Blog: The Island Of Misfit Christmas Specials
The Island of Misfit Christmas Specials
has been an annual feature at Platypus Comix
since December 2006. Every year, Peter Paltridge reviews some Christmas Specials
that don't receive much attention from the general public anymore. Some of these include gems that the major networks have stopped playing, but most of them simply don't measure up to the classics, to say the least. Among all the series of articles hosted at Platypus Comix, this probably has the most installments, even exceeding the comics themselves.
These reviews contain examples of:
- Actually Pretty Funny: The review of For Better or for Worse: The Bestest Present dismisses most of the special as sappy and predictable, but praises some of Mike's snappy remarks.
- Aesop Amnesia: Peter accuses Ted E. Bear of this in the Christmas half of Ted E's Thanksgiving:
Ted: I can't go down there....what can one bear do against all those monsters?
Peter: They're "nothing," remember? I guess he doesn't remember.
- Analogy Backfire: At the beginning of "Will Vinton's Claymation Christmas Celebration":
To put the times in perspective, the late 80's were the peak of animator Will Vinton's career. Anything he made was instantly popular -- the California Raisins, the Noid, a trippy movie about Mark Twain that didn't get a wide release -- well, almost everything.
- Bears Are Bad News: A 2008 installment deems The Great Bear Scare "the King Moonraiser (sic) of the misfits" due to its very cheap animation and nonsensical story elements. The networks that syndicated it didn't even air it during the proper holiday, as it was originally intended for Halloween.
- Big Lipped Alligator Moment: Invoked in the review of the Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer special.
- Blah Blah Blah:
- Buffy Speak: His take on the original songs in "A Walt Disney Christmas":
"The holidaaaays are heeere, preseeeents and....sleigh riiiiides and....stuuuuuffffff...."
- Book Ends: In a way. The first article related to Ted E. Bear is The Great Bear Scare. The third and final article is Ted E's Thanksgiving, which features a back-up Christmas story called Christmas Comes to Monster Mountain. Both of these specials feature Dracula as the Big Bad.
- Call Back: Both 12 Wishes of Christmas and The Little Troll Prince feature the line, "Up is down, black is white, and Rush Limbaugh and Rosie O'Donnell are each other."
- Celebrity Endorsement: The review of A Mouse, a Mystery, and Me begins with a Drugs Are Bad PSA, in which gymnast Mary Lou Retton bowls with kids who sing about how she likes bowling, but doesn't like smoking. Peter then explains that each future review will end with the special in question facing similar approval or disapproval from her.
Until now I've just been providing my own opinion. But from now on, Misfit Specials will be additionally judged on whether Mary Lou Retton likes them as much as she likes bowling, or hates them as much as she hates smoking. You won't find a system this reliable anywhere else.
- The first time Peter showed Mary Lou Retton enjoying a Misfit special occurred in the review of ''Will Vinton's Claymation Christmas Celebration".
- Clueless Aesop: Peter questions The Cabbage Patch Kids' First Christmas having a scene where the Kids sing that children shouldn't worry about their differences...to a girl who wears a leg brace, and presumably has mobility concerns that people shouldn't ignore.
- Continuity Nod: A 2011 update to the menu added references to Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer, Up on the Housetopnote , Robbie the Reindeer, The Great Bear Scarenote , and A Wish For Wings That Worknote .
- Contrived Coincidences: Peter writes that he thought The Wish That Changed Christmas had too many of these.
teleports in from the future and remarks, "It is interesting how all our destinies are intertwining so perfectly, isn't it?" Sylar comes up from behind and eats Ivy's brain.
- Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: Peter presumes this as the reason Cricket on the Hearth fell into deeper obscurity than other Rankin/Bass Productions specials from The Sixties. However, he sees potential for it to become a Cult Classic, considering how many other Christmas stories and movies gained fame by taking their heroes through despair, then triumph.
- Dumbass Has a Point: In his review of Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer, he admits that the villain's lawyer bringing up the question of why Santa would commit a hit-and-run is a valid point that he did not expect the special, which he found otherwise execrable, to address.
