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Sabrina Animated Special Puts The Wit In Witchmas

December 2, 2016

Happy December fellow Christmas special fans! If you’re anything like me, you’ve started to get out your decorations and other holiday accoutrements. For me, those holiday belongings include a storage container FILLED with Christmas specials on VHS and DVD, which I sort through and arrange in piles like “must watch”, “not yet watched”, and “watch if you have time” To start things off this year, I decided to go with one in my “not yet watched” pile, the Sabrina the Animated Series episode “A Witchmas Carol”, one that I only picked up rather recently actually. I’ve been really into Archie comics and the whole Archie universe since I last updated this blog, and since Sabrina is from that universe, I figured I may get a kick out of the special, even if it was not too great. Luckily for me, the special is actually pretty fun! Wanna know how fun? Keep reading and I’ll fill you in!

The special starts at school, where Sabrina is talking with her best friends Chloe and Harvey about Chloe’s upcoming Christmas party. After Chloe reveals how her father plans on embarrassing her that year, the group walks into the gym to see the richest, most popular girl at the school, Gem Stone, assigning all of the students mandatory presents they need to buy her. Seeing how Gem is treating the other students so poorly makes Sabrina furious, so she and her friends head to the mall to cool off.

Once at the mall, the gang sees Gem get dropped off by her parents to go shopping, and notice that Gem is given a large pile of money that she is meant to donate to the poor. Rather than actually do that, Gem uses all of the money on a makeover. Sabrina is even more upset than she was at Gem earlier, and after a brief scene the next day at school where Gem mocks the less fortunate, Sabrina decides she has to do something to teach Gem a lesson. While trying to figure out a plan, a commercial comes on for a sock puppet version of A Christmas Carol, which is called….

screen-shot-2016-11-23-at-9-50-03-pmThis is one of the first jokes in the episode that is actually pretty funny and makes fun of traditional Christmas specials and how hokey they can be. Sabrina decides that with the help of her aunts and her cat Salem she can teach Gem a Christmas lesson just like Scrooge.

screen-shot-2016-11-23-at-9-52-29-pmAfter selecting which spirit they’ll each portray, Sabrina and her family head over to Gem’s house to set things up for the evening of “hauntings”. While Gem is on her way to bed, Salem’s face replaces the knob on her door and tells her that tonight she’ll be visited by three ghosts. Gem rightly points out that since she is being visited by Salem, and then three other ghosts, he should’ve said she’d be visited by four ghosts, since he should count himself. While Salem tries to work through the logic himself, Gem heads to bed.

screen-shot-2016-11-23-at-9-53-14-pmThe first ghost, as is tradition with this story, is the ghost of Christmas Past, aka Aunt Hilda. She tells Gem that she her bad attitude towards Christmas can be traced back to her early childhood, so off they go to see what event put Gem on her selfish path.

screen-shot-2016-11-23-at-9-53-35-pmWe are brought back in time to the mall where we see a young Gem in line to meet Santa. The boy in line in front of her is being a big brat, asking Santa for a rather long list of presents, and taking a long time to do so. When Santa suggests that maybe the little boy move along so other kids can have a turn, the boy starts to have a tantrum. When offering him a candy cane doesn’t stop the boy from crying, Santa and his elves lose their nerve and just give the little boy all of the candy to shut him up and make him leave. Gem realizes that all she has to do is act like a brat and people will throw presents at her to make her quiet, so she starts to do just that. We see her that Christmas morning acting like a little terror and getting a pile of presents and acting like a brat about it to get even more presents. When Hilda points out how awful Gem was, Gem agrees, but rather than admit that she was a brat of a kid, she says she was awful because she opened all of her toys, and if she’d only kept them in their boxes they’d be worth a lot of money! Realizing Gem isn’t likely to see the error of her ways in the past, Hilda brings her back to the present and gets her ready for the next ghost.

screen-shot-2016-11-23-at-9-55-05-pmUp next is Aunt Zelda as the ghost of Christmas Present, who plans to show Gem what everyone else is currently up to on Christmas Eve without her. The visit starts with a tour of Gem’s own house, where we see that Gem’s nanny is alone in her room watching…

specialGem mentions that nanny loves this show anyways, so it’s not a bad thing that she’s watching it all by herself. Then we see Gem’s parents, who hop in the car and leave for the airport so they can celebrate Christmas on vacation without Gem there to ruin it. Gem still misses the point, having no reaction to this at all, so Zelda takes her go to visit Chloe’s Christmas party.

screen-shot-2016-11-23-at-9-59-44-pmGem sees that a lot of kids from her class are there and are having a great time without her, and are even mocking her and having fun doing so! Rather than be bothered, Gem says it just means they must really care about her to be thinking about her on Christmas Eve. Zelda reaches the same conclusion as Hilda and decides to just bring Gem back to get ready for the final ghost of the evening.

