AVAHS – Nickelodeon’s Doug: Doug’s Christmas Story

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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: AVAHS Doug's christmas story 1 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.

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.

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 arsed) 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, which I find illogical because some of those dogs had to be legit threats but whatever. Porkchop gets an adorable hat and everyone has a merry Christmas.

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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.

Animating Halloween: Doug’s Bloody Buddy (Disney’s Doug)

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Plot: It’s Halloween again in Bluffington, and Connie has developed a new hobby of spreading rumors. One of her newest rumors is that there is a bat master at the school who will control the bats within the bell tower. Doug spots Skeeter going up into the bell tower and soon everyone suspects that Skeeter is the bat master; a vampire!

Breakdown: Alright, now, Disney’s Doug wasn’t as prevalent on my radar. Since it only aired on ABC’s One Saturday Morning, usually around the time other things were playing on other channels, I didn’t follow it as much as Nickelodeon’s Doug. I followed it enough to know the major events and changes between versions, but I didn’t have as much of a stake in it as Nickelodeon’s Doug.

So this is an episode I just flat-out don’t remember, and it’s entirely possible I never saw it. And that might be a good thing because this episode was pretty stupid.

Every kid in town is convinced that Skeeter is a vampire with nothing but Connie’s stupid lies and some circumstantial evidence to back up their claim. Everyone starts avoiding Skeeter like he has the plague, leprosy and BO, and even Doug starts staying away from him, leaving Skeeter all alone for days and on his Halloween party.

Let me go over the ‘proof’ that Skeeter is a vampire. He went into the bell tower. He had bat food in his locker. Connie’s stupid rumor about a bat master. That’s it. That’s all they have. They even throw in legit proof that he’s not a vampire, like saying he walks around in daylight just fine, and no one believes that evidence because idiots like Roger state that that type of lore is probably just a lie to help conceal themselves in public.

I’ve seen plenty of shows with similar plotlines (Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet the Wolfman is one, though they ended up being right) and they usually have the decency to try harder with the evidence.

For instance, they could’ve seen Skeeter drinking from a blood bag but it was really just a prop for his vampire costume filled with Kool-Aid or something. They could’ve had him freak out over eating something garlic and say he’s allergic or just really hates it. They could’ve seen him sleeping in a coffin that was another prop for his party and costume. They somehow could’ve set it up to have Skeeter not give off a reflection in something (Checking his reflection would’ve been a quick and easy method of disproving this whole thing). It’s vampire lore, it’s not hard to replicate realistically.

And really, if they believe all of the bats are vampire bats, under the command of a vampire, why do they need bat chow? They’d drink blood.

It’s all so stupid, even for a bunch of kids. And poor Skeeter ends up feeling like a friendless loser, even without his best friend, Doug, all because of this crap.

To be honest, Doug and the others are a bit too old now to be believing in vampires, especially with such flimsy evidence. If Doug’s birthdays over the course of the series so far is any indication, he should be 13 right now.

I can actually forgive Doug for going along with this because he lets his imagination run wild with everything, plus mob mentality and whatnot. It’s an asshole move to ditch Skeeter, but he’s a bit nutty in the head, so you can give him a bit of a pass. And it’s pretty solidified that everyone else in Bluffington is crazy or stupid, including the adults such as his father, Phil, who reacts to his questions about vampires by giving him the sex talk (yes, really). However, I blame most of this whole thing on two people.

First, Patti should be the voice of reason here. She’s almost always the sensible one and she never really seems like she ever believes Skeeter is a vampire in the first place. Sure it’s difficult to talk down a mob, but she at least should’ve hung out with Skeeter when she saw he was all alone or went to his party when she realized no one would be there. Or, here’s a thought, she could’ve talked Doug down from this vampiric ledge. But no. She did nothing.

Second, Connie is the biggest one at fault here because she started this whole idiotic rumor and knew from the start it was a bunch of lies, but she never speaks up and tries to quell the whole mess when she sees Skeeter suffering. She not only lets it happen, she purposely makes it worse and keeps it going by building on the rumor and spreading it further.

