Minor Update: Why AVAHS is Delayed

Hello everyone! I hope your holiday season is treating you well. You may have noticed that AVAHS, which I’ve been proud of to get one post out per day of, has been halted for a few days. The reason for that is Windows, and I think I don’t need to say anything else because fucking Windows, but I’ll elaborate.

I was in the middle of watching Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas but it was late at night and Windows wanted to update for the umpteenth time. It had been having trouble updating lately (got to around 61% then would shut the computer off) but this time the update was going through. I leave the computer on all night because the installation is taking forever.

The next morning, I check the computer and it seems like all is well until I actually log in to my account where I see all my files are gone. I think the computer must’ve suffered a horrible crash when it updated or something, but for some reason several of my manually installed third-party programs were still there. Nevertheless, I panic, because it’s been months since I’ve done a backup and I had nearly 200 GB worth of stuff gone, including a bunch of of yet-to-be-posted blog posts and reviews. I start to do recovery processes with Recuva, but it’s not finding anything worthwhile, which makes me even more upset (and confused because, unless something went massively wrong, the data should not have been overwritten). I was especially annoyed at the loss of my Firefox profile because that’s basically my main means of organizing my anime/cartoon/etc. watch list (good idea, I know).

I use a different program, UnDelete, which actually shows that my C: drive is at roughly the same storage amount as it was pre-update, which obviously confuses me greatly. I snoop around my C: drive and find that Windows, for some stupid reason and without notifying me, had taken all of the files from my last user profile, moved them and had made a new user profile folder that it was now using for the same and only user account I had on my computer. And it wasn’t like there was a new account at the sign-in screen, either. I still only had one account, but now there were two profiles in the users folder.

So, despite a rage flareup at Windows 10 being a massive shithead, I calm down because at least almost all of my files were still here – even my Firefox profile, which, thankfully, saves in AppData in the user folder.

That doesn’t mean the problems ended, though. Other things were borked after the update. My fonts were screwed up, making everything look like it it was channeling Windows 98 and most of my taskbar wasn’t working. Start menu, search bar, Cortana, my notifications, right click, none of it. Also, certain functions like Settings and stuff would not launch.

Pbbt.

I spend hours trying numerous methods of fixing it, to no avail, so I was forced to reset/restore my computer to factory settings, though thank God Windows 10 isn’t complete garbage and actually offers you the option to save your files from deletion – just the programs and settings are deleted and reset. I backed up my files anyway because I was gonna either way and because who can trust that it won’t delete them?

Everything seems okay now, just have to redownload and configure my programs. AVAHS should be returning either tonight or tomorrow, and I’ll be adding on an extra week to make up for lost time.

TL;DR – Computers are grinches who want to ruin my Christmas blogging. I’m okay now.

AVAHS – The Proud Family: Seven Days of Kwanzaa

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Plot: On Christmas Eve, Penny and her family briefly meet a homeless family. After donating some money to them, Penny invites them over for dinner on Christmas day, much to Oscar’s chagrin. The family seems a bit odd to the Prouds, but they quickly warm up to them after they share their holiday traditions on Kwanzaa.

Breakdown: Mmm, Christmas is over now. Guess I should move on to other holidays to make this a legit ‘holiday special’ instead of purely Christmas. Well, it’s Hanukkah. What animated Hanukkah specials can I review?

……Already reviewed the Rugrats one…..The day I review Eight Crazy Nights is the day they agree to donate $1000 to every animator on that movie for every review made of it as an apology for suffering through that….And…..Wow, seriously, that’s it? Can we write to someone about this because it’s a pretty raw deal for Jewish people. While I try to find some more animated love for Hanukkah, let’s tackle a holiday I’ve never touched upon in this special; Kwanzaa.

So, how many animated Kwanzaa specials are there?…..Hmmm…..Two? Again? We’re gonna have a sit down, Christmas. This is just a little ridiculous. You’re hoarding all of the animated specials; you need to stop. Now both of the Kwanzaa specials I’ll be covering are specials I have seen in the past, which makes this particularly disappointing because I really wanted to see something new, but I work with what I have.

My relationship with The Proud Family is a bit of an odd one. I did follow the series pretty regularly but looking back on it, I don’t really know why. The characters, for the most part, are kinda annoying, some downright infuriating like Dijonay and Oscar, the animation quality is pretty awful a good chunk of the time with obvious errors littering the series, something fairly unforgivable in a Disney series, the stories aren’t very memorable and the jokes are pretty meh. They had some heartfelt moments and they tackled some more serious topics that other shows were more wary of, but for the most part I could do without ever watching any episode ever again. (But oh God I will be reviewing the movie at some point. That crazy sack of weird cannot go un-reviewed.)

But it’s the holidays, and this is my first ever Kwanzaa special and The Proud Family review, so let’s give it a full review.

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We start with the Prouds doing some last-minute Christmas shopping around town. Penny whines to have a cell phone and her dad tells her it’s too expensive so she gives them a look that would earn me a few swift smacks to the backside in my youth, but this is Disney so we can’t do that.

This was one of the most common themes in The Proud Family; Penny really really wants something and Oscar won’t let her because money or she’s too young or just because he can never be reasoned with. Oscar accidentally drops a present and a man helps him pick it up. Oscar rudely denies that he needs help saying ‘he can help himself for free’ believing he’ll ask for a handout. They see the man is part of a homeless family standing nearby with a sign that says ‘We’re the reason for the season, give what you can.’

Trudy tells him to go give them a few dollars in the spirit of Christmas, and much to Oscar’s annoyance (and his animation error that temporarily takes him out of his winter clothes into his regular attire.) he agrees. However, when he turns to give them the money, they’ve mysteriously vanished leaving only their sign behind. Trudy tells Oscar to go to the local homeless shelter to search for them and give them the money, and Oscar, again begrudgingly, agrees and takes Penny with him to the homeless shelter.

They arrive at the shelter, and Oscar decides to pretend to be giving by walking by all of the people asking for money on the street and putting a dollar in their buckets just to pull it away with a fishing line without the person noticing. I guess he justifies it by the charity people believing they got a donation, making them happy, and he gets to keep his dollar, making him happy.

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See, this is why Oscar is such an insufferable character to me most of the time. He’s not a completely hopeless asshole and he has plenty of comeuppance, but he’s still an ass most of the time. At least Penny points out how awful his trick is. It’s not even funny or clever. The ‘pull away a dollar with fishing line’ gag is very old and the only thing they do to it is make it even meaner than it usually is portrayed.

When they arrive at the shelter, they find the family and give them the money. Penny invites them to dinner on Christmas which Oscar, again begrudgingly, agrees to.

The next morning on Christmas, Penny and the others rip into their gifts like hyenas ripping into a freshly felled gazelle. Penny whines and moans that she got an obvious joke gift of a phone book, saying ‘oh look a phone book, so I can write down all those numbers I can’t call.’ Then Trudy and Oscar give her her real gift of a cell phone.

