The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack: Low Tidings

titleDebuted in 2009

22 minutes

Plot in 3 Sentences: Flapjack wants to experience Low Tides Day but K’nuckles hates the holiday due to a bad experience with it when mermen sacked him for being bad when he was young. K’nuckles tries to find a hiding place so that the mermen won’t sack him again but all the spots are taken, so Flapjack aims to make him into a good person instead so he will have nothing to fear. Eventually, Poseidon asks the mermen to stop sacking people and decides that sacks will be only be used to deliver gifts.

Fun Fact: This was the first two part episode of the show.

My thoughts: There are some specials that are fairly easy to summarize in three sentence and wow, this sure isn’t one of them. The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack ran for three seasons on Cartoon Network and chiefly centered around a boy, the talking whale who raised him and the pirate they rescued together. The premise of their Low Tides holiday is that good kids can lower their boots into the water, where Poseidon will fill them with toys and bad kids are tied up in sacks by mermen. Although most of the special is regular animation, there are some stop motion scenes and a bizarre live action Poseidon who interacts with the animated characters. The special opens with a version of ‘The Most Wonderful Time of the Year’ with some funny rewritten lyrics. Overall, the special is really weird, like the show, but it has its funny moments. It’s probably better appreciated by those who already watch and enjoy the show, though, as there’s a lot to absorb otherwise.

little-knuckles

Little K’nuckles has a lot of teeth.

flapjack

Flapjack seems to be experiencing some holiday ennui.

mermen-with-bag

I didn’t know mermen were so grumpy.

poseidon-talking-to-townsfolk

“Observe my impressive blue muscular arm!”

Individual Superlative: Weirdest Narrator – The episode’s narrator character is the town comedian, a strange looking guy named Lolly Poopdeck.

Want to Watch it? Flapjack: Low Tidings is available on YouTube and usually airs on Cartoon Network during the holiday season.

Merry Madagascar

titleDebuted in 2009

23 minutes

Plot in 3 Sentences: The gang (Alex, Marty, Melman and Gloria) are leaving Madagascar in a hot air balloon, bound for New York, when they are suddenly knocked out of the sky by rocks thrown by King Julien and the lemurs. As King Julien explains that they thought the balloon was the red night goblin, the goblin appears in the sky and Julien knocks it down, revealing him to be Santa, now suffering from amnesia from the fall. The gang volunteers to deliver all Santa’s presents, using the magic-dusted penguins as reindeer and they save the day.

Fun Fact: The crashed airplane where King Julien keeps all his presents (and his skeletal girlfriend Amelia) is a Lockheed Model 10 Electra, which is the same airplane that Amelia Earhart actually flew.

My thoughts: As I have mentioned before, I am not a huge fan of most Dreamworks animation. There are a few I have enjoyed, but the original Madagascar was not one of them. In fact, that was one of the ‘couldn’t make it through the whole movie’ ones. So I was not at all surprised to be unimpressed by this special, which is actually the second special to feature characters from this film franchise. The first was A Christmas Caper, featuring the penguin characters, who also wound up with their own TV show.  One of my biggest issues with this special is that most of these characters feel like more like exaggerated caricatures and overused stereotypes, so I am not invested in anything that happens to them. It’s as if someone with a sense of humor completely different from mine is telling non-stop jokes while repeatedly punching me in the shoulder and yelling, “Get it?” loudly in my ear. The original movie was pretty successful, so this special may be a big hit with those who enjoyed the movie, but for me it was just obnoxious and overblown.

gang

It’s in the rules somewhere that every DreamWorks character has to make this face at least once.

toy

Everyone loves a choo-choo.

santa

Wow, Santa, that’s a serious bump on the head. Yikes.

julian

King Julien and the other lemurs have been knocked for a loop.

Individual Superlative: Which Subplot? – In addition to the bloated plot summary above, there are also subplots involving King Julien’s made up holiday, the gang giving up their dream of returning to New York in order to save Christmas and a star-crossed romance between a reindeer and a penguin. That’s a lot for 23 minutes.

Want to Watch it? Merry Madagascar is available on DVD, some streaming services and still shows up on network television frequently during the holiday season.

Fraggle Rock: The Bells of Fraggle Rock

Title

Debuted in 1984

25 minutes

Plot in 3 Sentences: Gobo is not feeling the Festival of the Bells this year because he has begun to doubt the existence of the Great Bell at the heart of Fraggle Rock. Despite the warning from Cantus the Minstrel, he goes in search of the Great Bell, delaying the celebration that keeps their rock moving. The rock begins to freeze and Gobo realizes that all of their bells make up the Great Bell and together they ring their bells to celebrate the season.

Fun Fact: Fraggle Rock moved the start date of Season Three up a couple of weeks to ensure that this episode could air before Christmas.

My thoughts: I have a complicated relationship with Fraggle Rock. I’m a big fan of the Muppets and have loved just about everything they’ve done from Sesame Street all the way to the most recent theatrical movie (Muppets Most Wanted). But I could never really get into Fraggle Rock. I liked the idea and the characters, but there was something about it that never really worked for me. I watched it with my kids when they were little, so I’ve seen lots of episodes, but I still can’t tell you much about their world, which seemed to just build layers of complexity on itself, when you got into the co-existing fictional worlds of the Fraggles, Doozers, Gorgs, the all-knowing Trash Heap and the real world of Doc, Sprocket and Uncle Traveling Matt. The Christmas special is not much different, honestly. I watched it twice and still had trouble summarizing the plot. As always, Wembley is my favorite Fraggle because of his loyalty to Gobo and his simple and sweet nature. For Fraggle fans, I’m sure this is a great episode, but I find myself wondering whose job it was to come up with weird words for this series.

Doc and Sprocket

Doc is explaining the seasons and the rotation of the earth to Sprocket. I don’t think he’s listening.

Wembley and Red and stunned

Mokie is surprised, but Red and Wembley are thoroughly stunned.

The Weebabeast

The Weebabeast is not joking around.

Yeah, that's a bell

Somehow no one ever noticed that the cave at the center of the map resembles a bell.  Right.

Individual Superlative: Sing Along – There are three songs in this episode and if you want to sing along with one, I recommend Weeba Weeba. The words are ‘Weeba Weeba’ over and over again…so you should be able to keep up.

Want to Watch it? Fraggle Rock: The Bells of Fraggle Rock is available on DVD.

Chowder: Hey, Hey It’s Knishmas!

TitleDebuted in 2008

22 minutes

Plot in 3 Sentences: Chowder desperately wants an electric broccoli trimmer with detachable non-electric cauliflower trimmer for Knishmas, but it’s too expensive for Mung to buy. In order for Knish Krinkle to bring it to him, Mung’s schmingerbread house has to be good enough for him to eat but since he knows his schmingerbread skills are poor, he goes to Endive to buy a proper one. When Chowder finds out, he disguises himself as Knish Krinkle so that he can choose Mung’s house to make him feel better and when the real Knish Krinkle sees his selflessness, he gives him the trimmer anyway.

Fun Fact: In this episode, Chowder gives Panini (who has a crush on him) a kiss on the cheek as a Knishmas gift. The final episode of Chowder shows that when they grow up, they get married and have lots of kids. Adorable.

My thoughts: When it comes to Christmas specials, there’s good weird and bad weird and then there’s this one, which I put in the category of awesome weird. Chowder is a strange little show anyway, centering around a master chef and his apprentice, in a world where everyone is named after a food item. The upside of its oddness is that you don’t have to know anything about the show to enjoy this episode. There are some really fun and bizarre transitions, like singing nutcrackers, and some surreal moments along the way that make me laugh every time I see them. Although the majority of the special is traditional animation, it’s book-ended by stop motion segments featuring Gazpacho in a Santa suit, serving as a sort of narrator. As wacky as the whole thing is, there is a sentimental core here with a great message about caring for those you love and caring for yourself as well. It’s this core, I think, that makes the difference between weird that works and weird that doesn’t. We watch this bizarre little gem every year.

The reason it looks like they are posing for the camera is that Gazpacho has just read the stage directions ("Look to camera and smile.") aloud

The reason it looks like they are posing for the camera is that Gazpacho has just read the stage directions (“Look to camera and smile.”) aloud

Who needs an official Red Rider carbine action two hundred shot range model air rifle when you could have this glorious thing?

Who needs an official Red Rider carbine action two hundred shot range model air rifle when you could have this glorious thing?

I'm a little terrified of Knish Krinkle.

I’m a little terrified of Knish Krinkle.

Everyone is happy (except Endive) but no one is happier than Chowder.

Everyone is happy (except Endive) but no one is happier than Chowder.

Individual Superlative: Strangest and Yet Most Amazing Gift – After seeing this (and hearing Chowder say it so many times), I found myself wishing I had an electric broccoli trimmer with detachable non-electric cauliflower trimmer. How have we all lived so long without one?

Want to Watch it? Chowder: Hey, Hey It’s Knishmas! is not currently available for home video, but you can watch it on YouTube or usually catch it in reruns during the holidays.