screen-shot-2016-11-23-at-10-00-05-pmSabrina gets herself ready with her scary cloak and scythe to be the Ghost of Christmas Future, but while trying to scare Gem she trips on her outfit and accidentally reveals that she is the one under the cloak. At first Gem doesn’t wanna hear any of it, but after she convinces herself this is all just a dream anyways, she may as well go along for the ride. Sabrina shows Gem that she is a successful business woman in the future, but at the cost of all of her personal relationships with friends and family. Gem is just impressed that she has made a lot of money and influence, and doesn’t care that no one likes her. Sabrina figures that maybe a trip further in the future might open Gem’s eyes.

screen-shot-2016-11-23-at-10-00-51-pmThey go far enough into the future to go to Gem’s final resting place, a cryogenic chamber in a huge crypt. While Gem is impressed that her crypt is so fancy and impressive, Sabrina points out that not a single person has come to pay their respects, but again, Gem doesn’t care because she obviously died rich, and that’s all that matters to her. Sabrina is dumbfounded that Gem hasn’t learned her lesson at all, and heads home all upset. While she is venting about the situation, her Uncle Quigley points out that Sabrina was being selfish herself in trying to make Gem feel bad about herself, not necessarily teach Gem a lesson for the benefit of everyone else. Sabrina realizes her uncle is right, and that she should visit Gem to make peace.

screen-shot-2016-11-23-at-10-01-15-pmSabrina goes out early on Christmas morning and brings a present to Gem, who is shocked to be getting one from Sabrina since she wasn’t assigned one. She laughs it off and goes inside to tear open the box, and see that Sabrina actually got her a really beautiful locket. She realizes that this is the first time in years someone has bought her a present because they wanted to, not because they had to. She is actually moved by the nice gesture, and starts to cry.

screen-shot-2016-11-23-at-10-01-38-pmThe last scene is Sabrina and her family getting ready for her friends to come sing carols, when surprise surprise, Gem shows up. She has brought a huge load of presents she had “laying around” for Sabrina and her friends. Gem is planning on just leaving them and taking off, when Sabrina invites her in for cider and carols. Gem actually decides to stay, and everyone sings carols to round out the episode.

So, this episode fits into the trope of being a version of A Christmas Carol, which is one of the more popular themes for Christmas specials. This was actually a pretty clever take on the traditional version of this story, because while I’ve seen quite a few variations on this theme, this one had a lot of fun mocking and pointing out some of the outdated or silly flaws with the story. The characters actually had a lot of fun and clever lines that may go over the heads of kids watching it, but parents watching along with the young ones will have a good laugh. That being said, this is still clearly a show for children that has a lot of physical gags and cartoony elements, so the kids will have a fun time taking this one in as well.

I have to say, I really wasn’t expecting a whole lot out of this special, but I was really surprised at the fun, sarcastic, and satirical elements of this episode. Fans of Archie comics and/or the live action Sabrina the Teenage Witch show will definitely have the best time watching this, but casual viewers will have a pretty fun time watching this episode too. You really don’t need to know much about the characters or the show going into the episode, and it doesn’t appear to be an episode that in any way changes the plot of the show going forward. I highly recommend this episode to viewers looking for a fun take on A Christmas Carol, I think you’ll be surprised at this magical take on an old classic!


A Fun Christmas Special To Keep In Your Back Pocket!

December 4, 2014

Hello readers! No, you aren’t imagining things. Your prayers have been answered, and I am back at the helm of this blog to bring you more reviews and insights on Christmas Specials! I’ll be covering new and old, good and bad, common and obscure!

Speaking of obscure, did you know there is a bizarre children’s show in the UK called Grandpa in my Pocket? While the title sounds possibly very inappropriate, it is actually a pretty silly and admittedly charming show. It is about a young boy named Jason Mason, and his paternal grandfather, Jeremy (referred to simply as Grandpa), and the adventures they get into when Grandpa puts on his “shrinking cap”, a magical hat that allows him to shrink down to the size of an action figure. From what I gather from the episode and a half I have watched so far, these adventures are usually good natured fun and silly pranking, but nothing mean spirited or lewd. With that in mind though, does this Christmas Special of a bizarre kid’s show set itself apart from the herd and make for a seasonal favourite? Keep reading to find out!

To be fair, I HAD to buy this DVD once I saw the cover!

To be fair, I HAD to buy this DVD once I saw the cover!

The special starts on Christmas Eve, with Jason and Grandpa playing around in the kitchen, while grandpa’s sister, Great Aunt Loretta, is busying herself making stuffing for Christmas dinner. Jason’s mother enters the kitchen seeking help in writing a song about Christmas, and Grandpa and Jason tell her to make sure she includes some lines about the magic of Christmas, which makes Aunt Loretta scoff. She insists that there is no such thing as magic, even at Christmas, which makes Grandpa rather upset. He excuses himself to go have a “lie down”, which is the code he uses to excuse himself when is is going to shrink himself down. Jason pops his head into the other room just in time to see Grandpa put on his shrinking cap and disappear somewhere into the kitchen. What is the crafty old man up to?

