Sunday, December 11, 2011

My Favourite Christmas Themed Entertainment

Last year around this time I presented to you my list of The Greatest Christmas Specials Never, a list of Christmas specials that we sadly never got to see (My sister thought the Full House one was real). However this year, I think I'm going to go over some of my favourite Christmas themed episodes from TV series as well as movies that some people may not pay much attention to. So without further ado, grab yourself some egg-nog, sit down and enjoy my list of Favourite Christmas Themed Entertainment EVER!!!

1) Batman: The Animated Series-"Christmas With the Joker"
OK, if you don't like this show at all (I'm looking at you, Katelynn) then I have to question your sanity. And if you can't enjoy watching Batman and Robin trying to stop the Joker from killing three of our favourite side characters on Christmas eve, then you lack a soul.

One of the many things that made this series work was that they had an incredible cast of voice actors. Every voice suited the character it belonged to and no greater example could be made than Mark Hamill as the Joker. I'm sorry, a part of me still can't believe that freakin' Luke Skywalker voiced Batman's greatest nemesis. And Hamill just shines in this episode, from the opening scene where he escapes from Arkham Asylum (He waves goodbye to Charles Manson just before exiting-I shit you not) to when he uses a sock puppet to blow up a bridge that a train is crossing. You can laugh along with him and at the same time he has enough of an edge that makes you think, "Yeah, I'm not fuckin' with this dude."

Looking like this and still managing to be threatening is why Mark Hamill is the best Joker. Sorry, Heath

Apparently the Joker was originally supposed to kidnap some random family but the network had the writers change it to Commissioner Gordon and the lot because a random family might have been frightening to younger audiences. Look, I think I was six when this episode first aired and nothing about this show ever frightened me.

It's a great episode from a great series and the perfect way to put you in the crime-fighting mood this holiday season.

2) A Pinky and the Brain Christmas
According to my father, he came home from work early one morning, turned on the TV and caught and episode of the awesome Pinky and the Brain and was hooked. We watched it when it aired in prime time on Sunday nights and we loved it. So when we found out that there was going to be a full half-hour Christmas special, we knew that we had to tape it for him.

Going undercover as elves at the North Pole, our two favourite rodents bent on global domination attempt to have Santa plant a brainwashing toy in every house throughout the world. Of course things can't go right and that's where the episode shines in terms of comedy and moments that tug at your heart.

I watched this episode just yesterday and I can honestly say that near the end as the Brain reads Pinky's letter I was getting misty eyed.
Yeah, that show A) how emotionally screwed up I am and B) that this show truly was one of the best things on TV at the time. I haven't been able to catch it on TV in years and was lucky to find it online but if you're fumbling around cable and happen to see it on your program guide, stop what you're doing for 30 minutes and watch this because it is genius that's currently lacking in today's TV programs.

A quick note: When we watched this in 1996, the scene where Brain screams at Pinky, "Give me that stupid letter" caused me and my sisters to laugh and say, "That's Dad."

3) Batman Returns
This movie takes place around Christmastime and for some reason I really get in the mood to watch it around this time of year. I don't know, maybe it has something to do with a recent podcast I did with The Basement Vagrants but for the past few days I've had this movie on my mind.

Is it a perfect movie? No, not really but in a way it seems perfect for it's time and a good adaptation of the Caped Crusader. However it is entertaining and doesn't leave me bored. I remember being a little kid, begging my parents to let me see this movie. Sadly, at the time, they sucked as parents and said no. However that didn't stop them from buying me Batman toys and storybooks based on the movie that was apparently too violent and vulgar for me. Hypocrisy much, Mom and Dad?

PS: I think the Wayne Manor/Batcave playset is still in their crawlspace and for sale I might add. We shall start the bidding at $1000
I think I might even have the box this came in

4) Gordon Ramsay Christmas Specials
If food porn like this doesn't have you salivating for holiday meals, then I don't know what will. True story, last year when I was home for Christmas, I showed this video to my Dad, who immediately demanded I go out and by croissants and smoked salmon. This was Christmas eve but I was able to get it done cause I'm awesome. We made this Christmas morning just like Ramsay shows you and it was really amazing.

5) Almost Every Christmas Themed Sketch from Mad TV
I'm sure I've said it before but I'll say it again: During the mid 90's to early 2000's, Mad TV did stuff that would have me in stitches while Saturday Night Live was descending into the mediocrity it happily resides at today. It can't hold a candle to what Mad TV was doing and it's a pity that the seasons haven't been released on DVD yet. Anyway, there are so many sketches to go over so I'll just give a quick rundown of some of my favourite Christmas themed sketches from Mad TV.

