Friday, December 29, 2006

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES PICTURES has posted over 150 stills from the upcoming Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie on their webpage. The pics pretty much give away the story so if you don't want spoilers then don't go to this site!

I really liked the design and the animation of the Turtles from the teaser trailer but seeing the humans' designs has left me a little underwhelmed. I was hoping forsomething a little more human and less cartoony but I guess this follows the style of other Nickelodeon CG features like Barnyard and Jimmy Neutron.

Also, some of the voice cast has been released: Chris Evans (Fantastic Four as Casey Jones, Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) as April O'Neil, Kevin Smith (Clerks) as Greasy Chef, Patrick Stewart (X-Men) as Max Winters,Ziyi Zhang (Memoirs of a Geisha) as Karai, and voice actor veteran Mako, who died shortly after completing his work on this picture, as Master Splinter.

The voices of the Turtles have not been released but rumour has it that Futurama star Billy West will lend his voice to one.

Thursday, December 28, 2006


Cityrag blog has taken Jerry Beck's list of the 50 greatest cartoons and has found online versions of almost all of them and has posted them on their blog!

The list includes great cartoon short subjects such as Steamboat Willie, Rabbit of Seville, Gertie the Dinosaur, Superman and even some Canadian cartoons like the Big Snit and The Cat Came Back.

Disney has removed many of their cartoons from youtube so you will find that not all of the links work anymore. But it is still worth checking out!

Here is one of my favourties:

Sunday, December 24, 2006


Here it is, Christmas Eve. As I should have guessed, the holiday just got busier as it got closer to Christmas. Katie and I have been so busy that posting on a daily basis has become quite hard.

We wanted to do full reviews of our top five favourite Christmas specials but had to rework our post to accomidate our hectic schedules. We are posting our top five favourtie Christmas specials today!


Tim Burton and Disney teamed up to bring us the story of Jack Skellington, a citizen of Halloweentown who stumbles into Christmastown and discovers its wonder and excitment. The stop motion animation is truly amazing and Danny Elfman penned some really touching and funny songs. I am a big fan of Tim Burton's style and this movie captures it perfectly.

This is my personal favourite Christmas movie but we couldn't place it number one because of a disagreement between Katie and me. She says this is not really a Christmas movie. She says that Jack messes up Christmas and realizes Christmas is not for him. He doesn't discover the true meaning of Christmas. He instead discovers that Halloween is where he belongs and what he does best. There is no big Christmas message (other than leave it alone) and therefore it can't be considered a Christmas Movie. I don't think so Katie.



This will not be one of those classic specials that gets shown every year because as the years go by, new generations will not know who Pinky and the Brain are. But this will remain atop of my must-watch list every year and I will make sure that my kids will know these two mice bent on world domination.

I have already review this special (which you can read here) but I just want to mention one thing I didn't already. Tom Ruggers score in this episode is a treat to listen to. Each episode is individually scored to give it the feel of the old Looney Tunes shorts. Listen as Tom drops samples of various Christmas songs into his score.



Okay so maybe this is a weird one to go on the top 5 list. But I think what makes this "Christmas Special" unique is that it doesn't take itself seriously. It still gets across a message of love and togetherness but it does it in it's typical comedic style. Fry learns to put others before himself, Bender learns that people are easier to mug on X-Mas Eve, and the Professor learns you're never too old to sing naked X-Mas songs around the piano.



This one is my favourite Christmas television special. I really wanted it to be number one but we decided to let The Grinch win that slot because the animation is so much better. And after all, this is an animation blog.

Charlie Brown captures every essence of Christmas spirit through the depresseing life of Charlie Brown as he sets out to discover what Christmas is. He finds out that it is not about the gifts or the aluminum Christmas trees, in fact, this special speaks out against commercialism; Linus tells the story of Christ's birth from the Bible; And ultimately the gang help Charlie Brown realize that friends and family make the simplist of things, like his underappreciated Christmas tree, seem extra special.



Not only is this number one on our list because of story and characters... it has to be the best animation as well (2D animation anyways). Chuck Jones directed this cartoon, so it has a very Looney Toons feel to it. There are times that the Grinch's reactions or expressions remind me so much of Bugs. Chuck's timing is perfect and the characters (especially Grinch) have such personality, even in such a short Christmas special.

