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Recap / Mystery Science Theater 3000 S11 E13: The Christmas That Almost Wasn't

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"Either the title card is in Italian, or we're getting nachos."

Kinga Forrester: Now, we've got a real holiday experiment for you: a Christmas movie with all the fun of hiring a lawyer to deal with your landlord.

Film featured: The Christmas That Almost Wasn't

The Segments:

  • Jonah tries to sing a traditional Christmas carol with the bots—but picks the one song that nobody knows the words to, "Good King Wenceslas".

Segment 1

  • Kinga is still making plans for her wedding to Jonah. And then it's Invention Exchange time. Jonah and the bots invent The Re-Gifter: a pair of nesting boxes meant to be given away immediately after you receive them. Kinga invents Humbug FM, a radio that filters out the sappy seasonal music and leaves nothing but screaming, cacophonous noise.

Segment 2

  • Jonah and the bots review some classic toys from Santa's workshop: the wooden soldier, the wooden rocking horse, and the jack-in-the-box. They conclude that you're better off being on the Naughty list.

Segment 3

  • Tom Servo and Crow are creeped out by the toys from the movie. Jonah suggests they come up alternative backstories to make the toys less scary.

Segment 4

  • Santa drops by the SOL... and Mr. Whipple is with him. Santa is stressed from holiday preparations, managing his elf workforce, and dealing with Mr. Whipple's nonsense. Oy vey...

Segment 5

  • Recreating the slideshow scene from the movie, Gypsy gives Christmas sweaters to Jonah, Tom Servo, and Crow. Kinga and Max exchange gifts as well.

Tropes used in the MST3K presentation of The Christmas That Almost Wasn't include:

  • Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole: A minor example that goes completely without comment: the original film had a scene of Santa, Mrs. Claus, and Sam cleaning and decorating Mr. Prune's house. The MST presentation cuts that scene, so his house goes from filthy to festive between scenes with barely any explanation.
  • The Alcoholic: "Santa, I'm not mad, I'm just your AA sponsor!"
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: In-Universe, the guys interpret Whipple as either a Manchild or a guy with an infantilism fetish.
  • Archive Binge: invoked Kinga lampshades that Netflix programs are made for binge-watching, and that hardly anyone will actually watch this episode near Christmas.
  • Avengers Assemble: "Santa Team, assemble!"
  • Blasphemous Boast: Kinga intends to preempt Christmas with her wedding plans.
    Kinga Forrester: Beside, my marrying Jonah is way more important than observing the Son of Man who came to seek and save that which is lost. Puh!
  • Celebrity Resemblance: invoked Aside from the handful of jokes about Alberto Rabagliati's strong resemblance to Topol, Gypsy mentions that Paul Tripp is a lot like Danny Kaye, in both appearance and mannerisms.
  • Christmas Carolers: Jonah invites the bots to sing carols with him, but chooses to sing Good King Wenceslas, "the one Christmas song no one knows the lyrics to."
    Jonah: Good King Wenceslas looked out on the Feast of Stephen
  • Christmas Episode: Of course. It's Christmas on the Satellite of Love, and Kinga sends up a seasonally appropriate film.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Jonah gives everyone the wrong Christmas sweater, even though they have the initials of the intended recipient sewn onto them.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • The Skeleton Crew plays an instrumental version of "Let's Have a Patrick Swayze Christmas".
    • And Santa has a pressurized sled capable of space travel. So Joel was right: Tom Servo didn't need to fear for Santa and the reindeer's safety in the vacuum of space.
    • The initialed sweaters that end up being given to the wrong people is a call back to the "Joike" sweater from Santa Claus.
    • Can't we get beyond Thunderdome?
    • When Santa greets a kid named Charlie, Crow goes for the classic riff "They took my thumbs!"
  • Creator Cameo: Joel Hodgson (as Santa Claus) and Elliott Kalan (as Sam Whipple) drop by the SOL for one host segment.
  • Dope Slap: Jonah's response to Crow for the aforementioned "Beyond Thunderdome" crack.
  • Easily Impressed:
    Sam Whipple: So either you pay the rent, or out you go?
    Tom Servo: Say, you are a lawyer, aren't you!
  • Encouraged Regifting: The whole point of Jonah's invention, the Re-Gifter—a pair of nested gift boxes that you're meant to swap and immediately gift to someone else.
  • Enfant Terrible: They turn a little girl into this, insisting that the only thing she wants for Christmas is a rifle.
  • Epiphany Therapy: "So, a toy erases decades of toxic hate and villainy."
  • Everyone Is Christian at Christmas: Inverted. Santa, of all people, is actually Jewish, but he makes a tidy profit off both Christmas and Hanukkah.
  • Evil Lawyer Joke: "A lawyer who forgets to send out bills? This movie just became unrealistic."
  • Faux Affably Evil: Regarding Mr. Prune: "His rudeness is so polite."
  • Follow the Leader: invoked "It's the failed response to the Beanie Babies fad: Screamie Babies!"
  • Freudian Excuse:
    Phineas T. Prune: A sailboat...
    Crow: Just like the one that murdered my parents!
  • Hell Is That Noise: The radio station Kinga presents for the invention exchange.
  • Homemade Sweater from Hell: Crow, Tom Servo, and Jonah all get ugly homemade sweaters from Gypsy. They seem thrilled by them. Amusingly, the sweaters all have initials on them, and they put on the wrong ones.
  • Indian Burial Ground: "This store was built on a stuffed animal burial ground."
  • Insane Troll Logic:
    Crow: (as Phineas T. Prune) So if I prove my middle name isn't Tightwad, Santa will pay his rent? I'm starting to understand this whole "broke lawyer" thing.
  • It Will Never Catch On:
    Rich mother: But just you wait until I tell him about this! A real, honest-to-goodness Santa Claus, and in a department store!
    Jonah: What's next? Cherry phosphates? Women driving cars? A Catholic in the White House?note 
  • Kangaroo Court: When Santa's elves organize themselves as a judge and jury for Prune:
    Tom Servo: Man, North Korea has more fair courts than this.
  • The Ken Burns Effect: The movie uses panned-and-zoomed still shots for the montage of Santa delivering presents. The final host segment parodies this, using the same technique for Jonah, the bots, and the Mads exchanging gifts.
  • Laser-Guided Karma:
    Tom Servo: That's clearly a man who was turned into a stuffed monkey by a witch's curse.
    Jonah: Oh, but it's not scary, because he deserved it.
  • Littlest Cancer Patient:
    Charlie: No, something's wrong. I can feel it in my bones.
    Crow: Doctor says they're going to have to REMOVE my bones. (He lets out a pathetic little cough)
  • Manchild: The adult Mr. Whipple gets a little too into chumming with Santa and playing with toys, so the SOL crew make a running gag of him having an infantilism fetish. Taken to its fullest extreme in the fourth host segment, in which Whipple literally has the mind of a child as he tags along with his legal guardian Santa and causes problems for him.
  • My New Gift Is Lame:
    • "Children love Home Depot receipts!"
    • At the end, Max gives Kinga a portrait of her that he painted himself. She immediately throws it in the trash. Kinga's gift for Max is a first aid kit which he adores.
  • Nightmare Fuel: invoked
    • According to Jonah and the bots, all the toys in Prim's Department Store range from unsettling to outright terrifying. They spend a whole host segment making up less-scary backstories for the toys, and even that backfires at the end:
      Crow: And even though that looks like a bear who killed another bear, then wore his victim's skin as a suit, it... uh...
      Jonah: Ohhhh no, that's exactly what it is!
    • And the unconvincing effects of Santa's reindeer flying just provokes screams of incoherent terror.
  • No Sense of Personal Space: "Balloon or personal space! Can't have both."
  • Out of Holiday Episode: invoked Like the rest of season 11, this Christmas episode was released on April 14, 2017 (Good Friday, ironically enough). Kinga lampshades this, noting that Netflix shows are made for binge-watching, so hardly anyone will actually watch this episode near Christmas time.
  • Parody of Evolution: "Look, the elves are posing for an Evolution of Man poster."
  • Priceless Ming Vase: As the elves are tossing packages around: "Faberge eggs! <breaking sounds> iPads! <crashing sounds>"
  • Rooting for the Empire: invoked After a random boy kicks Mr. Prune's shin (while the boy's father just stands by), the bots suddenly side with Prune's crusade against all children everywhere.
  • Running Gag:
    • Everything at the North Pole is made of snow.
    • Mr. Whipple is a "widdle baby".
  • Sensory Abuse: Kinga and Max's invention exchange is Humbug FM, a radio that plays nothing but noise and ear-splitting cacophony—intended as an antidote to irritating Christmas music.
  • Shoddy Knockoff Product:
    Jonah: Clearly, that's a display of knock-off Disney merchandise.
    Tom Servo: On the right, we see Trumbo, the drowsy, blacklisted Dumbo.
    Crow: And next to him is Scottish millionaire fowl, Scudge McDunk.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Slouch of Villainy: "He's a man-spreader. Typical."
  • Something Else Also Rises: Mr. Prune sits in a decidedly creepy way when visiting Santa's cottage, leaning way back in his chair with his knees far apart and his cane resting between his legs.
    Servo: He's a manspreader. TYP-ical.
    Jonah: Paging Dr. Freud...
  • Stating the Simple Solution: Jonah and the bots mention a few times that Sam Whipple could easily raise the money for Santa's rent if he just billed his clients who owed him money.
  • Suckiness Is Painful: invoked The incredibly fake-looking footage of Santa's sleigh in flight seems to cause physical (and psychological) harm to Jonah and the bots.
  • Take That!:
    Max: It's a 300 decibel mix of howler monkeys, sirens, and vuvuzelas! Annoying? Sure! But it's still better than hearing "Wonderful Christmas Time" again.