This reminds me of those videos on the Internet where a kid gets a crappy gift or ‘the wrong gift’ and they have a flip out about it, acting like their parents are assholes who ruined Christmas. Basically entitled little shits who thinks the universe owes them something for existing. Then once the parents film the reaction and have their yucks, they give the real gift to the kid and Christmas is saved.

I would not be able to give my child their real good gift if they reacted like a spoiled brat at the news of not getting the good gift they wanted. I would either put that gift away until they acted more appropriately, I’d return it or I’d give it to charity. You appreciate what you get, you little snot.

Penny’s not flipping out over her not getting her cell phone, but she is being an entitled little bitch here. She should be smart enough to take a phone book as a joke gift and put two and two together, but this is the same girl who entered a homeless shelter and asked her dad if everyone there was homeless.

After the kids open their gifts, Trudy gives her gift to Oscar even though they agreed to not exchange gifts this year and only get gifts for the kids (though that begs the question why Suga Mama, Oscar’s mother, is opening gifts). It’s a really expensive gold and diamond Wizard Kelly watch.

Oscar obviously has no gift for Trudy since he’s a cheap ass idiot. Though Trudy’s putting him on the spot by intentionally surprising him with a really expensive gift when they agreed not to get gifts for each other and outright asking where her gift is, so they’re both selfish idiots.

Look, anyone who gets caught in the ‘we said we wouldn’t do gifts for (holiday) this year’ trap, let me give you some advice. Get a present anyway. If they do end up springing a gift on you, you’ll have something to give.

If you feel like it would make them particularly happy, give it to them first. You run the risk of them not giving you a gift and feeling bad about it, but they’ll likely be happy with what you give them anyway.

Dead set on not exchanging gifts? No worry. Save the gift for another holiday or special occasion. Bonus points for giving it to them out of the blue. There is no downside to going out and buying a gift in this situation. The worst that can happen is that they don’t like it and you’ve gone so far from the purchase date that you can’t return it, which is really only a huge deal for extremely expensive gifts.

The doorbell rings and it’s the homeless family with a rancid fruitcake, coming earlier than planned. Their names, by the way, are Margaret, Joseph and their daughter Stephanie. I find it more than coincidental that the parents names are Joseph and Mary (Mary can be short for Margaret) and while Stephanie seems detached from this theme, Stephanie does mean ‘crown’ so it might be a very subtle poke at Jesus. I might be looking too much into this, but it’s not a real stretch. I don’t know why they’d have this theme in a Kwanzaa episode, especially considering, spoilers, this family is not real.

Yeah, this family are like a bunch of ghosts or something. They never adequately explain, but they’re either ghosts of a homeless family trying to spread Kwanzaa cheer or they’re the spirits of Kwanzaa. End of spoilers.

Anyway, Penny brings them gifts for Christmas and Oscar tries to pawn off their awful fruitcake as a gift for Trudy (the fruitcake is so bad, Bobby, Oscar’s brother, kicks it into the lawn and it burns through the lawn). As retaliation, she gives his watch to Joseph. Really, Oscar, you would’ve been better off giving her nothing. You had an out with saying you agreed to not give gifts to each other this year. Giving her an awful fruitcake that she knows this family just brought in is just asking her to give your watch away.

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They see that the family is not enjoying the gifts, they’re not even opening them, so Trudy asks what’s wrong. They respond that they don’t celebrate Christmas. This line by itself would be fine, but then they have to get up on their high horse and say, word for word, ‘We got tired of buying into corporate America’s end of the year profit scam.’ These Kwanzaa ghosts just turned into hipsters.

Because yes, Christmas is exclusive to America. Because it’s only existed since corporations existed and is a big fat scam to get money. Because Christmas is all about what the stores dictate.

I am well aware that Christmas has a huge problem with consumerism, which is a common theme in Christmas specials. I think this episode is trying but failing to convey this lesson up to this point, too. I mean, yeah, Oscar’s a skinflint here, but he’s always a skinflint. Sure, Penny’s a selfish materialistic brat, but she’s always (more or less) a selfish materialistic brat. She is a teenager after all.

But most people know that Christmas isn’t just about the gifts, and at its core Christmas is what you make of it. It can be a huge day for family and friends and traditions or it can be a quiet day to yourself or you can just have a day on the town enjoying the sights and sounds of the season etc.

This supposedly spiritualistic, deep and wise family fails to see the true spirit of Christmas and make of it what they want it to be. Instead they take the most cynical view on the holiday and refuse to partake in it on those grounds.

And, remember, this is a Kwanzaa special not a Christmas special. So they’re never going to show us the true meaning of Christmas or show it in a better light; they’re just going to move on to Kwanzaa and almost make an argument that Kwanzaa is better than Christmas because it holds truer values and meaning than Christmas.

Don’t get me wrong, Kwanzaa is a great holiday and I’m not arguing that Christmas is inherently better. I’m complaining that this is even starting to turn into a competition by devaluing all of Christmas in that one line and kinda showing how consumerist the holiday is through the Prouds.

After more animations errors (Dijonay is laughing in audio, not even moving her mouth in the animation. Also, being technical, Joseph gave the sign from before to Stephanie to take with her and she obviously doesn’t have it here.) Penny introduces Stephanie to Zoey, Dijonay and Sticky.

Zoey is a very stereotypical nerdy white girl with huge glasses, a wiry frame and plain styled red hair. Sticky is a very cool tech genius. Dijonay is the scum Satan scrapes off of his asscrack. I swear to God, if I ever get around to reviewing this show full out, the worst thing I’ll have to get through is any episode focusing on Dijonay. This series may not be the most memorable show ever, but if there’s one thing I definitely remember it’s how much of a huge bitch Dijonay is and how I wonder why Penny ever became her friend to begin with.

This next section is going to be kinda long because I really want to dissect this as much as possible to show how horrible these characters can be sometimes.

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So, obviously, the group keeps putting their feet in their mouths around Stephanie regarding her homelessness. Because these kids are seriously stupid assholes. ‘How can you be homeschooled if you don’t have a home?’ ‘You DO have friends, don’t you?’ ‘Why would you read a book when you can watch the cartoon?’ and inadvertently pressuring her into basically feeling bad that she spends so much time with her parents and doesn’t have her own room.

It quickly devolves from them putting their feet in their mouths or not realizing how crass they’re being to just outright insulting her. And of course Dijonay starts it off by asking her if her jeans are Guess or ‘Guess what?’ Responding to her saying it’s what’s inside that counts with ‘Yeah, what’s in yo’ pockets!’ Zoey laughs along with Dijonay here so I guess Satan has extra scum around the crack today. Sticky finishes off the asshole barrage by responding to Stephanie saying money’s not everything by calling her ‘loony’ and planning to ditch her by taking the other girls to the movies with movie passes he got for Christmas.