The message of this cartoon, although not quite as on the nose as Charlie Brown, is still really great. It speaks against materialism when the Grinch steals every last present and piece of food... the Whos still gather in the center of town and sing a thankful Christmas song. The Grinch learns his lesson (and of course everyone gets their presents back) and the Whos even accept him into their society.


Friday, December 22, 2006


We've decided to take a break from our Christmas themes today to mention the passing of one of animation's great contributors, Joseph Barbera.

You know the name because of his partnership with William Hanna (Hanna-Barbera). Barbera was the actual cartoonist of the two. Hanna had a very good sense of comedic timing, but apparently wasn't much of an artist. Together they produced some of the most popular, long-lasting and award winning cartoons in animation history. Their first joint project was Puss Gets the Boot (the very first Tom and Jerry film from 1930). This was the first of fourteen Tom and Jerry cartoons to be nominated for Academy Awards.

The team was put in charge of MGM's animation department in 1955 and two years later they formed their own animation studio (due to the fact that MGM closed their animation division). As Hanna-Barbera Productions they produced The Flinstones, Jonny Quest, and The Jetsons along with many others. They perfected the technique of limited animation which made production faster and allowed them to charge the networks less money for their cartoons.

Joseph Barbera died on December 18th, 2006 at the age of 95 after an amazing 70 year animation career. His cartoons are some of the most recognizable and popular animation icons of the past 50 years, and they will continue to be watched and loved for many years to come.

Thursday, December 21, 2006


Even the promise of egg nog and good cheer can't keep the Brain from doing what he loves! Tonight's plan to take over the world involves giving every kid on the planet a stuffed toy of the Brain complete with hypnotising capabilities! But the problem is he must make billions buy tonight in order for his plan to work! So it's off to the North Pole to coerce the elves into doing his dirty work!

Pinky & The Brain is my favourite segment of Animaniacs and one of my favourite cartoon duos of all time. When they got their own show in 1995 I jumped for joy! Christmas of that very same year brought us A Pinky & The Brain Christmas, a special tale of friendship and global domination.

This episode has one of the best plots and is a throw-back to an earlier Animaniacs episode where the two become stars of a children's television program called "Big Ears & Noodle Noggin". Brain created a Noodle Noggin stuffed toy.

When the series began, the writers simply took the standard seven minute concept and stretched them out into half hour stories. This caused the show to loose some steam as the plots didn't really warrant a whole half hour. But what the Christmas Special did for the series was start really focusing on the character development of the two. After that, episodes began to go off in tangents, exploring the relationship between them, their pasts and introducing supporting cast members, like Snowball and Billie.

A Pinky & The Brain Christmas is my favourite episode of the series and one of my favourite Christmas specials. It makes me weep every time I watch it. The writers crafted such a touching tale and the voice work of Rob Paulson (Pinky) and Maurice LaMarche (Brain) is great! And when you mix in the wonderful animation you will see why this show has won the hearts of millions of twenty-somethings everywhere!

You can find this episode on VHS and in the Pinky & the Brain, Volume 1 DVD box set.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006



Mickey and Pluto are decorating the tree but some unexpected guests (Chip and Dale) have made their home in the tree and are dazzled by all the lights and decorations. Pluto sniffs them out and ends up destroying everything trying to catch them.

This classic Mickey Mouse is a must see every year. At this point in Mickey's career, most of his cartoons starred him but the spotlight was always stolen by his co-stars to the point where he would get very little screen time. In this case it's Pluto, whose career was at the height of it popularity, and Chip n Dale, who had just reached the height of their own popularity.

While the animation was really good on the chipmunks and Pluto, I am not a fan of Mickey's animation in this era of his career. The artists thought to change him up a bit. They made his ears not as round and his nose a bit longer. He never wore his trademark red shorts anymore and he moved like he had no neck. This cartoon is a good example of how even the best animators can make Mickey look "wrong".


Both of these films were directed by Wilfred Jackson. Santa's Workshop was released on Dec. 10, 1932 and The Night Before Christmas was released Dec. 9, 1933. They very much seem like sequels to each other. I'm not sure if they're intended to be or not.