Why is anyone even believing Connie anyway? Her rumors all sound stupid and easily debunked like saying Skunky Beaumont was grounded until he was 21. Gee, that could be cleared up by just asking him if that’s true.

She only fesses up when it’s proven that Skeeter’s not a vampire, which is so far past too late it’s ridiculous. And can I ask what caused the jump between being a ‘bat master’ and being a vampire? I mean, yeah, vampires are closely related to bats, but the rumor was specifically about just a person who could control bats, which isn’t the same. They never had any reason to suspect anything actually vampiric about the guy. All they proved was that Skeeter was doing something with bats. The end.

What was he doing with those bats you may ask? The school was having a bat problem and the maintenance guy for the building, Mr. Crushy, was afraid of bats. To save Mr. Crushy some anxiety and to save the lives of the bats, he went up to the bell tower, captured them safely and released them into the park. He said it was for a science project, but I don’t see how.

So yeah, Skeeter was doing a kind deed for a person and a bunch of bats and his reward is to be shunned by his peers and temporarily losing his best friend. Nice, guys. Real nice. Oh and go to hell, Connie.

There’s also a side-plot that is entirely useless except to maybe give Connie some comeuppance. She convinces the crazy band teacher that there’s a spy for the Bloatsburg band floating around planning to sabotage them so Mr. Fort goes on lockdown and initiates Plan B, which is a convoluted plan involving lasers and traps to release a bee in front of the Bloatsburg conductor to make the band mess up. Like some sort of lackluster Looney Tunes sketch.

She also waits until the very very very last minute, IE when the Bloatsburg band was already playing, to reveal to Mr. Fort that she lied, even though she had plenty of time to warn him beforehand. He can’t stop Plan B in time so she gets in some vague trouble for that.

Go to hell, Connie.

This whole special is just not entertaining or funny. It’s extremely clear to the audience that Skeeter’s not a vampire, so everything the kids are doing just seems really mean. There’s no reveal of a ‘real’ monster at the end of the episode like the Nickelodeon Halloween special, and even the costumes this time around were lame. Let me compare costumes between specials. N for Nick, D for Disney

Doug: N – Race Canyon

D – A jar of paste (no I’m not kidding)

Skeeter: N – A cool collapsible rocket

D – A vampire

Roger: N – A mask/bandit maybe?

D – A knight (okay, this one’s an improvement)

Patti: N – A cat

D – A pencil (if I wanted to read into this, I’d say Doug chose to be paste so he and Patti could be some sort of dumb stationary theme)

Connie: N – No Costume because apparently Halloween’s for children and 11 years old is so not a child.

D – A pair of lips with braces on the teeth.

*sigh* The Nickelodeon Special may not have been brilliant, but this one’s just dumb. And there’s still one more Disney’s Doug Halloween special….One that I cannot find anywhere, so I can’t even review it. *huff*

Animating Halloween: Doug’s Halloween Adventure (Nickelodeon’s Doug)

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Plot: Doug and Skeeter gear up to go to FunkyTown’s latest attraction; a haunted house called Bloostone Manor. While Doug is initially excited to go, especially when he’s going while dressed as one of his heroes, Race Canyon, he becomes more and more scared as people talk about how scary it is. He stalls going to the park by trick-or-treating and getting to the park so late that the line is so long that making it to the front before closing would be very hard. Lo and behold, they make it to the front just as the park closes.

After one of the park employees leaves, the door to the haunted house opens and Doug, Skeeter and Roger go in. They enjoy the various thrills and scares of the ride until the ride suddenly shuts down due to the park closing. Trapped in the haunted house, Doug and Skeeter lose track of Roger and slowly start believing that the place truly is haunted and that Roger is in trouble. While Skeeter wants to leave as soon as possible, Doug continues to try and find him.

They’re shooed away by what seems like the real maniac of the mansion but as Doug realizes that he’s being a chicken again, he gathers up his courage and faces the maniac to find Roger. Surprisingly, the maniac is more than willing to lead the two boys to the security control room where he shows them video footage of Roger setting up a prank for the two, leading up to a finale where he and his cronies will egg them when they leave. The maniac helps them set up some sweet revenge, and Roger and the others run off. Doug and Skeeter are very thankful for the help of their new friend, until he reveals that he’s a real ghost. Despite the bravery of the night, Doug and Skeeter run home screaming.

