My Shows of X-mas Past
An article about the best specials of X-mas's long, long ago.
My first article and just in time for after-Christmas.
Here you will read about the many Christmas specials I have seen as a child. Some you might have seen, some maybe you've never heard of. From then...to now. Back people used cassettes to the day iPhones are now your source for music on the go. Shows from the years ago and today...which would be the main bullet point of this presentation...in no particular order.
BTW: I bet you're ALL expecting me to rave about those stop-motion Rudolph the Red-nose Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman toons. Well, I'm sorry/proud to say that I won't be mentioning those because everyone else will probably do that already and there will be 3 articles about it...AND I've never gotten a chance to see them anyway for various reasons.
Anyway let's start this thing already.
From the Past:
A Charlie Brown Christmas
Ah, Charlie Brown. One of the biggest losers in toon history I've enjoyed watching during my childhood, over the years I've gotten tired of seeing him fail everything he does because it just stopped being funny and just became depressing. But I still have a special place in my heart for the guy which brings me to this special toon.
The story of a boy and his experiences and questionings on the Holiday; no one's giving him any cards, all his friends just want some spending money this year, the Christmas play he's been assigned to direct is just a complete mess, and his Christmas Tree is just some stick with green things on it that fall apart. Despite his good friend Linus' heartwarming story of the history of Christmas, Charlie Brown expresses his disbelief of the story and the Holiday itself. But with "a little love", his friends are about to change that.
I would watch this a million times months before Christmas, it was just so funny (even to this day) with its typical intellectual comedy and soundtrack. In fact, to my surprise, I just happened to have had the CD that featured all the music in the cartoon, and I must say that Vince Guaraldi is..."teh uber pwn", and the reason I like jazz.
The Nanny Christmas Special: Oy to the World
This one brings back a nice memory, it's also pretty cool. I've never really watched the sitcom that much to know a lot about it but I have had a few laughs.
I don't remember much about it and I can't find it online so I'll just summarize what I remember:
Fran, Brighton and Chester are magically whisked away into the North Pole, they find out that Santa might not make it for Christmas this year because C.C., who happens to be a literal "Ice Queen" (well, a storm cloud actually), has evil plans of her own for Christmas. Later on, Brighton learns the true meaning of Christmas and this is the only episode Chester talks. It's also listed as an official episode but is skipped in during its general run from what I hear.
This little animated gem retains Fran's wit and the rest of the show's general humor. What also makes it very interesting, is that they used the same animation used in the main opening of the series. It's probably the only cartoon in existence that turned a short one-minute intro into a half-hour animated program. I mean I've seen Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie a long time ago but I've never seen them in half-hour cartoons. That Flintstones episode doesn't count neither...I guess.
Rocko's Modern Christmas
Back then, I loved Rocko's Modern Life more than ANYTHING, even Ren and Stimpy. Yup. Anyway, this episode was very special. For one thing, it only aired around the Holiday Season, I would hog the TV making sure no one else took it just so I wouldn't miss an opportunity. And it was ALL worth it.
In this episode, it's Christmas season in O-Town, it's raining instead of snowing, a bunch of elves move in to Rocko's neighborhood, and Rocko decides to have a party with all of his friends and all the other O-Towners, and the new elves on the block, so that he may spread his Christmas cheer all around. Ed Bighead is still his usual grumpy self and is annoyed by the happy little elves across the street and plots to ruin Rocko's party by spreading a rumor that will surely keep everyone from coming.
The fact that this was my favorite Nicktoon at the time kept me all warm and happy. There isn't much else to say about this. It rocked, end of story.
The Town that Santa Forgot
Aired during the earlier days of Cartoon Network, another great show from the guys of Hanna-Barbera, based on the Christmas poem "Jeremy Creek", written by Charmaine Severson. I've never read it before but oh well.
An old life story of a boy, named Jeremy Creek, who loved toys and loved them so much his room was filled at every corner and would take every opportunity to keep it that way. How does he get them all? By yelling at the top of his lungs and throwing tantrums out the window until his parents give him what he wants. Doing this he'd get toys from every acquaintance known in his family, on every birthday, every holiday, and everyday in general.
One night, he discovers a great new toy advertised on TV and points it out to his parents. Much to their dismay and refusal, he throws his biggest tantrum ever that everyone in the neighborhood can hear. His parents finally put their feet down and finally puts the brat in his place. Now that he knows his parents won't buy him anymore toys, he remembers the one man who has a whole factory full of them. Santa Claus! So Jeremy writes the BIGGEST toy list in history to Santa by US Mail, stamps and all. Santa receives the gi-normous list with all items sent to "Jeremy Creek". Santa wonders about this and is discovers that it is a "place" that he has missed for years. Feeling sorry, he has the elves work double time to make up for all those years for all those children. Much to Jeremy's disappointment, he cries himself to sleep on Christmas night. Until the next morning, news of the toys sent to Jeremy is shown on TV. Jeremy notices that hundreds of unfortunate, homeless children are playing with the toys that were meant for him. With this all the children express great gratitude to whoever thought of them in their time of need. And instead of throwing another tantrum, he starts to feel a change of heart and learns to spirit of giving.
