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Recap / Rugrats S 2 E 14 The Santa Experience

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The fourteenth episode of the second season of Rugrats.

It's two days before Christmas, and Tommy, Chuckie, Angelica and their dads are at the mall, waiting in line to see Santa Claus. As they wait in line, Chuckie tells Tommy that he is afraid of Santa and is convinced that he is a bad person, but Tommy keeps insisting that Santa is nice. Meanwhile, Angelica cuts in line and runs to see the Mall Santa, telling him a long list of toys she wants for Christmas, her most desired one being a deluxe beach house for her Cynthia doll. When the Mall Santa tells her he doesn't think he can get her those toys, Angelica questions why he doesn't know this already. She then rips off his beard, revealing him to be an impostor. She then runs through the mall, screaming that Santa Claus is a fake.

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Later that day at Tommy's house, Drew worries to Stu about Angelica's experience with the Mall Santa. Stu points out that Angelica doesn't seem upset, and Chas even adds how the manager of the toy store gave her a box of toys as compensation. Phil and Lil are impressed with Angelica's toys, but Angelica is disappointed, because none of the toys the store gave her are any that she wanted. Even though that may be the case, she still refuses to share them with Phil and Lil. In the kitchen, the adults talk about what they should do for Christmas. Chas worries that Christmas will be a dissapointment for Chuckie, like his own childhood Christmases, and Drew wants to reaffirm Angelica's faith in Santa Claus. Betty then gets an idea to rent a cabin in the mountains with a Santa experience for their children. The other adults like this idea, and so Didi calls a travel agent while Stu looks for Christmas decorations.

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Back in the living room, Angelica wonders what she's going to do with the toys she got from the mall, including a box of crayons and a Reptar space helmet. She then gets an idea when she sees Phil looking sad. He tells her that he doesn't know what to get Lil for Christmas. Angelica tells Phil that she might like a box of crayons for her favorite coloring book, and Phil is excited to hear this, when she stops him and tells him that he can only have them if he gives her his favorite Reptar doll. Phil reluctantly does so, and Angelica is satisfied with her trick, until she sees Lil.

As Didi talks to a travel agent on the phone for a place for her, her friends, and her family to spend Christmas, Drew and Chas wonder how they're going to give their children a Santa Claus experience. Chas gets an idea to dress like Santa and come down the chimney on Christmas Eve, and Drew likes that idea, under one condition, he hires a professional to play Santa, much to Chas' dismay.

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Angelica asks Lil if she's looking for a Christmas present for Phil, and convinces her to trade her favorite coloring book for a Reptar space helmet for Phil's Reptar doll. Angelica is quite satisfied with herself, knowing that the twins will get something for their favorite toys for Christmas, but they won't have their favorite toys to go with them. Meanwhile, Tommy and Chuckie continue arguing over whether or not Santa's a good person, and Chuckie tells Tommy that he wishes he could catch Santa to prove it. This gives Tommy the idea to set traps for Santa so he can tell them if he's good or bad, but Chuckie is reluctant to this idea. Lou then gathers the children around so he can tell them the story of Santa Claus. He tells them that he himself met Santa when he was a kid, and that even though Santa's old, he's still very smart, and he gives lumps of coal instead of toys to bad children. Angelica gulps nervously upon hearing this, but Lou assures her and the babies that they're all good children and have nothing to worry about. Didi then tells the other adults that she booked a cabin, much to their delight.

That night at Angelica's house, Angelica aks Drew that if it's really true that Santa gives lumps of coal instead of presents to bad children, and Drew tells her it is. After he tucks her in, she goes to sleep, assuring herself that Santa can't know about the trick she played on Phil and Lil. Angelica has a dream that it's Christmas morning, and she gets a large pile of presents, but every present she opens is a lump of coal. Angelica doesn't understand how Santa knew about the trick she played on Phil and Lil, but Santa assures her he does, and after telling her he got the twins new toys to replace the ones she took from them, he buries her in a pile of coal. Angelica awakens from her nightmare and asks Drew if it's Christmas. Drew assures her that it isn't until tomorrow, and Angelica, relieved for now, resolves to make amends for what she did to the twins.

In the second act, all four families (with Spike in tow) drive to the mountains to the cabin they rented. Angelica wants to talk with Phil and Lil, when Betty arrives and tells the twins she's taking them to chop down a Christmas tree, much to Angelica's ire. As Lou unsuccessfully tries to put up the Christmas decorations, Chuckie asks Tommy if he's sure he wants to set traps for Santa, but Tommy assures him that Santa is nice, and the two browse the cabin for places to set traps. They decide to block the front door (including the dog door) and the dining room windows, but ignore the chimney, thinking that no one in their right mind would come down it, not realizing that that's how Santa always enters a house.

In the kitchen, Chas and Charlotte are cooking dinner. Charlotte is on the phone with Jonathan, her assistant, when Angelica asks her if she can go with Aunt Didi to chop down a tree. Charlotte gives her her permission, and as she tries to talk to Jonathan again, Stu tells her he's glad she could get away from work and spend the holidays with them. Charlotte assures Stu that it is Christmas, the season of love and joy, before getting back to Jonathan.

Betty dresses Angelica and the twins in their winter clothes as Didi tells her she got an axe. Betty tells her that she got her permit, and they're ready to chop down a tree. They go outside, and Betty and Didi look for a christmas tree to chop down. When Didi finds one she deems perfect, she refuses to let Betty chop it down. Meanwhile, Angelica tries to make amends with Phil and Lil, but gets separated when she falls onto her sled and it slides down the hill.

Back in the cabin, as Stu and Betty put up an artificial Christmas Tree, Tommy and Chuckie set traps for Santa. Lou finishes putting up the Christmas decorations, and he's got the bruised fingers to prove it. All the families then gather together to eat dinner, and Angelica asks Didi if a kid would still be brought a lump of coal if she tried to make up for something bad she did, but couldn't fix it. Didi assures Angelica that she's a good girl, then Stu notices that Tommy and Chuckie are getting tired. Betty decides it's time to put the babies to bed, much to Angelica's dismay. After Didi and Betty tuck Tommy, Chuckie, Phil, and Lil into their cribs, Tommy awakens and tries to convince his friends to stay awake so they can hear if their traps go off. Unfortunately, they all fall asleep, and Tommy realizes he's on his own, before he too, falls asleep.

Downstairs, as the other adults sing Christmas carols, Chas puts on his Santa Claus costume. Angelica passes by him, deeply regetting playing a trick on Phil and Lil. Drew calls the actor he hired to play Santa, who tells him he's able to come. After Lou falls asleep in front of the TV, Angelica sees an ad for a Christmas hotline and decides to call it. She instead calls up Cogs Unlimited. An employee there tries to explain that she called the wrong number, but Angelica demands to speak to Santa. The employee plays along and tells Angelica that she's on the bad list before hanging up, much to Angelica's dismay.

As Chas climbs up the chimney, Stu comes in through the front door with boxes of presents, setting off one of the traps Tommy and Chuckie set. The babies awaken and rush down the stairs, relieved to find it was only Stu, but then Chas falls down the chimney, frightening them. After he gets out of the chimney, Chas assures Chuckie that it's only him, much to his relief, and gives him a hug. Angelica is relieved that there is no Santa Claus and she's safe, but then the real Santa Claus shows up at the front door. He explains to Lou that he couldn't get in through the chimney because of Chas. Drew, convinced that the real Santa is the actor he hired, plays along and lets him in. Santa gives the children their presents, and Chuckie isn't afraid of him anymore. Angelica opens her present, relieved to find it is the Deluxe Cynthia Beach House she wanted and not coal. Santa tells her that sometimes trying to be good is as important as being good in the first place, then departs to deliver many more presents to the other children of the world.

Since it's almost morning, the adults decide to open their presents. Tommy and Chuckie enjoy their new toys, but when Phil and Lil open theirs, they soon find out they each gave up their favorite toy to get a present to give each other. Even though their gifts are virtually useless now, they are both very thankful that they were willing to give up their favorite toys for each other. Almost immediately afterwards, Angelica gives Phil and Lil their Reptar doll and coloring book back, and they thank her by hugging her. Chuckie now realizes that Tommy was right all along, and that Santa really is a good guy after all.

As Drew and Chas exchange gifts, Chas realizes that Drew was right about it being better to have a professional actor play Santa, when suddenly, the phone rings. Drew answers it, and a man named Barney Stevens is on the other end. He tells Drew that he's calling from his car phone, and won't be able to make it to the cabin to play Santa Claus (when the viewers can clearly see that he's really sitting at home watching TV). Drew becomes furious, and Barney hangs up, muttering that he hates Christmas. Chas asks Drew what the phone call was about, and Drew tells him that the actor he hired to play Santa couldn't make it. The two then become confused; if the actor Drew hired couldn't make it, who was the man who came to their cabin? As they wonder, Angelica plays with her beach house, wondering if there's a car in the attached garage. To both her and Didi's surprise, a lump of coal is in there to remind Angelica to change her greedy ways by next year. The episode ends with the real Santa flying over the cabin and wishing the viewers a Merry Christmas.

This episode provides examples of:

  • Bad Santa: While the real Santa is portrayed as jolly, there are two straight examples in this episode. In Angelica's nightmare, a faceless Santa with a booming, sinister voice (courtesy of the late, great Tony Jay) tauntingly gifts her with coal—and then buries her with it. Near the end of the episode, Drew hires a Santa actor (also voiced by Tony Jay), who is revealed to be a Lazy Bum who cancels his appearance at the last minute, claiming he has car trouble, so he can stay home and eat junk food in front of the TV.
    Drew: WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU CAN'T MAKE IT!?
    Barney: (hangs up) I hate Christmas.
  • Blatant Lies: Near the end of the episode, Barney Stephenson calls Drew to tell him he's had to cancel the Santa act because his car skidded off the road. In actuality, he was at his house and just didn't feel like playing Santa.
  • Christmas Episode
  • Crappy Holidays: Chas finds his childhood Christmases disappointing, so he wants to avert this trope with Chuckie.
  • Eat the Camera: Done for dramatic effect with Grandpa Lou when he says if the kids were bad, Santa would bring them a "great big ugly lump of coal."
  • Failed a Spot Check: Tommy and Chuckie decide to set traps to catch Santa Claus. They block off the front door (including the dog door) and the dining room windows, but ignore the chimney, thinking that no one in their right mind would come down it, not realizing that that's how Santa always enters a house.
  • Fictional Video Game: The Teenage Nuclear Fusion Squad video game.
  • 555: Angelica sees an ad for a Christmas hotline (555-YULE) and attempts to call it to get ahold of Santa. She instead dials 555-5555 and gets a representative from Cogs Unlimited. After some persuasion, he tells her she's on the bad list.
  • Foreshadowing: A hint that the Santa that visited the cabin was the real Santa came even before the Real All Along reveal when he asked Chuckie if he still thought he was scary, a detail an actor Santa wouldn't know anything about.
  • "Gift of the Magi" Plot: Intentionally set up by Angelica as a way of bullying Phil and Lil — Phil will give Lil crayons and Lil will give Phil a Reptar Space Helmet, but Angelica made Lil trade in her coloring book and Phil trade in his Reptar doll. Upon discovering that bad kids don't get presents, however, Angelica struggles to fix the situation, and ultimately gives them their original presents back as their Christmas gifts.
  • Immediate Self-Contradiction: Just after Charlotte refers to Christmas as the season of love and joy, she tells her assistant Jonathan to ruthlessly crush the competition.
  • Mall Santa: Angelica cuts in line to see one, and after she tells him the large amount of presents she wants, he tells her he isn't sure he can get them for her. Angelica then rips off his beard and runs through the mall, screaming, "Santa Claus is a fake! Run for your lives!"
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Angelica following her Nightmare Sequence where Santa pours lumps of coal all over her for conning Phil and Lil out of their Reptar doll and coloring book respectively.
  • Playing a Tree: This exchange between Chas and Drew:
    Chas: I'm a good actor! Remember our fourth grade play? I got the title role in Wind in the Willows!
    Drew: Chas, you were a tree.
    Chas: I was the willow!
  • Real After All: After Drew finds out that the professional Santa he hired isn't coming, he and Chas are left wondering who was the Santa that just came by.
  • Teenage Mutant Samurai Wombats: Angelica asks Santa for a Teenage Nuclear Fusion Squad video game.
  • The Reveal: Charlotte, Drew's wife and Angelica's mother, makes her first physical appearance in this episode, having only been mentioned many times prior to it.
  • Title Drop: The "Santa Experience" is the name of the business Drew calls to hire a professional Santa.
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