Author Archives: Joe

Dec. 12 – Life with Louie – “A Christmas Surprise for Mrs. Stillman”

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Original air date December 18, 1994

In the mid 90s comedian Louie Anderson got his own animated show. I have no idea how or why. It was apparently a Fox thing to find stand-up comedians and give them their own show, they just usually took the form of a late night show or sitcom. Life with Louie was a cartoon about Anderson growing up in Wisconsin with his family, even though the real life Louie Anderson grew up in Minnesota. It seems like a trivial change and I have no idea why it would have been done that way. Maybe they were hoping for a Step by Step crossover? The show ran for 3 seasons spread out over parts of four years from 1994 – 1998. It was actually pretty highly acclaimed during its run and even won an Emmy. Despite that, it feels like a forgotten cartoon from the 90s and that’s only amplified by the fact that it’s never had a proper home video release, even though Anderson once claimed it was coming (that was over 10 years ago).

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The real life Louie Anderson (left) with brother Tommy.

Fox apparently had some high expectations for Life with Louie because it got the prime time debut treatment. The pilot first premiered on the night of December 18, 1994. As you could probably have guessed based on that date, it was a Christmas episode! It’s also a pretty good excuse to bump animation into prime time when it can be marketed as a holiday special. Fox did this quite often which is why Eek the Cat even got the prime time treatment. Each episode of Life with Louie would begin with Anderson himself in live action to set up the plot of the episode, and at the end he usually got to return to summarize everything. During the episode he would also provide narration while voicing the child version of himself and his dad. It’s a simple and effective way to tell a story, and Anderson is actually pretty good in this role. He comes across as gentle, and he is happy to slip into his dad’s voice during these pieces for some cheap comedy.

The premiere episode is titled “A Christmas Surprise for Mrs. Stillman.” After the intro, the episode starts off with Louie riding in the car with his mom (Edie McClurg), brother Tommy (Miko Hughes), and dad, Andy. This sequence basically gives us a brief introduction to the main cast. Louie and Tommy are happy to see Christmas is incoming, while their dad just grumbles about everything. He’s a complainer and a grump and will be the source for much of the show’s humor. Louie is a bit laid back and sarcastic and he likes to make little quips under his breath in response to something his dad said, while his dad will usually respond with, “I heard that!” His mother, on the other hand, comes across as a kind, sweet, nurturing soul. She’s a bit of the stereotype of the midwestern maternal figure. The snowy backdrop, kind mom, grumpy dad, kid brother, shitty car, and narration from Anderson really give this a strong A Christmas Story vibe, which will only be amplified the further into the episode we go.

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Louie and Jenny, who will become a more integral part of the show following the pilot.

The next morning, a bunch of snow has been dumped on the town and Louie is excited that school has been cancelled. Tommy is too, even though he’s too young for school. His mom gets them bundled up to go out and play in the snow and it brings back memories to see kids stuffed into giant coats that heavily restrict arm movement. She also hands Louie a cup of hot coffee to give to his father, which he responds by saying he’s not going near that bathroom! She assures him his dad isn’t in the bathroom, but rather is outside shoveling the driveway so he can go to work.

Louie and Tommy go outside and find the old man grumpily shoveling. He takes the coffee and the two boys go off to help their neighbor, Mrs. Stillman (Liz Sheridan), find her newspaper. Louie tries to trick Tommy into thinking there are monsters under the snow, but the little kid is smarter than he looks. After Louie finds Mrs. Stillman’s paper he and Tommy go off to have a snowball fight with the neighborhood kids. Many of these kids will become recurring characters and friends of Louie, but this pilot episode does nothing to establish their relationship with Louie at the moment.

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Louie’s mom is the moral center of the show.

In another bit very much reminiscent of A Christmas Story, Louie explains the intricacies of snowball fights. He also goes into detail about the pain of taking one in the ear. Now for some reason, Louie has removed the hood of his parka he’s been wearing this whole time for the snowball fight, so of course he’s going to get hit in the ear. It’s a little amusing watching him limp back home, explaining that for some reason a snowball to the ear always caused a limp, and the other kids all break in their snowball fight to basically sympathize with Louie. They all seem to share in his pain. Even his dad knows that look as Louie stumbles into the house, where he determines this is the only appropriate time he can utter profanity. He basically just shouts “darn it,” since this is a Fox Kids production, but it gets his parents’ attention. His dad then leaves for work, only for the plow to come by and plug-up the end of the driveway once more with snow.

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Louie’s dad, Andy, struggling to setup the tree.

That night, the family heads out to get a Christmas tree. They go to a lot where Louie is concerned his notoriously cheap dad is going to come away with a lousy tree. His old man is forced to pay $35 for a tree, which seems grossly expensive for this period in time. They bring it home where his dad orders Louie to fetch him his saw and the tree stand, and Louie makes a remark about how old the stand is. I’ve encountered many dads who insist the old, steel, tree stand is good enough so this little bit hits home. His dad fusses with the tree for an eternity before finally declaring it’s setup, then it tilts over discouraging Louie. Dad then tries to relax in his favorite recliner only to be reminded that the lights on the house still need to go up. This has been a running theme of the episode so far, and his dad finally heads out to do it.

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Those are some nice lights, Andy.

Dad Anderson does a notoriously shitty job at putting the lights on the house. He makes Homer Simpson look like a rock star. He basically just takes the string lights and tosses one end over the house and calls it done. He tosses another string up a tree and another across some bushes in front of the house before he heads in. Inside, the kids are watching Miracle on 34th Street and it’s the actual film super-imposed over their television set. I always found it weird when cartoon characters watched television containing real people. In a bit of interesting camera placement, we see the television from Andy’s eyes as he looks down the length of his body as he slumps back in his recliner. It’s the part of the movie where Mr. Kringle teaches young Susan how to act like a monkey, and it’s too stupid for the old man. He demands Louie change the set to channel 2, and we get to see Louie grab a pair of pliers as he goes to change the channel. Ah, old televisions.

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Nice to see they paid enough money that even the JETIX reruns contained the Miracle on 34th Street bits.

As they fiddle with the TV, Louie’s mom looks out the window at Mrs. Stillman who is trying to clear away the snow from her driveway in the dark. She starts going on and on about how Mrs. Stillman is a recent widower, has no Christmas decorations, and her family has all moved far away and she has no money to visit them. She resolves to take Mrs. Stillman grocery shopping, and while she’s gone, she wants her husband to take their extra Christmas lights and put them on Mrs. Stillman’s house. He is not at all thrilled about this suggestion, but it seems old Andy has a hard time saying “no” to his sweet, little, wife. When mom leaves, Louie finds out he gets to help while his sister Laura, whom had not been mentioned up to this point and is only depicted as a shadow upstairs talking on the phone, has to stay in and watch Tommy.

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Stick ’em up, Anderson!

Before they head over, Louie’s dad tests out the extra lights in the garage and is dismayed to see that they do indeed work. He and Louie trudge through the snow with the lights and a ladder and get to work. As Louie’s dad prepares Stillman’s house, it falls on Louie to untangle the lights which is quite a chore for a kid with sausage fingers who also happens to be wearing mittens. As Louie’s dad barks orders at him, the police pass by and see Anderson on the house. They mistake him for a robber, and order him to put his hands up which causes him to fall off the ladder. They start asking questions and the old man insists he’s just decorating the woman’s house on account of his wife. The story sounds good, until he gestures to his shoddily decorated home. The cops cuff him, telling him he should have pointed to another house, which forces Louie to emerge from the shadows to stick up for his dad. The cops buy the story at that point, and order Andy to do a better job with the Stillman house than his own.

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Poor Louie struggling to rescue his dad from the roof.

Louie and his dad get back to work, and while the old man is on the roof, the neighborhood kids come by to sing Christmas carols. Their singing startles the old man, causing him to slip and fall off the roof. He’s able to grab onto the ledge, and the kids see him and they too mistake him for a robber and start pelting him with snowballs. Louie again makes the save and the kids help him get the ladder to free his dad. Once the kids find out what they’re doing, they all want to join in. They run off and get decorations from their own homes and start setting them up. Louie’s dad gets to be a foreman now and just barks out orders, Louie suspecting the louder he yells the warmer he feels.

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You’re going to get electrocuted man, just lay back and accept it.

When Louie’s mom is seen down the road the rush is on to get the lights turned on. Something is off though and they won’t light, forcing everyone to scramble and check every bulb. Luckily for them, the Anderson family car is a piece of junk and it keeps stalling as they head down the road (Louie’s dad insists it’s not junk but a classic, a line that was common in cartoons and sitcoms in the 90s for some reason). Louie eventually finds the problem, one of the plugs wasn’t plugged in, and he hands it to his dad. It had been buried in the snow, so cartoon logic dictates that Louie’s dad get electrocuted once it’s plugged in. It works though, and Mrs. Stillman arrives home to a beautifully decorated house. She invites the kids in for hot chocolate and Christmas carols, where Louie reveals they found out she doesn’t have a tree or decorations because she’s Jewish. Louie’s dad is shown as being quietly satisfied with the job they did, and he even pauses to fix one of the little elf decorations as he heads home. He does insist he’s smiling because she’s going to get nailed with one Hell of an electric bill in January. The cops from earlier even swing by to compliment Anderson, and also to remind him he’s going to have to take it all down after New Year’s.

