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 – Pepper Ann: A Kosher Christmas Review

AVAHS - Pepper Ann A Kosher Christmas

Plot: Pepper Ann is lucky enough to get to celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas every year – Hanukkah with her mother, and Christmas with her father. She loves them both, but becomes very stressed when she believes her parents will force her to choose between the two holidays.

Breakdown: Pepper Ann is what you’d get if you mixed As Told By Ginger with Lizzie McGuire and maybe threw in some Doug. Despite watching Pepper Ann quite a bit when I was younger, I’d struggle to think of any episodes I remembered. I always liked watching Pepper Ann so I’m not sure why its stories haven’t really stuck with me over time.

Maybe it’s just because Pepper Ann as a character can be a little on the annoying side because of how self-centered she tends to be, or maybe the stories were rarely all that interestin,g or maybe the extended cast didn’t lend itself all too well to standing out among a slue of objectively better casts. No matter the reason, there’s always one reason to go back to Pepper Ann – it’s catchy as hell theme song.

I know I had to have seen this episode back when it first aired, but I honestly don’t remember it.

But, hey, thank god I finally found another special to cover that has Hanukkah in it. And Kwanzaa’s mentioned! So….yay!

Pepper Ann has it pretty good. She is able to celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas since her (divorced) parents each celebrate one holiday. However, after she bungles the school holiday diversity play when trying to play representatives of both Christmas and Hanukkah, she believes she overhears her parents saying she needs to choose between the two holidays with Christmas day being the deadline.

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She struggles with the decision though never thinks to actually ask either of her parents about it directly. Each holiday has so many good things about them that she ultimately can’t choose.

She tells her parents as much, and, of course, they reveal that they were never going to make her choose between Hanukkah and Christmas. They were actually talking about Pepper Ann’s grandma choosing a doctor because they didn’t know which one to call when she was hyperventilating at Pepper Ann’s play due to a mouse.

Thus nothing was ever at risk and nothing really changed. Pepper Ann did learn a lesson about the holidays being about family, but…it’s not like she never knew this part. Family was near the top of her lists for both holidays as she was trying to weigh their benefits against each other. In fact, when we see her eating a holiday meal with her extended family, in the midst of them squabbling and complaining about ailments, she gives a small smile and writes family down on her list in that moment, so she even realizes that family is a benefit of the holiday even when they’re behaving like that.

Meeting a few homeless people was a part of her decision, but don’t be fooled – there’s much less weight to that part than would be given in any of the aforementioned shows that I said seemed like they were inspirations for Pepper Ann.

Pepper Ann has been pestering her friends all episode to help her choose, and when Milo halts her for a second to introduce the homeless men at the soup kitchen and explain that they lost their jobs, she tucks the list away and leaves……then it’s right back to choosing.

Speaking of pestering, Pepper Ann is pestering her friends for the entirety of this episode. Pestering Nicky and Milo to run lines with her after she insists on playing both Christmas and Hanukkah in the holiday diversity play (Not only is it unfair to play two parts, but 1) How were Christmas and Hanukkah not taken before she was able to ask? All the kids chimed in to ask for a holiday, and no one said either of the two most popular winter holidays that entire time. 2) It’s REALLY unfair to have one person play the two most popular holidays.) Pestering Nicky and Milo to help her choose between Christmas and Hanukkah several times. They have their own holiday problems, but Pepper Ann always forcibly redirects the conversation back to her when they try to discuss anything else.

Speaking of Nicky and Milo, their plots are a little more interesting than Pepper Ann’s. Nicky is a very generous person, and she takes it upon herself to spend her holidays thinking more of others than herself. She’s giving up her presents for the sake of giving them to the less fortunate, she’s gathering cans for the soup kitchen, she donated her lamps to charity, she’s volunteering at the soup kitchen etc. Her parents are also donating some of her stuff without her permission and any time anyone sends her a gift, it’s a notification that a donation has been made in her name to a charity.

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However, we slowly start see her cracking with how overly generous she’s being, especially with Pepper Ann squawking in her ear about the struggle of choosing between two holidays.

It’s pretty interesting because most people want to make a charitable effort, especially around the holidays, but it’s hard to admit when you’ve gone overboard because you’re worried you’ll come off as selfish. The resolution to this is convoluted, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

Milo’s plot is that he was planning on going to Hawaii to see his dad for Christmas, but was unable to go, so now he’s spending the holidays working as a delivery elf for his mom and step-dad’s muffin basket business. He’s very bummed about not being able to go to Hawaii and even more about needing to do this degrading job, but he never loses his Milo attitude in that he’s very open and humble.

He instantly makes friends with, hangs out with and plays games with some homeless men from the soup kitchen.

All three of these plots are more fully ‘resolved’ when, out of the blue, a news station gifts Milo a free trip to Hawaii for spending Christmas at the soup kitchen, which is just mind-blowingly ridiculous for several reasons.

1) He DIDN’T spend all day at the soup kitchen. He was making a delivery to Nicky and stopped to take a break. He at least had to have been spending all morning making deliveries and I can’t imagine he stayed too much longer. Even if he did, he would’ve been playing games with the homeless men not doling out soup.

2) It’s pointed out, but how did they not realize Nicky was actually spending all day there? Milo does give his trip to her for her work, but how lazy was the reporter to not notice this?

3) A free trip to Hawaii for going to a soup kitchen on Christmas? You might want to notify thousands of other people about that offer.

4) Speaking of which, when the gift gets passed back to Milo and Milo calls Nicky family, the news anchor not only extends the invitation to both of them since they’re family, but she further extends it to Pepper Ann who butted in to declare that she was also family. And then they FURTHER extend that to each of their extended family members. What is this news station thinking? Was the news anchor fired for this? That trip must’ve cost a fortune.

5) Pepper Ann didn’t deserve that trip. It’s nice that she went, but Milo had justification for going and Nicky earned it. Pepper Ann had a very superficial conflict in this episode, so allowing her to go to Hawaii too just seemed a little unfair.

But, hey, all of their family gets to go too so I guess it’s not too bad.

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…..However…

6) How insulting must it be to be one of the people in that soup kitchen to hear that someone won a super expensive trip to Hawaii with around 20+ guests for spending ONE DAY in the soup kitchen when these people are, ya know, homeless. With the money used to finance that trip, imagine what could have been done for the soup kitchen or another charity.

I really liked how they (literally) balanced Christmas and Hanukkah here. Neither holiday is ever once given more weight than the other and that’s sooo refreshing considering how some other Proud Family specials that shall not be named failed so miserably in doing that with Kwanzaa. If there’s any good Pepper Ann’s list actually did it’s in highlighting all of the goodness in both holidays equally. We got to see her playing with the dreidel, eating latkes and remembering the story of the miracle of Hanukkah, and then we’d see her chopping down a Christmas tree and singing carols. It’s very well done.

They dinged Hanukkah a couple of times by showing that Pepper Ann hates blood pudding and didn’t care for getting socks as a present, but I don’t think that’s too bad. It’s either a preference or typical kid stuff (I love getting socks as gifts now. I even ask for them. Socks are awesome)

As a holiday special, I think this one’s just okay. It won’t give you the warm fuzzies, and it’s not particularly funny, plus Pepper Ann’s a bit too self-involved and abrasive in this episode, but it was an enjoyable ride and something I’d recommend for people who celebrate either holiday or both.


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AVAHS – The Futurama Holiday Spectacular Review

AVAHS - Futurama Holiday Spectacular4

Plot: A series of three short stories where Fry and others celebrate the three main holidays of the season – X-mas, Robonukkah and Kwanzaa.

Breakdown: I honestly wasn’t even aware that Futurama had a third holiday special, so I was really looking forward to this. However, I was ultimately disappointed.

This episode is split up into three different holiday specials to cover Futurama’s versions of Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, and even though I applaud them for getting some inclusion in because, damn, it’s really hard to find Hanukkah and Kwanzaa specials, all three stories are pretty much exactly the same thing and only barely focus on anything holiday related.

The first story focuses on X-mas and how Fry doesn’t feel like it’s really X-mas without an actual pine tree. Like we’ve been told in previous Futurama holiday specials, pine trees have been extinct in their future for hundreds of years…..But not really. There’s actually a reserve of pine tree seeds in a special vault that houses old plant seeds. Why they never tried to replant pine trees, I don’t know.

The reserve is right next to a germ warfare repository. They kinda make it too apparent that there’s cross-contamination happening between buildings, and they do it so blatantly that I know they’re doing it as a joke, but it’s not landing with me for some reason.

Fry takes a seed and plants it outside of Planet Express. The next year, it has sprouted into a decently-sized sapling that they decorate for X-mas. However, whatever bacteria had infected the seeds causes the tree to grow abnormally fast and shoot off pine cone grenades that cause a massive chain reaction. It takes mere moments for the entire planet to be absolutely packed with pine trees.

However, because there are so many trees, the oxygen levels go up too high. Bender lights a cigar, lighting the oxygen ablaze, and the entire planet goes up, killing everyone.

The end.

AVAHS - Futurama Holiday Spectacular

No, I’m not kidding. And, believe it or not, that’s pretty much the exact same structure each story follows.

Setup for holiday, song about holiday, (thing) is necessary for holiday, but we don’t have it. Go to get (thing) Getting (thing) causes everyone to die. Reset for next story.

For example, the next short is about Bender celebrating Robonukkah, which his coworkers accuse of being a made up holiday (that runs for six and a half weeks) that he invented to get off work. They reference some things about actual Hanukkah and make the fembots that come in Jewish stereotypes, but that’s about it.

Bender explains that part of Robonukkah is the oil, but not lantern oil – petroleum oil; for the sake of fembot oil wrestling. He only has enough oil to last for four and a half weeks of wrestling, however, so he goes to find more.

Petroleum oil ran out ages ago, and Bender won’t accept one of the main substitute oils, claiming it’s not proper to the holiday. The crew agrees to dig deep underground for some small deposit of oil and Bender forces them to dig too deep, making the ship collapse under pressure and they all die except Bender. 500 million years pass and the crew turns to petroleum oil, allowing Bender to celebrate Robonukkah. When he returns to Planet Express, he sees the fembots still wrestling and marvels in the miracle that was four and half weeks worth of oil lasting for 500 million years.

This story was the worst to me because, even though Bender can certainly be an asshole, here he’s amped it up by 10,000% and all for the sake of some holiday he might have made up. He not only gets all of his friends killed for petroleum oil when there are so many other oils available, but he only barely cares about their deaths and is perfectly willing to scoop up their remains to use as his fembot wrestling oil.

And the others are being ridiculously stupid here, too. Leela even points out how dumb it is that they’re risking their lives so Bender can watch fembots oil wrestle, but no one ever puts their foot down.

I’m also disappointed because they have referenced actual Hanukkah in Futurama with the Hanukkah Zombie, who later becomes an actual, albeit brief, character with the other future holiday symbols (voiced by Mark freakin’ Hamill no less!) but instead we get this.

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The final story focuses on Kwanzaa. Yup, no fancy future name for it. Just Kwanzaa. They do very briefly go over some aspects of Kwanzaa during their song, which is the same thing every other story has been doing, and Hermes utilizes Umoja (unity) to help resolve the conflict of the episode, but that’s about it.

Hermes and his family invite everyone over for Kwanzaa, but Kwanzaa-bot points out that their candles aren’t beeswax candles, which are necessary for the holiday. Hermes goes out to get beeswax, but finds the bees on earth are infected with some parasite that’s making them fail to produce wax and honey, causing them to die off.

They decide to head to the space bee hive that Fry and Leela nearly died in several seasons ago. However, the bees there are all suffering from the parasite too. They’re basically Birdemicing themselves to death and the ones who aren’t exploding are too busy fighting each other to work. Hermes briefly preaches the Kwanzaa lesson of Umoja to the bees, somehow freeing them of the parasite, and the bees kill them all by encasing them in wax and making them into their own Kwanzaa candles.

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This special as a whole is just so disappointing. Don’t get me wrong, there are some good jokes in here, but overall it’s just sloppy and lazy. Even the songs come off like they put very little effort into them.

Like I mentioned in a previous Futurama X-mas special, I’m not against the idea of a holiday special being purely funny with no warm fuzzies to be found. In fact, trying to instill that sense of warm holiday goodness can often come off as disingenuous if you don’t do it properly. However, this episode isn’t even funny. Outside of some quick one-off jokes that, at best, made me quietly chuckle, these stories are so sloppily written and bland that I was losing interest before we even got to the half-way mark.

I also think the three story format hurts this special a lot. None of these plots really have the potential to be full episodes, and the endings basically ensure that all of the stories are completely non-canon to begin with. However, the fact that all of these stories are so short and follow the exact same beats make it very repetitive and boring.

Each story has its own song to explain the holiday, and each song is very forgettable and lackluster. They are practically sleeping through each musical number. The best one was the Kwanzaa song, and they got Coolio for that one, but even that song’s not great.

I’m so bummed because the other two Futurama holiday specials are so much better than this, and the two songs that they each had were very memorable and fun to the point where I frequently sing both around the holidays. The first one had emotional substance while the second had much stronger humor. This one has nothing, and that’s a real shame.


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Merry Christmas, Everyone!

It’s Christmas!

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Merry Christmas, everyone! And happy Hanukkah and Kwanzaa!

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I hope the spirit of the holidays is injecting you full of grade A pure holiday cheer. Or eggnog. Though I don’t think you should be injecting that straight into your body. You might just want to try drinking it.

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Edited for more Vulpix adorableness:

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AVAHS – Kim Possible: A Very Possible Christmas

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Plot: The Possible family is gearing up for their big Christmas celebration and Ron believes the best gift he can give Kim is an uninterrupted Christmas with her family. So, when an emergency arises, Ron takes it upon himself to take care of Dr. Drakken’s latest plan. He’s, surprisingly, successful in foiling the plot, but Drakken and Ron accidentally send Drakken’s air ship plummeting to the ground at the North Pole. Kim realizes that Ron is missing and with the help of Wade she searches the globe for him to no avail. Will Ron and Kim be reunited for Christmas, and are the holidays ruined despite Ron’s good intentions?

Breakdown: Another favorite cartoon of mine as a teen was Kim Possible. One of the first ever animated crime-fighting shows I was exposed to where there was a kick-ass female lead. Granted, it seemed like they purposely made Ron a bumbling fool to equal the scales on stereotypes, though. I love Ron, don’t get me wrong, and he definitely has his moments, but most of the time he’s relegated to causing accidents or having his pants fall down. Plus, this was the first Disney show that broke the ‘four seasons/100 episodes only’ rule.

This Christmas special is one I can go without watching every year, but is still a good special. The Possibles, despite also seeming to have that weird Christmas special tradition of ‘decorate and do everything for Christmas that should be planned/done before Christmas on Christmas’ thing, do a hell of a lot for Christmas, which I guess should be expected of them. I got kinda jealous. I have to prod my parents to do a lot of Christmas stuff, but they have a whole day and night loaded with holiday festivities.

It’s a nice gesture of Ron to go do ‘superhero’ stuff to give Kim a quiet Christmas at home, even if Wade should’ve had the forethought to stop him since, well, it’s really a terrible idea. Ron really only succeeded in his mission because Shego wasn’t there. She took Christmas off to vacation at the beach.

Some more points that I enjoyed/thought were minor but sweet;

Kim crying due to not being able to find Ron. She’s usually pretty stonefaced in the crying department, and it was nice to see her crack her shell a bit more when her best friend is missing and might be hurt.

Drakken saving Ron from the polar bear. They don’t even mention him doing it, but he clearly pulls Ron away from the bear when they notice it behind him. And Drakken’s heart grew three sizes that day.

Drakken and Ron bonding over Snowman Hank. There is a very old Christmas special for kids (in this universe) that is called Snowman Hank, and Ron loved watching it each year as his own little Christmas tradition yet was devastated when he found it was canceled in lieu of some x-treme snow sports show called X-treme X-mas. Now, most of the old beloved Christmas specials I grew up on are still airing on Christmas, like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and A Charlie Brown Christmas, but this is actually kinda ironic because this very episode is one of those ‘lost Christmas specials’ to me. If I didn’t have the Internet, my Christmas would be partially barren of these old special episodes.

Drakken and Ron have always seemed similar, just like Shego and Kim have a lot of similarities, and I liked when they decided to start a truce to just have their own little Christmas, celebrating Snowman Hank, in their hollowed out and decorated trash pod. I especially liked how Drakken said with a big sincere smile “Come the New Year, this truce is over. I’m going to open a bag of freak on all of you!”

Kim’s family following along was also a nice touch. It’s emphasizes that the holidays are also about being together with your family, even if they’re fighting a giant anaconda in the Amazon.

There’s a highly noted moment in this episode where Kim kisses Ron on the cheek because, of course, mistletoe, but even though I liked that moment when I was a kid, I can’t help but think it’s a bit….meh now. Not just because they now have entire season where they’re dating, it’s just a bit on the predictable side. I mean, it’s cute, but the mistletoe moment between the ‘will-they-won’t-they’ characters is just a giant yule log of cliché.

All in all, this is indeed a great episode with some nice holiday cheer, funny moments, action and some great character interactions, but it’s still not one of those ‘can’t miss’ Christmas specials to me. I still love the show and everything, and this was nice to watch this time of year, but I can do without it.

Also, there’s one specially made Christmas song in this episode and it’s just alright. Kinda catchy, kinda cheesy; just alright.