We Bare Bears: The Perfect Tree

Title

Debuted in 2017

11 minutes

Plot in 3 Sentences: Chloe and Ice Bear go to pick the perfect tree while Grizz and Panda stay home to decorate (which turns into a big mess). Chloe and Ice Bear save a wild turkey during their tree search and although they do find the tree, it falls over a cliff. But the turkey gathers its friends and manages to save the tree, resulting in a happy Christmas for all.

Fun Fact: This episode marks the first time that Chloe refers to herself in third person, just as Ice Bear does.

My thoughts: We Bare Bears got its start as a webcomic, created by Daniel Chong, a former story artist for Pixar and Illumination. The television version launched in 2014 and is now in its 4th season. This special is from the third season and is the show’s second Christmas themed episode. I hadn’t seen the show before watching the Christmas specials, but I did really enjoy it. The characters are interesting and eclectic, but not so much so that they feel like they’re weird for weird’s sake. Ice Bear is my favorite character, which is one reason I enjoyed this episode so much, as he’s a featured character. As voiced by comedian Demetri Martin, Ice Bear is somewhat monotonous and comes across as aloof and unemotional, but you see that he has a lot of heart in this episode. There are lots of funny moments here, including the flashbacks of Chloe’s previous Christmas trees, which have all gone disastrously wrong. This one is definitely worth watching, even if you aren’t familiar with the characters.

Imperfect Tree

A sign your tree is not perfect.

House Exterior

Happy H lida to all!

Axe and Turkey

Ice Bear is not messing around, Turkey.

Family

And there was much rejoicing.

Individual Superlative: Fly, Turkeys, Fly – Showing my age here, but seeing the turkeys fly up with the tree made me remember that classic WKRP in Cincinnati episode where they tragically discover that turkeys can fly. Apparently, it’s only domesticated turkeys that can’t fly. Wild turkeys, like those depicted here, can fly just fine. And that’s your free fact for today.

Want to Watch it? We Bare Bears: The Perfect Tree is available on iTunes and YouTube and will probably show up in holiday programming this year.

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The Monkees: The Monkees Christmas Show

TitleDebuted in 1967

25 minutes

Plot in 3 Sentences: The Monkees show up at a rich woman’s house, thinking they’ve been hired to perform, but she’s actually hired them to babysit her nephew, Melvin, who is an exceptionally intelligent and joyless kid. She pays them in advance, but thanks to Peter accidentally crashing a motorcycle in a department store and other random hijinks, they wind up spending all the money, mostly on doctor bills. Melvin goes back home, feeling sad, and the Monkees realize that what he was really missing most was love, so they arrange for his aunt to come home and spend the holiday with him, which makes him happy.

Fun Fact: This show marks the only time that the Monkees performed ‘Riu, Chiu’ on television. It was recorded live on set.

My thoughts: The Monkees were four guys who were pulled together to star in their own television show about an up and coming band. Initially, their primary focus was the television show and they had limited involvement in their music, but eventually, they were given more creative control and although the show only lasted two seasons, the band recorded albums and toured for the next five years. Interestingly enough, Jimi Hendrix was one of their opening acts, although he was reportedly not a fan of their music. I loved the Monkees myself, owning most of their albums and absolutely loving their ridiculously silly television show. This Christmas episode has the same frenetic pace and over the top gags, but with an emotional element at its core. Melvin is played by child actor Butch Patrick, who played Eddie Munster, and he does a pretty good job holding his own against these wacky guys. Instead of one of their pop songs or a cover of a Christmas standard, they perform an acapella cover of a Spanish carol called ‘Riu Chiu’ and it’s surprising and absolutely lovely. I really enjoyed seeing this episode again.

Beatles

Interesting that ‘Beatles’ is written on the chalkboard, when many considered the Monkees a cheap ripoff.

Bike

This picture sums up Peter pretty perfectly. Yet he’s the one I had a crush on. Go figure.

Drama

Butch is bringing all the drama.

Credits

The credits love fest is actually really cute.

Individual Superlative: Best Staff Recognition – As the credits roll, the band has all the people who work on their show join them in front of the camera and it’s really cute. You get a sense that they had a lot of fun on set.

Want to Watch it? The Monkees: The Monkees Christmas Show is available on YouTube and shows up during holiday programming from time to time.

A Goof Troop Christmas: Have Yourself a Goofy Little Christmas

Title

Debuted in 1992

24 minutes

Plot in 3 Sentences: Pete is upset about Goofy’s outrageous Christmas decorations and Max wants to do something new and different for the holidays so both families decide (independently) to go to the mountains for the holidays and of course, they wind up next door to each other. Goofy gets into the spirit decorating his vacation house, but it goes badly when a big tree catches on fire and falls on Goofy’s house, forcing them to move in with Pete’s family, which also goes badly. When Goofy feels bad about ruining the holiday, Max cheers him up and everyone ends up singing carols together.