We’re next shown Christmas morning where Louie and Tommy unwrap gifts while their dad grumbles about how expensive each one was. Interestingly, there’s no attempt at suggesting anything was left by Santa Claus either by the characters in the cartoon or Louie the narrator. We also see Louie give his dad a Christmas present, some tools he had taken from his toolbox and re-gifted. His dad is actually amused by the joke, though he also expects a real present is coming his way. He’s asking about it as we zoom out on an external shot of the house to end the cartoon portion. Louie then comes in to say he’s giving his dad his jumper cables back this year, a joke that has always stuck with me for some reason in regards to this special. He wishes everyone a Merry Christmas as we go to the credits.

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And the kids celebrate with Mrs. Stillman, who despite being Jewish, knows a few Christmas tunes.

Life with Louie is a sweet show with some humor. It’s probably funnier to a kid than it is to an adult, and the dad character is definitely a bit over the top. There is some nuance and charm to the humor though, and I do like the dry humor from Louie himself. I do find it weird that Louie Anderson actually uses a lower voice when voicing the child version of himself and a higher voice for his old man. The family dynamics are a bit confusing since Louie basically has a hidden older sister. And in reviewing material for this post I’ve come to find out he actually has nine older siblings. I suppose just to keep things simple and tidy they chose to just focus on Louie and his brother while basically ignoring the others. It must have been weird for his real life siblings, but it works for the show.

The plot for the show is a sweet one and it is enjoyable and heart-warming. While it was kind of odd to see two different parties mistake Andy Anderson for a prowler, it did lead to some funny moments. The confrontation with the police might actually be the best part of the episode, though start to finish this thing is rather neat and consistent. The setting is also quite charming, and as someone who very much enjoys A Christmas Story I do like that it makes me think of that film. The show isn’t brilliantly animated, but it’s attractive enough. I also enjoyed the punchline of Mrs. Stillman being Jewish. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense that no one in the neighborhood noticed the lack of Christmas decorations in prior years, but it’s funny so who cares?

If you want to watch this holiday edition of Life with Louie, you’re going to have to stream it. Since it’s not available on home video no one is particularly vigilant in keeping the show off of YouTube and other similar websites. I actually enjoyed this one, and it makes me want to revisit Life with Louie. Who would have thought a cartoon about the childhood of Louie Anderson would be good?

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Dec. 11 – “Santa’s Surprise”

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“Santa’s Surprise” first released December 5, 1947

Cartoons were a pretty big deal at one point in time. Any studio that wanted to be thought of as a major studio had its own animation division and its own characters. Everyone knows the big ones from Disney and Warner and then after them I suppose the next biggest was MGM with Tom & Jerry, as well as others. Eventually animation became less important as television invaded the homes of people all around the world. No longer did customers heading off to the movies expect a newsreel, cartoon, and feature and the cartoon short started to disappear. Now it’s largely a novelty and a bunch of the lesser ones have slipped into the public domain.

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Paramount’s Noveltoons ran from 1943 until about 1967.

Of the many cartoons that appear to be floating around in the public domain, it would seem a lot belong to Paramount Pictures. They were there early as well, with the likes of Betty Boop and Popeye, but they scrambled for stars in the 40s and 50s. This was a time when the short was fading, and even Mickey Mouse had all but been retired. One of the studio’s stars during this era was Little Audrey. She was basically a replacement for the more popular Little Lulu character that Paramount declined to keep licensing. I wouldn’t say Little Audrey is a total rip-off of the Little Lulu character, but there are certainly some similarities. Paramount was at least smart enough to give her a different voice, and tasked Mae Questel with the honors. Questel is best known as the voice of Betty Boop and Olive Oyl.

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A rather pleasant looking Santa flies around singing to himself on Christmas Eve. The man loves his job.

The debut for Little Audrey is actually not a true Little Audrey cartoon, but she’s the most recognizable face in it. “Santa’s Surprise” is a 1947 Noveltoons cartoon short that depicts some kids giving Santa a present of his own on Christmas. It opens rather simply with Santa flying around in his sleigh on Christmas Eve. Ahead of him, six chunky reindeer pull his sleigh. It hasn’t come up much this year so far, but my biggest Christmas special pet peeve is when Santa is depicted with less than 8 reindeer. I won’t demand they include the 9th, but come on! There has to be at least 8!

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I guess this kid thinks this face on his pillow is enough to fool Santa. Looks like it worked.

As Santa flies around he enters homes to stuff stockings. From under beds and behind blankets little eyes watch his every move. Audrey has the most auspicious debut when Santa arrives at her house to find she cut a hole in her stocking, thus attempting to trick him into refilling it over and over. Santa laughs and it’s clear he’s having himself a good time. He even stops to take note of a little stocking hanging outside a mouse hole and stuffs a wedge of cheese into it. Poor cartoon mice, all they ever get is cheese.

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I have my name on my bed too.

With his work done, Santa returns home to the North Pole. His existence in this cartoon actually seems rather sad as his house is empty. No elves. No Mrs. Claus. Just a pile of dirty dishes in the sink. Santa is pretty tired and climbs into bed, though he pauses to wish himself a “Merry Christmas!” in the mirror, which is either cute or just further adds to his depressing surroundings. As he snores away, the tassel on his night-cap billowing with each snore, some eyes emerge from his sleigh. It’s a group of multi-cultural children! They’ve stowed away in Santa’s sleigh throughout the night to reach his home. This is clearly not the same Santa of my youth who was impossible to catch in the act.

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Little Audrey, center, is going to tell these kids what’s up.

The kids all climb out of the sleigh and peer into Santa’s home. They take note of the dour surroundings and decide they should do something for Santa since he does so much for the children of the world. Little Audrey is basically the focal point of the group as she’s the one who suggests they help him out. As the white American of the group, I’m guessing the animators thought no one else could possibly lead this bunch. We get a little word from everyone, and boy are there some uncomfortable depictions here. The little black kid somewhat resembles a white kid in blackface. It’s not good. The Chinese child has tiny slits for eyes and speaks in stunted English. There’s a Hawaiian girl that seems to only communicate in hula and another questionable accent on the Spanish girl. This is 1947, folks!

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The kids sneak around, until they realize they don’t really have to.

From here it’s a pretty benign little cartoon. The kids sneak into the house and try to keep quiet as they get busy cleaning up the place. One of the boys gets the seat of his pants set on fire and has to plant it in the snow, which is probably the only real physical comedy here. I did find it amusing how they keep insisting on being quiet so as not to wake Santa, and then Little Audrey just starts singing a song as she dusts the place.

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The physical comedy is not high in this one, but a kid does set his ass on fire.

When they’re finished, they leave Santa’s tree decorated and with a present under it. He’s startled and wakes up to find the children have fled, but he sees how clean everything is and finds the present under the tree. It’s a music box with all of the faces of the children on it and there’s a little note reminding Santa not to forget them next year. He gives a hearty laugh, and the short is over. How did those kids get home? I have no idea.

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Little Audrey, just over here dusting this fish.

If it weren’t for the dated representations of the other cultures of the children, “Santa’s Surprise” would be a totally boring, but sweet, Christmas cartoon short. It’s got a nice, simple, message about repaying acts of kindness with more kindness. Who is more deserving of a Christmas present than Santa Claus himself? It’s not an unheard of thing, and other shorts and specials have tackled the same and probably have done it better. The Prep & Landing short “Operation:  Secret Santa” is one that comes to mind. While it doesn’t feature children giving something to Santa in thanks, it does feature Mrs. Claus trying to get the perfect gift for Santa.

The absence of Mrs. Claus is also rather bizarre. I don’t know if she is more of a modern staple, but it seems like the concept should have been common in the 40s. After all, she was in the agreed upon very first story about Santa. This completely lackadaisical and certainly jolly Santa Claus is both nice and weird. He really doesn’t seem to care if he’s seen or heard and obviously he doesn’t check the sleigh much. I always do enjoy seeing simple homes from this era depicted in cartoons like the ones Santa visits. Maybe we should just go back to hanging a sock for gifts instead of filling up the underside of a tree? My credit card bills would like that very much.

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“Santa’s Surprise” has been released a bunch of times on video since it entered the public domain.

Paramount isn’t the most well-remembered producer of animation, and if we’re judging them solely on the quality of their animation then it’s relatively easy to see why. This picture is not on par with what the other studios were putting out. It almost looks like it’s ten years older than it really is. The characters are bit rubbery looking and there isn’t a ton of animation that’s out of the ordinary. It’s far from ugly or off-putting, but you definitely know you’re watching something old. It’s also possible this wasn’t preserved all that well and there could be some deterioration at work here as well. The backgrounds are nice though and there’s a cold, yet cozy, quality to them. There’s lots of wood which means lots of wood grain, but nothing seems too busy or cluttered.

If you want to check out “Santa’s Surprise” and other cartoons that feature Little Audrey, then I actually have some good news. Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has released some restored cartoons from the public domain and “Santa’s Surprise” is included. At least, that’s according to Wikipedia. It claims it was released on October 11 of this year, but I can’t find anything online and it’s not cited. “Santa’s Surprise” has been released on DVD over the years and it’s not expensive. Since it’s also public domain, you can find streams of it online with relative ease as well, including Prime Video. It’s really not worth seeking out, but if you want something light and have a taste for old cartoons then you might get something out of it.


Dec. 10 – The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries – “Feather Christmas”

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Original air date December 12, 1999

One of the earliest Kids’ WB shows was The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries. It centered on Granny (June Foray) and her pets Tweety Bird (Joe Alaskey), Sylvester the cat (Alaskey), and Hector the bulldog (Frank Welker) and they went around, I bet you’ll never guess, solving mysteries. The personalities of the characters are all pretty much the same as you remember from the old Warner cartoon shorts. I don’t know if Hector technically is the same character as the bulldog who often showed up in those cartoons, but he’s just a big dog who likes to inflict pain upon Sylvester, usually in response to the cat trying to eat Tweety. Yes, even though they’re on a team now, Sylvester still very much wants to eat Tweety. The show ran from 1995-2000 with even one holdover episode not airing until 2002.

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The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries ran from 1995 to 2000 and produced 52 episodes.

The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries was not a show I watched. By the time it premiered I was aging out of television cartoons. I did take a look when it first launched, but found the show too long and a tad boring. That first season of 13 episodes contained one long-form story over the half hour television slot while future seasons would switch to a two-segment formant. The little I’ve seen of those are definitely much improved in the pacing department, though I haven’t seen enough of them to really offer an opinion.

Our episode today is from season 4, so it’s actually just half of an episode. “Feather Christmas” is the first segment in the show’s 41st episode and it originally aired December 12, 1999. The second segment (not covered in this post) is actually a New Year’s special and is titled “A Fist Full of Lutefisk,” if you’re interested.

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A pair of Christmas crooks.

The special opens with a shadowy couple sneaking around a home at night. They snatch a bird from a cage and then sneak around the Christmas tree to hand it off to a driver outside. As he leaves with the creature, a little girl shows up with an empty bird cage in hand. She’s clearly just woken up and is immediately distressed about the bird-napping. The lights come on and it’s revealed the thieves are actually her parents.

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Hey cat, tampering with the mail is a federal crime.

At Granny’s home, Sylvester is making out his Christmas list. He recounts how each year they head to New England to visit a comically distant relative of Granny’s and every year he gets the same present:  a rubber mouse. This year he wants a little yellow bird (what else?) and he hopes that by being extra good Santa will finally gift him what he wishes. Tweety shows up to inquire what he’s doing and Sylvester hides his letter from him. Tweety then basically taunts him as he seals it in an envelope and heads out to a mailbox to send the letter. As Tweety sits perched on the mailbox lid, Sylvester gets sick of his incessant nagging and flicks him down into the mailbox. When Tweety reminds him he needs to be nice or Santa won’t give him anything, he immediately regrets his decision and starts reaching into the mailbox and pulling out letters. Tweety slips out the rear door of the mailbox (apparently it wasn’t locked) and then watches and continues with his chattering. A Mailman shows up and eventually puts a stop to Sylvester’s mail destruction.

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I’ve stared at this picture for several minutes and I still have no idea what’s in Hector’s mouth.

Sylvester winds up in a snowdrift just outside the house, while inside Granny is singing a rousing rendition of “The Feast of Stephen” while Hector snoozes beside. She leaves when the phone rings allowing for Hector to go nosing through the bags of gift-wrapping by the piano. Granny returns to announce they have another case, while Hector emerges from the wrapping with a bunch of…something…in his mouth. Dog treats? I don’t know.

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Nice house.

At the Fontleroy residence, the little girl (Laura, voiced by Laraine Newman) from earlier is howling about her missing bird while the parents try to sell her on a new pet. As the dad (Mark L. Taylor) lists off different pets as options, their butler presents an example. The one for a dog is an old Warner character, a brown dog that may or may not have a name, but he’s pretty recognizable. It ends up being the butler who passes on Granny’s business card to Mr. Fontleroy and at first he mistakes Granny for a pet substitute, then smartens up.

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Laura is portrayed as a brat, though she’s also clearly been wronged by her parents in regads to her bird. I’m not sure who to root for.

Granny shows up and the Fontleroys explain what happened. They hated the bird, and Mr. Fontleroy claims it even bit him several times, so they had their chauffeur take it away in the middle of the night. Now they regret their decision since their daughter is inconsolable and they want Granny to find it. The problem for them is their chauffeur is off for the rest of the year and they don’t know what pet store he returned the bird to. Granny agrees to take “the case,” though this doesn’t strike me as much of a mystery.

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Sylvester “helping.”

Granny heads out with her animal companions and Sylvester is eager to appear nice and helpful. He opens the door to the pet store for Granny, but mistakenly pins Hector and Tweety between the door and the wall in doing so. Hector does not take kindly to this and he and Sylvester have a rumble through the store causing a great mess. The store had taken in the bird, but the problem is the owner then traded it to another pet store for a blue-tongued skink.

Granny heads to the next store, and this time she forbids Hector and Sylvester from coming in with her and Tweety. They sit outside on the curb when Hector notices a tree lot nearby and silently asks Sylvester (Hector is mute) to watch his “spot” on the sidewalk until he returns, which Sylvester agrees to do. Hector happily runs over to doggy paradise while Sylvester notices a Salvation Army-like volunteer ringing a bell for charity donations. Sylvester heads over to help and begs for change alongside the bell-ringer. When that fails to generate any additional donations he straps himself into a one-man band costume and makes a ton of noise which just drives everyone away.

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Hector gets caught relieving himself on a tree.

At the tree lot, Hector finds a nice douglas fir to mark and is enjoying himself until the tree lot owner chases him away. He hides in another tree to avoid the attendant, or at least that’s what the guy thinks, and he pounces only to find it’s a little old lady. A much bigger man in her company comes over and pounds the man into the ground. Meanwhile, Granny finds out this second pet store has traded the bird to a third pet store, and she’s off to Bob’s Pet Emporium for another try.

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More of Sylvester’s helping, though actually he’s not really to blame for this one.

When Granny and Tweety enter the store, Sylvester notices a woman trying to string up Christmas lights. He sees this as another opportunity to be helpful and thus impress Santa Claus. Sylvester offers to take the lights up the ladder for the lady, and she’s happy to let him do so. She holds the ladder, which is on wheels, while Sylvester strings the lights, but a phone call from inside her shop causes her to abandon the “puddy cat.” The ladder rolls off, and Sylvester is forced to hang on for dear life. He uses the string of lights as a lasso to rope a giant Christmas tree that Hector was about to pee on. The tree is uprooted and is taken along with Sylvester while Hector gets caught as well. Inside the pet shop, Granny finds out the store is expecting the bird to arrive at any minute. Outside, Sylvester and gang come to a stop when they collide with a delivery truck. Granny heads outside to find the damaged bird cage the little yellow bird was traveling in, but no bird.

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Were you aware that Sylvester is a Christ-like figure?

At the Fontleroy residence, Granny is dismayed to only be able to present to the family a damaged bird cage with no bird. Outside, Sylvester is watching when the bird flies over to land on the window beside him. He thinks it’s his gift from Santa and he’s overjoyed to have a little yellow bird of his very own to consume. He looks over at the sad little girl, and it’s enough to convince him to give the bird to its rightful owner. As he goes to present it, the girl sees Sylvester and decides she’d rather have him. Her parents point out that she has her bird back, but the tantrum ensues nonetheless.

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Every Christmas special needs an unselfish act.

Back at Granny’s house, everyone receives gifts from the Fontleroys as a thank you for returning the bird. Sylvester rips his present open to find yet another rubber mouse. Tweety flies over to smartly remind him there’s always next year, which just provokes Sylvester into chasing him around as the camera zooms out on the house.

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And Sylvester’s unselfish act is largely unappreciated.

Since “Feather Christmas” is only one segment of a half hour show, it ends up being rather brief. It works out well then that there isn’t much of a mystery to solve, since there’d hardly be time for anything substantial. Instead, it’s basically just a story about Sylvester trying to be good, but also not trying all that hard. A problem I have with the show in general is present here and that’s in how the physical comedy bits feel a bit redundant with the old cartoon shorts. I suppose that’s fine if you were a little kid in 1999 who may not have been that familiar with those toons (though I think they were still on television then), but if you grew up with the packaged blocks of those cartoons then this episode probably won’t make you laugh. I liked some of the personality in Hector and his embarrassment over getting caught urinating on a tree. There isn’t a lot of Tweety in this episode, which I’m also okay with as he was never one of my favorites. I always rooted for Sylvester in those old cartoons.

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Tweety just has to get in one last dig before the episode ends.

It’s a bit surprising that Sylvester is shown doing the right thing at the end, Christmas spirit and all, but actually doesn’t get anything. There isn’t even an implied presence from Santa Claus at the episode’s end, just gifts from the family they (sort of) helped out. On one hand, you’re not automatically owed anything for doing the right thing, but on the other characters usually receive some token from old Saint Nick in these tales. I suppose it’s intentionally trying to up-end the norm for a Christmas special, but it didn’t really do it in a funny way. Not much of this was very amusing, so I can’t say I missed out on anything by not watching this show in the 90s. For what it’s worth, the show is at least well-animated and the voice acting is good. Other episodes feature more cameos of classic Looney Tunes characters and those are probably a bit more enjoyable for that reason alone.

The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries have only received a partial home video release. The 13 episode first season, which contains a different Christmas episode that will likely be covered here some day, is on that set. This episode was never released though along with the other seasons. This show actually was still airing on Boomerang as recently as 2017 so I suppose there’s an outside chance it could pop-up this month? I’m not sure if the channel still has the rights to broadcast it. If you must watch it though, it looks like WB isn’t too concerned about piracy so it’s not hard to find. If you want my opinion though, if you really want to spend Christmas with Sylvester and Tweety just check out the far superior “Gift Wrapped.”


Dec. 9 – Spectacular Spider-Man – “Reinforcement”

reinforcement

Original air date June 29, 2009

It’s not my favorite, but if you wanted to argue that Spectacular Spider-Man is the best animated series based on a Marvel property then I wouldn’t fight you on it. The show ran from March 2008 to November 2009 and produced a tidy 26 episodes. It was a re-telling of Spider-Man with an obvious emphasis on the Steve Ditko years, but with plenty of modern twists some coming from the still popular Ultimate Universe at the time. The designs for the characters were stylized, yet simple. The style used for the eventual Disney Infinity brand actually reminded me a lot of this show. Basically anyone I’ve ever spoken to about this show enjoyed it, and the only reason it was cancelled seems to be directly related to the Marvel acquisition by Disney. It was cheaper for Disney to discontinue the show and look to create a new one using internal assets. And since Sony still did and still does own the film rights to Spider-Man, there was probably less emphasis placed on him as opposed to characters Marvel and Disney could control.

Because of the somewhat premature cancellation, a lot of what the show was setting up was never really paid off. The final episode is titled “Final Curtain,” indicating there was at least some attempt at finality and that the creative forces behind the show considered that this was the end, but there was still so much more. Some of that is seen in this episode as Spectacular Spider-Man did an excellent job of creating lore for the series that could be referenced and built on continually. Like the comics itself, at some point that lore may have become unmanageable and the show could have suffered as a result, but it’s a shame it wasn’t allowed to reach that point as it feels like the show had at least another 26 episodes in it.

spectacular spider-man

Spectacular Spider-Man only managed to produce 26 episodes, but they were 26 quality episodes.

One thing this show did was lean heavy on holidays. There’s Halloween episodes, Valentine’s Day, and of course Christmas. This episode, “Reinforcement,” takes place on Christmas Eve. It’s a true episode for the show in that Christmas is just a framing device, this isn’t a true special where everything stops for the holiday. And it’s going to be a rather chaotic Christmas for our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.

patch

Hello, Patch!

The episode begins with Spider-Man (Josh Keaton) chasing some leads on Mysterio (Xander Berkeley). Apparently he recently swiped some high-tech stuff that can’t wait until after the holidays. Spider-Man is in a bad mood as a result and he’s pretty forceful with the thugs he interrogates at a local dive. One fellow he’s looking to speak with goes by the name of Blackie Gaxton (Steve Blum), and he’s fairly tight-lipped. As Spidey confronts Gaxton, an eye-patch wearing man is cautiously eavesdropping on the conversation before trying to slip away. Spider-Man notices him, and feeling he got what he could out of Gaxton, he takes off after him. He confronts him in the alley outside and the guy introduces himself as Patch (James Arnold Taylor) on account of his eye patch. Spider-Man wants to know who Mysterio is working for, and Patch offers up a name:  Master Planner.

marching orders

Here’s a story…

From a control room an older looking man watches Spider-Man via several monitors. He goes by the name of Tinkerer (Thom Adcox-Hernandez) and I just bet Spider-Man will have a joke for that name should they cross paths. He communicates with a shadowy figure over a video monitor and we come to know that person as The Master Planner. Dumb name aside, he has a good idea and shows Tinkerer the images of several super villains on his screen. They’re all presently incarcerated somewhere and he wants to spring them to take out Spider-Man. Comic fans should instantly recognize them as The Sinister Six! Or Sinister Seven?

At Ryker’s Island, a patrolling guard comes to the cell of Adrian Toomes (Robert Englund) and Quentin Beck. For you non comic fans, that’s Vulture and Mysterio. He notices they have no reaction to the call for breakfast so the guard enters their cell and finds that Toomes has been replaced with a hologram and Beck is a dummy and the guard sounds the alarm. We next head to the Ravencroft Institute for the Criminally Insane where a Dr. Ashley Kafka (Elisa Gabrielli) is leading a therapy session. The attendees include Cletus Kasady who has no spoken dialogue and is the someday Carnage, but the show never got that far. The other two individuals there are known to viewers though:  Doctor Otto Octavius (Peter MacNicol) and Max Dillon (Crispin Freeman), better known as Dr. Octopus and Electro. Electro is openly hostile towards Kafka and demands to be called by his super villain name while Otto is meek and receptive to treatment. Soon, an animal-like Kraven (Eric Vesbit) bursts in and takes out the orderlies. He’s there to spring Otto and Electro only Otto has no interest in leaving. He cowers in fear by Kafka who pleads with Max to stay and continue his treatment. Using his birth name on him again was a mistake, and the villain shocks her into submission as he flees with Kraven.

peter and liz

Peter believes pity is the way to a woman’s heart.

At Rockefeller Center, Peter Parker is enjoying a night of ice-skating with many of his friends and classmates. It’s revealed Gwen Stacy (Lacey Chabert) is upset with him about something stemming back from a prior episode while Peter seems to be openly trying to woo Liz Allen (Alanna Ubach). He seems to be doing an okay job, perhaps too okay as he decides to tone it down with the ice skating and intentionally flops onto his rear. He’s looking to get close to Liz via some skating lessons, but when she takes pity on an injured Flash Thompson (Joshua LeBar) it sinks Pete’s ship. He then tries to cozy up to Gwen, but she refuses to be his second choice. Mary Jane Watson (Vanessa Marshall) saw the whole thing and tries to give Pete some friendly advice to slow down and focus on what he wants. The message seems to go over his head as he seems to immediately turn his attention to courting MJ. He suggests they spend some time together and she declares she won’t do so without some hot cocoa, so Peter takes off to get some. Apparently MJ doesn’t mind being his third choice.

master planner commands

Behold! The Master Planner!

At Tinkerer’s base, the Sinister Six have been assembled. They’re given their marching orders by Master Planner. All of the villains have their gear back and are ready for action. Master Planner explains he wanted to assemble a Sinister Seven, but since Dr. Octopus refused they’ll have to settle for Sinister Six. He then gives them their target for the evening:  Spider-Man.

MJs advice

MJ swooping in like a vulture.

Back at Rockefeller Center, Peter is off getting the requested refreshments when Electro and Vulture attack. Kraven had tracked Spider-Man’s scent to the location and Electro is tasked with drawing him out. The sudden commotion causes Peter to spill the hot cocoa all over himself and burn his tongue. With his friends running for cover, Pete is forced into action. Spider-Man swings into action unleashing his trademarked banter, only with his tongue burnt it’s mostly indecipherable. The villains point this out and Spider-Man is basically shamed into shutting up. It’s rather amusing and Spidey shuts up just before it started to become annoying.

electro down

It’s going to be one of those nights.

Spider-Man is forced to lure the villains away from the screaming public, especially after Electro uses the ice as a conduit injuring several bystanders. He targets Vulture first and takes advantage of the fact that Vulture is clearly trying to keep his earpiece from getting damaged. Spidey knows there’s some coordination going on, plus this isn’t the first appearance of The Sinister Six in this universe. He eventually webs up Vulture causing him to slam into the giant Christmas tree. When Electro tries to free him he ends up doing more damage by igniting the tree Vulture is webbed in. The tree starts to come down, and Flash gets to be a hero by shoving Liz out of harm’s way, but with his foot in a cast he’s all but stranded. Spider-Man makes the save and deposits Flash on a nearby rooftop. Flash is pretty awestruck and even requests Spider-Man sign his cast, but he’s got more important things to worry about.

vulture webbed

Vulture is basically attacked by Christmas.

Flash inadvertently provided enough of a distraction for Electro to blast Spider-man into traffic. He bounces around on moving vehicles while Electro gives chase, eventually reaching a tire warehouse of some kind. There, Spidey is able to toss a ring of tires on Electro and his powers end up melting them down creating a rubberized prison for himself. He has no time to gloat though as a giant fist of sand smacks him in the face. It belongs to none other than Sandman (John DiMaggio) who’s partnered up with Rhino (Clancy Brown) this evening. They end up on a pier where Spider-Man is forced to get resourceful. First, he uses a fire hydrant to turn Sandman into mud then he merely outwits Rhino into going onto the ice nearby. He’s much too heavy, and Spider-Man tosses him a scuba tank claiming he’ll need it as he crashes through the ice.

A little water wasn’t enough to stop Sandman though, and he comes roaring back. Spider-Man notices he’s a lot slower than usual though and deduces that the added water is freezing in the Christmas air. The problem for Spidey though is that his web shooters have become frozen as well, forcing him into simply dodging the slow version of Sandman. He’s able to position him under a tree where he dumps a ton of snow on Sandman causing him to freeze completely.

rhino and spidey

Rhino is the classic strong but dumb adversary.

With four down, Spidey reasons that Shocker and Dr. Octopus are still out there waiting for him. Emboldened by his victories, he calls out for them. He soon spots them on a nearby rooftop, and getting his web shooters functional once more, he web-swings his way up to kick them in the face. Only that’s what he intended to do, but comes to find that they’re holograms. This version of The Sinister Six features Mysterio and Kraven instead, and they reveal themselves when Kraven blasts him off the roof. Mysterio comes riding in on a dragon (he’s a showman) and Spidey is forced to flee. He tries to use a billboard depicting his favorite press-man, J. Jonah Jameson, as cover but Kraven comes smashing through it. He gets Spidey in a bear hug and the two trade verbal barbs before Spidey is forced to web Kraven in the face. He forces them off the building they were on and lets Kraven absorb the brunt of the fall. Mysterio comes in with his crazy, mechanical, dragon and Spidey is forced to flee into a nearby department store.

kraven claus

The Kraven of this show is far more cat-like than I’m used to.

There, he approaches a woman giving out free perfume samples and takes the whole thing. When Kraven comes roaring in he smashes the perfume in his face to overwhelm his enhanced sense of smell. The perfume is like torture to Kraven. Mysterio comes in and forces Spidey to the ceiling. He opens his cape and a bunch of Homunculi burst forth to attack Spider-Man. They’re merely a nuisance that spouts witty dialogue and Spider-Man makes short work of them. Mysterio vanishes in some smoke and reappears on a balcony above. He approaches the department store’s Santa and Elf workers and Spider-Man swings in for the rescue, only to get tackled by Kraven before he can nail Mysterio. Spider-Man is about to flee the balcony when Mysterio shouts for Kraven to stop. Only the call to stop came from below. Spidey looks down to see Mysterio, the real Mysterio, and realizes the one on the balcony with them is a robot copy, and it’s about to self-destruct. Uttering an “Oh fudge,” Spidey quickly swings-in to save the Santa and Elf and avoid the explosion. Kraven wasn’t so fortunate.

santa saved

That’s gotta get you on the good list for life.

Spider-Man is then free to pursue the last remaining villain. As he and Mysterio trade insults, Spidey finds it hard to actually land a blow. Realizing Mysterio has made himself invisible, he covers the whole area in webbing to reveal him. Spidey tries to interrogate the incapacitated Mysterio, but he’s just taunted by the villain. “The Master Planner has a Master Plan.” The police then arrive to clean everything up.

merry webbing

Mysterio is surprisingly ill-prepared to deal with Spider-Man’s webs.

Back at Rockefeller Center, Gwen is worried about Peter and thinks the tree may have fallen on him. MJ is there as well and they’re both worried, until Peter walks in with a couple cups of cocoa. He explains the snack stand ran out and he had to go off and find another place for cocoa. Gwen hugs him and then is a bit embarrassed by her display of affection while MJ mostly stares in disbelief. As the cops have the tree raised, they find no one under it. Vulture is missing and a deep hole is in his place. Tinkerer is viewing all of this on his monitors that see all, and Master Planner’s voice pops in to say the extractions were complete indicating most, if not all, of the villains have escaped. We then head back to Ravencroft where Otto is watching news coverage of the villainous activity in the city with great trepidation. Dr. Kafka tries to assure him that everything will be all right when his mechanical arms come crashing in. They abduct the doctor against his will and drag him out screaming.

doc ock escape

Doc escapes against his will, or does he?

At the Parker home, Peter is watching the news as well with some disgust. Aunt May (Deborah Strang) enters the living room and requests Peter turn that off since it’s Christmas and all. Pete agrees and then fetches her present from under the tree. She unwraps it to find a framed photograph of she, Peter, and Ben Parker. Peter remarks that it’s their first Christmas without Uncle Ben putting a more concrete timeline on the events of the show. May places the photo on the mantle remarking that Ben is always with them. They embrace and we get a nice exterior shot of their snow-covered home as the episode comes to a close.

peter-and-may.jpg

Have to end it on a happy Christmas image.

“Reinforcement” is not a typical Christmas special, but similar to our other super hero special this year from X-Men:  Evolution, it’s still a satisfying experience. There’s a lot of little Christmas puns throughout the episode, mostly through Spider-Man’s banter. Most of it is actually pretty charming, and Spidey even makes a premature ejaculation joke at Mysterio’s expense which caught me off guard. There’s also plenty of public domain Christmas tunes sprinkled throughout the episode, so it has some of that Christmas charm without really being “in your face” with it. It’s not as stand-alone as “On Angel’s Wings” though, thanks to the lore built into the show. As someone who had not watched an episode of this show in some time, it was a bit challenging to remember all of the relationships, especially with Peter and his many ladies. It’s a fairly action-packed episode though and watching it made me want to revisit the series in full.

As a Christmas special though? It’s a tough recommend because of all of the prerequisite knowledge needed to fully enjoy the episode. Obviously, if you’re into Spider-Man it’s a minor hurdle. And if you’re familiar with this show then you probably will want to watch it every year. If it had leaned more into the Christmas feeling I could have possibly recommended it as a general Christmas special, but I think this one is for fan’s only.

Unlike many of the specials we look at here, Spectacular Spider-Man is pretty easy to get ahold of. It’s low episode total likely helped in getting it a full DVD release, and there are streaming options as well. You just won’t actually be able to find this one on television since Disney has a new Spider-Man show of its own to promote. And if you don’t want to watch it via legitimate means, there are illegitimate means of viewing it too, though if you like Spider-Man I do recommend just getting the whole series.

 


Dec. 8 – The Adventures of Pete & Pete – “O’ Christmas Pete”

OChristmasPete

Original air date:  December 14, 1996

Nickelodeon used to be a weird channel. It was composed mostly of old black and white television shows like Lassie and Dennis the Menace while mixing in old cartoons like re-packaged Looney Tunes blocks. Then there was early morning educational stuff including some anime that wasn’t obviously anime, plus Mr. Wizard. And don’t forget about the Canadian import You Can’t Do That on Television, a sketch-comedy show for kids that was more than a little bizarre. During commercials Nickelodeon would also fill small programming gaps with shorts like Inside Out Boy, the boy who swung over the bar on a swing-set and became inside out. The most successful of their interstitial shorts though ended up being The Adventures of Pete & Pete.

nick magazine christmas pete

Remember when everyone had a magazine?

The Adventures of Pete & Pete starred two brothers who were both named Pete for some reason. Big Pete (Michael C. Maronna) was the narrator and the more grounded of the two Petes, while Little Pete (Danny Tamberelli) was more eccentric and weird. Surprisingly, their dad was named Don (Hardy Rawls) and their mom (Judy Grafe), as it was pointed out in every episode, had a metal plate in her head. That plate was like another character, as was Little Pete’s tattoo Petunia. Other characters included Big Pete’s best friend Ellen (Alison Fanelli) and Little Pete’s superhero friend Artie, the Strongest Man in the World (Toby Huss). The shorts were successful enough to spawn a series of holiday inspired episodes, and the success of those eventually lead to a full series order that lead to a further 34 episodes.

“O’ Christmas Pete” was one of the last episodes of the show to air. It originally premiered on December 14, 1996 and would be followed by just two more episodes before the show was shelved. I assume the show was largely cancelled because the actors were all getting older. Plus Nickelodeon was rather cheap with their live-action shows so even well-received ones usually only lasted a season or two as the network didn’t want to pay higher wages for return programming. Instead, they’d just air re-runs of everything for what felt like eternity.

This episode spotlights something close to my own heart. The rush of Christmas, the excitement, the build-up, and then the crash. It ends so quickly and then all signs of it vanish. Well, maybe not quite so fast since I have neighbors who wait until April before they finally take down their lights. Big Pete feels the blow, and dreads it, but it’s Little Pete who decides that this year he’s going to change it.

wrigley family

The Wrigley family:  Big Pete, Dad, Mom, and Little Pete.

Little Pete sits the family down on December 26 to recount what happened the day before, and what state the family is in now. They were happy, for yesterday was Christmas, and now are mired in a funk. He proposes that things don’t have to be with this way – Christmas can be every day! Mom and Big Pete seem to be onboard immediately, but Dad needs a little convincing in the form of fruit cake. The man just might be the only person on earth who welcomes the fruit cake. Convinced this is the way, the family celebrates Christmas all over again complete with Christmas dinner. They setup a Santa greeting station in their garage, and go caroling the next day. As the montage goes on it shows that their caroling party gets bigger and bigger each day so apparently the whole neighborhood is onboard with Little Pete’s proclamation.

pete's nativity

Pete stages a nativity play every day, possibly multiple times per day, proving he’s not just about Santa Claus.

It starts to ware off though, and the first one to cave is Dad. He tries undressing the tree, but is confronted by his youngest son in a hostile manner. Little Pete speaks in threats while Dad tries to convince him the tree is dead and he needs to go back to work. Nothing is working, but Dad reveals his true fear – the garbage man! The house shakes as a little musical number kicks in. It sounds like a spaghetti western parody as a black and white screen shows the images of a foggy garbage truck as it rolls through the neighborhood collecting discarded Christmas trees.

garbageman gifIt arrives at the Wrigley home and the family is out on the lawn to confront the ghastly garbage man (Joseph McKenna). He wants the tree, and while Big Pete and Mom try to cheerily convince him Christmas is still going on, Dad takes a position of fear while Little Pete remains defiant. When the garbage man eventually demands the tree, Little Pete responds with a “Ho, Ho, No!” and demands to know where his Christmas spirit is. Unfortunately for them, the garbage man was vaccinated against Christmas spirit, but he decides to leave assuring this almost certainly isn’t over.

That night, Dad is asleep on the couch when Garbageman enters. He awakens and we find out that Dad arranged for this, but when Garbageman goes to remove the tree an alarm is triggered. Little Pete bursts in to defend his tree. Garbageman tries to take the angel from the top of the tree hostage, but is met with tranquilizer darts fired from strategically positioned nutcrackers. Garbageman fires back with some well constructed Christmas insults, forcing Dad to intervene to defend his son’s honor. When Garbageman outs him, Little Pete questions how his dad could turn on him, but he’s assured that he’s with him now. Mom and Big Pete show up as the music starts to get off-key and the image distorts to reveal the tranquilizer in Garbageman is having an affect. He stumbles out of the house and falls off the porch  as the Wrigley family laughs at him. He hallucinates and sees them as laughing Santas which causes him to snap. As long as they hang onto that tree, no garbage pickup for them!