Santa's Workshop shows Santa in, surprise surprise, his workshop. He reads letters from little kids while one of his elves tells him whether they've been naughty or nice. Santa then sends the requests to the workshop. In one of the classic Disney "everything's moving" scenes we watch as the elves make all the requested toys. Once everything's ready to go, the toys all march themselves into Santa's bag.

The Night Before Christmas is what seems like a continuation of Santa's Workshop. The design of Santa is exactly the same (which is great... unlike certain sequels of certain Frosty the Snowman specials). In this film, we see Santa making his first delivery. He slides down the chimney (very cool animation by the way. The chimney seems to swallow him up) and into the fireplace. He sets down his bag and the toys march themselves out of the bag to the tree. It would have been very easy for them to reuse the animation from the first film, but every toy and movement is different... including little wooden Mickey Mouse toys.

Both cartoons had racial jokes that weren't taken out for the VHS we watched, which was interesting. The animation was very fun. I love Silly Symphonies just for the amazing coordination and inventive movement to the music. And Santa's just so jolly!

I don't quite have enough time to write the reviews on these other Disney classics. I will get to them over the next few days so keep checking back and leave your comments!



Monday, December 18, 2006


Frosty the Snowman
What can I say about Frosty? He's a magical snowman who comes to life! How much better can it get, really?

The animation was pretty limited and I enjoyed watching various objects blip out of existence for a few frames every now and then. The style of the art is very neat, though. Black outlines around the outside of characters, and colored outlines on the inside.

This particular Christmas special emphasizes the importance of friendship. Santa does make an appearance, but only to give the moral of the story and get rid of the bad guy. It's not about presents or any of the typical Santa-related subject matter. It doesn't even need to be a Christmas special to get across the message it conveys.

Nevertheless, it's cute... it's fun... it's one of those cartoons we all grew up on and has a special place in our hearts.

Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town
I was a bit wary of this Christmas special at first. My only exposure to Rankin Bass for the longest time had only been Rudolph and Frosty. Anything besides that I, for no rational reason at all, refused to watch. So when Kurtis suggested watching Little Drummer Boy and this one I wasn't very excited. But I got done watching it and realized I really did enjoy it.

The special is all about answering every little kid's question about Santa. Why does he have a beard? Why does he wear a red coat? Why does he go down the chimney? The story opens with a mailman (played by Fred Astaire) delivering letters to Santa. He decides to tell everyone the origin of Santa Claus, to answer everyone's questions at once. Some questions that were answered were some I hadn't even thought of. Like how did he meet Mrs. Claus? Or why do we put little presents in stockings?

It was a lot of fun... and it made me think! Okay, so it was pretty hokey. But I don't have any more questions about Santa Claus!

Sunday, December 17, 2006


South Park has had a few Christmas specials over the years but the best one has got to be Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo from its first season.

When the show debuted in 1997 it was met with a whirlwind of controversy. So when the creators, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, wrote the Christmas episode they decided to play off of the political correctness that everyone was trying to force down their throats.

The result is brilliant! Not only does this episode contain everything that a Christmas special should be, including songs, togetherness, Jesus, Christmas trees, presents, acceptance and an epiphany, but it also draws on a lot of very important subjects, like the exclusion/inclusion of Jews during this holiday, the activists who are offended by Christmas but don't take into account the feelings of others, and schools that have to be overly politically correct.

Kyle is pulled out of the school play because he is Jewish and should not be taking part in a nativity scene. Kyle's mom then goes on a quest to rid the town of anything that is offesive to anyone. Meanwhile, Kyle meets Mr. Hankey, a Christmas poo that visits those with too much fibre in their diet. Together, they teach the town to forget about their differences and come together on this joyous holiday.

I am sick and tired of the way my country is taking out any meaning of the holiday. Department store clerks are not allowed to say "Merry Christmas" and no mention of nativity scenes or the birth of Christ are to be seen at schools or in malls. Most modern Christmas specials teach us to accept others, especially at Christmas, but the powers-that-be are bent on excluding religion and therefore go back on everything that they are trying to teach by making the holiday inclusive.

