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Western Animation / How Murray Saved Christmas

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How Murray Saved Christmas is a 2014 Christmas Special that aired on NBC written by The Simpsons producer Mike Reiss, starring Jerry Stiller as Murray Weiner, Sean Hayes as Edison Elf, Kevin Michael Richardson as Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, Jason Alexander as Dr. Holiday, John Ratzenberger as Officer Bender, Dennis Haysbert as the Baby New Year and the Narrator, with Nick Jameson, Tom Kenny, Maurice LaMarche, Tress MacNeille, and Billy West to round out the cast.

The story takes place in a town called Stinky Cigars which is home to many of the world's holidays both famous and obscure. Among the residents is Murray, a grumpy fellow who owns the local diner. On Christmas Eve, as most of these stories tend to take place, one of the elves named Edison accidentally knocks out Santa with his invention just as he's about to take off for his yearly round. When none of the town's residents prove capable of filling in for Santa, Murray is picked to fill in the red coat. Naturally, Murray is reluctant, but is eventually coaxed into it. Though can he overcome his grumpiness and find the holiday sp- Oh, who are we kidding, of course he will. The fun, of course, is how he'll get it back.

How Murray Saved Christmas has the following tropes:

  • Adaptational Villainy: Santa Claus comes across as a slave-driving Bad Boss before his concussion.
  • Ambiguously Jewish: Murray Weiner (voiced by Jerry Stiller, who has Polish-Jewish heritage in real life), when he mentions "Oh, forget it— Oy vey!" in the "Gay on Christmas Day" song.
  • Adaptation Amalgamation: The special combines two of Mike Reiss' Christmas books - How Murray Saved Christmas (the main plotline) and Santa Claus-trophobia (the setting and the character of Doc Holiday).
  • Adaptation Expansion: A number of additional elements are added that weren't in the original book, such as Murray's estranged love, Lady Liberty, and his role as the former mascot of Milk Man's Day.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: When Murray persuades Edison to give toys to the bad boys and girls:
    Narrator: They brought toys to the naughty, a very long list.
    Some ice skates for Kate, who poured glue on Mom's chair,
    Put tacks in Dad's slacks, and belched the Lord's Prayer.
  • Asian Storeowner: The clerk at the convenience store, who has eight arms.
    Santa: What are you?
    Clerk: I'm Vishnu.
    Santa: Vishnu?
    Clerk: I Vishnu wouldn't shoot me.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: Murray tells Edison to look up his backstory on Bing, Google, or Bingle (a Bing Crosby-themed search engine).
  • Chekhov's Gun: The boxing glove Jack in the Box.
  • Christmas Special
  • Christmas Town: Stinky Cigars, home to not just Santa, but all the other holiday mascots.
  • Concussions Get You High: Getting hit on the head makes Santa act all loopy and think he's Queen Hannah of Bananaland. Same with Officer Bender.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: The April Fool, who clearly isn't all there in the head.
  • Convenience Store Gift Shopping: Santa is forced to do this when he comes to and finds his sleigh missing.
  • Crazy Consumption: The April Fool orders a compact disc on rye. Also, Santa is seen eating a thermometer after going crazy from a Tap on the Head.
  • Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, and Nixon: Murray gives his own recitation of the reindeer's names three times, not once getting a single name right. The reindeer were quite disappointed by the first attempt, but didn't mind the third (and were absent during the second).
    Murray: On Dumbo and Jumbo and Mason and Dixon. On Cosmo and Kramer and Richard M. Nixon.
    Edison Elf: That wasn't even close.
  • Dumb Is Good: The April Fool is described by the narrator as "As sweet as he is stupid".
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Murray regains his spirit of Christmas and what's more even reunites with Mrs. Liberty.
  • Freudian Excuse: The reason Murray's so grumpy is due to his holiday, Milkman Day, fading into obscurity leaving him without a purpose in life. What's more he chased away his wife, Ms. Liberty.
  • Extendo Boxing Glove: Edison thought putting a boxing glove on a Jack-in-the-box was a good idea. It wasn't.
  • Good News, Bad News:
    • Subverted when Edison Elf asks Dr. Holiday after Santa gets knocked out by the boxing glove-in-a-box and before Dr. Holiday breaks out into song about Santa's condition:
      Edison: Uh, how's it look, Doc?
      Dr. Holiday: Would you like to hear the bad news first?
      Edison: I'd rather hear the good news.
      Dr. Holiday: Oh, I didn't say there's good news.
    • Nevertheless, some of the elves who had to endure a grumpy Santa might have found that his being bed-ridden brought some momentary relief to their holiday spirits...
  • Grumpy Old Man: Murray, more or less; he gets less grumpy as he delivers toys to all the children.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: Lampshaded by Murray's musical number when he has finished delivering toys to the good and bad kids:
    Murray: [glumly] My life was empty and at an end, I could make a sandwich, but I couldn't make a friend,
    But thanks to this guy, I'm filled with glee, His best invention was a whole new me. [the song changes to a happy mood]
    Murray: Now I'm happy and gay,
    Edison: When?
    Murray: On Christmas day, Yes, I'm ever so gay,
    Edison: When?
    Murray: On Christmas day; I'm incredibly gay, gay as the month of May, Gay, gay, gay, gay, I'm so gay!
    [the crowd looks at Murray with astonishment]
    Murray: [nervously resumes] I don't mean in that way, that way is okay, What I'm trying to say— Oh forget it, oy vey!
