Posts Tagged ‘Christmas Episode’

Winnie The Pooh And Christmas Too Is Cute, Sweet, And Adorable Too

December 6, 2011

Although I have been enjoying watching all of these specials over the past two weeks, tonight’s special is the first one to put a huge smile on my face and make me feel giddy inside, and it was Winnie The Pooh and Christmas Too. Winnie the Pooh has always been a favourite of mine, and I really forgot how much I enjoyed this special. I don’t think I had seen it in a few years, but now I am going to make sure not to go so long between viewings. But before I tell you why I loved it so much, just a brief synopsis of Winnie the Pooh incase anyone out there isn’t familiar with the characters and the show.

Winnie the Pooh is a show about a little boy named Christopher Robin and his little animal friends who live in the Hundred Acre Woods. There’s a little stuffed bear name Winnie the Pooh, a little pig named Piglet, a donkey named Eeyore, a rabbit named Rabbit, a tigger named Tigger, an owl named Owl, and mother and son kangaroos named Kanga and Roo. Most episodes focus on Pooh getting into some kind of trouble and by the end of it he learns a lesson. Enough about Pooh, now on to the special.

The cover of the VHS tape

The special starts with Christopher Robin and all of his animal friends writing a letter to Santa. Rabbit asks for a fly swatter, Eeyore asks for an umbrella to protect his house, Tigger asks for a snowshoe for his tail so he doesn’t sink when jumping in the show, Piglet asks for whatever Santa feels like bringing him, and Christopher Robin asks for a sled big enough for him and all of his little animal pals. When the letter is finished, Christopher Robin checks his weather vane, sees it is blowing North, and throws the letter into the wind.

We cut to the next day, Christmas Eve, and Pooh is nailing a star to the Christmas Tree that he drew on his wall when Piglet comes in. He tells Pooh that he forgot to ask for something when they were writing their letter, so he won’t get anything for Christmas. He decides the best way to remedy this is to go out with a net and try and catch their letter before it makes it to the North Pole. After a little while of chasing the wind, Piglet and Pooh find the letter caught in a branch. They head over to Rabbit’s house to add something for Pooh to the list, and after they all get carried away with adding things to it for each other, Pooh takes the letter and throws it to the wind, not realizing it is blowing in the wrong direction.

The wind is blowing the wrong way, unbeknownst to Pooh

While Pooh and Piglet are tending to the letter mailing, the rest of the gang wake up Gopher so he can help them cut down a Christmas Tree. After waking from hibernation, Gopher helps them cut down the largest tree in the Hundred Acre Woods, which they spend the rest of the afternoon decorating. After mailing the letter, Piglet and Pooh head to their prospective homes, and just as Pooh is settling in for the night, their letter to Santa blows underneath his door. He realizes he needs to do something about it, and goes to ask Piglet’s advice. Piglet isn’t sure what to do with it being Christmas Eve, so Pooh takes it into his own hands to ensure everyone gets what they asked for for Christmas.

We cut to Tigger’s house, and there’s a knock at his door. He opens it, and it is Pooh Bear dressed as Santa! Tigger doesn’t realize it’s Pooh Bear, and after making him go back outside and come down the chimney, Tigger accepts the gift from Pooh and sends him on his way. He opens it to find that it is a barrel with a spring on the bottom with a shoe attached to the spring. He tries it out and it works for one bounce, but then explodes when he crashes back down from a high bounce.

Santa Pooh

Next we see Rabbit in his house keeping some bugs busy because he is expecting a gift that will get rid of them. Santa Pooh comes in through the window and gives Rabbit his present, which is a homemade bug sprayer made from an old pump and a tea pot. Rabbit tries to gas the bugs, but the sprayer falls apart and the bugs chase him outside smacking him with his broken fly swatter. He runs into Tigger, and they both talk about how their presents from Santa have broken. Then Eeyore comes along and we see that instead of the fancy house he asked Santa for in the revised letter, he has been given an old suitcase to live in. The three friends head off to go find Santa, and they come across Santa Pooh and Piglet trying to bring a few old wooden steps to Christopher Robin as a makeshift sled. The friends confront Pooh, and after he accidentally falls down a hill, they realize he is Santa. Pooh apologizes and shows them the letter. They decide that someone has to bring it to the North Pole themselves, and Pooh volunteers because he feels that the letter was his responsibility. Pooh sets off on his journey, and his friends go back to their Christmas Tree.

The gang sitting around the tree

Just as Pooh is making it over the ridge, the wind picks up and blows the letter out of his hands. He tries to chase it, but to no avail. It is gone. He is heartbroken, but decides to head back to see his friends. At the same time, all around a fire under the Christmas Tree, Pooh’s friends are talking about how much they miss Pooh. They realize they’d rather not have the presents if they could just have Pooh back. They get their wish, as Pooh comes over the hill and tells them about the letter. They tell him they are just happy to see him, and just as the sun is coming up, they hear a sound in the distance. It’s Christopher Robin on a brand new sled! He sleds his way over to see them and has a bag of presents from Santa for them. Rabbit’s fly swatter, Eeyore’s umbrella, Tigger’s show shoe, Piglet gets a thingamabob and Pooh gets a big old jar of honey. He looks upset, and Christopher Robin asks him why. Pooh tells him about the troubles with the letter, and that he doesn’t deserve the honey. He says it was nice of Santa to bring him a present, but that he thinks “being with your friends is nicer”. He then uses the honey pot as a stepping stool so he can give Christopher Robin a hug, and the special comes to an end.

Pooh hugging Christopher Robin

This is such a cute special. Like really really cute. Winnie the Pooh always puts me in a good mood and puts a big smile on my face, and this special is no exception. The episode really has its heart in the right place. It’s a one off special that teaches Christmas lessons, and the lessons it teaches, while being the casual fare, are done adorably.

Mainly, the special teaches that it isn’t about the presents you ask for, it’s about who you spend your holidays with. Even though by the end everyone gets the present they wanted, they realize that they would have given up all of their presents to spend the day with Pooh. Pooh also realizes that even though he got the gift he wanted, he is happier to be spending the day with Christopher Robin and all of his friends. Although both are essentially the same lesson, they go about getting them across to the characters differently. Pooh comes to his revelation after he gets his present, not wanting to accept his present, while his friends come to theirs before they get their gifts, wishing to have Pooh back rather than get presents. While this is not a lesson unique to this special, I don’t think any show has done it cuter than this.

I highly recommend this special to children and adults alike. Winnie the Pooh is a show that is cute for any and every generation, as it is appealing to nearly everyone I know. The kids will enjoy the cuteness of the characters, while the adults will enjoy the cuteness of the lessons taught. If you’re anything like me, it will actually make you feel like a kid again to watch it. It’s also a bonus that the special clocks in at less than 20 minutes, so the very little kids won’t be bored by the special. I am making sure to put this in my regular Christmas rotation, and it is definitely in my top 10 favourite specials. Winnie the Pooh can bring a smile to anyone’s face, and if you watch this Christmas Special it will bring a huge Christmas smile to yours.

Modern Family Christmas Episode A True Classic

December 3, 2011

As much as I have been enjoying watching animated Christmas specials the past week, I really wanted to take a break from doing so and watch a nice sitcom Christmas episode. I love cartoons as much as the next TV junkie, but I was feeling a little wonky and tired today, and knew I needed something with rapid fire jokes that would keep me awake and laughing. Having just received the blu-ray of Season 2 of Modern Family in the mail the other day, the show was fresh in my mind, and I remembered how funny the Season 1 Christmas episode is. I can honestly say, as soon as I popped in the disc, I started to feel my exhaustion slipping away, and was brought right out of my funk by some solid belly laughs. It’s a very funny show to have on DVD or Blu-ray and just watch a bunch of episodes back to back, but is the Christmas episode one worth going out of your way to watch? I’ll talk about it in a second, but first a run down of the show for those who aren’t familiar with it.

The show is shot in a mockumentary style, much like The Office or Arrested Development, and focuses on the lives of a quirky extended family, split into 3 smaller families of their own. The first is Jay Pritchett and his young, beautiful, Colombian second wife Gloria, as well as her very mature for his age son from her first marriage, Manny. Their stories mainly focus around Jay and Gloria and their cultural clashes. Next would be Jay’s daughter Claire’s family. She is married to Phil, a quirky man child who makes his living as a real estate agent. They have 3 kids together: Haley, a popular 15 year old who isn’t the sharpest crayon in the box, Alex, a nerdy 13 year old who resents Haley and focuses mainly on her grades, and Luke, their 10 year old son who marches to the beat of his own drum. Their stories focus mainly on the complications that arise from raising 2 teenage girls and an odd ball middle school aged son, as well as Phil’s goofiness and how it doesn’t sit well with uptight Claire. Finally, we have Jay’s son Mitchell’s family, consisting of himself, his long time boyfriend Cam, and their adopted Vietnamese baby girl named Lily. Their conflicts mostly arise from the two of them trying to keep each other in check, with Cam being fairly high strung, while Mitchell is more laid back, but very much a snob and a perfectionist. Most episodes switch back and forth between all three families and occasionally has them all together for larger family gatherings where they confront the larger, overlapping issues. Those are the basics, now on to the Christmas episode titled “Undeck The Halls”

The episode starts on Christmas Eve Day with Claire’s branch of the Pritchett family tree all standing around Phil’s laptop dressed in hideous Christmas sweaters. It turns out that Phil has got his father down in Florida on Skype to show off the sweaters that Phil’s mother had sent them. While showing him their tree and the new glass ornament Phil’s dad had sent them, Claire notices a small cigarette sized burn on the arm of the couch and loses it on her kids. Phil tries to stay upbeat and keep talking with his father and try not make a scene, but with all of the kids denying it was them and Claire about to explode, he quickly wishes his dad a Merry Christmas and logs off.

Everyone in their Christmas sweaters

After the theme song, we cut to Jay and Gloria’s house, where Jay is on the couch watching Miracle on 34th Street with Manny, whom up until this year has spent every Christmas in Colombia and has never seen the Christmas classic. Jay, ever the manly man, is even moved to tears by the film, and just as he thinks Manny is getting into it, a scary monster pops up on the screen and Manny and Gloria start laughing and calling Jay the “Innocente!” It turns out in Colombia, everyone plays tricks on each other at Christmas time, and Manny has just gotten Jay good. Jay is upset not only because he was frightened, but because he doesn’t buy into most of their Colombian traditions and wants to have a traditional Christmas like he used to have when Claire and Mitchell were kids.

Innocente!

We then cut to the mall where Cam and Mitchell are in line to get Lily’s first photo with Santa, and Mitchell is doing nothing but complaining about how long they have had to wait. Just as Cam is trying to tell Mitchell to look on the bright side of things, a group of carolers come along and Cam becomes visibly perturbed. It turns out it is the singing group Cam founded a few years back who gave him the boot last year, and he is still bitter about it. Now both Cam and Mitchell are about at the end of their ropes, when they finally get to the front of the line. Just as they do however, the jolly fat Santa goes on break, and a much slimmer, very un-jolly Santa takes the chair. Mitchell makes a fuss and says he’d rather wait for fat Santa to come back, so he and Cam go to the side of the line while Cam heckles the carolers.

Now back to Claire and Phil’s house, where all three kids have been sat down on the couch and are being grilled about who it was that smoked in the house and burned the couch. After they all continue to deny it, Phil takes the dramatic step of telling them that unless someone steps forward, he and Claire will be cancelling Christmas. The kids, and Claire, are all upset and don’t believe Phil, but he even goes so far as to tear the tree down and drag it outside.

Phil, taking away the tree

Back to the mall with Cam and Mitchell, they have finished their visit with Santa and their shopping, and are packing things into the car when slimmer Santa comes along to help them fit Lily’s stroller in the trunk. He tells them he is an expert car packer, after having lived out of his for so long. They thank the helpful Santa, who tells them he was just fired from his job as Santa because people complained that he didn’t look the part. Both Cam and Mitchell feel awful, so to help themselves feel better about the situation, Cam invites homeless and now jobless Santa to Christmas Eve dinner.

Meanwhile at Jay’s house, Jay is running down his usual Christmas routine with Manny and Gloria, who are upset that Jay doesn’t want to include aspects of their Colombian Christmas in his traditions. Manny becomes very upset and goes up to his room, and Jay just doesn’t get why Manny doesn’t want to just go along with his traditions.

Back at Claire and Phil’s, the kids are all trying to figure out who burned the couch, but none of them will say they did it. Alex has the idea that if they all come forward ala Spartacus, their parents would be so touched that they stuck together that they’ll just forgive them, and they’ll get their Christmas back. The girls talk Luke into confessing first, and after he does, Alex and Haley back out. Just as Phil is bringing the tree back in, Luke admits it wasn’t him and the kids all start fighting again, and Phil drags the tree back outside.

Over at Cam and Mitchell’s, Scott (Homeless Santa) is telling them the stories of his hard luck life, from being in the Marines, to going now from town to town picking up odd jobs. He is really grateful that they invited him over, and are letting him do his laundry. Just as they are feeling bad enough to tell him they got him fired, he gets pretty intense and they decide to keep it a secret. Scott goes to throw in another load, and Jay shows up to drop off a few presents for Cam and Mitchell. He starts telling them about how Manny and Gloria are trying to change his traditions, and they tell him that what he is aiming for is recreating memories, while he should be making new memories and new traditions. Cam and Mitchell tell Jay that they love making new traditions every year for the holidays, to keep things fun and interesting, and just then Scott walks back into the room wearing only his Santa pants, and the room is filled with an awkward silence as Jay doesn’t know what to say.

I don't know what I'd say either

While Jay is out, Manny and Gloria are taking the opportunity to talk about Jay’s resistance to their traditions. Gloria explains to Manny that Jay is just set in his ways and is looking forward to recreating his old memories from his old family with his new family, and Manny finally gets it and decides the best present to get Jay is to try and uphold his traditions.

Meanwhile Claire and Phil are trying to decide whether cancelling Christmas is really the best option when Alex comes downstairs and tells them that she is the one who smoked and burned the couch. She begs that they bring Christmas back, and is willing to accept any punishment handed down. They ground her for a week, and then Phil goes outside to get the tree while everyone else sets the decorations back up.

A little bit later, dinner is winding to a close at Cam and Mitchell’s, and Scott is packing things up to go. They still want to tell him that they are the ones who accidentally got him fired, but just can’t bring themselves to. Just as Cam is saying goodbye to Scott, he hears the carolers outside, and flys off the handle. Scott tells Cam to calm down and that the best thing he could do would be to forgive them, because if he hadn’t forgiven Cam and Mitchell that afternoon for getting hin fired, he never would have had such a great Christmas dinner. They realize now that Scott knew all along, and Cam takes the high road to go tell the carolers that they are doing a great job, when the new leader of the group insults Cam. Scott isn’t going to let him get away with it and punches the guy square in the jaw, and then realizes he better high tail it out of the neighbourhood, telling them that while forgiveness is nice, some people are just assholes and need a good pop in the mouth.

Scott punching the caroler in the mouth

Jay has come back from being out to drop off presents, and walks into the kitchen to see Gloria and Manny making Colombian food instead of a traditional Christmas feast and yells at them about how he wants things his way. They both look hurt until Jay yells “Innocente!” and tells them he is excited to make a few new traditions, starting with setting off fireworks on Christmas like they do in Colombia. Manny and Gloria are ecstatic, and Manny and Jay go in for a hug.

It’s now Christmas morning, and Claire and the family are all opening presents when the couch starts to smoke. It turns out the glass ornament from Phil’s dad acted as a magnifying glass and burned the hole in the couch, not a cigarette. Phil and Claire realize they were wrong to not believe their kids were telling the truth, and to make it up to them Phil foolishly tells them he will take the family on a vacation to Italy, much to Claire’s dismay.

We now cut to a montage of Christmas dinner at Jay and Gloria’s and a voiceover by Jay starts playing. He goes on to say “We talk a lot about tradition this time of year. But as much as we love our traditions, sometimes our best memories come from the times that were…untraditional. We remember when Mom and Dad when crazy, we remember when Santa punched out the caroler. But for me, this was the year the word “tradition” got a lot bigger.”

Everyone enjoying Christmas Dinner

We have a final sketch as the credits roll, and as Jay and Manny are watching the DVD Jay made on Christmas, the monster pops up on the screen again and Manny has made Jay the “Innocente!” one last time, a nice light ending to the episode.

This is a great current sitcom episode, and hard to fit under my usual categories. It is mainly an episode to get a few nice Christmas lessons across, but at the same time is not totally a one off, because the show does have certain continuity that pops up again in later episodes. The first lesson is that Christmas is a time for forgiveness, and if someone didn’t mean to wrong you (Like Cam and Mitchell toward Scott), all can be forgiven if you’re willing to make an effort. The other lesson they teach is basically what Jay touches on in his speech, that as nice as it is to have regular Christmas traitions and memories, the years that really stand out are the ones where things don’t go according to plan, because they’re the ones you’ll always remember. Both are very nice lessons for a Christmas episode to try and get across, and because of the human connection of live action shows, they feel slightly more real than most of the cartoon Christmas episodes I’ve been watching.

I shied away from using the world special when talking about this episode, because while it does touch on a few lessons everyone could do to be reminded of around the holidays, it’s not a special in the sense that it sets out to do nothing else but teach lessons. It’s a regular episode of the show that just happens to take place at Christmas, and while the lessons are a nice touch, most of the first season of Modern Family focussed on a lesson or two being taught by the end of each episode. Not that this in any way detracts from the show. Quite the contrary, I like the fact that the show is so well written that they can get away with inserting a Christmas lesson or two and not make it feel hokey or out of place. This show really was perfect for having a sweet and funny Christmas episode that can be enjoyed by both fans of the show and casual TV watchers alike.

I recommend this episode to adults and families, but wouldn’t recommend that kids watch it on their own, because most jokes might need explaining to a younger audience. This show is really great for most demographics, and I can’t say I think that one age group would enjoy it more than another, because there are just as many jokes aimed at teens and 20 somethings as there are aimed at people in the 35+ demographic. It’s a really great family show that I actually watch with the family when they are around, but at the same time I love watching it just me and my girlfriend as well.

I would consider this episode to be a new classic that I have put in my regular rotation for the holidays, and would recommend it to pretty much anyone with a sense of humour.

Animaniacs Special A Christmas Comedy Classic

November 23, 2011

While Hey Arnold’s Christmas was the tape I make sure to watch every year, there is one tape my girlfriend makes sure to watch every holiday season, and that is “Animaniacs Heloooo, Holidays” With Animaniacs being more of an animated sketch show, featuring a whole cavalcade of characters, this is a more all over the place Christmas Special than most of the others that I will be reviewing. Don’t worry though, that doesn’t mean this one has any less laughs or Christmas messages than the rest. But what’s it all about?

The cover of the VHS tape

Well, like I mentioned earlier, this is a sketch show in a sense, so there is not an overall story arc for the episode, and none of the sketches have anything to do with one another. For those not familiar with Animaniacs, the show is about the Warner Brothers, Yakko and Wakko, and their sister Dot. They are 3 zany creatures who live in the Warner Brothers Studios’ water tower. They make trouble all over the movie studio and are chased around by Ralph, the studio security guard, and locked back up by Dr. Scratchansniff, Hello Nurse and The CEO. Most sketches focus on them, although there are other characters in their own sketches that pop up as well, including Pinky and The Brain, The Goodfeathers, Slappy the Squirrel and Buttons and Mindy. That’s pretty much all you need to know about the characters, but now let’s get to how they are used in the Christmas Special.

It starts with their take on “The Night Before Christmas”, with Ralph taking over the role of Santa. The CEO and Dr. S have told Ralph he must dress as St. Nick and deliver presents to the Warners to keep them appeased. It is told entirely through rhyme, and has a few good moments. From there we get to see a “Good Idea, Bad Idea” sketch themed around Christmas. Next up is a sketch about Chicken Boo, a man sized chicken who is standing in as a store Santa. Nobody seems to see that he is a chicken except for a small boy who is terrified of the big chicken man. He pulls of the beard and the people all turn on Boo, but instead of his usual beating, he ends up in Santa’s sleigh for a happy ending. We also get a funny musical number about how big the universe is, with the great chorus “It’s a great big universe and we’re all really puny, We’re just tiny little specks about the size of Mickey Rooney” Other than the song about the countries of the world, this is probably my favourite Animaniacs song in the show’s history and I’m glad it’s in this special. We also get to see a little upbeat jazzy version of The Little Drummer Boy that is a nice little break before the longer and more serious sketches.