Jason doesn’t have much time to think about it, because just then, family friend Mr. Liker-Biker arrives at the house with a gift in tow! As I’m sure you may have picked up on from his name, Mr. Liker-Biker really likes bikes and bicycle accessories, and as such brought them a bicycle related Christmas present, a wreath filled with bells and horns. After hanging it on the shelf, it magically starts to honk and ding! Grandpa is up to one of his pranks, but everyone thinks it is magic, everyone except Great Aunt Loretta that is. She doesn’t fall for all that magic silliness.

Mr. Liker-Biker, an odd fella!

Mr. Liker-Biker, an odd fella!

After Mr. Liker-Biker takes his leave, Jason and the rest of his family head on over to Miss Smiley’s Cafe, to grab some sweets for after dinner. Shortly after they arrive, the local inventor Mr. Mentor arrives as well to pick up a special treat from Miss Smiley. She has baked him a special Christmas Pudding, and just before he grabs it to take it back to his house, Grandpa jumps right into it (which is actually kinda gross, but whatever) Jason tries to tag along to Mr. Mentor’s house to rescue Grandpa, but to no avail. Jason’s family heads home, while Great Aunt Loretta heads over to Mr. Mentor’s house to see some of his new inventions.

Mr. Mentor the inventor

Mr. Mentor the inventor

Mr. Mentor is quite the skilled inventor, as he even manages to invent things in his sleep! While showing off some of his newest creations, Grandpa sneaks out of the pudding to take a closer look at a miniature Santa Claus and sleigh on Mr. Mentor’s table. Great Aunt Loretta admires the toy, and Mr. Mentor explains he doesn’t know what it does just yet, but once the time comes, it will do what it is supposed to do. Great Aunt Loretta looks at a few more inventions, and then leaves.

Back at the house, Jason tries to convince his family to go over to Mr. Mentor’s as well, so he can get Grandpa back safe and sound. His father and sister want to hear none of it, but agree to head out to the toy store next to Mr. Mentor’s so they can get a new fairy for the top of their tree. Upon their arrival at Mr. Whoops’ toy shop, Jason’s sister Jemima finds a new fairy for the family, and Great Aunt Loretta joins them after seeing them through the window while walking by. Just then, Grandpa comes flying in the window in the tiny Santa’s sleigh wearing a Santa disguise, and everyone is won over by how magical it is. Everyone except Great Aunt Loretta, who points out that this is just another of Mr. Mentor’s silly inventions, not magic. That doesn’t stop Grandpa from convincing a boy in the store that the sleigh is magical by waving and winking at him. Jason grabs the sleigh, so he can “give it back to Mr. Mentor” (and smuggle Grandpa home), and heads back to the house with his family.

Mr. Whoops, the clumsy toy store owner

Mr. Whoops, the clumsy toy store owner

Jemima puts the new fairy on top of their tree and everyone starts getting ready for dinner, so Jason tells Grandpa it’s time to take off the shrinking cap, but Grandpa is still determined to make Great Aunt Loretta believe in magic, and has one last trick up his sleeve. Jason and the family gather in the kitchen, while Great Aunt Loretta goes to admire the new fairy, and low and behold the fairy is moving and talking! At first Great Aunt Loretta thinks this is just another invention, but when the fairy begins to talk to her about the magic of Christmas, she realizes that maybe there is a special sort of Christmas magic in the air. She heads into the kitchen to tell the family about what just happens, and we see Grandpa take off the fairy costume, jump down from the tree, and take off his shrinking cap. He and Jason go join the family in the kitchen, and just then the rest of their guests arrive. They all gather to talk about the magic of Christmas, and Jason’s mother hands out the lyrics to her new Christmas song. Everyone sings the song, about the magic of Christmas, as well as their small town of Sunnysands, before sitting down for a big Christmas dinner. Grandpa and Jason celebrate the fact that they were able to make Great Aunt Loretta believe in the magic of Christmas, high-five each other, and the credits roll.

This special falls under the category of being a one-off Christmas episode, where the characters of the show try to teach each other a lesson about Christmas. I think it does a good job of getting its message across, that you are never too old to believe in the magic of Christmas, even if it took a lot of use of another kind of magic to help prove that point. The message isn’t too heavy handy or rooted too heavily in religion, so I could see this special appealing to people of all walks of life.

I am really genuinely surprised how much I enjoyed not only this special, but the show in general. The premise is a little bizarre, but no more than a lot of other children’s shows I’ve had the displeasure of catching snippets of lately (Wizards of Waverly Place and Dog With a Blog spring to mind) While this show is clearly meant for young children, what with the silliness and physical humour sprinkled throughout, there is enough heart and good natured fun in the episode that people of all ages should find it a fun distraction for the holidays. Considering I really bought the DVD of this show as a joke based on how ridiculous the cover art was and how dumb the show sounded, I’m glad I spent that Toonie to grab this show, because I have definitely found a fun Christmas special that I can watch with my niece when she’s old enough, and any other kids who may end up at our place around the holidays. I highly recommend this special to anyone looking for a good special to watch with their young kids, or anyone who is a big kid at heart and still believes in the magic of Christmas. I’m definitely adding this one to the “must watch every year” list!

Thanks for reading folks, and I hope to have another entry up for you very soon! Until next time!