Stephanie says it’s alright if Penny goes since she can stay and do some reading. And despite the fact that Stephanie said she’d stay behind, Dijonay can’t help herself but be a bitch and say ‘Penny, why don’t you ditch ‘Beloved’ so we can go have some real fun?’

Penny says she can’t ditch Stephanie since she promised their parents they’d hang out. They decide to go without her, but not without Sticky saying ‘Well, we’ll catch you later….when she’s not around.”

Okay, look, I’ll admit, Stephanie has been a bit, for lack for a better word, cult-y. She calls her parents by their first names and parrots a lot of what Joseph says, starting several sentences with ‘Joseph says….’ but that’s all she’s done outside of saying her life is fine, she likes to read and there are more things to life than money. She’s smiled the whole time and has been perfectly pleasant.

So, if I get this right, the way they would’ve liked her is if she admitted her life as a homeless person was miserable, if she bitched and moaned about hanging out with her parents so much and being obsessed with money and materialistic things.

This is both an incredibly heavy handed way to show the stigma of homeless people, increase the consumerism/selfish angle by a million and, again, highlight how awful Penny and her friends can be. Oh and yeah, this is the only scene these characters are in this episode so they’ll never learn a damn thing or change their attitudes. Hooray.

Also, no you didn’t promise your parents anything Penny; you specifically asked your parents and hers if you could go together to the mall to meet your friends, which you didn’t even end up doing anyway. You met them on a street corner because street corners are easier to draw. This entire scene was pointless if the only goal was to make Penny exacerbated with a homeless person. You already showed her being materialistic and selfish, there’s no need to add her being annoyed with Stephanie over things that don’t even make sense.

Back at home, Oscar and Bobby try to put together a play set for Penny’s little twin brother and sister Bebe and Cece, but fail miserably. Joseph, a former construction worker, easily puts it together in seconds.

Oscar: “Well, I see why you’re still out of work. It looks rickety to me.” *sigh* And he jumps all over it, showing it’s perfectly sturdy.

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Please take note of Oscar’s expression here. He’s taking a lot of pleasure in the thought of destroying this thing to make Joseph look like a fool.

He calls the babies to the play set but gets angry when the babies would rather play with the box than the play set.

Oscar: “I work hard for the money, even harder to put the thing together and they’d rather play with the box!”

Joseph: “That’s because the box is not what’s important.”

Oscar: “Yeah, but the working hard sure is. But I guess you wouldn’t know about that.” *SIGH* Yeah, he’s homeless so he’s obviously not a hard worker. He’s just a lazy bum looking for handouts and free food even though he’s asked you for nothing directly.

Joseph: “That’s where you’re wrong. You have three beautiful kids, Oscar. You should spend more time with them.”

Oscar: “You mean quit work and hang out in the streets all day like you do!?” *SIGH* Yes, Oscar, I’m so sure that’s what he meant. Also, I’m even more sure that’s what really happened to him. He just decided on the construction site one day to quit his job and be homeless. Though, I will admit, it does seem like they purposely don’t pursue any sort of financial benefits for the sake of getting a home or anything. I guess that’s fine, but they’re acting like possessions and having a home ruin you. They only do that if you let them.

This insensitive blather carries on when Joseph asks him what Oscar’s nice home and things really amount to and asks if these nice things are really worth the stress…..Wait….no….no….he’s not REALLY arguing that Oscar should quit his job and spend all his time with his family. Right?

I mean, yeah, it would be nice if everyone could stop working and just spend time with their families, but people do need shelter, medical care and education etc. Things that require money.

And his philosophy kinda falls apart when you remember that he and his family were asking for handouts at the start of the episode and happily accepted the money Oscar gave them. He wouldn’t have had that money to give if he didn’t have a fairly decent job.

Now to the women where Trudy asks Margaret about how she feels about her situation. She says it’s liberating because she used to be just like Trudy – bending over backwards to maintain the things in her life, which is reflected in Trudy washing her dishes I guess.

She got tired of things controlling her life. Trudy tries to defend herself by saying she may love her house, but she’s not overly attached to anything. To which Suga Mama responds by smashing her good china, making Trudy flip out a little.

Again, this argument is placing full blame on the things. I will admit, if you live with even slight comforts like a bed or a roof over your head, it can be easy to get attached to them. But the control of that attachment is in your hands.

If you have a philosophy of things being unimportant and the most important things in your life being family and spirituality, then you can be the richest person in the world and still maintain the philosophy. You have to have the willpower to not let your things control you; things don’t inherently control people.

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I really hate this shot. It even comes with that ‘twinkle’ sound effect like she’s a little angel taking passive-aggressive shots at so many aspects of their lives.

Later, as the family is about to leave, we learn that they’re vegans, which is also a completely fine aspect of their lives and would have stayed fine if they didn’t go the extra mile.

They sickened everyone to the point of not being able to eat Christmas dinner by telling stories about how turkeys are enslaved before being pumped with steroids and slain.

Nice, guys. They invite you to dinner so you refuse to eat anything (even the vegetables?) and then ruin their dinner by making them imagine tortured enslaved turkeys and guilt tripping them up a wall.

And how did it not come up that they were vegans before or during dinner? It had to have been mentioned during the turkey torture spiel. I’m sure Trudy would have fixed them something they could eat if they mentioned it. It has to make the dinner even more awkward when the only people at the table who won’t eat anything are the homeless people.

Oscar kicks them out, adding the brick in the face for more anti-greed messages by saying they ruined their ‘favorite most expensive holiday of the year’, only to have them reappear later. They legit break into his house and decorate for Kwanzaa excusing themselves by saying he invited them to spend the holidays with them and since they don’t celebrate Christmas, they decided to share their Kwanzaa festivities with them.

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First off, Penny specifically invited them for dinner not to ‘spend the holidays’ together. I must’ve forgotten that this show has as many story inconsistencies as it does animation errors. Second, even if that was the case, that’s no excuse to break in and mess with their stuff.

Penny, hearing there’s another holiday to celebrate, decides to flippantly say that she could use a headset to go with her new cell phone right in front of them. Good job. Also, if I keep getting bitch-slapped by materialism messages in this episode, I’m going to go to the hardware store and buy the most expensive hammer they have to smack myself repeatedly in the forehead.

Stephanie says that Kwanzaa’s not about gifts; it’s about instilling strong values and becoming in tune with the past, present and future. I’ll address this in a minute.

Oscar tries to kick them out again, but Trudy wants to celebrate Kwanzaa so they stick around and start the festivities. Suga Mama, acting as elder, pours a tambiko and say a word in praise of a worthy ancestor. Taking the chalice, she says ‘Habari gani’ (how are you?) and the others respond, as another animation error turns the whites of Joseph’s eyes brown, “Umoja” (unity in the family and community) Each person then takes a sip from the chalice as they say a word in praise of an ancestor who has contributed to the spirit of unity.

