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.

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Regular Show: The Christmas Special

title

Plot in 3 Sentences: Mordecai and Rigby find Santa, who’s been shot and fallen into a garage. He shows them a Christmas present box full of dark magic and tells them how a rogue elf, Quillgen, is trying to get the box to destroy Christmas forever. Together with their other friends, they overcome obstacles and defeat Quillgen, destroying the box and saving Christmas.

Fun Fact: Many of the characters in this show first appeared in creator J.G. Quintel student films while he was at Cal Arts.

My thoughts: Regular Show, if you’ve never seen it, is another entry in the ever growing list of animated shows with weird elements. These types of shows are hit and miss with me overall. You have to have good characters, interesting plots or genuinely funny moments for me to stay on board. The Christmas episodes are the only ones I’ve seen of Regular Show and I have liked them quite a bit so I imagine I really should give the show’s normal episodes a try. This one has a really intriguing and complex plotline that feels like it’s straight out of a big action movie and the characters have real connections and emotions that I think would mean even more to me if I watched more episodes. Santa is voiced by Ed Asner who brings a gritty age-old wisdom to this badass version of the character. And the final showdown is set to the tune of ‘Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24’ originally performed by Savatage and re-released by Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Even if you have never seen the show and don’t know anything about these quirky characters, there’s a lot here to recommend.

party

Benson gets bonus points for his festive holiday sweater.

santa-with-rigby-mordecai

I’m pretty sure this is the first pony-tailed Santa that I’ve seen.

test-family

This is what happens to people when they open the dark magic box.

whole-crowd

The gang is in peril and only Benson’s pinball skill can save the day!

Individual Superlative: Frodo’s Favorite – This episode has several references to Lord of the Rings, including the need to destroy the present in a cave of lava and Muscle Man’s attempt to smash it with a hammer.

Want to Watch it? Regular Show: The Christmas Special is available on YouTube and has been in the network holiday rotation since its premiere.

A Johnny Bravo Christmas

titleDebuted in 2001

22 minutes

Plot in 3 Sentences: Johnny finds the letters to Santa that he and his mama wrote (and he neglected to mail) and the Post Office tells him it’s too late to send them now. He hires a pilot to fly him (and neighborhood girl, Suzy) to the North Pole to deliver the letters and along the way, they meet some circus animals and Donny Osmond. Johnny learns that his mama had only asked for gifts for him, so he gives all his gifts to her instead.

Fun Fact: The character of Johnny Bravo was based on a short film that animator Van Partible created for his senior thesis project at Loyola Marymount.

My thoughts: I wasn’t a regular watcher of Johnny Bravo when the segments were airing regularly as part of the Cartoon Cartoon series on Cartoon Network, but I absolutely love this Christmas special. There had been a short Christmas-themed segment in 1997 called ‘Twas the Night (in which Johnny mistook Santa for a burglar and beat him up) but this was their first half hour special and there’s lots to like about it. It’s crammed full of comic moments and even gives us a female character who literally slams Johnny (into the door of a truck, I think) for his misogynistic overtones. Donny Osmond’s appearance here is hilarious, especially when he encourages everyone to sing while they’re talking. After all the funny bits, it’s even more meaningful when the special takes a sweet and sentimental turn at the end. We’ve shown this at a few of our Christmas special parties and it’s always a big hit.

post-office

Postal Guy doesn’t respect personal boundaries.


fred-and-velma

Johnny & Suzy make a really good Freddy and Velma


plane

The pilot who flies them to the North Pole only just got his license.


donny-and-santa

Santa and Donny are buddies from way back.

Individual Superlative: Laugh at Yourself – Donny Osmond provides the voice for his character here, poking fun at his own cheesy image and he sounds like he’s having a blast.

Want to Watch it? A Johnny Bravo Christmas is available on DVD and YouTube.

Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends: A Lost Claus

Title

Debuted in 2005

23 minutes

Plot in 3 Sentences: It’s Bloo’s first Christmas at Foster’s and he’s upset when he learns that he is only going to get one present. Meanwhile, Mac is starting to lose his faith in Santa and while trying to prove his existence, he causes trouble for Eduardo, Wilt and Coco. Bloo’s idea to coax Mr. Herriman to give everyone more presents backfires when Mr. Herriman cancels Christmas, but Santa shows up to save the day.

Fun Fact: This is currently the only episode of the show that is not available in any digital store.

My thoughts: As with many contemporary cartoon shows, the Christmas episode was the first episode I ever saw of this series. That can sometimes be an issue, but this is a good example of a show that you don’t need to know well in order to enjoy. You get the gist of the story right away and the characters are fun and entertaining. Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends was created by Craig McCracken, who also gave us The Powerpuff Girls and it has the same balance of humor and heart. (This may be why Mac gets a copy of The Art of The Powerpuff Girls for Christmas.) There’s a lot of room for creativity in a show about imaginary friends, but McCracken has a good sense for when to rein it in so that it’s not non-stop crazy. This one is funny and sweet, with lots of great memorable moments.

Eduardo

Eduardo is my favorite.

Madame Foster

Madame Foster has a tough time stringing popcorn garland.

Santa Battle

There are multiple imaginary Santas at Foster’s and sometimes they have to duke it out.

Bob Marley

Bloo haunts Mr. Herriman as the ghost of Bob Marley.

Individual Superlative: In Charlie’s Footsteps – There are lots of homages to A Charlie Brown Christmas here, including the jazzy piano soundtrack and even a glimpse of Snoopy’s prize-winning decorated dog house.

Want to Watch it? Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends: A Lost Claus is available on DVD.

Black Dynamite: A Crisis for Christmas

TitleDebuted in 2011

22 minutes

Plot in 3 Sentences: Black Dynamite tries to make himself more likeable to the orphans in order to give them a happier Christmas and he discovers that they all look up to his old nemesis, O.J. Simpson, who is preparing to travel to the moon. Black Dynamite decides to go to the moon as well and just before launch, O.J. abandons ship out of fear of not surviving the trip. The ship does have a major malfunction (where it explodes), but Black Dynamite survives and makes it safely back to the Whorephanage.

Fun Fact: All of the main characters are voiced by the same people who played the roles in the 2009 movie.

My thoughts: I usually mention when a special I’m reviewing is one that gets watched every year. Since we added this one to our collection, it is one of the few that gets watched multiple times every Christmas season, usually whenever someone comes over who hasn’t seen it yet. Like the live action movie that inspired it, this show is definitely not for kids (the inclusion of something called a Whorephanage might have tipped you off to that) but we found it absolutely hilarious, with lots of quotable lines of dialogue that keep us laughing through the whole year. The show is set in the 1970’s and the inclusion of O.J. Simpson as the most likeable black man in America is wincingly perfect, remembering his squeaky clean image from those days and knowing what we know now. The series ended after only two seasons, but I’m sure glad they managed to produce at least one Christmas episode, because this one is an irreverent and ridiculously funny gem.

Intimidating Santa

Black Dynamite may have been a little too forceful with Jolly Old St. Nick.

Spelling Bee

A flashback scene shows young Black Dynamite (with a full moustache) up against young O.J. Simpson in a spelling bee.

OJ and the Whorephanage

O.J. kindly takes over management of the Whorephanage after Black Dynamite is assumed dead.

Amazon moon orphans

“Amazon moon bitches got kids, too!”

Individual Superlative: Fa La La La What? – Black Dynamite’s version starts out with ‘Check them hos, but keep them jolly’ and that’s when you know you’re in for something out of the ordinary.

Want to Watch it? Black Dynamite: A Crisis for Christmas is available on the Adult Swim website.

Robot Chicken’s ATM Christmas Special

Title

Debuted in 2012

11 minutes

Plot in 1 Sentence: Comedy sketches include Santa dreaming about missing Christmas, Justin Bieber singing a Christmas song and G.I. Joe characters confused about what to get Snake Eyes.

Fun Fact: The show’s creators met with G.I. Joe comic book writer Larry Hama and recorded a short video clip with him that appears in the show.

My thoughts: Robot Chicken is very hit and miss with me. There are some funny ideas and I could pull together bits and pieces from all of their Christmas specials over the years to make one episode that I really enjoyed. There are almost always one or two references that I just don’t understand simply because I am not deeply immersed in pop culture, especially when it comes to video games and contemporary TV series. I usually know enough to get what the joke is going for, but not enough to find it funny. And while I am a fan of some shock humor, it wears thin on me if I feel like they’re just trying to see how far over the line they can go. I did think the idea of Santa trying to track down Jason Bourne just so he could give him a present was pretty funny but overall, I thought this one didn’t have much going for it.

Santa

This is not your mom’s Santa.

Bieber

And this is not your daughter’s Bieber.

Betrayed

It’s never easy to break up with your Christmas tree.

The Grinch

Okay, having the Nerd be even angrier at the Grinch when he finds out it’s the Jim Carrey Grinch was pretty funny.

Individual Superlative: Finish Un-Strong – To let you know exactly the level of comedy you can expect here, the show ends on a rape joke. Oh…and it’s a necrophiliac rape joke.

Want to Watch it? Robot Chicken ATM Christmas Special is available on Amazon Video.

Grim & Evil: Christmas Con Carne

TitleDebuted in 2002

7 minutes

Plot in 3 Sentences: Santa and the elves are preparing for Christmas when Hector Con Carne shows up and Major Dr. Ghastly transplants Hector’s brain onto Santa’s head. Now in control of Santa, Hector forces the elves to implant mind control devices in all the toys in an attempt to take over the world. But Rupert the Green-nosed Reindeer arrives and helps Santa take back control of himself and together, they defeat Hector Con Carne and his gang.

Fun Fact: Evil Con Carne was the final cartoon series in Cartoon Network’s well-loved Cartoon Cartoons block, which also featured such favorites as Dexter’s Laboratory, Johnny Bravo and The Powerpuff Girls.

My thoughts: There are lots of series out there where the Christmas episode is the only one I’ve ever seen. Sometimes you can get full enjoyment out of the episode without knowing anything about the show, but sometimes you just wind up feeling a little lost. This one was somewhere in between the two. As long as you don’t feel the need for an explanation as to why there’s a disembodied brain in a jar that wants to take over the world, you should be able to follow the rest of the show. But even though I basically understood what was going on, I wasn’t really a big fan. It seemed overly weird with only one moment that stood out – when Rupert saved Santa by having him think of the children, which provided him the strength to take control of his mind on his own.

Does anyone else see a creepy face in the center of this picture?

Does anyone else see a creepy face in the center of this picture?

"You better watch out" takes on a whole new meaning when this Santa comes to town.

“You better watch out” takes on a whole new meaning when this Santa comes to town.

Santa's impressed at Rupert's manly pecs.

Santa’s impressed at Rupert’s manly pecs.

I should have a tag for 'and the bad guys get coal at the end.'

I should have a tag for ‘and the bad guys get coal at the end.’

Individual Superlative: Most Confusing Series – Okay, so Grim & Evil was a series that showed segments of The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy and Evil Con Carne. Then each of those shows got their own series so there was no more Grim & Evil. Then Evil Con Carne got cancelled. Then they brought it back. Then it got cancelled again, but some of the characters from this show appeared on The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy. Then Grim & Evil was brought back, but without the Evil Con Carne episodes. So it was only grim?  I’m lost.

Want to Watch it? Grim & Evil: Christmas Con Carne is available on DVD and is still sometimes shown on reruns during the Cartoon Planet block on Cartoon Network.