Fun Fact: Although part of the Goof Troop series, this episode originally aired separately as a standalone special, accompanied by Disney shorts.

My thoughts: The Goof Troop series ran for two seasons, with a total of 78 episodes, airing during 1992 and 1993 and produced two feature films with these characters (A Goofy Movie and An Extremely Goofy Movie). I loved the old original Goofy short films and have not closely followed along with these stories of his life as a single dad, although I really enjoyed A Goofy Movie. Goofy and Max have a very loving relationship, even though it is often fraught with frustration and difficulty. We see those same themes in this special and it’s really a nice moment when Goofy admits that he does all this over-decoration and reliance on (sometimes outgrown) traditions to try to ensure Max has a nice Christmas. Goofy is a goof, but he’s an earnest goof who loves his son. There is a silly subplot about a bear who attacks the visitors, but it resolves in a cute way. Overall, I thought this one was really enjoyable with a good balance of humor and heart.

Santa Head

Santa’s obviously sustained some head trauma.

Loaded Car

I hope he didn’t have to drive under any bridges.

Bear Rug

All bears learn the trick of pretending to be a rug.

Fire

There’s nothing like a warm holiday glow.

Individual Superlative: Just Like Bart – Pete’s daughter, Pistol, says, ‘Don’t have a cowbell’ and ‘Cowabunga!’, both of which are reminiscent of Bart Simpson, especially so because she’s voiced by Nancy Cartwright, who also voices Bart.

Want to Watch it? A Goof Troop Christmas: Have Yourself a Goofy Little Christmas is available on VHS, DVD, YouTube and generally shows up in holiday programming.

 

The Forgotten Toys

Title

Debuted in 1995

25 minutes

Plot in 3 Sentences: Teddy wakes up after Christmas and finds himself in a trash can, where he befriends a discarded doll named Annie. While trying to find new kids who will love them, they meet a dog named Chauncey who wants to help them. They are eventually found by an old man, who fixes them up and gives them direction to a school, where they are adopted by new children.

Fun Fact: The voices for Annie and Chauncey were different when the special aired in the US, but Bob Hoskins voiced Teddy in both versions.

My thoughts:  For a Christmas special, this one actually doesn’t have a lot to do with Christmas, taking place right afterwards and only casually referencing it after that. But the story served as a pilot episode for a series that ran for two seasons and followed these same characters, who were apparently immediately abandoned again by their new children in the season opener. (Dang, you know they have self-esteem issues by this point.) When we first saw this on Fox Family many years ago, Annie’s voice was higher and airier, so seeing the original with Joanna Lumley’s grittier voice was a little jarring. No one else could possibly be Teddy but Bob Hoskins, though. He’s perfectly cast as the grumpy but lovable little bear. There’s a sweet moment near the end when Teddy uses Annie’s name after calling her ‘Pigtails’ for the rest of the show and it’s made even more poignant because of his gruff character. I like this special, but the overall feeling it leaves you with is one of sadness, especially when you learn that the toys go on to be abandoned and searching for owners yet again down the road.

Holding breath

Holding your breath never works, Teddy.  It does make you cute, though.

Helping Chauncey

Annie helps Chauncey after he’s been hit by a passing car.

Robot Teddy

Teddy wants to be a high tech robot toy.

Fixed up

Everyone’s looking neat and pretty!

Individual Superlative: Is He or Isn’t He? – The old man who fixes the toys up has a long beard and a workshop in a junkyard. Because he not only fixes them up, but also helps the toys to find new owners, it may be that we are supposed to believe he’s Santa Claus. But it never says for sure.

Want to Watch it? The Forgotten Toys is available on DVD and YouTube.

The Fairly OddParents!: Christmas Every Day

Title

Debuted in 2001

22 minutes

Plot in 3 Sentences: Timmy is excited about Christmas morning and wishes every day could be Christmas. Cosmo and Wanda grant his wish and it becomes a major problem, with most businesses staying closed and other holidays getting upset. When every kid wishes for December 26th, life returns to normal.

Fun Fact: The Fairly OddParents! ran for 16 years on Nickelodeon, making it the second longest animated series on the network.

My thoughts: The Fairly OddParents! got its start as part of the Oh Yeah! Cartoons show on Nickelodeon and was expanded into its own series and even a few live action movies. Timmy Turner is a boy with fairy godparents and he makes wishes that inevitably create problems that need to be resolved, leading to the conclusion that wishes are probably not as great as they are cracked up to be. In this episode, the problems are global and all the kids of the world have to come together to solve them. I really liked the plot’s resolution here and thought the episode was a lot of fun. The other holidays represented here are the Easter Bunny, Cupid and the April Fool, who is clearly a parody of Jerry Seinfeld, punctuating every statement with ‘What’s the deal with that?’ There is a lot of creativity at play in this show, with Cosmo and Wanda able to shape shift into different things to avoid detection. I thought this episode was a lot of fun.

Natural enemies

The miracle of Christmas can turn the bitterest enemies into friends.

Nog obsessed

Timmy’s Dad has eggnog addiction issues.

Other holidays

The baby new year could use a little cardio.

Children of the world

Italian kids have amazing moustache game.

Individual Superlative: The Economic Impact – Several different specials and characters have taken on the problematic issue of wishing for every day to be Christmas, but this is the first one I’ve seen that looks at it how it affects the global economy. Kids are growing up fast.

Want to Watch it? The Fairly Odd Parents: Christmas Every Day is available on DVD and YouTube.

Adam Ruins Everything: Adam Ruins Christmas

Title

Debuted in 2016

24 minutes

Plot in 3 Sentences: Adam’s sister, Rhea, is stressed about their parents’ upcoming Christmas visit. As they prepare the house, Adam takes several opportunities to debunk some holiday myths and traditions and Rhea gets upset that he’s not being more helpful. He shows her a video from their childhood in which she tells him there’s no Santa and that it’s best to know the truth, which makes her realize she’s the one who made him so curious about the truth and they share a nice holiday with their parents.

Fun Fact: At the end of the special, we find out that the unseen narrator is Adam Savage (Mythbusters) which is a nice button on the rest of the show.

My thoughts: Adam Ruins Everything is a show that came from the College Humor website and it’s hosted by Adam Conover, who starred in the website segments as well. On each episode, Adam gives details, history and interesting facts about a different subject, disproving some general misconceptions and providing an entertaining and educational overview of the subject. It’s a lot like Penn & Teller’s Bullshit series only presented more as a sitcom with different characters. This is a really enjoyable episode, with a lot of interesting information, much of which was new to me. Comedian Rhea Butcher plays Adam’s sister and she provides a nice counterpoint to his character. The live action shifts to animation (reminiscent of A Charlie Brown Christmas) to tell some of the stories and I think it’s awesome as an homage and a comedic device, particularly when the story they’re telling is more adult in nature. As with any show of this nature, you may learn something that pushes you out of your comfort zone, but the good news is that how much you let that affect your holiday is pretty much up to you.

Saturnalia

What kind of cups does Starbucks have for Saturnalia?

Economics

The whole economy of gift giving section will make you rethink the gifts you’ve already bought.

Wonderful Life

Every time a bell rings, an angel puts an It’s a Wonderful Life parody in their special.

Krampus

Krampus, just put the baby down and walk away.

Individual Superlative: Favorite Message – Okay, at its core, this is a comedy show, but the underlying message that is repeated a few times throughout is that everyone should celebrate the holiday in a way that is meaningful for them and I think that’s a tremendously important takeaway.

Want to Watch it? Adam Ruins Everything: Adam Ruins Christmas is available on YouTube and will probably be shown again during this holiday season.

Daria: Depth Takes a Holiday

Title

Debuted in 1999

21 minutes

Plot in 3 Sentences: Cupid and the St. Patrick’s Day leprechaun show up in Lawndale and tell Daria that they’re looking for Christmas, Halloween and Guy Fawkes Day, who have left Holiday Island and come here to start a band. Daria and Jane visit Holiday Island and discover that the high school there has been taken over by Presidents Day in the absence of the more popular holidays. Daria invites the missing holidays to bring their band to the Holiday Island High prom and that sets everything right again.

Fun Fact: In the Daria fandom, this is widely considered one of the worst episodes of the show.

My thoughts: The character of Daria got her start on the Beavis and Butthead show and was spun off into her own series, where she became more snarky and cynical. Not being a big fan of that brand of humor, I had never seen the show before so this was my introduction to it. Overall, I mostly enjoyed it. It seems to be written almost as a parody of Christmas episodes and there is apparently a lot of debate in the fandom as to whether or not this episode can be considered canon, as it seems to be mostly based in fantasy and not in the real world. The holidays are all represented as teenagers, which is new and interesting. Halloween is a goth girl and Guy Fawkes Day looks suspiciously like Sid Vicious. Even Santa has the appearance of a surfer dude with a Santa hat on. There’s a subplot where Cupid shoots Daria’s parents with his love Taser (no, that’s not a euphemism) to keep them out of their way and Daria’s younger sister, Quinn, is worried that they’re trying to have another baby. It’s nothing really special, but it’s definitely not the same old thing, which is its own kind of cool.

St Patrick and Valentine

Valentine’s Day has maybe been hitting the chocolates.

Parents kissing

Get a room, Mom & Dad!

Other holidays

Are Halloween and Guy Fawkes Day fighting again?

Presidents

Presidents Day is picking on Arbor Day.

Individual Superlative: Through the Wormhole – The holidays tell Daria that they were able to come to Lawndale through a wormhole behind the Good Times Chinese Restaurant. Apparently, fan fiction writers use this plot point to create all kinds of alternate universe stories for these characters.

Want to Watch it? Daria: Depth Takes a Holiday is available on iTunes and YouTube.