The most confusing this is that Christmas songs, including Christian carols, are still piped over radio stations and mall PAs and A Charlie Brown Christmas and Little Drummer Boy are still seen on TV every year! I guess we haven't quite reached the point that South Park did in Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo but I'm sure we are close. South Park, as usual, hit the nail right on the head.

Saturday, December 16, 2006



Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is a department store creation, created by Mongomery Ward in 1939. (Ward's is now an online only store based out of Cedar Rapids, Iowa). The character was adapted into a song by Johnny Marks and recorded by Gene Autry in 1949. But it wasn't until 1964 when Rankin/Bass produced its now-famous stop-motion tv special.

The story of the reindeer with the shiny nose followed the song very closely but added many subplots, such as an elf that wants to be a dentist, the island of misfit toys, and the abominable snowman.

Son of the famous reindeer, Donner, Rudolph has a bright red nose that Donner believes to be a flaw. Ashamed of his son, Donner covers the nose in mud so that Rudolph would appear 'normal'. But his nose is revealed during the Reindeer Games and Rudolph is shunned for being different. Meanwhile, Hermie the Elf is also having problems fitting in as he wants to be a dentist rather than an elf. Together, the pair head out to find out where they belong. The journey takes them on many adventures including a land where all of the misfit toys reside. They also face and, with the help of Yukon Cornelius, defeat the Abominable Snow-Monster.

This special airs every year on NBC making it the longest running Christmas TV special. And special it is. The lovable characters and fun songs make this a classic show for kids of any generation. The care that Rankin/Bass put into the stop-motion animation gives the viewer a feeling that heart and soul went into this production and even though details like lipsync seemed to be not important, the overwhelming charm made this incarnation of the misfit reindeer a timeless classic.

The main theme of this show is one that everybody can relate to. The story of one who is hated a feared for having extra gifts is something that everyone goes through at least once in their life. That is the connection that draws everyone in. Everybody has gifts and you should not be ridiculed for using them.

In many ways, this is the story of the X-Men. Rudolph is a mutant and should be a superhero. That's my inner geek talking.


Based on the song of the same name, the Little Drummer Boy follows the journey of Aaron, a little boy who hates humanity and finds himself the friend to all animals whom he communicates with through his drum. Through a dramatic series of events, he follows the three kings to Bethehem where he meets a newborn Jesus and discovers the meaning of Christmas.

Unlike other Christian animated shows that are often really terrible (including the Hanna-Barbera series The Greatest Adventure: Stories from the Bible), this special has some great stop-motion animation and is one of the most elaborite of the classic Rankin/Bass productions. The human characters are built to appear more human than other productions and the Middle Eastern sets bring a realism to the show.

The Little Drummer Boy will probably be the only Christmas special that I will review that doesn't have to do with Santa, Frosty, Rudolph or other commercial Christmas gimmicks. The fact that this show deals with the actual Christian celebration makes it extra special. In this consumer driven era it is nice to see a show that is not trying to sell anything and just wants to honestly promote good will toward mankind.

This is a very different production for Rankin/Bass. It is a serious drama rather than the funfilled humourous adventures of other specials that we are used to. At times it moves a little slow, but it is only a half hour rather than the usual hour long program.

Both Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and The Little Drummer Boy can be found in the Original Television Christmas Classics DVD box set.

Friday, December 15, 2006


The well-known and well-loved cat and mouse duo, Tom & Jerry, star in MGM's The Night Before Christmas, Tom & Jerry's third cartoon produced by animation legends Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera. The Night Before Christmas was released in theatres December 6, 1941.

While the narrator does read the first few lines of the famous poem, the cartoon does not follow the poem's plot, but rather creates a touching tale of how even the most unlikely pair can resolve their differences during the holiday season.

Jerry pops out of his mouse hole to see the whole house decorated for Christmas. He has his fun with the ornaments and toys but soon ends up in being chased by his arch-rival, Tom the cat. Tom locks Jerry out in the snow but soon realizes, due to the Christmas spirit being in the air, that it was mean and selfish of him to treat Jerry that way. Tom brings him back in and the duo share a nice Christmas together.