  • Hidden Elf Village: Stinky Cigars. It's implied that the Non-Indicative Name is meant to keep nosy Muggles away.
  • Holiday Personification: Most of the residents of Stinky Cigars (outside of Santa and his elves), are personifications of holidays, big and small — there's a Baby New Year, an Easter Bunny, Lincoln and Washington for Presidents' Day, and of course Labor Day Amos. Murray sticks out as one of the few seemingly normal human residents of the town, until it's revealed that he's the personification of the forgotten holiday "Milk Man Day".
  • How the Character Stole Christmas: When Santa comes to and sees the sleigh gone, he thinks it's stolen and calls the police.
  • Ironic Name: Despite the town's name, their anthem claims there's no smoking in Stinky Cigars.
  • I Was Quite a Looker: The flashbacks show that during his youth, Murray was a handsome man.
  • Jerkass: Santa is surprisingly pretty callous in this verison. He berates his elves, can't remember their names, charges them for cocoa, heck even calls kids "brats" at one point. The only reason he isn't more of a Bad Santa is because he at least still wants to do the job and even attempted to do it when he briefly recovers long past the point where it was too late to do any good.
  • Leaving Food for Santa: Murray gets to sample various countries' cuisines in the form of the offerings left for Santa. Ranging from smelly pickled herring in Sweden to some lovely cannoli in Italy.
  • Living Shadow: The Groundhog's shadow mocks him behind his back.
  • Mean Boss: Santa, much to the elves' unhappiness. One of them comments that he heard Santa was a nice guy off the clock.
  • Meaningful Name: Edison strives to be a great inventor.
  • The Musical: A few songs here and there.
  • Narrator All Along: Baby New Year.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Maurice LaMarche uses his Woody Allen impression when voicing the Groundhog.
  • Nobody Here but Us Birds: Attempted when Murray wakes one of the house's residents.
    Man: What was that noise?
    Murray: Mice?
    Man: Oh. Wait who said that?
    Murray: Cat?
    Man: Oh. Bettyfred, get my gun!
  • Obsolete Occupation: Murray used to be the mascot for National Milkman Day; when milk deliveries became obsolete, so did the holiday celebrating them, and Murray ended up running a diner at Stinky Cigars, the town where other, still relevant holiday mascots live.
  • Phony Degree: Doc Holiday got his diploma from Bogota, Colombia.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: Most of the story is told in rhyme. Lampshaded when Murray and Edison are stopped by Officer Bender, who complains that doing everything in rhyme makes filling out paperwork twice as hard.
  • Running Gag: "Please" "No!" Please?" "No!" "Please?" "NO!"
  • Santa's Sweatshop: There is an entire song dedicated to this.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Lincoln, Washington and Uncle Sam fight like The Three Stooges.
    • When Murray encounters a little boy, it plays out like the Grinch's encounter with Cindy Lou Who.
    • Among the names Murray calls the reindeer are Cosmo and Kramer, Kramden and Norton and Alice and Trixie. The second time he listed the reindeer, he called them Bambi and Rambo and Dopey and Doc, Scotty and Sulu, Uhura and Spock.
    • During the elves part in the final number, they recreate the dance scene from A Charlie Brown Christmas.
    • When Dr. Holiday checks up on Santa, he does his a musical song reminiscent of Mary Poppins' "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious":
      Dr. Holiday: In layman's terms, Santa Claus is suffering from...
      [Dr. Holiday starts singing and dancing] Superficial fractures of his little baby toeses,
      His ears moved south, and now his mouth is pushed up where his nose is,
      I'm prescribing aspirin in super-megadoses, for superficial fractures of his little baby toeses...
      He's got inflammation and abrasions, bruises and contusions,
      Spinal fusion, great confusion, marked by weird delusions...
    • Dr. Holiday adds another verse when he visits Murray and gives him a psychiatric diagnosis:
      Dr. Holiday: Murray's got... antisocial, claustrophoic, paranoid neurosis,
      Narcissistic, germaphobic, borderline psychosis,
      He is in the Guinness Book for longest diagnosis,
      Antisocial, claustrophoic, paranoid neurosis!
  • Stealth Pun: Despite being the dumbest holiday in Stiny Cigar, The April Fool wins a game of poker with a Royal Flush ("Yahtzee!"), much to the annoyance of his poker partners. In other words, he won the game throughdumb luck.
  • Subbing for Santa: Naturally, Murray is picked to do so. Edison bases this on how masterful Murray is at getting everyone their orders.
  • That Came Out Wrong: During Murray's number in the finale he mentions that he's "gay" as in happy/carefree. Of course the town interprets the other meaning and Murray himself quickly realizes and corrects this mistake.
  • Unfazed Everyman: Murray at first appears to be the only normal person in a town of holiday mascots. It's revealed that he used to be a mascot, until his holiday (National Milkman Day) was canceled.
  • Visual Pun: The Easter Bunny gives his girlfriend an 18-carrot ring.
  • Vocal Dissonance: The Easter Bunny, who has a very deep voice (by Kevin Michael Richardson), as does Baby New Year, the narrator, voiced by Dennis Haysbert.
  • A Wild Rapper Appears!: The Easter Bunny does this during the town anthem number.
  • X Days Since: The sign at Santa's workshop gets reset after Santa's accident.


Video Example(s):


HMSC [Stinky Cigars Intro]

How Murray Saved Christmas (2014): The Christmas special begins with the introduction of Stinky Cigars. A town in the North Pole where all the holidays of the world, major and minor, reside and how they usually start their day.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / HolidayPersonification

Media sources: