10 things I learned from ‘Twas the night before Christmas

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1-Mice can talk.

2-Town council members always look bored.

3-Mice can wear clothing.

4-Writing a mean letter to the editor about Santa will screw your whole town over.

5-Mice can wear glasses.

6-Building a giant clock tower can be done really fast.

7-A curious mouse can screw up a new clock tower fast.

8-If your clock tower fails once the whole town will hate you.

9-Mice can set everything straight for a whole town.

10-Santa looks like a pig with a white beard.

This Rankin-Bass half hour production was loosely based on the famous poem. I tend to prefer the stop motion specials from Rankin-Bass over their animated shows. The story is good with it’s theme of faith. There are only three songs, but they are solid. The animation isn’t fantastic (so many people with buck teeth and a weird looking Santa) but it’s passable. Some people absolutely love this one. I think it’s more on the level of being good, but not essential.

How the Grinch stole Christmas

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1966

So this oddly shaped fella called the Grinch lives up on this mountain. He hates the Whos who live down in the village, he hates Christmas and apparently he’s not too fond of clothing because he strolls around naked. Christmas is coming so the Grinch develops this crazy plan where is going to animate the Statue of Liberty with goop and walk around in it oh, hey wait I think I just mixed up the notes of the Grinch with Ghostbusters 2. Now, here we go the Grinch will dress up in a crap Santa suit (yet he still doesn’t like pants). Then he makes his poor little doggie Max pretend to be a  reindeer. On Christmas eve they go down to the Who village and start taking all their Christmas stuff. So not only is the Grinch a near nudist but he’s a thief too. A little who named Cindy Lou Who wakes up and questions the Grinch, but he lies (another strike against him) and goes about his horrible business. He takes all his collected stuff in his sleigh back up the mountain to dump it and really create a mess. He thinks that this will really curdle the Who’s milk. However they wake up singing. The Grinch stops and realizes he’s been a real nasty guy so his new found goodness helps him to stop the sleigh from falling off the mountain. He and Max ride back down to the village, give all the stuff back and fortunately instead of beating the Grinch senseless for his crimes the Who’s are a forgiving lot. The Grinch has Christmas dinner with Whos and cuts on something called a roast beast. Now he’s a good Grinch. Roll the animated credits.

Negatives-Nope.

Positives-A great adaption of a wonderful Dr. Seuss book. The Chuck Jones animation is fantastic in bringing these characters to life. Boris Karloff is one of the few people who could have done justice to the Grinch. A classic cartoon through and through.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles-Parasitica

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2013

I’m taking on an episode of the newer cartoons series from Nickelodeon because…

1-It’s good to take a look at what the turtles have been up to in recent years.

2-I just saw this episode the other day when the kids were watching it so it’s fresh in my mind.

No one listens to Mikey because in this version he has stupid ideas. In a fight with a giant wasp he inadvertently causes Leo to get stung. Without it’s stinger the wasp dies. They find an egg they believe to have come from the wasp and Leo insists they take it back to the HQ. Really Leo has been infected and is being controlled by the weird insect egg. He begins to change. Raph notices the change, but doesn’t have time to get help. He gets bit by Leo and changes. The next morning Donnie and Mikey see the other tow have changed and try to get the doors closed to trap them in so they can have time to think up a plan. Donnie comes up with a formula for an antidote but is bitten by Leo before he can finish. He tells Mikey to finish it and inject all of them. Mikey agrees and knocks out Donnie once he turns, but not before Donnie bites Mikey. Donnie changes and goes to Raph and Leo. They ask about Mikey and Donnie says he bit him so he will be there soon and he is. He seems to have turned, but it’s a fake and he injects them with the antidote. They go normal and Mikey explains how he managed to finish the antidote and says it may cause drowsiness. So all but Mikey fall over and of course the egg hatches to release three giant wasps. Mikey holds them off until the others awaken and they take down the insect invaders. Mikey brags and gets hammered by Leo for using his favorite comic as toilet paper. Roll the animated credits.

The negatives-While I generally like this cartoon I don’t like that they make Mikey too dumb, that’s not really needed.