This special is very nice, while it tries to teach a lesson it also delivers a comforting viewing experience with it's cartoony comedy, sight gags and bubbly appearance that you'd expect from a 90's Hanna Barbera cartoon. And it rhymes just like the poem it was based on.
It's Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown!
Unlike the first toon, this one is featured to be more of a comedy than Charlie Brown expressing his dread on the Holiday.
Charlie Brown goes to door-to-door selling Christmas wreaths so that he can by his love interest Peggy Jean some new gloves for Christmas but all his attempts fail even with Sally's help.
In the next half, some of the Peanuts are given roles on an upcoming play about the history of Christmas. Marcy gets the leading role playing Mary, while Peppermint Patty plays a sheep to her disappointment. Sally plays a Christmas angel who, during rehearsal, can't memorize her lines (which is just saying "Hark!") with hilarious results at the end.
I liked how this focused a lot less on Charlie Brown being depressed or apparently ruining something this time. And Patty's sheep costume looked so adorably funny.
The Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire
It's Christmas in Springfield, unfortunately it won't be as merry since the nuclear power plant, where Homer works, cut all the employees' Christmas bonuses. What's worse, Bart decides to get a tatoo as a Christmas present for Marge much to her disappointment. She brings him to the doctor's to have it removed but it'll cost them the family jar of savings. Homer decides to work part-time as a mall Santa Claus but doesn't earn what he expected. His friend Barney invites him to go to the dog track to increase his earnings. There, Homer hears about "Santa's Little Helper" and the high odds which will definitely mean "Merry Christmas" for the Simpsons. However, SLH loses and Homer walks away empty handed. One of the "jockeys" is seen releasing Santa's Little Helper in anger for being so slow in all of his races. The dog runs to Homer, but he's still mad at him for losing until Santa's licks his face. Homer dejectedly walks home with the dog about to confess his bonus cut. But before he could, Bart and Santa's Little Helper rush through the door and everyone smothers the dog. Everything is forgotten and a Merry Christmas is had by all.
Just thinking about this episode warms my heart. It's not only a special, but it was also the VERY first Simpsons episode on TV. Back then, these episodes always had a meaning that would keep you happy. Lately, it's just getting old, using recycled storylines and the fact that the show has been on just too long. But that's just an opinion from one guy who converted to Family Guy two years ago.
-How The Grinch Stole Christmas: As long as there was Christmas, every network with the rights would have to show this little animated feature and wouldn't be Christmas without it. The story of a green, furry man who hated Christmas just because he was just some mean jerk. He thinks Christmas is just commercial and keeps everyone happy so he plots to change that by stealing all the presents in Whoville. But the residents are still happy without their fandangles and other words that I can't make up right now, and the Grinch has a change of heart in the end and decides to give them back.
-The New Scooby-Doo Mysteries: "The Nutcracker Scoob" I remember watching this in the Philippines, back when Cartoon Network was still Cartoon Network Asia there before the country was able to obtain its own CN without all those Chinese commercials airing about. It was also when the only Scooby Doo's were just the ones from the 60's-70's then in December, this brand-spankin' new looking and with even better production values (of its time) shows up out of nowhere. The Nutcracker Scoob was just the same old type of story where this guy in a ghost costume tries to ruin Christmas, and with the possible suspects who happen to be around that time.
Anyway I just wanted to bring this up because of a scene I thought was just hilariously random: Shaggy and Scooby are hanging on the ledge of the upper floors of the mansion for their lives, then for some reason, Shaggy just laughs really hard. Yeah...WTF? But I could only laugh and wonder why the writers threw that in, Shaggy just replies to Scooby that he just has a looney sense of humor. Go figure...
The Honorable "Non-Retro Christmas Specials" Mentions
That's right, the shows you'll see here aren't retro but a bunch of examples that prove that, despite all those other specials that keep using the same stories over and over, cliche after cliche, there are still a lot of great ones and most have improved with unique themes and twists in the genre.
Codename: Kids Next Door - Operation: N.AU.G.H.T.Y.
One of the last greatest Cartoon Cartoons (IMHO) airing right now is about to come to an end. For those who don't know, it's the show about 5 spy kids working for a huge secret organization run by kids, for kids. Sure that sounds like that Disney movie nobody cares about, but it's a complete opposite. With it's interconnecting episodic storyline and original humor and a whole bunch of pop culture references and parodies, and their fights against adult tyranny to an extreme (like going to the dentist).
When The Kids Next Door are framed for stealing an important item from Santa's workshop, they are confronted by four super-powered elves called "Elfa Strike" who try to take back what's theirs by force. Only to find out that it wasn't them, but the evil Delightful Children from Down the Lane. Taking advantage, the Delightful Children take full control of Santa's workshop (similar to X-men's Cerebro) by putting every other child in the world in the Naughty List. So the Kids Next Door join forces with Elfa Strike to stop them.
What makes this episode so great is that it uses a whole lot of pop culture references. Namely, the "Twas the Night before Christmas", "The X-men", "The Fantastic Four" and narration by Tom Kenny a la Stan Lee. And the present Numbah 4 gives to Numbah 3 is just hilarious. Plus they don't teach anything here that you already know.