Since the beginning, Jerry's design has pretty much stayed the same. But Tom went through a few transformations before looking like the modern Tom we see now. Back in this short Tom was more of a real cat than a cat taking on human characteristics. He had paws rather than hands and walked on all fours most of the time.

This design was much more complicated for the animators. Tom was very furry; he had claws and light patches of fur such as the grey spot between his eyes. All of these traits looked good but were a pain for animators to reproduce frame after frame. By the time Chuck Jones got his hands on the characters in the 60s, Tom had been streamlined to look the Tom everyone recognizes.

The Night Before Christmas contains some of the best animation of all the Tom & Jerry cartoons. Real emotion was captured during Jerry's playful romp through the Christmas presents, and when Tom feels sorry for Jerry it really gets you right there. Sadly, the animators were not given credit for their work on this short. Neither was credit given to the music composer, Scott Bradley, who really set the mood with his reworking of Christmas carols such as The First Noel.

If you are looking for this short, pick up a copy of Tom & Jerry Spotlight Collection, Volume Two. It is the only Tom & Jerry Christmas episode ever made so don't be suckered in by DVDs like Paws for the Holiday which contain a bunch of winter themed cartoons but nothing to do with Christmas.

Thursday, December 14, 2006


In 1987, and at the height of his career, A Garfield Christmas hit the air on CBS and quickly took a spot on the shelf of Christmas classics.

The Garfield comic strip, which debuted in 1979, had become a worldwide hit and the creator, Jim Davis, decided that it was time to bring Garfield to life. So in 1982, Garfield came to television with the special, Here Comes Garfield. It was a hit. Kids everywhere wanted more so every year a new Garfield special was made until Davis felt it was time for his cat to have his own tv show. Garfield and Friends ran from 1988-1995.

Since then, the franchise has gone crazy. Everything imaginable was made in to Garfield merchandise, including two feature films, and Jim Davis has become so busy with the business side of things that he no longer draws the strip. His company, PAWS, has a roster of Jim Davis wannabes that draw like him but miss the heart of the character. The strip hasn't been the same in years and I don't think it ever will be again. See previous post.

A Garfield Christmas invokes everything that I love about Garfield. He is a smart-alec cat who hates dogs and mushy stuff but really is a pushover when it comes to family and friends.

The sarcastic humour of the strip is translated well here without becoming rude or annoying, and Garfield gets many memorable lines: "Whoever invented Christmas trees should be drug out on to the road and shot."

This special also explores the relationship Jon has with his family. The family dynamics and traditions around Christmastime are such that we can all relate. Sadly, the Arbuckle family is never seen in the strip nowadays.

Jon, Garfield and Odie are headed to the farm for a Christmas with the Arbuckles. Jon is so excited to be a part of his childhood traditions. Garfield plans to bring everyone down with his bad attitude for being brought to the farm against his will but when Odie gives Garfield an extra special Christmas gift Garfield has a change of heart. It is here that Garfield says a line that will forever be a Christmas classic:

"It's not the giving, it's not the getting. It's the loving. There, I said it. Now get outta here."

Find this special on Garfield Holiday Celebrations

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


It's a birthday celebration for the royal twins, Prince Adam and Princess Adora! Friends and family have gathered together to join the celebration but the party gets interrupted when Orko accidentally blasts off in Man-At-Arms' dimension-jumping ship and crash lands on Earth. On Earth, Orko meets two children who are lost in the woods and with the help of He-Man and She-Ra, they are all brought back to Eternia. But Skeletor and Hordak have teamed up and are waiting for their arrival! They plan to kidnap the Earth children and stop the joy and happiness of the Earth-holiday known as Christmas that they are introducing to Eternia!

Fans of both He-Man and She-Ra will jump for joy when watching this Christmas special because it is the ultimate crossover special between the two franchises with almost every character showing their face at least once throughout the hour-long show! If anyone wanted to see He-Man and She-Ra join forces to battle Skeletor and Hordak, then this is the place to look!

I honestly have to say this special, like the rest of the series, is quite awful. The animation, due to the shoestring budget, is so bad that it makes [adult swim] shows like Aqua Teen Hunger Force and Harvey Birdman look like Disney.