The positives-This is definitely a break from them fighting the usual suspects. I like that it comes down to  Donnie and Mikey to fend off their stronger brothers and solve the problem. There is also a  Star Trek influenced cartoon that Leo likes but the others make fun of. The segment in this episode is hilarious.

 

 

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Return to the planet of the apes-Flames of doom

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Did I hear an ice cream truck?

1975

In this ape city an argument is going on about humans. General Urko insists humans should only be for labor but Cornelius and Zira say much can be learned from studying humans. Zaius has the final say and leans towards the chimps getting a few humans for studying. Meanwhile a space capsule comes down in the water-splash!!! Astronauts Bill, Jeff and Judy make it to sure and begin traveling across the animated desert. They also realize it’s thousands of years in the future. Out in the desert they run into storms, flames that destroy their supplies and they find a plant..one plant. Life, it’s life! They soon see a Mount Apemore of sorts and wonder who would make ape faces on a mountain? Oh, well they march on and the earth opens up and swallows Judy before closing again. Huh? Maybe inner earth needed women. The two dudes move on and near caves they find people. Most are scraggly looking guys, but a dark woman named Nova has dog tags of an astronaut named Brent-Ron Brent. Bill and Jeff relay that Brent’s nametags say he was born 100 years after they left earth. They ask Nova where Brent is but before they can do much else the apes are coming. The apes have smoke bombs and jeeps-apparently they have both American and European jeeps and the steering wheel is seen on both sides at different times. The apes go after the cave people trying to grab a bunch. Jeff and Nova stumble into a hole and fall down to some place beyond where the apes are searching. Jeff isn’t so lucky as he gets knocked out and tossed into the cage with other guys and hauled back to ape city. As with most of these episodes this is the cliffhanger ending.

The negatives-The animation is about as cheap as can be. While the backgrounds are alright the animation is minimal with only mouths or single figures moving while the rest of the picture sits there. Picky apes fans are going to ask how can Nova and Brent be here when Brent was killed and the planet blew up? How can Urko be in a world where Brent was when he wasn’t there in the second film? It’s implied this is New York again like in the films yet Urko was in the TV series which was set in California. Although having jeeps could explain Urko moving across country yet it doesn’t explain why the apes here have jeeps and the apes in the films and TV series had only horses.

The positives-Despite being a Saturday morning cartoon they don’t sugarcoat the ideas of slavery and oppression. Despite some continuity issues the show still tries to maintain the feel of the films and the TV series and for the most part is works. They finally have a female astronaut who survives the space travel although they do make her slightly whiny.

The series only lasted 13 episodes from September to November of 1975 although the episodes were shown over and over until September of 1976.

 

 

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Talking humans? Absurd!

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Who wrote Urko is a Jerko on the bathroom walls?

Scooby Doo on zombie island

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1998

So the gang have gone their  own ways since their younger days. Daphne works as a TV personality and Fred is her cameraman. They want to find real ghosts and Freddie brings the rest of the gang back in to join the project. They spend lots of time finding dudes in masks and are very disappointed. Then on an island in the south they find a pirate curse, a cat cult, were cats, pirate zombies and food so hot it makes Shaggy and Scooby weak. Since the pirate zombies are the first monsters the gang see they assume they are evil and they did wrong, but they were cursed by the were cat people who are not nice at all. In fact they have a plot to kill the gang once they know too much, but the gang find a way to win survive and set things straight.

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The negatives-Some long time fans didn’t like the idea of the monsters being real. They were wrong, but thought I’d throw that out there.

The positives-This time the monsters are real. That was the line that got me in 1998 when Cartoon Network was advertising for a showing of it on Halloween. At that point the Scooby Franchise had done anything good in like twenty years. Ever since they introduced Scrappy and it was a downwards spiral for there for a once mighty cartoon. This movie brought the gang back, advanced their lives a little and gave them a real mystery to solve. yet it still held many of the elements that made the classic cartoons so wonderful. Great movie and it got these characters back in steady circulation with mostly good results over the last 16 years.