- Early Installment Weirdness: Four of the first five reviews have incomplete plot summaries. The first apparently doesn't have this because Peter rewrote it. Jingle Bell Rock and The Story of Santa Claus are justified, since Peter did not have either of these specials when he made their articles (all he had for Jingle Bell Rock was an advertisement for it) and was going from memory, admitting he didn't know how the reindeer were involed in The Story of Santa Claus.
- Even the Subtitler Is Stumped: In Why the Bears Dance On Christmas Eve, Peter transcribes part of the bears' rallying song as, "Get it together, (unintelligible)!"
- Franchise Original Sin: The Cricket on the Hearth review takes time to note that a contrivance in the final scene, the Big Bad undergoing a change of heart after receiving a compliment from the blind Bertha, came from original author Charles Dickens, and not from Rankin/Bass Productions.
- Fridge Horror: Peter finds some regarding the ending of The Bear Who Slept Through Christmas, in which Ted E. Bear gets adopted by a human girl who experienced Chuck Cunningham Syndrome in the sequels:
- Hey, It's That Guy! : Peter was shocked to see Christian comedian Chonda Pierce in 12 Wishes of Christmas, explaining that he only knew of her because his aunt was a fan of her.
- Hypothetical Casting: Peter recalls in his review of A Wish For Wings That Work that Bloom County creator Berke Breathed designated the late Sterling Holloway as his #1 choice to voice Opus. Peter admits personally finding that an inappropriate choice, but adds that he could relate to Breathed because of his unfulfilled desire for Brittany Murphy to voice Electric Wonderland's Aerynn Arlia.
- It's a Wonderful Plot: In 2007, Peter once decided to review two specials that copied It's a Wonderful Life: It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie (reviewed here), and It's a Wonderful Tiny Toons Christmas Special (reviewed here).
- It's Been Done: The review of The Star Wars Holiday Special only has two sentences because negative reviews of the special had already become numerous by that time. It doesn't even get a "Why didn't it fit in?" section like the other specials.
- Lame Pun Reaction: In reaction to the "batting average" pun in The Great Bear Scare, Peter posts an image collage of various characters facepalming.
- Mondegreen: Peter was hardly paying attention to Why the Bears Dance On Christmas Eve leading him to mishear "the evil Snurfs" as "the evil Smurfs".
- Mood Whiplash: The Cricket on the Hearth review follows up an unexpectedly dark scene of the Big Bad shooting two of his Mooks with the words, "A Rankin-Bass Production".
- Narm: The review of Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July lampshades this by pointing out some "Golden Lines" that Peter found "...so bad [he] can't help but love."
- Needs More Love: Peter believes this of A Pinky and the Brain Christmas:
[Why was it such a misfit?]
Because there's no justice, that's why. If the world were fair, A Pinky and the Brain Christmas
would be sitting on the same pedestal as Rudolph
and the Grinch
, forever beloved by children and adults alike. Yes. It's that good.
- No Ontological Inertia: Peter uses this exact phrase, and a link to its TV Tropes page, in the Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July review, when explaining that the demise of King Winterbolt undoes all the effects of his magic.
- Nonindicative Name:
- He accuses Mr. Willoughby's Christmas Party (aka Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree) of having one, since Mr. Willoughby/Willowby doesn't appear often, and only the last scene takes place during his Christmas party.
- The review of A Merry Mirthworm Christmas makes it seem too depressing to have the word "mirth" in its title.
- Not Hyperbole: In his review of The Christmas That Almost Wasn't, after describing how Nolan Bushnell's habit of starting new business and letting them run themselves screwed him over, Peter presents "a moving GIF that depicts the lovely animation in this cartoon with 100% accuracy". The GIF conists of an image of Chuck E. Cheese with two robots, and another image of Jasper T. Jowls with two robots. None of them are actually moving at all — not even dissolving from one pose to another a la The Great Bear Scare. As it turns out, the cartoon suffered a Troubled Production when Bushnell's Kadabrascope production company (which was supposed to animate the cartoon with motion tweens, a la Flash Animation) went under, resulting in not only the animation sinking to the lowest end of the Sliding Scale of Animation Elaborateness, but also setting back computer animation for two decades.
- "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer: In his review of 12 Wishes of Christmas, Peter describes a scene where Noel reminds Laura of a bizarre dream she once had featuring people with forks for hands trying to eat food. He proceeds to provide a video of the scene "Just in case you think I'm making this up". He also says this when saying Laura and Eddie bond by sharing jokes, with Eddie having to explain his to Laura.
- Oh, Crap: In Mr. T and Emmanuel Lewis in A Christmas Dream, Benny calls in a friend named, "Maureen", at one point. Peter fears an appearance by obscure Archie Comics character Marvelous Maureen, whose series Peter had panned earlier that same year. Instead, the special brings in Maureen McGovern.
- Panty Shot: During David Copperfield's scene in Mr. T and Emmanuel Lewis in A Christmas Dream, when he asks the little girl if she has a boyfriend, Peter chimes in to comment, "At this point she lifts up her skirt completely. Wasn't cut out."
- Person as Verb: From the Grandma Got Run Over Bya Reindeer review:
- Sequel Hook: At the end Robbie the Reindeer in Legend of the Lost Tribe, after Peter says that the special is just as good as the original, he ends the article with this:
Five years later, a third Robbie special appeared. Did it keep up the streak? .....You'll find out someday.....
- Sequelitis: Peter thought this hit Ted E. Bear hard when he reviewed three of his specials for "The Island of Misfit Christmas Specials". Peter deemed the second special, The Great Bear Scare, the worst Christmas special he ever saw, as mentioned earlier. He then admitted he found its predecessor, The Bear Who Slept Through Christmas, "...much better than The Great Bear Scare, but most things on Earth are." The third, Ted E.'s Thanksgiving, had better timing than The Great Bear Scare, but even cheaper production values.
- Shout-Out: See ShoutOut.Platypus Comix
- So Bad, It's Good: According to him, A Mouse, a Mystery, and Me is this because of the ludicrous plot twists and silly elements (teenage girl who's a famous author, talking cartoon mouse) that are just there without explanation.
- Something Completely Different:
- In 2010, Peter announced that he would take a break from reviewing rare specials by writing an article about Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, the most rerun Christmas special of all time. Instead of giving an actual review of Rudolph, the article shares and critiques some commercials found on his recording of a 1979 telecast, as well as the edits that CBS made to the special.
- The review of The Twelve Wishes of Christmas bears the header, "The Island of Christmas MOVIES", because "It takes four times as much commitment to sit through a bad Christmas movie as it does to sit through a bad Christmas special."
- Peter's coverage of The Flight Before Christmas notes that most of the the Christmas Specials he reviews are in two extremes, saccharine and stupid, or "edgy" and un-cuddly. The Flight Before Christmas is different as it's actually an Epic Movie.
- Take That:
- Take That, Audience!: Peter begins the review of Christopher The Christmas Tree by admitting that he found the special boring when he first saw it, and only wrote a review because many of his readers demanded it.
What I'm saying is that if you hate what you're about to read, it's your own fault.
- Trade Snark: The review of Holidaze: The Christmas That Almost Didn't Happen does this to lampoon the frequent and obvious Product Placement seen in the special. The review for An Elf's Story also does this since it's an obvious tie-in to the Elf on the Shelf toy.
- Unintentional Period Piece: After showing a still in Siskel & Ebert Holiday Video Gift Guide from an ad for a Jane Fonda workout tape, which states that it's available at Musicland, Tower Records, and Waldenbooks (none of which are in business anymore), Peter quips: "Notice how nothing in this screenshot applies to modern life."
- The Untwist: Regarding the mysterious old man from Cricket on the Hearth:
...everyone watching can guess easily that it's gotta be [Bertha's lost boyfriend] Edward Belton in costume
. These plot elements were fresher a century and a half ago. I think.
- Wangst: Chris Calhoun from Up On the Housetop is so whiny that Peter made a video montage of his wangst.
- Waxing Lyrical: Peter did this when writing the description on the index:
- Written Sound Effect:
- You Have Got to Be Kidding Me!: Peter's reaction when 12 Wishes of Christmas features a Yoda quote that was explained is, "Are they joking?"