Family Guy - A Very Special Family Guy Freakin' Christmas
It's Christmastime in Quahog, Lois is full of Christmas cheer, Stewie is assigned the role of Baby Jesus at the town play, and all Peter wants to do is watch Christmas specials. But Lois, keeps sending him out for errands and wants him to attend a small party with the Swansons. Later on Peter is asked to donate a gift to the Toys for Toddlers but accidentally gives away all the presents, and now they have to go shopping again. In the meantime Brian accidentally sets the house on fire, burning all the Christmas decorations, the couch, the TV and the turkey. But despite all this, Lois still keeps her Christmas cheer and helps everyone in cleaning up the mess. But after finding out there aren't any more paper towels, she goes into a Christmas rage and jumps out the window of her own house, beats up Frosty the Snowman and attempts to ruin the town Christmas tree. But her family stops her just in time and Christmas is merry again.
What makes this so great? The joke about the three wise men, Kiss Saves Santa, and when Peter quickly sets up the Christmas tree and says "Merry Christmas to all, and to all shut the hell up" before his show starts...to name a few.
Ai Yori Aoshi Enishi: Miyuki
Probably the most underrated romance in anime history. A beautiful young woman is in search of the man she was betrothed to many years ago. She just happens to meet him in a subway completely unaware. He helps this woman find the man but as soon as she gets to the address she discovered, it turns out to be an empty lot and is disappointed in tears. The man still tries to find ways to help her and she shows him a picture. He looks at it and finds out that it's actually an old picture of them as children and she is very relieved to have finally found him. But the trials and obstacles in the way of their love start there.
That was a bit gloomy at the end but it's a really heartwarming, pleasing, and funny harem that is unlike the others. No stupid love triangles or global crises or a bunch of other stupid things. Anyway:
We look back during the days of Kaoru Hanabishi, the man who ran away from his boring, cruel life at the estate and is now a regular college student, living in a studio apartment, working a part-time job. It's Christmas and his friends invite him to go out but with what he's earning, he has no choice but to refuse. Back home, a girl dressed in red who calls herself Santa Claus drops somehow drops in Kaoru's home. Much to his surprise he runs out of his apartment and awkwardly trips and falls into her. Back inside, she reintroduces herself and tells him she lost a special pendant which Kaoru happens to have. She thanks him for finding it, and in return, grants him a wish and reads his mind on what it is that he wants. To her surprise and embarrassment, she finds out that he wants to spend Christmas with this cute woman. She happily accepts and gives Kaoru an experience he'll never forget...or will he?
This is actually one of those irregular episodes, it's also some kind of...possible flashback episode though it may not be canonical...it could've been a dream episode. Anyway, the girl who plays Santa is also the main female character Aoi Sakuraba, in appearance of course. This special OVA still retains the romance, cutesy-ness and giggly comedy the main episodes have while being a stand-alone episode at the same time. We also get to a face of a character that's never been shown in the series.
Robot Chicken Christmas Special
This stopmotion, action figure-filled, 15 minute series is another one of Adult Swim's racy, offensive originals chockful of more parodies than...whatever. Here, I'm going to point out the one segment that would appeal to most of you: The Dragon Ball Z segment.
Goku and his son Gohan get word that Santa's in trouble. But before they can rescue him, they must first defeat the evil Little Drummer Boy, Composite Santa, the Nutcracker (double entendre XD), and Mrs. Claus?
And one more, this one isn't animated but deserves a place on the list, and something kinda retro this time but doesn't really deserve a place in the previous section.
That 70's Show: An Eric Forman Christmas
A show made in homage of one of the greatest era's in history, the 70's. The year of Tab Cola, 8-tracks and uhh...the Fonz? Also the starting point of the entire cast's careers in show business.
Eric has been assigned to direct the school play, and insists that the play will be made the way it was meant to be. Elsewhere, Red is annoyed by Bob Pinciotti's bright and noisy Christmas decorations.
During rehearsal everybody has problems, like why Donna is playing a wise "man", Mary should have a unicorn, Fez wants to be a lifeguard instead of a shephard, and Kelso wants to be a spaceman and everything space-related. But later, in the circle, Eric stick with his plan to keep everything but the pastor catches them smoking and fires Eric from being director, thus ruining Eric's Christmas further. Later, Pastor Dave announces that he'll be the director only to be tied up in Christmas lights by the gang. Leo enters and notices the tied up pastor and is disappointed in their selfish attitude on Christmas. The gang feels bad and apologizes to Eric, and the show ends with the nativity scene.
"Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown!" -Fez
One of the funniest parts of that episode, was the claymation sequence featuring Kelso. And "If I had mistlefoot, I'd put it up your ***."
And that's the list, it's all I can remember right off-hand and most of the ones I CAN remember aren't retro and I don't believe is worth mentioning here just to be fair. Anyway, these are some of what have made my past Christmases bright and I hope you enjoyed reading this as well.
Happy Decemberween, everybody!