Breakdown: I watched Doug an awful lot as a kid. I remember watching the movie in theaters, buying the VHS and always being annoyed by the fateful question “When will Doug Kiss Patti?”

Looking back…..I don’t know why I loved it so much. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t find the show to be bad or even aged badly….I just……I don’t understand what held my attention so much. When you look at them, the plots and stories of the episodes are really milk toast and there aren’t many jokes that are all that good. Hell, there aren’t many jokes period. It’s mostly just living day to day life with people who are basically really normal outside of their skin colors that feature every color of the rainbow and more. Plus a crapton of cutaways to Doug getting lost in fantasies, delusions and to an extent hallucinations.

I don’t even remember many episode plots outside of one episode where Porkchop ran away and one episode where Judy…started dressing and acting weird? I’m sure if you gave me a plot synopsis I’d remember a good chunk of the episode right away, but off the top of my head? Probably nothing.

Is it just because, in a flood of 90’s craziness, Doug was a sense of normalcy? Of relatability? I did relate a lot to Doug’s overactive imagination, and my mannerisms were somewhat similar to Skeeter’s. I can also relate a lot to liking someone and just never getting the nerve to do a damn thing about it.

Hm….Oh yeah, review thing.

The first part is fairly boring with Doug just stalling going to the park. Also, apparently, both he and Skeeter think they’re too old to go trick-or-treating…….dude, you’re both 11 years old. I have 20 year olds coming up to my door looking for their Halloween handouts. You’re well below the threshold of acceptable trick-or-treating age.

When they finally make it to the ride aspect, it’s a bit interesting. Parts of it are actually really interesting material for a haunted house ride like shoving riders with a moving wall into what seems like a bottomless pit of spikes when the floor they’re standing on is actually glass. And the next room has the maniac of the mansion telling them to sit down to dinner and eat when the food is alive. Then the ride turns into a typical tracked ride with pop up ghosts and skulls and stuff.

Them being trapped in a haunted house ride is also a pretty interesting set up. Some of the time it seems like something supernatural could actually be occurring in the house yet the other half is filled with various theme park aspects of the ride like finding prop rooms and control panels. It allows the plot to hang in the air that maybe there could be something weird going on, but it could also be explained away through logic.

I will admit that Roger’s prank even kinda fooled me for a minute. However, from the instant that you meet the maniac, you know exactly how it will end. And I gotta say, while the revenge on Roger and the others was pretty nice, the whole ‘the maniac was a real ghost the whole time’ just makes no sense…or it’s just stupid.

The story behind Bloodstone manor is that a guy with a name I won’t try to spell loved a woman very much. To show his love, he spent 11 years building a huge mansion for them to live in. After it was complete, he carried her wedding-style over the threshold only for them to fall to their deaths. See, he never built a floor.

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I get that they’re trying to be funny there, but even that makes no sense. They didn’t install a floor?…..did they also install no foundation? Did they also dig a bottomless pit below the mansion as they were building it for some reason? The house is on a hill. What is going on?

So not only does the ghost of the guy haunt the place for all eternity for some reason (and not his lover because….pfffftttdunno) but his house was bought by Funkytown, moved to Funkytown and was gutted and turned into a theme park ride by Funkytown. And he still haunts it for some reason. He forces people to leave the ride, yet people still go there and he seems fine with it. But he’s really a nice guy who likes helping kids as long as they show some cojones to stand up to him at least a little. I just don’t get the story behind this guy.

All in all, this was a fairly entertaining episode. While the ghost’s whole existence and story is just dumb and confusing, it’s a fun little Halloween special about facing your fears…..though, to be fair, Skeeter was the one literally dragging him away and Doug just suddenly says he’s being a chicken and running away. If we saw him struggle more with the fear instead of Skeeter, this lesson would have more weight.