act as human arms and hands. See exhibit A: So, yeah, logically, this story kinda falls apart already.) He grabs her leg with his teeth and pulls her into thicker ice, subsequently saving her life.
However, Beebe’s leg is injured, and everyone interprets the event as Porkchop having randomly attacked Beebe, because I guess they’re also too stupid to read the sign or even notice the gaping hole in the ice mere feet away.
They call animal control and take Porkchop away, leaving his fate to the decision of a court. The incident gets wildly sensationalized, and the entire town turns on Porkchop, refusing to sign a petition to save him. The news is even making ridiculous recreations of the event where Porkchop is a rabid bulldog who grabs Beebe and whips her back and forth like a ragdoll.
Doug tries to talk directly to Beebe, but Mr. Bluff, her father, refuses to let him into the hospital room and doesn’t give a crap about Doug’s dog. Why is she still in the hospital? I doubt such a bite would even cause initial hospitalization. They’d probably fix it up in the ambulance – at worst they’d take her to the hospital to get an x-ray done.
Even Beebe later admits that the bite didn’t hurt, yet they put her in a wheelchair, put her leg in a cast and stuck her on crutches. If they’re saying he has the strength to fracture or break her leg, let alone that he did it with such a weak bite, bullshit. Mr. Bluff seems like he and his legal team are purposely dressing this up to make their case stronger. I don’t know why. It’s not like they’re getting any money out of this. The only result will be a dead dog.
What’s worse is even the judge seems like he’s biased against Porkchop because he refuses to let Doug cross-examine Beebe and even urges the audience to cheer for Beebe for being such a brave girl. This is such bullshit. There are victims of rape who get cross-examined so harshly it embarrasses and further traumatizes the hell out of them and they don’t get cheers for their bravery.
Doug asks if Porkchop can tell his side of the story, and the judge mocks him asking how he’s going to do that since no one speaks dog……..Well, then why the hell is this trial even happening? You can’t have a fair trial unless both parties are able to communicate their sides. If you won’t let Doug cross-examine anyone and you can’t hear Porkchop’s side, the whole trial is completely one-sided.
For some reason, this reminds me of that one episode of Family Guy where Brian violates the leash law and is about to be put down so he studies a bunch of law books and preps to represent himself. When it’s his turn in court, he starts an eloquent opening statement, and then the judge goes ‘Wait, why are we listening to him? He’s a dog! Take him away!’
What’s even worse is that, according to Doug’s speech, Porkchop’s been a saint to nearly everyone in the courtroom. He babysits, he lends people money, he saves the hair of the balding, he fixes cars, he helps people rebuild burned down houses – and he even did something amazing for the judge. His daughter was in accident that robbed her of her ability to walk and Porkchop taught her how to walk again. And under the judge’s own admission, he barely helped her himself.
(Also, how can you ask how Porkchop can communicate at all since he’s a dog, but apparently he has enough communicative abilities to help a little girl learn how to walk again?)
How the hell do you forget all of these things and immediately turn to massive town hatred? It would be more understandable if it was a case of a regular dog and just saying ‘Oh it was such a sweet dog who must’ve snapped for a minute because of natural instincts.’ But this is an anthropomorphic intelligent dog who seems like he’s smarter and more valuable to society than his owners and most of the people in this town.
It takes Porkchop having to save her a second time, this time when she’s actually drowning in freezing cold waters (and I guess because the crowd of people mere feet away can’t be bothered) in order to finally convince them that he was saving her and not attacking her.
I’d just like to point out that Patti has a keen enough eye to notice and recognize the pine cone they were using as a puck on the day of the incident, but is too stupid and blind to see the ‘Thin Ice’ sign floating in the giant gaping hole….and, oh yeah, they’re all too stupid to notice the GIANT GAPING HOLE. I even have to call out Beebe here, because she’s heading for the same spot with the hole right there but she also won’t notice the danger. I wonder how many bodies are in Lucky Duck Lake due to lack of sign awareness.
Of course, everything ends up being okay. Porkchop has the charges dropped against him and is even hailed as a hero. Mr. Bluff put on a huge party for Porkchop and all of the dogs of the pound, and the former Mayor White used his radio show to find homes for all of them. Porkchop gets an adorable hat and everyone has a merry Christmas.
An aspect of this episode that I neglected was Doug’s struggle throughout this whole ordeal. Like always, he approaches his problem with a lot of fantasies and some crazy schemes, but this time he’s upped the ante and even reaches a point of burnout. He has all three of his main dream versions of himself, Smash Adams, the James Bond character, Quailman, the superhero persona, and the Indiana Jones spoof, Race Canyon, meeting inside of his head to help him with Porkchop throughout a good chunk of the episode. However, their ideas always seem crazy, and eventually it gets to a point where they’re all so much in conflict with each other that Doug refuses to escape to his fantasy for help coping with this anymore and relies on himself.
This is a pretty big deal for Doug because, like I said, he almost always relies on fantasies for ideas and support in whatever challenges he faces, to the point where you’d believe he could really use a psych eval and some therapy, but this time the challenge is so great and the stakes are so high than he forces himself out of the fantasy and faces everything on his own. This is even mirrored a bit in Doug’s face as the trial goes on. He gets lines under his eyes that either convey exhaustion, great concern or both.
And, in the end, it really was Doug who saved the day. He had to be Porkchop’s voice and convince everyone to do whatever they could to understand what really happened that day. Without him, Porkchop would be dead.
Like I said, this episode is not badly written – In fact, I’d say it’s one of the better written episodes of the entire series, and it’s definitely one that stands out when I think of plot lines of Doug offhand. My issue with this episode has always been the tone. It’s a dark and depressing episode that you almost forget is set around Christmas most of the time. Of course, as adults, we know they’d never kill off Porkchop, especially in a Christmas special, but as a kid, I was worried sick about the fate of Porkchop. No matter if the ending was happy or not, watching the episode still always soured my holiday mood.
It doesn’t help that, like most Christmas specials, they only aired this episode around the holidays.
All in all, I’d actually recommend this episode, but if you’re anything like me, don’t watch it around the holidays.
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