A Pop Culture Geek's Cartoon Holiday Block #2

Two-thirds of the way of my ideal block of cartoons for the holidays.
December 05, 2016
To view part 1: http://www.retrojunk.com/article/show/5195/a-pop-culture-geeks-cartoon-holiday-block-1

As mentioned prior, part one was just an appetizer. (Plus soup or salad, natch.) So, here comes the main course, but before I press on, there was one gaping hole in my first list that I completely forgot about till finishing, so here's a short addendum to that list:

(What should have been)
4. "Seasons Greetings" (1985), from Robotech

In college, I reacquainted myself with Robotech after finding a couple of the DVD sets cheap at a used bookstore. (Before then, I'd just caught glimpses on Cartoon Network's Toonami block.) I thought about this episode surprisingly after the fact, when I had already finished part 1. The episode fits well into my lineup because it's not only a holiday episode, but one about the holidays in wartime. It's also the second-to-last episode of the series' first third, "The Macross Saga". It brings a number of plot threads nearly to a head: Lynn Minmei ends her music career after splitting with her cousin/manager Kyle, and on Christmas Eve, goes to the only person she could possibly spend the holidays with--her on-again/off-again Rick Hunter, who's torn over his feelings for Minmei and fellow RDF officer Lisa Hayes. Meanwhile, renegade Zentraedi commander Khyron plans and executes an attack to capture the Protoculture Matrix on Christmas Day.

With that addendum out of the way, let's continue the block...
Ya better watch out,
Ya better not cry,
Ya better not pout,
I'm tellin' ya why:

"A Pop Culture Geek's Cartoon Holiday Block"

Part 2

When we last looked under the tree, above the menorah, and behind the Kinara, I'd started with the all-time classic animated adaptation of How the Grinch Stole Christmas and paused at the Christmas episode of Pinky and the Brain, going all the way from 1966 to 1995. We're now in the middle of the 90's, and begin with an episode from another memorable comic book show of that time:

14. "Have Yourself a Morlock Little X-Mas" (1995), from X-Men: The Animated Series

Like Batman: The Animated Series, most children of the 90's no doubt have strong memories of the show that put Marvel's merry mutants on the map. In this holiday installment from the fourth season, the team's prepping for a festive Christmas day, with Jubilee, herself a foster child, the most excited. While doing some last-minute shopping with Storm and humbuggy Wolverine, they wind up caught in a life-n-death crisis involving Leech, the littlest of the underground-dwelling mutants known as the Morlocks. Some lessons about the true meaning of Christmas are present, as usual, but there are also lessons brought from moments of pure levity--such as never messing with Jean Grey-Summers in the kitchen:

15. "The Tick Loves Santa!" (1995), from The Tick

Probably one of the greatest superhero parodies ever put to paper, The Tick is definitely ahead of its time and did a great job when it came to lampooning the holidays. In this particular episode, a bank robber in a Santa suit accidentally gets knocked into an electric billboard, giving him the power to duplicate himself; taking the name Multiple Santa, he then executes a holiday crime spree, while the Tick struggles to justify his belief in St. Nick, much to the chagrin of the other superheroes. This episode was chock full of great gags and lines, like this particularly amusing scene:

16. "Santa Mask" (1995), from The Mask: The Animated Series

You know your're a successful film when you get your own animated spin-off cartoon series. It happened to Ghostbusters, it happened to Rambo (of all movies), and yes, it happened to not one, but TWO films starring Jim Carrey. Such was the case with The Mask. In this particular holiday installment (the second-to-last episode of season 1), five of the Mask's arch-foes of Edge City try to commit crimes while wearing Santa suits, only for our green-faced hero to thwart them in a particularly festive way:

17. "In Arms Way/The Cloud" (1995), from Freakazoid

I know, I know, technically it's half an episode, but it's still holiday-themed AND from one of my all-time favorite shows, and ALSO a superhero parody. In the more important (to this list) half of the episode, Freakazoid's Christmas shopping is interrupted by a crime spree, courtesy of racketeer Arms Akimbo, out selling his 'Oops' Insurance.

A charm about certain cartoons is the decade they may be inextricably linked to, be it trends, famous figures, or even technology--like the beeper:
(Broken YouTube Link Removed)

18. "A Rugrats Chanukah" (1996), from Rugrats

I probably should've mentioned this at the start, but this block wasn't going to be all sugar plums and sleigh bells--there were definitely going to be latkes and dreidels thrown in too. Rugrats is a show that, no lie, a good number of us have grown up with (even when it became the junior high-set All Grown Up), and yes, they have had a few Christmas episodes (usually dealing with Angelica learning a lesson about giving). But notable are the episodes dealing with Jewish holidays, rare for the most part on television (I could be wrong). They had a Passover episode, and here they have a Hanukkah special. The plot is thus: the babies learn about the meaning of the holiday as they attend a play based on the story of the Maccabees at a synagogue, amid Tommy's grandpa Boris feuding with his longtime rival Shlomo (voiced by Fyvush Finkel) over who gets the lead part in the show, and Angelica pining to watch "A Very Cynthia Christmas" on TV. And where else would we have this memorable line?
19. "Holiday on Ice" (1997), from Extreme Dinosaurs

Like it or not, for every Miracle on 34th Street or Love Actually, there's always a Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. With the case of my block, that role is filled by the final episode of the 90's also-ran, anthropomorphic-animal action series Extreme Dinosaurs, a spin-off of Street Sharks. In the yuletide-themed finale to the series, the Dinosaurs must stop their enemies the Raptors from melting the polar ice caps at the North Pole, while helping their friend Pork's cynical 8-year-old nephew understand the true meaning of the holiday. Like I said--Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.

20. "Holiday Knights" (1997), from The New Batman Adventures (aka season 4 of Batman: The Animated Series)
The first episode of the final season of the (redesigned) generation-defining Batman cartoon, it was partially based on an issue of the tie-in comic book (Batman Adventures) and consisted of three Christmastime vignettes:
A. Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn hypnotize Bruce Wayne and use his credit cards to go on the ultimate Christmas shopping spree.

B. Batgirl and GCPD detectives Montoya and Bullock wind up taking on a group of shoplifters who turn out to be Clayface splitting himself up.

C. Batman and Robin race to stop the Joker from killing the entire crowd at the Gotham City New Year's Eve celebration.

It all concludes with Batman and Commissioner Gordon meeting early into the New Year:

On a minor note--let me just say that Bob Hastings is, and always will be, without a doubt, the best small-screen Jim Gordon this side of Neil Hamilton. Rest in peace.

21. "Christmas Bloody Christmas" (1997), from The Adventures of Sam and Max: Freelance Police

A yuletide yarn I only recently became acquainted with, like the aforementioned Freakazoid segment, this is one half of the whole episode. In this tale, Sam and Max spend the holidays with Sam's granny, the warden of the Blood Island Maximum Security Prison. When the prisoners attempt a jailbreak, the three of them are all that stands in their way. Not the usual way to spend Christmas Eve--unless you're John McClane.

22. "The Black Christmas Syndrome" (1998), from Men in Black: The Series

Like fellow Duane Capizzi/Jeff Kline/Richard Raynis-developed movie spin-off Godzilla: The Series, I watched the Men in Black cartoon before actually seeing the movie years later. In this, the only holiday episode of the series, MIB's Christmas festivities get held up when Agents J and K must search for Santa (who's been kidnapped by a gang of alien Yetis) with the help of one of his 'elves'.

23. "Holiday Hi-Jynx!" (1999), from Pokémon

We're nearly at the end of the millennium, and if there's any one 90's trend that's transcended the decade to become a worldwide pop cultural phenomenon, it's Pokémon. Yet of all the episodes of the long-running cartoon, this is one you'll probably never see rerun often (or ever, if South Korea's any indicator). In the episode, Ash and friends set out to return a lost Jynx to Santa Claus before Christmas, while Jessie of Team Rocket hunts down the jolly old elf out of revenge for him supposedly stealing her favorite childhood toy. If you're wondering why you don't see this aired on TV lately, and can only find it on VHS, the Indigo League vol. 3 DVD pack set, and Cartoon Network Video, it's all because Jynx was accused of being based on old racial stereotype caricatures of African-Americans from the 1930's. It's a controversy going all the way back to when the episode first aired, and seeing it on TV or on-demand (or the "Pokémon TV" video service of Pokémon.com) is now as fleeting as actually seeing Santa flying through the sky....

Finally, we exit the 20th century with this beloved holiday classic...

24. "X-Mas Story" (1999), from Futurama

In recent years, I've come to appreciate the other Matt Groening masterwork of animation, Futurama. Therefore, I felt it necessary to include the show's first holiday episode. In "X-Mas Story", Fry learns how celebrating the holiday season's changed by the year 3001: Santa is not only real, he's also a robot (voiced by John Goodman), and has a glitch that gives him too-high standards of who's been naughty or nice, turning him into a mechanical murderer.

This episode provides a great twist on the usual Christmas traditions, as well as introducing a new parody song to rival 'Jingle Bells, Batman Smells', in the form of:

With that, dinner's been served--but remember folks, we're only 2/3 of the way. So please, do save room for dessert.....
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