Tuesday, December 05, 2006

South Dakota Dark's Advent Calendar

It's December. That, of course, means it's the holiday season. Now, if there's one thing we here at SDD love (and, of course, by "we," I mean, specifically, "me"), it's a good Christmas special (though, in the interest of fair time, we'll try to find a few non-Christmas shows, which, I guess, means the Rugrats?). So, every day of this month, we're going to watch a different Christmas special, Christmas movie or holiday-themed episode. We'll keep up with the other stuff too, mostly doing these items in aggregate posts, so you can skip 'em more easily if you're not down with a Christmas Kind of Blog.

Dec. 1: A Garfield Christmas Special

So, anyway, Garfield.

I had rather fond memories of the Garfield special from my childhood. It put a lump in my throat as a wee child, and I thought that was from superior construction or deliberately deployed minimalism (like Charlie Brown) or something. As it turns out (and, really, my never-ending childhood love for the episode of Family Matters where Carl feels guilty over the death of the guy who went out for ice cream should have tipped me off), this is really kind of treacly and cringe-worthy. It's not awful by any means, but it never goes above the level of stereotype (there's, for example, a rockin' Granny, a childlike younger brother, etc.), and the relationship of Jon Arbuckle and brother Doc Boy with their father is really kind of. . .scary and weird (I mean. . .I get that they have an unhealthy attachment to their parents, but the level of infantilization on display here. . .). There's a nice enough heartfelt denouement, but the special just tries to do too much while never capturing the feeling of a big-ass Midwestern Christmas (and I've been to a few) like it could.

Dec. 2: Newsradio, season 3, episode 10, "Christmas"

I've made no bones about my love for Newsradio, but I think this is the least of its three Christmas episodes (I think my favorite is season two's "Xmas Story," which features the Fibber McGee and Molly runner). The jokes just quite aren't on the level the show was capable of, especially in its madcap third season (which I consider its best, closely followed by the fourth and second seasons). The episode doesn't go for sentiment, which is nice, and the attempts to leave the office early on Christmas Eve ring true (as do Dave's desperate hopes of jumping a plane to be home for the holidays), but the B-story, featuring Bill and Beth recording a commercial, feels oddly disjointed from the rest of the episode (considering it doesn't tie in to the Christmas Eve setting at all). Still, the runner where Matthew is the only one who can pick Jimmy's Christmas gifts for billionaires is pretty clever, especially Matthew's suggestion for Bruce Springsteen ("Mittens").

Dec. 3: The Smurfs Christmas Special

Now THIS, which I had never had the pleasure of seeing before, is just insane (check out the link above for an extended recount of just how odd it is). The Smurfs have never really seemed to be a part of our world, so their celebration of an essentially modern Christmas (complete with decorations and Santa Claus) is off-putting. Gargamel hating Christmas makes sense, of course, but his random co-conspirator comes out of nowhere. Also, there are kids lost in a forest, wolves and magical singing. Plus, Gargamel destroys the Smurf village. This is all a little grim for a Christmas special, and there's not really a good payoff, unless you consider an incredibly annoying attempt at a new Christmas standard ("Goodness Makes the Badness Go Away") to be the sort of thing you'll take to heart.

Dec. 4: The Scooby Doo Christmas Special

Also nuts. Scooby Doo and Christmas just don't work together. I mean, it's not like the schemes of the people disguising themselves as ghosts ever made a lot of sense in the original series, but this special (originally broadcast in 2002) makes even less sense, what with its monstrous snowman who destroys the houses of those who enjoy Christmas. Turns out the snowman is looking for gold hidden in a chimney (spoilers?!), which doesn't have a connection to Christmas at all. Why the Christmas connection then? Who knows? I do like the idea that Scoob and Shag are the world's biggest Christmas-heads. It seems somehow oddly apropos.

If you want to watch the full versions of any of these, most can be found on the Internet, if you know how to look. Go on. I dares ya.

I'm going away for my OWN Christmas celebration. Hopefully, I'll have consistent Internet access, but I offer no promises. David and some of the others should hook you up, though, while I'm away.