Suga Mama toasts to her deceased husband Percy, and Penny toasts her mother for not disowning her for acting like a spoiled brat. So there’s that car crash of character development. Don’t worry. None of this has any bearing on anything in the future. Oscar’s up next and he toasts Nebraska in hopes of winning his bet.

Stephanie then lights the first candle for Kwanzaa, Umoja for Unity.

The next day, they arrive for the second day of Kwanzaa and Trudy lights the candle in celebration of Kujichagulia or self-determination. Somehow this is reflected in Penny wearing a headband and hugging Stephanie.

The next day, Margaret lights the candle for the celebration of Ujima or collective work and responsibility, reflected in Trudy, Oscar, Suga Mama and Puff (Suga Mama’s dog) working together to change a single diaper.

The fourth day, Joseph lights the candle for the celebration of Ujamaa or collective economics, reflected in Oscar giving all of the money in his wallet to the people he bilked a few days ago.

The fifth day, Penny helps Cece light the candle for the celebration of Nia or purpose, reflected in Penny reading the bible. Sure hope there’s nothing Christmas-y in there!

The sixth day, Bobby helps Bebe light the candle for the celebration for Kuumba or creativity, reflected in Bobby playing drums and Penny painting an African mask.

The final day, Oscar lights the candle for the celebration of Imani or faith, reflected in everyone praying.

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After the festivities are over, they practice another important facet of Kwanzaa; Zawadi….friggin’ gift giving. Yup, after all of that anti-possessions stuff and specifically saying that Kwanzaa isn’t a gift-giving holiday, they suddenly remember that, hell, yes it is.

Okay, it’s important to remember that they’re giving gifts like books and African masks (that Penny made) as gifts, and typical Kwanzaa gifts aren’t like the usual Christmas stuff. They’re traditional Kwanzaa celebration items and things that were hand made, but they’re still things. They’re still gifts. They’re still possessions. This is pretty hypocritical is all.

The family leaves with all of the Prouds gaining a new view on the holidays and their lives as a whole, which, like I said, won’t have a bearing on anything after this episode. Felix, father of Penny’s frenemy, LaCieniga, and Oscar’s best friend arrives and says he had to cut his holiday in Acapulco short because his construction foreman quit on him. Oscar suggests Joseph for the job and Felix agrees to give him a shot.

Oscar and the rest of the Prouds arrive at the homeless shelter again to tell Joseph the good news. We learn Bobby frequents the homeless shelter, taking advantage of the free food. *sigh*

As I mentioned before, the big twist is that the family they’ve been celebrating Kwanzaa with doesn’t exist….mostly. There is no record of that family ever being at the shelter, and no one but the Prouds have ever seen them. However, there is a white family with an out of work construction worker named Joseph, a mother named Margaret and a young daughter named Stephanie who made the sign the Prouds saw at the start of this whole thing.

Hearing that Oscar has a construction job available, Joseph asks about it and Oscar gives him the information and recommendation before leaving. They wonder why someone would impersonate a homeless family, but they’re thankful for the values they helped instill in them, including appreciating their heritage and family and sharing it with others.

As the Prouds walk away in all their poorly animated glory, the sign gets picked up by an off-screen Joseph and the sign leaves little twinkly trails behind.

Not content to leave it at that simple ending, we cut to some time later where the Prouds arrive back home to see that there’s a huge tree in the yard.

Bobby: “That fruit cake I threw out the winda’…”

You threw it from the doorstep, not the window.

Anyway, the fruitcake somehow grew into a massive fruit tree and at the very top we see the family dressed in dashiki waving to the Prouds before walking off into the sun.

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Well, that was pretty long for one of these reviews. And I gotta say, this episode kinda blows.

The stuff actually about Kwanzaa is fine, but a majority of the special is holier-than-thou blatherings guilt tripping people for having stuff and money or even stuff like eating meat and dairy products.

It’s also noticeably slamming Christmas and the people who celebrate it for its consumerism which is really a reflection on how Christmas has been exploited for profit, not that it was specifically designed for such a thing.

The disappointing part of this Kwanzaa special is that Kwanzaa isn’t even mentioned until the second half of the episode. Seven days of festivities and celebrations mushed into about nine minutes. They also didn’t set up the development of the characters through Kwanzaa very well.

Like I said, Oscar and Penny aren’t really acting any worse than they usually act. They’re acting better after the Kwanzaa festivities, but the festivities are a montage with only one five second shot per day barring the three second shots of the candle lightings.

They literally sit the characters down and basically go through the seven main values and celebrations of Kwanzaa, just listing them off, and suddenly everyone’s changed in a millisecond, being happy and being charitable and forgetting materialistic stuff. They spent so much time on the anti-materialism part of the episode that the actual Kwanzaa special falls to the side.

Why did these Kwanzaa spirits or whatever appear to the Prouds anyway? Just because they were one of millions of people being a little greedy on Christmas?

And let me just say this straight out; nearly everyone is unpleasant in this special. Puff, Bebe and Cece and Trudy are the only people who aren’t slimeballs or complete and utter asswipes at some point in this episode. Bobby’s the only one who’s being funny, but that one exchange showing that he exploits homeless shelters for free food puts him into the slimeball category.

This family is meant to be someone you’d wish to be. They’ve valued family and spiritualism above all else. They’re not ‘prisoners of possessions’ or whatnot. They’ve seemingly reached a level of enlightenment in their lives.

But these aren’t people I want to emulate at all. Their constant smug smiles, their complete lack of any real-world problems (they don’t see their poverty as a problem so neither am I) their holier-than-thou attitudes, their condescension, their rudeness; it’s another reason why I wish the Kwanzaa aspect had been more prominent because then they would’ve definitely would’ve been more tolerable for most of the special.

Oscar’s being obnoxious, Penny’s being selfish and rude, her friends are being total dickheads who don’t even learn a lesson here (and why were Zoey, Dijonay and Sticky able to see Stephanie if no one but the Prouds saw them?) Thank god LaCieniga wasn’t in this episode. I can only bet how horribly she’d react to homeless people who devalue possessions and money considering she’s a huge spoiled rich bitch.

It’s just not a very effective Kwanzaa special to me. The parts with the Kwanzaa celebrations are lacking to say the least and they spend way too much time getting to Kwanzaa. Ironically, we spend more time in Christmas Eve and Christmas than Kwanzaa.

It covers the bare basics of the Kwanzaa traditions, but I really wanted to be more immersed in the holiday. Instead, I just end up almost feeling bad for buying gifts for Christmas and having a roof over my head. It’s not funny either, but then again, like I mentioned, the show rarely was.

And one of the points of this family doing this for the Prouds is to get the real Joseph a job so he can get a home and make life better for his child, when Joseph was chastising Oscar for doing that same thing? What’s even weirder, the real Joseph says he doesn’t want his daughter to live the way they’ve been living anymore which is why he wants the job so badly. So either homelessness isn’t the massive pile of possession-less rainbows the Kwanzaa family said it was or these people are way too attached to those possessions they don’t have.