As the garbage mounts fewer neighbors show up for Pete’s nativity play and fewer are interested in Christmas carols. Even Big Pete is starting to crack as the garbage pile grows higher and higher and kids at school start calling him Garbage Boy. Little Pete remains faithful and decides on an all-out Christmas blitz. He takes over the airwaves with Christmas programming, pipes fake snow into neighbor’s homes, and organizes a Christmas mambo. It seems to be working, but it only angers Garbageman further. He hijacks the airwaves as well and declares that until the Wrigley’s give up their tree, there will be no garbage pick-up in the neighborhood!

gas mask pete

Big Pete is forced to wear a gas mask when piling up the garbage.

Almost immediately, the rest of the neighborhood begins to crack. Neighbors argue about where to put the garbage and soon a mob, organized by neighborhood bully Pit Stain (Eric Kushnick), shows up at the Wrigley house demanding to see Little Pete. He tries to argue with them that they can’t let Garbageman kill Christmas, but Pit Stain assures him it’s the tree, or his life, and he has 24 hours to think it over.

santa boxing

If you beat him you become Santa.

In response, Pete builds a boxing ring and the neighbors gather round for a fight. He introduces Santa Claus and institutes an open challenge. Pit Stain emerges as the first fighter, but soon finds he can’t bring himself to pummel Santa and instead thanks him for the “choo choo.” No one else is willing to fight Santa, and the crowd soon starts cheering for Christmas again. Proving that they’re a fickle audience, they’re all immediately intrigued when Garbageman emerges to answer the challenge. He wallops Santa and the crowd cheers him on. Little Pete holds out hope that Santa can recover, but Big Pete points out that he’s already lost given the crowd reaction to Garbageman. Finally admitting defeat, Little Pete throws in the towel to spare Santa of being slaughtered. Garbageman reacts with triumph as the crowd disperses.

It’s set for that night. Garbageman is coming for the tree. Big Pete, via his narration, explains the situation and also expresses relief, but also a feeling of letting his brother down. He decides he needs to do something to support Little Pete. Garbageman arrives at their house that night, and the whole neighborhood is there to watch Little Pete drag his beloved tree to the curb. It’s staged like an execution, and when he arrives at Garbageman’s truck he tells him he hopes he’s happy. Garbageman gets serious, and asks if Pete really thinks he enjoys crushing the dreams of children? He answers his own question by declaring he loves it! Laughing, he tosses the tree in the truck and begins the crushing.

garbage xmasBig Pete shouts for him to stop, but Garbageman refuses. Then he calls his parents to action and they plug-in an extension cord that illuminates the Wrigley house’s Christmas lights. Not just the house though, for Big Pete had decorated the mountain of garbage on their sidewalk with lights and now it looks like a giant, smelly, Christmas tree. The crowd is transfixed, and they quickly turn on Garbageman and tell him to spare the kid’s tree. He’s flabbergasted though and insists that it’s all still garbage, and it’s garbage day!

Seeing that the crowd and Garbageman need further convincing, Pete once more shouts to additional accomplices by the nativity scene who activate more lights. Now, the garbage piles at the end of all the driveways light-up like glorious, trash-filled, trees. Everyone is transfixed by the festive display, and Garbageman is at a loss for words. He confesses he feels funny, and he’s assured that what he feels inside isn’t heartburn, but the Christmas Spirit. It’s found a home in Garbageman, and though he seems concerned, he’s not rejecting it. He starts to stumble down the street while the whole crowd follows to take-in the lights. Big Pete lets us know that Christmas eventually came to an end for their neighborhood, but that everyone was a bit nicer from there on out as the snow begins to fall.

pile of garbage“O’ Christmas Pete” is a Christmas special true to the show’s unique and surreal nature. While it was disappointing to see the absence of some of the supporting cast, the story the episode tells is goofy and charming. The show always managed to tell silly stories while remaining very serious. Everyone’s a joke, but none of them are in on it. Joseph McKenna is great as the over-the-top Garbageman and his unique look makes him quite creepy, especially in the night scenes. Hardy Rawls is an unsung hero as Dad while Michael Maronna is the show’s real MVP who always manages to keep things grounded while they get weirder and weirder. Danny Tamberelli was always the star of this show, mostly because his character was easy for the target audience to identify with, in spite of him being the weakest performer. He’s at his best when he gets to angrily shout insults and behave like an anti-hero. His rough around the edges performance actually works to the show’s advantage, giving it even more of quirky, B-movie, vibe.

As a Christmas special, this one is fairly simple in its message that you can’t kill Christmas. Even though it must go away for nearly a year at a time, it always comes back. Pretty much any kid or even adult who loves the holiday can relate to the feeling of not wanting it to go away. And since there are a ton of Christmas specials in the wild, it’s always neat to see one do something different. In the case of this one, it’s have almost the entire episode set after Christmas as only the opening 30 seconds or so takes place during the holiday. The events after span about two weeks. We’ve seen Christmast every day plots before, but they usually involve the protagonist getting exhausted by Christmas and learnig a lesson that it’s special because it’s only one day a year. That’s not the case with this one. Everything about it is pretty silly from the absurd amount of garbage accumulated over a short period of time to its almost absence of a resolution. They must have taken down the garbage trees at some point, but how long did it go on? And did Little Peter ever permit to have his tree crushed? Making a garbage man the enemy of Christmas was a nice twist too and it was rather funny to see a character practically feed off of Christmas’s destruction.

As someone who had not watched an episode of The Adventures of Pete & Pete in decades, I must say it actually holds up pretty well. It’s low-key approach to silly comedy helps it age well. It definitely stands out from the louder, corny, live-action Nick shows and I would totally be down for watching more. If you want to check this one out this holiday season, actually keep an eye out on Teen Nick’s programming for the month as they will show older Christmas specials during The Splat. It’s a late-night block of programming catering to nostalgic 30-somethings. That’s your best hope as Season 3 remains the only season of the show to not receive a DVD release. Supposedly they were pressed, packaged, and ready to go with commentary tracks all recorded and so forth, but the merger of Dreamworks and Paramount meant they never got shipped to retailers. That was over ten years ago so presumably those copes were destroyed, but maybe they’re still hanging around somewhere. If you look hard enough online though you can stream this and it’s totally worth the effort.


Dec. 7 – Dexter’s Laboratory – “Dexter vs Santa’s Claws”

Dexter_vs_Santas_Claws

Original air date April 29, 1998. Yes, you read that right.

After yesterday’s entry ran 3,000 words, it seems like a nice time to slip in one of the shorter specials we’ll be looking at this year. This one comes from the Cartoon Network original Dexter’s Laboratory. Created by Genndy Tartakovsky, Dexter’s Laboratory was one of the inaugural series to be spun-off from the Cartoon Cartoon/What A Cartoon! show which was basically an elaborate testing ground for cartoon pilots. Cartoon Network, which at the time mostly consisted of old Hanna-Barbera shows, would package together three cartoon shorts and air them over a half hour of television. Viewers could call into a hotline and vote for the short they liked best. At the end of the year, Cartoon Network would have a big New Year’s countdown ranking all of the shows in order of what was most beloved and what was not. The network wasn’t beholden to do anything with the results so for all we know they decided on what to promote and what not to, but Dexter’s Laboratory was one of the most well-received and it was the first to get a full production order.

The show is about the title character, Dexter (Christine Cavanaugh), a boy-genius with an elaborate and high-tech laboratory hidden under his parents’ house. They’re unaware of their son’s impressive intellect, but sister Dee Dee (Kathryn Cressida) is not. Despite Dexter’s best efforts, Dee Dee often finds a way into his lab and drives him crazy often times ruining whatever his latest invention is. He also has a rivalry with another boy genius, Mandark, and one of his laboratory monkeys also got to star in his own series of shorts. An episode was usually broken out into three short segments and I have mostly fond memories of it.

dexters fantasy

What Dexter thinks happens on Christmas.

“Dexter vs. Santa’s Claws” was the third segment of episode 37 of season 2 which first aired on April 29, 1998. Why did a Christmas episode air in April? I do not know. The show did have some issues with production delays, but that’s not out of the ordinary for a cartoon series. Often when that happens networks will just sit on a holiday episode and air it the next time that holiday comes around, but Cartoon Network apparently didn’t want to do that. The network didn’t even want to wait for Christmas in July. In looking over the episodes from season 2, a Halloween one premiered the prior month so I’m guessing this was supposed to air in 97 or something, or Cartoon Network just didn’t care.

santa magic

What really happens on Christmas!

The episode begins with Dee Dee using Dexter’s super computer to make her Christmas list. Dexter is irritated she would be utilizing his computer for such a foolish task and reprimands her. He explains she’s wasting her time for Santa Claus is just make-believe. When Dee Dee counters with a question of who puts the toys under the tree, Dexter explains, through rap, that their father does that. The humor is in how far Dexter thinks his parents carry the ruse insisting that their dad not only dresses up as Santa, but he disguises the car as a sleigh and puts it on the roof. Their mother, dressed as a reindeer, greases him up and sends him down the chimney with all of the toys. Dee Dee insists that’s not what happens, cutting his very poor rap off in the process, and gives the more conventional explanation of elves and magic. Dexter vows to prove her wrong.

jolly santa

Dexter confronts Santa, who only speaks in “ho’s”

That night, while everyone sleeps, Dexter sits in front of his monitors fighting off sleep hoping to catch their father in the act. When a sleigh and some reindeer go whirling past he thinks he’s got him. He emerges from his lab to find Santa in the living room getting down to business. The Santa model looks almost exactly like the one from A Flintstone Christmas only he seems incapable of speech and just keeps saying “Ho ho.” Dexter accuses him of being his dad in disguise, forcing Santa to magically flee up the chimney. Still not convinced, Dexter heads for the roof as well and confronts Santa once again as he climbs into his sleigh. He manhandles a reindeer, thinking it’s an elaborate costume worn by his mother, and even snaps its antlers off. Santa then takes off leaving Dexter stuck in the chimney.

dick dexter

Dexter is basically a violent, little, asshole this whole episode.