Voices of note- Billy West (Futurama) was on as Shaggy instead of Casey Kasem this time around. As always the legendary Frank Welker was in as Freddie. Of interest to genre fans would be Adrienne Barbeau (The Fog, Escape from New York) as Simone and Mark Hamill (Star Wars) as Snakebite Scruggs.

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Christmas special week: He-man & She-ra – A Christmas special

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1985

Nothing says Christmas like squeaky voiced royals turning into fantasy heroes and helping a couple of kids around Christmas time. Okay, not your typical Christmas special. He-Man and She-ra try to help a couple of kids get back home while fighting against the Hordac, Skeletor and other baddies who can’t seem to do much of anything right. Orko tries his best to mess everything up by accident and provide comedy relief for all wahahahaha … oh wait he’s not that funny. Of course all the good characters work together as they try to battle evil and learn about this strange thing called Christmas from two human children. She-ra gets some help from a mermaid at some point, what a helpful fishy. Hordac and Skeletor can’t work together. So they are actually competing against each other to see who can nab those human children as they are both trying to win the favor of their boss Horde Prime. Ah a battle between two villains who constantly fail and can’t even to stand upright for long-what an event. He-man and She-ra toss aside some giant yet incompetent robots that look like leftovers from some cartoon made oh about two decades before this one. Skeletor gets the kids and goes to take them to his boss. The kids and an alien puppy begin to melt Skeletor’s heart or whatever it is that lurks beneath his blue and purple suit. Aw, it’s like the Grinch only with a skull face. Hordac shows up and he has no soft spot except for the one between his ears. He knocks Skeletor down and slows He-man and She-ra down enough for Horde Prime to show up and grab the kids in a meanie spaceship. Skeletor wakes up and blasts the ship enough for the kids to get to safety. What? A baddie being nice for once? What’s up with this Christmas thing? Skeletor doesn’t know either. The kids get to go to a party where Adam/He-man pretends to be Santa *spoiler alert* …oh wait I think I got those backwards. Anyways the kids are given gifts of these belts that make them fly and they go home and freak out their parents with them. Meanwhile Adam/He-man, Adora/She-ra and their friends quickly adapt to this Christmas thing. Roll the credits.

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I never watched this when it was first on because I was little old for as I was like 12-13 when it started. My son started watching it a couple of years when he was 5 so I get to see it now. It’s hard to take in some ways, the voices can rip your nerves apart and the action is nothing great. However it is fantasy of some sort so it has that going for it and I always like how Skeletor looked. I got this DVD for $1.50 at Big Lots so I guess it was worth that.

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Saturday Morning Flashback (a few days late)-Star Trek

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Ewww,I can see up that giant guy’s skirt.

1973

Infinite Vulcan

The Enterprise goes to this planet with swirly buildings ands and green hills. Sulu almost dies from contact with a poisonous plant, but a group of intelligent plants help save him. The plant guys show the landing party around. These weird purple bat creatures attack the crew, but really really their goal is to get Spock and one of the creatures flies him off. Kirk is mad grrrr! Where’s Spock? Eventually we learn a giant skirt wearing doofus named Keniculius 5 has taken Spock and made a giant cloned version of him with the goal being he’ll make a bunch of Spocks to try and keep galactic peace. You know because there are not other Vulcans around and if a civilization tried to get Spock’s brain to run their society then a big Spock would really be something. Eventually Kirk and little Spock convince nutbar Keniculius that a race of giants standing guard isn’t the best solution and that instead they should help the plant people on this planet. Okey-dokey, problem solved, roll the animated credits.

The negatives-The first item mentioned about this episode is just about always that Walter Koenig (Chekov) wrote it. Well, he didn’t do Trek any favors. Cloning may have some promise, but the giant part and grabbing Spock is lame. Trek at it’s best pushed the boundaries with writing, this however was second rate ideas at best.

The positives-The planet looks good and the idea of a plant society had some potential. Also we see Sulu flip a plant guy and that was very cool.

Animated oddities-More sleeve stripes being wrong on occasion, but overall not too many oddities in this one.

One of the weaker episodes of the series.

 

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It’s the Vulcan head squish.