A) Magic Johnson's Kwanzaa Special

Aries Spears is someone who could make my Dad laugh doing anything and he was in top form when parodying former NBA superstar and failed talk show host, Magic Johnson. While they could have gone the easy route and makes jokes about Johnson being HIV positive, Spears plays him as an illiterate idiot, being cancelled by the networks at every turn. I think what also makes this sketch work is Pat Kilbane as Al Gore. I can honestly see the former VP going up to Magic and saying, "As salaam alaikum".

B) Rooftop Memories

When I was younger, I would be the one who would heave to help my parents put up the lights around the house for the holidays. Now that I don't live there anymore, I don't know who helps or even if they bother to put up the lights. However, if they are still putting them out, I imagine this is how it usually goes.

C) Opening Christmas Presents from Mom

I'm not going to name names, but at least over ten years ago, I recall a girl I know being worried around Christmas because she was afraid she would appear ungrateful by not showing enough verbal excitement over what she was given. It had her worked up to the point of tears which made me want to smack the stupid out of her.

Anyway, this sketch reminds me of her. While everyone is opening up their presents they receive from the mother, despite the excitement over what they're getting, she seems to think that they hate their gifts. The sketch reaches it's comedy climax when Alex Borestein screams, "What is your problem, you rag bitch!?" This is a common line when opening Christmas presents at my house.

D) Holiday Fantanas

I've never had a Fanta drink in my life so I don't know if they are as good as this sketch claims. However Paul Vogt, the actor who plays Beth, apparently took inspiration for his character by viewing footage of my younger sister drunk on the Internet. He has her mannerisms down pat.

E) Santa's Real Workshop

Look, we all know that toys aren't made at the North Pole, so what would happen if a little kid found out where all of Santa's workforce comes from?
Plus, I wish I could be like this Santa. Just walking around all day, pelting people with sugar cubes.

F) Stuart's Nativity Play

What kind of Mad TV list would this be without an entry involving Stuart?
For as many people I know who love Michael McDonald's signature character, there are just as many who HATE this character. I think the people who hate Stuart are more upset that kids like him exist in real life and have parents that are just as doting and blind as Doreen. This is your average Stuart sketch, him being bratty, somehow getting down to bikini briefs and saying, "Look what I can do!" but at the same time, it's Stuart playing Jesus. You don't see that everyday.

G) Suge Knight's Christmas Album
Again, with just the simple motion of opening his eyes really wide with his with that our family come join his for the holidays, Aries Spears had my dad in stitches. The Eminem parody might be a bit off today but ten years ago that was dead on.

H) Paul Timberman, Christmas Tree Episode
The joke in my family is that this character is based on my Opa, who has had several injuries in his life but never quite to the extreme as poor Paul Timberman.

This was one of the few Mad TV sketches that was able to get the YouTube treatment with people making hundreds of copies of it. This was a hilarious take on those damned Tickle Me Asshole Elmo dolls which came out at the time. What surprised me about that video was the debates some people would get into about Emo's. Some objected to Emo having a My Chemical Romance sticker on his vest but who gives a shit. It's funny. Laugh, damn you!!!

6) Mickey's Christmas Carol
I remember having this on tape as a little kid and probably haven't seen it in over 20 years. It's a very faithful adaptation of the Dickens classic and shorter than I remember considering that they are able to cram it into a half hour short feature. A lot of today's younger generation probably won't recognize some of the characters from less familiar Disney features but they're bound to enjoy it nonetheless. The scene with Scrooge falling into his grave near the end always freaked the shit out of me.
Say what you want about Disney being for little kids, it's a hell of a lot better than that damn adaptation with Jim Carrey from two years ago.

7) The Muppet Christmas Carol
I was bored last weekend and decided to see if this was any good and despite being mostly marketed at kids, this was actually pretty well done and more faithful than the Disney version above. Plus, it's got frickin' Michael Caine as Scrooge and he's awesome in almost everything.
What I actually like about this is that there aren't any familiar muppets as the three spirits that visit Scrooge. In fact, most people compare them to Harry Potter characters than anything Jim Henson created. It's your usual Muppet tale with humans interacting with creatures like it's an everyday thing and stuff like fruits and vegetables talking (Who eats that stuff?) and was the first Muppet movie made after Jim Henson died.
I think he'd be impressed with what they did.

Speaking of a Christmas Carol, I was hoping to find the 1999 version with Patrick Stewart but all I can find is just trailers from YouTube. I'm a bit let down that people nerdier than me haven't uploaded it because it's fucking Captain Picard playing Scrooge. Who wouldn't love to see that?

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