The least I can say is they were more of less true to the holiday and I have to give The Proud Family props for doing a Kwanzaa special in the first place. It sparks interest in the holiday, but it doesn’t do much to celebrate it.

Maybe someone can put this special into a better light for me, but for now it’s just borderline aggravating.

Fear not, though. There is still one more Kwanzaa special to tackle, and it was done by the maestro of overlooked holiday specials; Rugrats. Will they have better luck? Guess we just have to have plenty of imani.

Final notes: But how stupid was that ending clip, though? A fruitcake tree that leads to the heavens where the Kwanzaa family is looking down on them? You guys sure the only things they were lighting during that week were Kwanzaa candles?

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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Site/Holiday Update: 11/3/2016

Hey guys, FiddleTwix here with a few site updates before the holiday season.

– We’re going to be getting a facelift for this place sometime after New Years. I feel like we need to freshen our look a bit so I’ll be sifting through themes to find a good fit. This theme has been good to the Madhouse through these past couple of years, but not only time for a change, but it’s also a little necessary.

For some reason, when I switched the header image over during Halloween, the whole page kinda squished. I thought it was just something to do with the new image file, but no matter what I did to it, it wouldn’t revert back to the size it was before. Even replacing it with the old banner didn’t fix it. I dunno.

– I am going to be updating more frequently on a new schedule of Sunday, Tuesday and Friday. I have a backlog of stuff to post, and I really want to get through some of it. My current two post per week set up just isn’t cutting it.

– I am going to be graduating from college around March of next year, and with this graduation will likely come a big job hunt because student loans and health insurance and blah. My current ‘job’ won’t cut it for my monthly payments, so, in somewhat contrast to the previous update, my posts may become sporadic around this time. Depending on what job I get and when, my posting schedule may also need to be altered. I will update when this occurs.

– I will probably be posting Sub/Dub Comparisons on the Pokemon movies also sometime around New Years. I have been working on these on a very small forum for years and I think I’ve gotten far enough ahead on them for finally start posting here. I just recently finished Movie 08, Lucario and the Mystery of Mew. These posts work a little differently than my other SDCs. Instead of just making one post pointing out the differences, I completely review, step-by-step, the dubbed movie and then do the same for the Japanese version. In essence, these are SDCs mostly in reviewing their quality differences due to the English dubbing. Dogasu from Bulbagarden already has full and more comprehensive comparisons that I will link to in every review.

These movie reviews also come with the bonus of Pokemon shorties. Remember those short films that would precede the movies? Those get reviewed as well. I only review the shorts once, though, since A) it’s hard as hell to find both the English and Japanese versions of these shorts, B) there’s not much to note in regards to differences anyway and C) some of the shorts aren’t even available in both versions. Hell, some aren’t available period. For those movies that don’t have shorts alongside them, I review standalone Pokemon shorts.

– I will do my damnedest to plow through Tokyo Mew Mew SDC this month because I finished it months ago and I really want to get on reviewing the second half (IE the undubbed half) soon to finally finish it off completely.

– As for holiday related stuff, there will be one Thanksgiving post made the week of Thanksgiving. This year’s A Very Animated Holiday Special will start on December 1st and I hope to, at the very least, have a new post up every couple of days. I don’t even know where to start on this one, but I’m looking forward to it.

– I recently reached 200 official followers on WordPress a few days ago.

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So YAY!

Thank all of my followers and anyone giving this a read for checking out my blog and liking/commenting! You guys make this place a lot more fun. 🙂

That’s all for now. Here’s to more bloggin’!

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Tokyo Godfathers Review

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Rating: 9.5/10

Plot: Three homeless people – a drunk/gambler washed up father, a crossdresser and a teenage runaway – find a baby amidst some trash. With only a few clues as to who her parents are, the three set out on a mission to find the baby’s family to decide whether they should return her or contact the police.

Breakdown: Welcome to the AVAHS finale! And what better way to close out the holiday season than with anime?

Technically, this isn’t much of a Christmas movie. While the entire movie plays out over the Christmas season with the movie spanning what seems like Christmas to New Years, there isn’t much connection to Christmas outside of decorations, a few songs and the implication that Kiyoko, the baby, has it in with God.

That being said, this is still a Christmas movie, and a damn good one beyond that. This is another of Satoshi Kon’s babies….no pun intended, and it has his style all over it.

While not being gut-bustingly funny, the movie does have several laugh-out-loud moments, and the characters, both major and minor, are very memorable with interesting and well-written stories. Only Gin, the washed up father, might have a slightly cliché backstory.

The story has a very straightforward path – get baby to parents – but this is one of those movies that seems more about the journey than the destination. The various hurdles that they have to jump to find Kiyoko’s parents are both realistic and hit all the right notes.

For instance, there’s a scene where Gin gets jumped by a bunch of teenage asshats who just want to beat the crap out of a homeless person (and a dead old homeless person as well) for no reason other than entertainment.

This is scene is really difficult to watch, especially since they steal something very important to him, resulting in him getting beaten even worse in an attempt to get it back. Just when you think he might die, they top off the scene with a great joke to lighten the mood. The joke doesn’t seem out of place or even out of character for the sake of a joke, and that type of sudden contrast can only be pulled off with real finesse.

While the characters are all very funny in their own right, they each have fairly sad stories that really make you feel for each of them. All of the emotions here, over the top for comedy effect or not, are all very genuine.

The story, while seeming very straightforward, had several twists and turns that I honestly didn’t see coming, especially the twist with Kiyoko’s mother.

If I had any qualms with it, the story seems a little too convenient at times. They just happen to stumble upon people from their past, the exact clue to where they need to go etc. a lot during this movie, and it’s only towards the end where you really start to notice, but still. This can be explained away by possibly whatever connection Kiyoko may or may not have to God, but *shrug* According to the Wiki page, these coincidences are done on purpose to showcase the little connections that we may have even with strangers to strongly link us together. Still, it can seem a bit wonky sometimes.

Also, I would’ve liked more exploration on Miyuki’s, the runaway, story. Her dad may or may not have done something to her pet cat that made her stab him in the stomach. He later says he has the cat and it’s fine, so I don’t know what happened there.

The art and animation are fantastic, yet another Madhouse production, and the city feels so well done and gorgeously detailed that you really feel like you’re there.

The music is also great with Christmas music, some classical selections and a somewhat jazzy BG set melded together.

The voice acting, Japanese, really shines here. Everyone is just fantastic in their roles, especially Hana’s VA, Yoshiaki Umegaki.

Bottomline: This may not be putting the spotlight entirely on Christmas, but it is still a feel-good Christmas movie with great characters, a fantastic story, plenty of action, drama and comedy, it’s and just a great experience overall. I can see myself watching this at least a few more times in the near future.

And that, sadly, closes out A Very Animated Holiday Special. Here’s to next year!

Additional Information and Notes: Tokyo Godfathers was written and directed by Satoshi Kon and it was produced by Madhouse.

Runtime: 1 Hour, 37 minutes.

Year: 2003

Recommended Audience:
Some rather crass homophobic slurs get tossed around, and there’s some other swearing. There are also a couple of suicide attempts, and one guy gets shot up. In terms of nudity, there are a couple boob shots but both of them are for the sake of breastfeeding. 13+

AVAHS – Disney’s A Christmas Carol

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Rating: 6.5/10

Plot: You don’t know the plot to this story? How do you exist? No, no, no. I refuse to believe you’ve never seen anything A Christmas Carol related. Now go and watch either an adaptation of it or a parody and think about what you’ve done.

Breakdown: This is kinda weird for me to review. I mean, how do you review any adaptation of A Christmas Carol? There are just so many of them, and it’s pretty damn hard to mess it up.

It’s such a simple structure. Jackass character hates Christmas, is haunted by three spirits representing Christmas past, present and yet to come, main character learns the error of his ways and becomes nicer as well as learns to appreciate and celebrate Christmas more. The End.

So if I can’t really analyze the story here, what can I analyze?

Well, I suppose we can start with Scrooge. It’s been my experience that most Scrooges are rather intimidating. While not being entirely scary, they do have a somewhat powerful air about them. They speak well, they have very straight posture and their voices are typically somewhat deep.

Jim Carrey’s Scrooge is very frail and has a much higher pitched and weak voice than I’m used to. His accent’s also somewhat questionable, though his old man voice is pretty good. He’s hunched over, he’s somewhat skeletal, he shakes frequently and he comes off as more of a grumpy old fart than a frightening man with power and money.

Also, despite the ‘elderly’ effects I can very clearly see Jim Carrey playing the character. It’s kinda distracting. Tom Hanks played several characters in The Polar Express and even though his voice was very obvious in most of the roles, I couldn’t really see Hanks in any of the characters except maybe the Hobo. Though, to be honest, this isn’t the role where Jim Carrey is most obvious.

Which brings us to the ghosts. First up is the ghost of Christmas past. This version’s Christmas past is supposedly one of the closest any adaptation has gotten to the Charles Dickens description. In the novel, the ghost of Christmas past is a, for lack of a better term, ghostly apparition of androgynous gender cloaked in a white robe. On its head is a flickering flame, like a candle, and he carries around a cap that looks very much like a metal candle snuffer.

Here, Past is basically a candle. His body is a white melting candle that eventually looks like a white robe. His head is a flame and he carries around the snuffer.

This is the role where you can clearly see Jim Carrey because they did really nothing to Carrey’s face when they plastered it onto the flame.

Look at that damn thing. It’s like they were going to shoot the scene for Past and forgot the trackers. Instead of waiting until they got them, they just shot the scene without them, cropped out everything but Carrey’s face and photoshopped it onto the character.

Not only that, but this thing acts like a psycho. He constantly sways back and forth like an idiot to make his flame waft in the wind and when he stands still he gets this like tic where he quickly twitches his head to the side, causing a lighter-like spark.

This thing is just a mess. What’s worse is that they just had a character with flame-like hair a minute ago. Marley was designed with hair flowing in that manner. Why couldn’t they have a regular head with fire hair instead of this?

Jim Carrey’s voice for this is also just weird. He’s constantly whispering and it’s a lot creepier than it should be.

As for the various sections, I tend to break up these segments into reflection, understanding and change respectively.

Reflection: This movie does follow every step that the first segment has. First his Christmas alone at a boarding school, then his sister, Fanny, announcing that his father has grown kinder and will allow him home for Christmas, then a dance with his fiancee, Belle, at a party his first boss and father figure Fezzwig was holding then his break up with her a couple Christmases later.

This section is fine, really, but it also starts to highlight a big problem as to why people find this one of the weakest A Christmas Carol adaptations.

Personally, my favorite is A Muppet Christmas Carol. Why do I bring that up? Because Muppets….are puppets. They don’t really have a lot of elbow room for emotional facial expressions. Yes, there are numerous human characters in the movie and Scrooge himself is played by Michael Caine, but most of the characters are Muppets. They do a way better job of conveying emotion than this movie.

In The Polar Express, conveying emotion was a problem but because of the subject matter it wasn’t a huge problem. It was a movie meant to be a roller coaster ride that made you feel all Christmas-y inside, and it did achieve that. The emotional scenes were sparse and one worked pretty well mostly because of silence and directing, not facial expressions and voice acting.

Here, you’re supposed to be taken on a bit of an emotional roller coaster. You’re supposed to be happy at Scrooge’s happier moments and feel for him when his life starts tumbling down, even if it is at his own hands. The fact that motion capture has big issues conveying emotion and has the trademark dead eyes makes movies like this a problem. I really believe this is one of the main reasons motion capture never caught on outside of video games and inserted CGI in live action movies. Outside of making pretty roller coasters, it can’t hold emotional impact very well.

It’s purely motion capture; not emotion capture.

Young Scrooge, despite being closely modeled after Carrey, is just awful. He looks like the action figure version of his character come to life. When he and Belle, a character who is actually very beautifully modeled, interact, I feel like a doll is having a conversation with a human person. It’s weird. It’s awkward. And because of this the scene loses 90% of the intended emotion.

I will say that the scene directly following the breakup where Past shifts his face quickly into the faces of those from his past is very effectively creepy. There. Motion capture is great for horror movies. Get on that.

Understanding: The Ghost of Christmas Present is basically exactly as he’s described in the novel. I should point out that straying from the novel’s representations does not mark points off. All of the adaptations change the ghosts a little. It’s not what the design is changed to, it’s how good it looks and if it effectively conveys the feeling that it’s supposed to.

Present…is actually pretty well done in my opinion. Except his laughing gets on my nerves. I liked his segment….though it does further highlight the emotionless problem.

Here is one of the most memorable parts of the story with Tiny Tim. Several characters are tearing up when thinking about his plight…..and I feel…..kinda bad I guess.

I wouldn’t say I feel nothing, because the dialogue alone is kinda sad but the sad faces in motion capture….they just don’t do it for me. The tears look like glass, the facial expressions just seem weird; it just doesn’t work very well. The voice acting and dialogue are okay here, which is really all that saves it.

However, Jim Carrey just cannot get emotion though Scrooge. He begs for Tiny Tim’s life and I feel like he’s asking for another slice of pizza.

Change: I really like the introduction to Yet to Come here. It’s in a dark wide open area, seemingly in a clock tower, and Yet to Come emerges through Scrooge’s shadow while Scrooge monologues accompanied by silence. Like practically every version of the story, including the original Dickens’ novel, this version of Yet to Come is basically the grim reaper. In this version, however, Yet to Come is almost always in shadow form, which is kinda cool.

Just when it seems like this one will be the most impacting and serious segment of all…..they completely ruin it. But I won’t explain how until later. Let’s just skip over that for a moment. Like the other segments, this one also explores the same beats as the novel. And just as the other two segments, the emotion problem is still present though, again, worse, because this is filled with death and tragedy.

When they show us Cratchit’s face with his eyes beet red from crying, all I could think of was that it looked like there was a bad rash around his eyes.

As for the rest of the movie, story-wise, it emits the most emotion, that which being fun. Probably because Carrey seems to actually be having fun with the finale. Plus, there’s a little bit more emotion than usual in his remorse.

With all of the story elements out of the way, it brings us to another of the worst problems in this movie. I’ve been deliberately dancing around these parts of the movie to focus on the story elements, but this movie, like The Polar Express….aims to be a visual 3D roller coaster, and spends quite a bit of time milking the pretty visuals and 3D effects.

A Christmas Carol is not a visual roller coaster. Sure, it has fantastical elements, but you’d be hardpressed to find someone who’ll say ‘Oh A Christmas Carol? I loved that action movie!’

In the first segment, I can be forgiving. The roller coaster aspect of Reflection was merely flying through the trees, which kinda did happen in the novel.

The second segment amps it up 1000 fold, however. Basically, Present uses the embers from his torch to turn the floor of the room into a viewing screen that seems to travel from location to location, so it’s like you’re flying around on a helicopter with a glass bottom that can see through ceilings.

I will admit that this effect is pretty damn cool and I imagine it’s fantastic in 3D and IMAX….Too bad I’m watching this at home on my 30” TV screen. This scene, out of everything from The Polar Express through this movie seems like its the one that has the most effect outside of 3D and IMAX, but there’s no denying that it loses quite a bit of the impact without it.

While both of those segments had a point, the third is absolutely pointless and kinda stupid. In Change, Yet to Come chases around Scrooge through town on his shadowy carriage. Scrooge inexplicably shrinks down to mouse size in the middle of this chase scene and there’s more chasing but now in mini-form.

Scrooge arrives at the second location of the third segment in mini-form as he lay across the stolen cloth that Mrs. Dilber took from his room after his death. He eventually grows back to normal size, but there is 100% no point in shrinking him to begin with.

Bottomline: So, basically, this movie’s a bit of a mess. While it is touted as being one of the most loyal adaptations of Dickens’ novel, and it even takes quite a bit of dialogue from it, it loses the emotion due to the motion capture and a good deal of the voice acting and it gains a bunch of action 3D stuff that just adds nothing to the story and doesn’t translate well to home viewing.

Unlike The Polar Express where I feel it’s more of an experience than it is a story, this is by nature supposed to be more of a story than an experience. Yes, it does the story just fine and it is a visual treat, again if you ignore the human characters, but without the emotion and feeling of Christmas spirit behind it, it just feels hollow.

It’s not a terrible movie, I wouldn’t even say it’s bad, but there are just a lot of problems with it and unlike The Polar Express, I’m not going to give it a big pass just because it’s Christmas. Watch on the biggest screen you can manage and try to get 3D, but there are just so many much better adaptations and even parodies of A Christmas Carol out there. I won’t be able to let motion capture die just yet, but can it please stay out of Christmas movies for now?

Recommended Audience: They do say ‘ass’ once, and there’s mentions of death. Plus, the final segment gets a bit dark-ish a little. 7+

AVAHS – All Grown Up: The Finster Who Stole Christmas

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Rating: 4/10

Plot: Chuckie is tired of having bad Christmases every year, so he decides to get a great Christmas tree to hopefully set things in motion for a great holiday. He finds a tree on the curb and assumes it’s out for the garbage so he takes it home to surprise his dad. However, he soon finds out that it wasn’t put out as garbage and everyone’s hating the town’s Christmas tree thief. Ridden with guilt, Chuckie tries to make everything right in hopes that everyone can have a nice Christmas this year.

Breakdown: Hey, everyone! Welcome to A Very Animated Holiday Special! Where I’ll be reviewing any and all things holiday related until January-ish! We’ll be starting off this batch of reviews with the All Grown Up Christmas special, The Finster Who Stole Christmas.

I cannot express how much I loved Rugrats as a child. I also cannot express how excited I was to watch the All Growed Up special on Nick for Rugrats’ tenth anniversary. I can, however, express my disappointment at All Grown Up.

Now, I won’t say AGU was a bad show per se. I have spoken poorly of it in the past, and I believe my old criticisms still stand, but I now just see AGU as a mediocre animated sitcom for tweens.

I really don’t think it would’ve lasted long at all without the Rugrats connection. While the Rugrats are still the Rugrats, they’ve lost what made them funny and charming as babies. They’re now tweenagers who deal with tween problems and have forgotten all of what happened to them as babies, which is a depressing fact about the show to say the least.

I can’t remember it ever being particularly funny, and it wasn’t very long after it was made that Rugrats ended and AGU ended, subsequently snuffing out the long-standing series for good.

But not without giving us their first Christmas special in season three. Rugrats gave us a few holiday specials that I will be addressing later, but this is the only AGU special. I remember watching it, but for the life of me I don’t remember what it’s about. So….what’s it about?

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Everyone’s preparing for Christmas and Chuckie’s depressed because every Christmas at his house turns out to be a nightmare. His father is great when it comes to celebrating every other holiday of the season, but when it comes to Christmas the man’s just a wreck.

They always get terrible Christmas trees, and every other tradition either doesn’t happen or ends up getting ruined. After reviewing their Christmases on DVD with Chuckie, Tommy suggests that the first place to start to making a better Christmas would be getting a nice tree since every year it seems like they get a terrible tree, and having a nice tree might put everything else into motion.

While Chuckie is excited for the great-looking Christmas trees he sees while tree shopping the next day, Chaz is, for some reason, intent on getting the crappiest tree imaginable. Look, I know that Christmas is more about family and togetherness than the tree or the decorations or the presents, but why the hell wouldn’t you at least muse over getting a decent tree? You don’t have to spend $100 on some gigantic Christmas redwood, but Chaz specifically seeks out bare, brittle trees that Charlie Brown would be ashamed of. He picks one out of a pile labeled ‘kindling’ that is breaking apart before our eyes.

Chuckie is obviously angry over getting yet another crappy tree, and when he sees that someone has left their beautiful Christmas tree next to the garbage, he assumes that the owners are throwing it out and takes it away. I do have to commend Chuckie for walking all that way with the tree on his back. Unwrapped even. I don’t know exactly how big that tree is, but my family gets a six-footer-ish every year and that takes two of us to walk out of the tree farm and to the truck. It can be a nightmare if we get one that’s too big.

Chuckie gets it back to the house to surprise Chaz and….wow. I assume Chaz is like at least 5’5, so that tree must be like seven or eight feet tall if the proportions are any indication. Damn, Chuckie, have you been working out?

Chaz is kinda disappointed because the tree doesn’t match what they usually get, but changes his tune when he sees how excited Chuckie is.

Later, as Chuckie hangs out in the Java Lava with his friends, he bravely tries one of Betty’s (Phil and Lil’s mom) weird holiday drinks since he’s now in a good mood with a nice Christmas tree. However, his mood is quickly soured when Phil talks about the news that a nearby family had their Christmas tree stolen from right outside their house, especially when he hears how disgusted everyone is that someone would do such a thing.

Tommy convinces Chuckie that his dad will understand his honest mistake and that he can just return the tree, but sitcom drama emerges as Chaz now seems to love the tree sincerely and has bought over 16 huge boxes of ornaments to decorate the tree with. Yeesh, I completely plaster my tree from top to bottom and I only have two totes full and a few things from a cardboard box. 16 boxes? How will all that even fit on that tree? Even if you did magically find space, the weight would probably break it in half.

Not only is he excited about the tree, but Chuckie’s overall plan has worked. Chaz is now psyched about any and all things Christmas. He’s making his own decorations, baking gingerbread towns, he is just ecstatic.

Chuckie now, obviously, decides to keep the truth about the tree from Chaz, and meanwhile Kimi and Kira are stuck in Japan after visiting her uncle due to airline BS.

Chuckie decides he’ll just buy a new tree for the family he stole from, but only manages to get a fairly crappy tree for most of his savings. However, as Tommy and Chuckie are bringing it to the house, Chuckie accidentally drops it and it gets run over.

I’m starting to feel like this episode is taking place a couple days before Christmas. Who buys a tree and decorates so close to Christmas? I mean, I’m usually not the type to decorate before Thanksgiving or even the day after like a lot of people, but why wait until the very last minute?

Meanwhile, back at the Java Lava, everyone is still talking about the damn tree thief. Is the town really that boring? Yeah, it sucks, but Betty is installing a security camera in the store because of it, and now Susie and the others are talking about God smiting the thief for stealing the symbol of Christmas. Considering the religious meaning behind Christmas is celebrating Jesus’ birthday, is that like a dad getting really mad at someone for stealing his son’s birthday cake?

Chuckie freaks out again and heads home where Chaz is still jonesin’ for a hit of Christmas as he rehearses with carolers, wears reindeer antlers on his head and subsequently decorated the entire house from top to bottom in preparation for a Christmas party that he must’ve organized in a few hours and will take place in less than a day. Dude, I adore Christmas and I would love to be at your house right now, but how are you doing this?!

As Chuckie goes to bed, he has a nightmare about the tree-less family being poor and sad without their Christmas tree. They also surprisingly say it’s ‘the Lord’s day’. Rugrats always did seem to get a pass on religious stuff for some reason.

Meanwhile in Tommy and Dil’s ‘subplot’ of writing a Hanukkah song since there are so many Christmas songs and so few Hanukkah songs, it’s two days until Christmas and they still have no Hanukkah song prepared….uh, boys…..you might have wanted to make a Hanukkah song….for Hanukkah…..which was probably a week or two prior to this point in time……Just sayin’.

Chuckie starts flipping out on everything Christmas, culminating in him trying to steal a candy cane and telling off a mall Santa who was just sitting there with a kid…..Wow. What’s even weirder is that Lil finds his crazy behavior attractive. 0.o

He admits his ‘crime’ to the others, but they all understand and Lil even says God will forgive him for it. Chuckie is having none of it, however, and continues to wallow in the belief that he will be smote for what he did.

At the party, he’s still miserable, and gets even more miserable when Chaz gets the news that, due to a bunch of airline crap, Kimi and Kira are stuck in Mexico and won’t be home for Christmas. Chuckie believes this is all because of what he did, so Tommy gives the quite stupid suggestion of stealing the Christmas tree from his house to give back to the family it belonged to.

So, that night, without even bothering to take some of the decorations off, Tommy, Dil, Phil, Lil and Chuckie break into Chuckie’s house and steal the tree.

Also, I never noticed, maybe she changed voice actors between Rugrats and AGU, but Kira’s VA can’t act worth a crap. She definitely can’t act angry.

The return is successful and Chaz finds the tree stolen the next morning only to have Chuckie suddenly crack after Chaz finds pine needles in his hair. Kira and Kimi suddenly burst through the door, and I guess despite not remembering his mother Chuckie calls Kira by her first name instead of calling her ‘mom’. *shrug*

The family’s all back together and Chaz and Chuckie both realize what Chaz was saying all along; Christmas begins and ends with family. They don’t need a fancy tree to enjoy Christmas, they just need each other. Kira decides to use a souvenir bonsai tree as their Christmas tree, agreeing that anything is better than the crappy ones that Chaz picks.

That night, Susie sings ‘The First Noel’ at church and Tommy and Dil are allowed to sing also with their Hanukkah song about latkes and it’s actually not bad. Kinda catchy. I don’t understand how they got a spot in the service to sing when Susie was so excited to get a solo in the choir, but whatever.

Bottomline: And thus ends a fittingly bland and mediocre Christmas special for a bland and mediocre show. I will admit some lines were pretty good, but it just takes a very cliché sitcom plot (do something bad, lie about it, can’t reveal truth because someone’s so gosh darn happy about the lie, try in vain to fix it, admit everything, everything’s forgiven, luv u ❤ the end.) and adds a Christmas theme to it. Even before Chuckie steals the tree, you can tell how the entire episode will go once the whole ‘sucky tree, must get good tree for good Christmas’ thing is established.

We don’t get to see the family that Chuckie stole from, and he never admits what he did to them, he just dumps the tree at their doorstep and runs away.

The ending feels a bit rushed and cobbled together. There’s no real climax, it just kinda resolves and ends. Chuckie acts like an ass for much of the episode, and he acts like a neurotic mess for the rest of it, which, while being a ‘Chuckie’ thing to do, is made annoying in this episode.

Tommy and Dil’s latke song is about the most memorable and interesting thing about this episode. I would’ve preferred if there was a real reason behind Chaz wanting incredibly sucky trees every year. Even for $15 or $10 those trees are just horrible. You might as well just invest in a fake one, especially considering that Chaz’s main angle here is not only the tradition of terrible trees but also saving money. Even a really cheap fake one would be eons better than the garbage he picks out, and it would last for years.

I really thought I remembered something like he picked out bad trees because he and his first wife got a crappy tree on their first Christmas, but nope. No real heartwarming moments, no big reveal, nothing steep to latch us onto this story. Even the thing with Kimi and Kira getting home isn’t a big deal. Chuckie and Chaz don’t act like they terribly miss them and neither do Kimi and Kira. They barely bring them up. When it’s shown that they won’t be home for Christmas it’s more like a big ‘well, that’s just great!’ moment instead of any emotional impact.

There’s nothing terribly wrong with this Christmas special, but there’s also nothing really good about it either.

Recommended Audience: E for everyone.