The story isn't much better. When Skeletor asks the kids what Christmas is, the answer comes out sounding so ridiculous that an evil despot such as Skeletor wouldn't ever think of turning over a new leaf. The plot and dialogue, like so many of the series' episodes, are so shallow that even the youngest kids can understand them.

But that doesn't leave much for the older fans. In fact, the only real appeal I find in this show is nostalgia. I watched it when I was younger, had a bunch of the toys, but if I were to discover the show nowadays I would find it a laugh riot.

But the fact is that He-Man is a part of eighties culture and those who love it, love it a lot.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


Thirty years after Mickey's appearance in The Simple Things in 1953, Disney decided to put their main star in another theatrical film. Mickey's Christmas Carol hit the theatres on December 16, 1983 before a re-issue of The Rescuers. It is a retelling of the classic Charles Dickens tale, A Christmas Carol.

Mickey stars as Bob Cratchet, an overworked, under-paid employee of Ebenezer Scrooge. Scrooge gets a visit from the ghost of his dead partner, Jacob Marley (played by Goofy) who tells his he will be visited by three ghosts who will tell him to change his life or else. The three ghosts are played by Jiminy Cricket, Willie the Giant and Pegleg Pete.

Nothing really spectacular came out of Disney in the eighties with the exception of Mickey's Christmas Carol. Disney's new batch of animators got a chance to strut their stuff and prove to everyone that they were ready to compete with the great 'Nine Old Men'. The result is beautiful scenery and charming animation. With such a solid story already in place, the animators got the chance to explore the emotion of the characters.

The thing that stood out the most to me was the colour. I have always been a fan of Disney colour and their use of the Technicolor process. It always makes the scene so warm.

While Scrooge McDuck had a few cartoons before this one, it wasn't until now that Scrooge became a well known character. This cartoon set the tone for his character for years to come. In 1987, Scrooge went on to star in his own TV series, DuckTales where he used the lessons he learned in this Christmas classic in everyday life.

Fans of Disney animation will get a kick out of trying to spot the characters in the backgrounds. Classic characters like the Clarabelle Cow and the Three Little Pigs appear along side more modern characters like Lady Cluck and the kids from Robin Hood.

This is, and always will be, a classic to be viewed by generations to come. It is also a must see for any animation enthusiast. You can find it on various DVDs but the best viewing would be the original widescreen version on Walt Disney Treasures: Mickey Mouse in Living Color, Volume Two.

Monday, December 11, 2006


Xmas Story
It's Fry's first Christmas in the future. He misses his family and friends, but when he realizes that Leela never even had a family he decides he needs to buy her a Christmas gift. As he leaves to shop his friends warn him not to stay out past sundown. In 2801 a robotic Santa was built to determine which children had been naughty, and who had been nice and distribute gifts accordingly. But a calculation error caused Santa to label everyone as too naughty to deserve gifts. The Santa of the 31st century, therefore, is a murderous villain who you don't want to hear on your rooftop on Christmas Eve. In the end of course Fry and Leela both end up running from Santa through the streets of New New York and in the end, through a grand moment of team effort, Santa is defeated.

I love this episode for so many reasons. It's a Christmas episode but it doesn't feel any different than any other Futurama episode. The humor is the same, the characters are the same, and they even develope Fry and Leela's relationship just a little more.

John Goodman voices the robotic Santa, which is perfect. He's done quite a bit of voice acting in his career so it's not just a celebrity voice actor for the sake of having a celebrity. He blends in well with the rest of the cast.

Something else I love about this episode (and the entire series, really) is the attention to detail. Fry asks a question about "Christmas" to which the reply is, "What-mas?" The crew finally realizes that he means "X-mas"... he's just using some archaic pronunciation. Just like when he says "Ask" instead of "Aks." For the rest of the series, whenever someone says Christmas or "ask"... they use the pronunciations from this episode.

In the end the crew gathers around the piano to sing Christmas carols, and the Professor gives us a jolly, naked holiday greeting as only the Professor could do.