Chicken Boo, dressed as Santa

After those opening sketches, we get into the two more traditional style Christmas sketches on the tape. The first is one that goes for the meaning of Christmas, and I think it does a great job at doing so. It is actually a really touching little sketch called “A Gift of Gold”, narrated by the modern day voice of Winnie the Pooh, Jim Cummings. As funny as it may sound, they story is about the adventures of a piece of gold wrapping paper. We follow it from its simple beginnings at a department store wrapping counter, through it’s initial tearing appart to get to a present, and then its terrifying journey to the dump. You start to feel bad for this little scrap of wrap, and are overjoyed when it escapes the dump and blows all the way back to town. There, a down on his luck man finds the little scrap of gold and uses it to wrap a discarded toy that he has mended for his son. He takes the present to his car, where he and his family appear to be living, and hands it to his son. The young boy is not only overjoyed to be getting a present, knowing how tough times are for his folks, but is equally excited about the beautiful wrapping paper as well. Rather than discard it, he folds it up carefully and keeps it in his pocket, much to the joy of his parents, as it seems they have taught him that sometimes even the little things in life can be beautiful, and should never be taken for granted.

The gold paper, before it takes its long journey

From there we go on to another traditional Christmas Special trope, a version of A Christmas Carol. Standing in for Scrooge is the CEO of Warner Brothers. It is Christmas Eve and he fires Ralph for not keeping a batter eye on the Warners, which is costing the studio big bucks. He goes on to be visited by 3 ghosts, each one in the form of one of the Warners. The Ghost of Christmas Past, played by Wakko, shows the CEO how bad a kid he was growing up, leading up to him forcing his father to retire so he could take over the movie studio. Next, Dot comes in as the Ghost of Christmas Present, and shows the CEO how he has ruined Ralph’s family’s Christmas. Finally, we see Yakko as the Ghost of Christmas Future, showing the CEO that one day Ralph’s son will take over as CEO and demote him to security guard. The CEO sees the error of his ways, and in true Scrooge fashion, rushes over to give Ralph his job back, as well as try and win over Ralph’s son, as to avoid becoming security guard one day down the line. As most characters in this situation do, the CEO has now been given an idea of what the meaning of Christmas is: Being generous and spending time with loved ones.

The CEO being confronted by the Ghost of Christmas Future

After that we get two more sketches, including one where Wakko belches along to Jingle Bells, which while kind of funny, can sound disgusting if you’re not into that sort of thing. The other is a spoof of Goodnight Moon, which I guess is a nice way to end a special.

For the most part, the Animaniacs aren’t meant to be taken seriously, just like their Warner cartoon predecessors, The Looney Tunes. However, as is proved by the wonderful sketch “A Gift Of Gold”, they do know how to be serious if the situation arises. That one sketch is worth watching this tape for, because it takes master storytellers and animators to make you really feel for something as seemingly meaningless as a piece of wrapping paper, and boy do they make you feel for it. By the end of the episode, when the paper is truly appreciated, and the message that sometimes the little things can mean so much is put out there, it really can be enough to bring a tear to one’s eye.

Also, as I touched on earlier, they do go the Scrooge way in the one sketch. They get the usual meaning across, that it is important to be with family and loved ones for the holidays, as well as to be as generous as you can. It’s a fun little take on the trope, and is short enough to not overshadow anything else on the tape.

Other than that sketch, the other are mostly funny and make for an altogether enjoyable Christmas tape to watch no matter your age. I recommend this tape to viewers young and old alike. The youngsters will love the broad comedy, and the older viewers will get the jokes aimed at them that they might not have gotten when they were just a kid. If you aren’t a big fan of the show however, just make sure you give “A Gift of Gold” a chance. You won’t regret it.