Dexter was apparently prepared for such a development as the chimney morphs into a high-tech spaceship and detaches from the house. In doing so it takes the side of the house with it leaving Dee Dee’s room without a wall. She awakens due to the frigid air and goes to shut her already closed window when she catches sight of Santa. She watches as her brother pursues him firing missiles which Santa intercepts with gifts (“Those better not be my presents!”). Dexter resorts to laser-fire and eventually he hits Santa causing him to crash into their home.

dee dee mad

When Dee Dee doesn’t have her pigtails in, the flatness of her head makes her look like Hulk Hogan.

Now with Santa incapacitated in the ruined livingroom, Dexter approaches armed with an electric razor. As he shaves off Santa’s beard his father (Jess Bennett) enters the room demanding to know what Dexter is doing. His mom (Kath Soucie) follows, still wearing her rubber cleaning gloves that she always wears, and is horrified to see the Christmas tree and everything else in ruin. Dee Dee then follows and scolds Dexter further demanding to know where her presents are. Dexter is forced to apologize for ruining Christmas, again, and apparently realizing he’s in a Christmas special, implores his family to treasure that they’re together and not fret over the destroyed gifts and decorations. He breaks into a rendition of “Oh Christmas Tree” and Dee Dee puts a stop to that telling him he’s wrong and calling him a block-head. When he asks what Christmas is about then, a beard-less Santa let’s him know, “The presents.”

look out santa

Do you like dog fights in your holiday specials?

“Dexter vs. Santa’s Claws” is a pretty odd entry in the world of Christmas specials. We’ve seen plenty of cynical specials, and some that are just bizarre, but this one has an all-together different feel. Dexter basically beats up Santa Claus. He’s relentless and cruel. Unlike network-mate Johnny Bravo, he didn’t mistake Santa for an intruder or something he’s just trying to beat a confession out of him. And possibly worse, he assaults a reindeer and breaks its antlers off, which just sounds painful. The only really cute aspect of the episode is Dexter’s hypothesis on what really happens on Christmas Eve. Even though he’s super-smart, he’s still a kid and isn’t capable of just assuming his parents stick presents under the tree, they have to make it elaborate. The ending of the episode with the message being that Christmas is about the presents is pretty much the cynical 90s cartoon take. A lot of the comedy shows delighted in upending norms and that’s a pretty logical point for this one to make.

destruction

Ruined Christmas.

Revisiting this series reminded me how flat the design is. The characters are about as flat as those on South Park and they practically slide across the screen rather than trying to create the illusion that they exist in three dimensions. It’s a stylistic choice more than a budget one, I think, but it’s not unique to this show as basically all of the Genndy Tartakovsky shows were animated in this fashion. I really enjoy Christine Cavanaugh (RIP) as Dexter. He’s one part Chuckie from Rugrats (who Cavanaugh also voiced) with an accent that kind of sounds like Ren from Ren & Stimpy, with perhaps a slight Swedish twist? It’s an accent that doesn’t exist in the real world and it’s a funny quirk of Dexter. The show is also very bright and the characters change attires even in this brief little short which is kind of neat. I also definitely liked the homage to the Flintstones Christmas special. I wouldn’t think they were able to actually re-use the model from that special, but this Santa was definitely drawn to look almost exactly like it.

no beard santa

There is something very unsettling about a beard-less Santa.

“Dexter vs. Santa’s Claws” is not going to make you feel good about Christmas. It might make you uncomfortable to see Santa get his ass handed to him, but it also might make you laugh. It’s certainly different and I don’t regret watching it or anything, but it’s more dark than funny so ultimately I suppose it comes up a bit short. If you’re looking to check it out this year, Dexter’s Laboratory can be found on Hulu and iTunes. The entire series is also available on DVD, but it’s out of print and kind of pricey. This specific episode can also be found on The Powerpuff Girls:  ‘Twas the Fight Before Christmas DVD and also on the Cartoon Network:  Christmas Rocks DVD and both are cheaper than getting the entire series. And as usual, if you’re not picky about quality you can probably find this one streaming for free somewhere on the world wide web.


Dec. 6 – “Have Yourself a Goofy Little Christmas”

goofy christmas dvd

Original air date December 5, 1992

Goof Troop was part of that next wave of Disney Afternoon shows following the likes of DuckTales and Rescue Rangers. And unlike those shows, this one starred one of the original Disney cartoon stars from the company’s early days – Goofy. Following a career in short films, first as part of Mickey Mouse cartoons and eventually his own line of toons, Goofy had mostly laid low like the rest of the gang. Those later shorts he starred in though often placed him in a suburban setting, and sometimes even with a son who was sometimes referred to as Goofy Jr. Those cartoons seemed to be the basis for Goof Troop, an animated sitcom in which Goofy (Bill Farmer) is a single dad raising his son Max (Dana Hill) while the Pete family lives next door. Old Peg-Leg Pete and Goofy were not frequent adversaries in the old shorts, and I actually can’t think of a solo Goofy short that featured Pete, but Pete has always been a natural foil/villain to the various Disney toons out there.

goof troop

Goof Troop was the story about a dad just trying to raise his son in the wacky 90s.

In Goof Troop, Goofy is basically the character we’ve come to know and love. He’s got a heart of gold and child-like appreciation for the small things and most importantly he loves his son. He’s also not very bright and an extreme klutz. Max is the opposite and is often embarrassed or at odds with his dad. He seems to know he’s not particularly bright so he’s careful to not hurt his father’s feelings, but it can be a struggle. Pete (Jim Cummings), on the other hand, is the polar opposite. He’s the next door neighbor who has everything and he can’t stand the Goof. He has a family of his own. His wife Peg (April Winchell) is a buxom bombshell who hardly resembles an animal, save for her little black nose, that Pete always answers to. His daughter Pistol (Nancy Cartwright) is a fast-talking little girl that exhausts him, but he otherwise seems to have great affection for. Son P.J. (Rob Paulsen) is a sweet-natured kid and Max’s best friend. He may look like his dad, but he doesn’t really act like him and it seems to disappoint the short-tempered Pete.

goofy xmas title card

Being a true special and not an actual episode, this is kind of like an encore for Goof Troop.

Goof Troop premiered on September 5, 1992 and would eventually total 78 episodes and this one Christmas special. There’s also a Goofy and Max segment in Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas that seems to exist in this universe, and a sequel featuring a grown-up Max in Twice Upon a Christmas. Because it was a weekday afternoon show, it ran through all of its episodes in 1992 though it remained on the air for years after and even spawned a couple of movies:  the 1995 theatrically released A Goofy Movie and the 2000 direct-to-video An Extremely Goofy Movie. The show is no longer on television anywhere nor does it appear to be streaming as part of a packaged service. It can be digitally purchased through Amazon, which is the only way to see the show in its entirety now as, like many Disney cartoons, it has received an incomplete DVD release.

goofy and max

Three minutes in and we’ve already decapitated Santa. This one is off to a good start!

“Have Yourself a Goofy Little Christmas” was first-run on or around December 5, 1992 and is considered a television special, so it’s not technically part of season one or two. It was essentially the series finale, though there is no finality to it. And even though it’s a special it does not appear to have any additional bells and whistles in terms of its presentation, nor is it any longer than a typical episode. Disney must have just felt the show needed a Christmas special and commissioned one.

The special opens with Goofy and Max decorating for Christmas. A mishap with a Santa decoration causes an explosion rocketing Goofy through the snowy scenery to crash into the Pete household via the chimney causing daughter Pistol to mistake Goofy for Santa Claus. After the decorative title card, Pete and his daughter Pistol are decorating a rather pathetic looking Christmas tree. Pistol correctly points out it more resembles a toilet brush than an actual tree, and she even drops a Bart Simpson line on her dad (Nancy Cartwright voiced both characters, so I’m guessing that’s why they gave her such a line). Pete is clearly not in the holiday spirit and dislikes decorating for Christmas. Meanwhile, next door Goofy is the opposite (I’m noticing a theme here) as he’s loading up the house with various decorations. Max isn’t really feeling it, but Goofy is oblivious as usual.

goofy's gift to pete

Just being neighborly.

Seeing that his neighbor doesn’t have any decorations on his house, Goofy decides to loan Pete a light-up snowman. He brings it over and plugs it in which just annoys Pete. He orders the Goofs off of his property and then tries to remove the snowman, but cartoon law dictates that anything that lights up and is plugged in will shock a bad-natured character and Pete gets his fill. Angry and sick of Goofy, Pete decides he wants to spend Christmas without his annoying neighbor next door and packs up the family and heads for Aspen. Max, seeing his best friend P.J. leave, is bummed that he’s stuck with just his dad for the holidays. Goofy sees his son’s distress, and decides to take him on a trip to the mountains too for a wilderness Christmas vacation which delights his son.

Father and son (and cat, Waffles) arrive late in the night to find a rickety old cabin. A bear (Frank Welker), which looks like an off-model Humphrey Bear, was enjoying the abandoned cabin until the Goofs showed up and is forced to pretend he’s a bear-skin rug. Goofy is pretty happy with the cozy cabin, but Max less so. After some physical comedy with the “bear-skin rug,” Goofy sets to unpacking their belongings which are piled high on Goofy’s car and covered with a tarp. When Goofy unravels the tarp it’s revealed that he brought all of his outdoor Christmas decorations and incorrectly assumes Max will love it.

excited pete

That star gag is rather conventional. Why not reindeer? Get in the spirit!

Up on a hill above Goofy and Max’s cabin is another, much nicer, cabin. To no one’s surprise it’s being occupied by the Pete family and the entire family is asleep except for Pete, who is enjoying cold chicken and cable TV in bed. After polishing off a bowl of drumsticks, he turns off the tube and settles in for some sleep, only to hear someone singing Christmas carols outside. He heads for the window and screams for them to shut up, and in the process tumbles out and crashes to the ground. This is par for the course for this show; Pete gets mad, Pete yells, Pete gets hurt.

sleigh ride

Sledding!

Pete is horrified to see Goofy and Max occupying the cabin next door while Goofy is pretty happy to be able to spend Christmas with his neighbor. Max emerges from the cabin to see the garish decorations and is none too thrilled. The next day, Pete is suffering from a cold, possibly because of his trip through the snow the night before, when Goofy and Max show up to invite the family sledding. Pete has no desire to go sledding with the Goofs, but the rest of the family does. They all head down the mountain on various sleds with Goofy on a toboggan. Everyone encounters some mishap that throws them off of their sled, only to land on Goofy’s. Eventually everyone is on the toboggan, including our Humphrey look-a-like, the bear from last night who was awakened when the toboggan crashed through his cave. A tree limb clothes-lines the poor bear, which draws attention to him being there, and a little chase ensues that results in the bear ending up on a ski jump (cartoons, baby!). The toboggan does as well, and the whole gang ends up crashing into Pete’s cabin wrecking his jigsaw puzzle he was happily piecing together alone. Pete’s ready to annihilate Goofy, but Peg reprimands him and reminds him to be festive, which is apparently enough to prevent him from killing Goofy.

up in flames

Horrified Goofy is actually a rather unsettling sight.

That night, Goofy leads everyone on a walk through the woods with their eyes closed – he has a surprise for everyone. He leads them to his cabin where he unveils a colossal Christmas tree that he’s decorated. He offers Pete the switch to turn the lights on as a way of cheering him up. Goofy, you don’t know how right you are, buddy. Pete turns on the lights and everybody “ooo’s” and “ahh’s” for a moment until the lights short-circuit and the whole tree goes up in flames. Max and Pistol appear to be pretty impressed with the burning tree, until it topples over onto Goofy’s car and cabin. Goofy panics realizing Max’s presents are still in the car and manages to save one, but everything else is lost. Pete though is feeling a lot better and enjoys the misfortune of Goofy. At least he does until his wife invites Goofy and Max to stay in their cabin (which apparently is in good-enough shape following the accident from earlier). Goofy excitedly offers to cook which just further concerns Pete since he’s likely the only one smart enough to know that Goofy in the kitchen is going to lead to disaster.

pegs invite

Peg extends an invite to the dejected Goofs.

At the cabin, Goofy is preparing Christmas dinner while everyone else is getting cozy by the fire. While Goofy retrieves food from Pete’s car, Max awkwardly thanks the Pete family for taking them in and apologizes for how “wrapped-up” his dad gets during Christmas. Meanwhile, that bear is back and notices all of the food Goofy is bringing into the house and follows, since Goofy left the door open. Goofy doesn’t notice, but feels the bear’s presence behind him and assumes it’s just Pete. As the bear tries to grab food or inflict harm on Goofy, Goofy mistakenly swats him or opens cabinet doors in his face. When the bear growls he assumes it’s the sound of Pete’s stomach and crams a pickle in his maw. Pete eventually lumbers into the kitchen, as the laws of comedy dictate, and asks Goofy who he’s talking to. When he sees the bear he freaks out and eventually Goofy realizes the bear is there as well. They flee the kitchen, leaving the bear all of the food the family was going to eat. All except a lone pot of cranberries Goofy places on the fire.

goofy and bear

Just a bear in a kitchen.

Goofy tries to cheer everyone up with various Christmas traditions. He proposes singing carols or retelling “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” which no one is up for (those cynical 90s!). Goofy then decides it’s time to unveil The Reindeer Dance. He puts some horns on his head, and even has a pair for Max, and goes into a song and dance routine that’s actually neither funny nor catchy. Max is embarrassed, but gets roped into the routine when he tries to get his dad’s attention. As the duo dance, the pot of cranberries on the fire begins to rumble eventually exploding at the dance’s conclusion covering everyone in gooey cranberry sauce. A dejected Goofy is reprimanded by Pete for ruining Christmas, and points out how Goofy even ruined it “for your stupid kid!” Max doesn’t jump to his defense, and a dejected Goofy heads off into the wilderness mistaking their cat Waffles for a scarf.

With Goofy out of the way, the Pete family decides to open their presents on Christmas Eve. Pistol reminds Max that his dad managed to rescue one gift from their burning car and gives it to him. Max unwraps it to find a framed picture of he and his dad doing The Reindeer Dance, which just further saddens him. He grabs his coat and lets everyone know he can’t let his dad be alone out there on Christmas Eve, and Peg declares they’re going with him – even Pete.

sad cave scene

Some sad Goofs.

Goofy is shown solemnly walking through the rising snow with Waffles the cat feeling sorry for himself. Behind him, the rest of the gang are marching through the snow when Pete declares that he should be the leader if he has to go on this silly mission. That just allows him to be the one to fall off a little cliff so everyone can land on him when they do the same. Goofy had passed through the same area and wound up buried in the snow and they find his feet sticking out of a bank up ahead.

reindeer dance finale

Yay Christmas!

Having found Goofy, they all pile into a nearby cave and get a fire going. It’s there Goofy and Max get to have a bonding moment and everyone learns a lesson. Goofy apologizes for messing up everything, while Max just lets him know he’s growing up, but he still loves Christmas and his dad. Goofy understands that Christmas isn’t about decorations and all that, but in who you spend it with. It’s also about bears, because it turns out they’re in the bear’s cave from earlier and he’s not interested in sharing his space with them. Peg tries to pull a tough mom routine and boss the bear around, but seeing as they’re in his cave she realizes she doesn’t have much of a leg to stand on. Max then comes up with the (bright?) idea of distracting the bear with The Reindeer Dance. Goofy joins him and the dance of the two Goofs proves too intoxicating as everyone eventually joins in – including the bear.

When the song and dance number is all through, we fade out and reappear on a makeshift Christmas tree. It’s more like a Christmas twig adorned with ice and items characters had in their pockets or on their person like car keys and jewelry. They’re all singing “Silent Night.” Goofy puts an arm around his son and wishes him a merry Christmas, while Pete suggests they spend next Christmas in the Bahamas. He lets out a mighty sneeze as our Christmas special comes to a close.

some tree

I think this one has Charlie Brown’s tree beat in the pathetic department.

When I was doing research for this feature I was looking over the episode list for Goof Troop and I was initially surprised to not see a Christmas episode. Christmas with a single dad in a suburban setting just feels like shooting fish in a barrel, and for Disney to not take the lay-up came as a surprise. Of course, then I realized they did do a Christmas episode, but it was outside the episode guide as a “special.” Fair enough, as it is basically just another episode of Goof Troop that happens to involve Christmas. It largely plays as expected, with an excitable Goofy inadvertently making things hard on his son and neighbors via his Christmas enthusiasm. What I didn’t expect was for a large part of the message to take a swipe at what many of us have come to think of as simple Christmas cheer. The characters shun Goofy’s decorations, carols, and overall enthusiasm and in the end have the take-away be that Goofy was in the wrong. I guess it’s obvious that basically every position Pete takes is wrong as well, since he is often swiftly dealt with in the form of violence and mayhem, but it was bizarre nonetheless. I get the message that family and togetherness are what matters most, and Goofy is obviously bad at reading a room, but I guess I just don’t really go along with this particular special. In its message though, I suppose it ends up being the most authentically 90s animated Christmas special.

Visually, Goof Troop is a little behind a show like DuckTales. It has a more “toon” look to it with lots of exaggerated movements from the characters and mouths that flap all over the place. Perhaps it was the Tiny Toon Adventures influence or maybe this is just what networks thought the “outrageous kids of the 90s” wanted. It might have also been cheaper, which is certainly possible. It mostly looks fine though, and the snowy backdrops are also really well done. This is one of those cartoons where I feel cold just watching the characters trudge through the snow, especially during the night scenes. The music is fairly understated though, and even that silly Reindeer Dance isn’t punctuated with much instrumentation, just some saxophone.

fake humphrey

If we were to assign an MVP for this one I guess it would go to the Humphrey look-alike.

“Have Yourself a Goofy Little Christmas” kind of let me down. I went into this one expecting something emotional that would resonate, but instead I just got a lot of physical comedy. The disappointing aspect of the comedy is that it was all stuff that had been done before, and done better. Nothing felt inventive. The emotional aspects also weren’t leaned into very heavily. I expected something that would lead to a lump in the throat, but I was largely unmoved in the end. A lot was riding on people connecting with The Reindeer Dance and Max’s Christmas gift, but both fell flat. If you want to spend Christmas with Goofy and the gang, I’d recommend just watching “A Very Goofy Christmas” from Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas as opposed to this.

If after reading all of that you feel compelled to watch this special holiday edition of Goof Troop, then you’ll have to resort to streaming or purchasing it. Disney is really bad at celebrating its old TV properties. Even though they have multiple cable channels, they never re-air their holiday specials at this time of year which is a source of frustration for me. You can purchase this digitally or on DVD, or you can just watch it for free online. It’s even on YouTube, though the quality isn’t great, but at least the price is right!