A Tale of Two Santas
Santa's back! And the crew has to deliver his letters to Neptune where his icy fortress is located. Fry decides that this is their opportunity to bring back what Christmas used to be. They travel to Neptune and trap Santa in the ice. Bender takes over as the new, kind Santa who delivers toys instead of death and destruction. Unfortunately no one trusts Santa anymore and Bender is shot at, lit on fire, and over all unwanted in peoples' homes. He's arrested and the crew has to bring back the real Santa to prove Bender's innocense.

I like this episode because, like the first Christmas special, it's just another episode of the show. The crew is always sent on these missions that are either ridiculously dangerous, or they get sidetracked on their way there.

One reason I absolutely love Futurama is for their geeky Star Trek references that only about 3 people get. In this episode it's Leela's theory that, because Santa is a robot, he will be destroyed if presented with a logical paradox. This "rule for robots" is from the Star Trek Original Series episode I, Mudd. I just thought I'd point that out for any Trekkies reading the blog.

This episode references Rudolph when Santa asks Bender, "Won't you join my slaying tonight?" It's great when Christmas specials reference each other.

In the end, the crew realizes that "Fear has brought us together! That's the magic of X-mas!"

Sunday, December 10, 2006


This is probably one of the weirdest Christmas specials ever with a twist ending! Invader Zim is a short lived Nickelodeon show about a loser alien sent to a harmless planet (Earth) so that he can be kept busy trying to conquer it while the rest of his race take their armada to destroy planets elsewhere.

The Most Horrible X-Mas Ever starts 2 million years in the future where kids are told of the awful tale of Zim and his holiday plan to destroy the world by disguising himself as Santa! But Zim's plan backfires when he realizes that the Santa suit he built reacts positively to candy canes, jiggly bells and happy, filthy child drool causing him to spread yuletide cheer.

If you are into the comic scene then you know of the twisted mind of Jhonen Vasquez and his creations Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, Squee and Fillerbunny. Invader Zim is also his creation so you can expect the same insane dialog, square-headed dirty children and moose many moose.

The show also sports some pretty impressive animation. Outrageous expressions and vibrant colours dazzle the eyes and there is even some use of 3D animation in the same style as Futurama using Toon shading.

Also included in this special is the soon-to-be-classic Christmas song, Bow Down to Santa.

I find this show laugh out loud funny and this episode is no exception. It is one of Zim's most brilliant and elaborate plans and would make a great introduction for anyone who has never seen the show before. This episode can be found on Invader Zim, Volume 3: Horrible Holiday Cheer

Saturday, December 09, 2006


One of (if not) the most popular television show in history and the first hit for the Fox network, The Simpsons is a show about an average family living in an average town. The show has changed drastically over the years but after seventeen seasons they are still one of the most loved television families of all time.

The first season began with a rocky start. The intended first episode, Some Enchanted Evening, contained animation so bad that the premiere of the series was put on hold until some changes were made. It was planned to launch the series in September 1989 but the producers postponed it until December 17, 1989 with The Simpsons Christmas Special, also known as Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire.

The themes of the first few seasons dealt with real life situations, like Bart getting picked on by a bully and learning how to stand up for himself, and most often dealt with the fact that the Simpsons were a low income family. Many episodes had Homer losing his job, spending their savings or making a mess of his marriage. In this Christmas episode, Homer doesn't get his Christmas bonus and tries to hide it from the family by taking a job as a mall Santa to raise the money needed for gifts.

The animation is very crude, the voices have not yet been developed, and if you are used to the newer seasons you may find the pacing of this episode quite slow.

But when this show aired and the public was shown that Homer would do anything to give his family a good Christmas, everyone knew that this was a family that they cared about. They are the average family. They are your family. They are my family. Everyone can relate to the characters and this is the appeal of the show. Plus, it's really funny.

Simpsons Christmas episodes are becoming as common as their Halloween episodes but I wanted to talk about this one in particular because it was the world's introduction to the series, and while it is not a great episode, it is a classic.

It can be found in The Simpsons, Season One box set and the other Christmas episodes can be found on the compilation discs Christmas With the Simpsons and The Simpsons Christmas 2 and a brand new Christmas episode of The Simpsons, entitled Kill Gil, Vols. 1&2 airs on December 17, 2006, the 17th anniversary of Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire!