Showing posts with the label Sucks

Silent Night (2012)

Silent Night is a quasi-remake of the 1984 cult classic, Silent Night, Deadly Night, which - I'll be the first to admit - I really need to see. Not that I really want to see it, mind you, but it's probably one of the more significant holiday films I've yet to get around to.

At any rate, let's talk about the 2012 version, which - judging by the plot synopsis I just skimmed for the 84 - is probably is more of an homage than a remake. The only scene that reads the same is one where the killer impales a woman on deer antlers.

To be fair, that accounts for a good 20% of the plot.

Or, to put it another way, this movie is light on substance. The premise is pretty much summed up in the movie poster: killer Santa. The one innovation present is setting the killing spree during a "Santa parade", making it virtually impossible for the police to identify a suspect. That should have been an interesting twist to a cliched formula, but they didn't really use it to its p…

Blossom: It's a Marginal Life (1991)

Blossom is one of those shows I remember watching, but I don't actually remember specifics about. It was about a girl, who wore big hats, and her friend? Watching this episode only convinced me that I'm probably better off forgetting it.

It's an incredibly generic-feeling sitcom, featuring the broadest acting imaginable. You're on film, you don't need to play to the cheap seats.

The titular character lives with her father and two brothers, all of whom spend this episode bumbling around to an impressive degree. There's an early subplot about Blossom being a terrible student driver. Her grandfather takes her driving, only for them to just barely luck out of a ticket for driving 7 miles per hour on a main road. The punchline is that her grandfather is a terrible driver too (no one knows how he got to their house, he doesn't seem to live there) and they're all in danger/recklessly endangering others. Laugh track, fade to commercial.

The more holiday-ish pl…

Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas (2011)

There's something I find especially frustrating about specials like this. The production values are high, the design and animation and voice acting all well done. But the writing is idiotic, so it's still a boring, tedious slog.

Unlike the specials affiliated with the Dreamworks movies Shrek, How to Train Your Dragon, and Kung Fu Panda, I went into this one never having seen any of the movies in the franchise.

Although I hesitate to admit it, the only things I didn't find dull as a dead tree discarded for trash pickup were some of the Scrat sections (you've seen the prehistoric squirrel obsessed with acorns if you've ever seen a trailer for one of these films). The silent animation was decently paired with Christmas music. Of course, I also hated those sections because a character being beat up constantly through no fault of their own is a form of animated "comedy" that I particularly despise.

The story opens with Manny (the mammoth. Get it?) hauling ou…

Family Matters Christmas Episodes (1990 - 1997)

I remember this show, of course. I think everyone who grew up in the nineties at least remembers Family Matters.

What I hadn't remembered was that Family Matters is actually part of the Mypiot Cinematic Universe, which is to say it's a spin-off of Perfect Strangers. Harriet Winslow was a series regular on Perfect Strangers before getting her own show, along with her husband, Carl, who'd appeared in a handful of episodes.

And speaking of Carl... he's played by eternal police officer actor, Reginald VelJohnson, who played a similar character in the perennial holiday favorite, Die Hard (assuming they're not, in fact, the same man).

But any discussion about Family Matters is ultimately going to fixate on the series most famous character, Steve Urkel. Arguably television's most famous nerd, Urkel represents the personification of the stereotypical nerdy character years before Big Bang Theory would whitewash the concept and build an entire sitcom out of the idea.


Full House: A Very Tanner Christmas (1992)

You know what I want? More than anything? I want a cut of this episode where every time they cue up the laugh track, we instead hear sounds of people weeping. Sobbing. Pleading for mercy.

Because I honestly think that would be far more synchronous. It's what we, as the audience, are feeling after all.

This episode was set in season six of the show, and I found it far more trying than the one we watched from season 2 (which was already pretty awful). The central plot seems to revolve around DJ and her high school boyfriend, Steve, who's just been accepted into a crappy college in Florida.

That's all the way across the country, which leaves DJ shaken. He's excited, since it means he actually got into a school, but she's convinced it means he's not serious about their relationship. This escalates when he gives her a sweatshirt bearing the school's name for Christmas. Meanwhile, she spent a fortune on a leather coat he wanted. They have a fight, he accuses her…

Full House: Our Very First Christmas Show (1988)

This was tough.

Here's the thing - this is bad. Really bad, even. But, if I'm being totally honest, it was slightly less awful than I expected. That doesn't mean I liked it. In fact, I hated it. But I think I understand why the show caught on.

This was, in short, quite a bit better than the episode of the rebooted "Fuller House" we saw earlier.

That's not thanks to the writing. Although this one at least had some structure (Fuller House couldn't even manage that), the jokes were flat, and the emotional beats were hollow. It wasn't the characters, either - there was nothing about them that was in the least bit rounded.

But... and it kills me to even give them this... I think this was well cast. DJ and Stephanie, in particular, were able to hit their marks (again, more than I can say for their counterparts in the new series), and the two actresses were adorable. The adult actors also managed to come off as somewhat charming, despite that the dialogue a…

A Christmas Prince (2017)

A Christmas Prince is Netflix's new tween-friendly movie that proves the internet giant is capable of competing in the crappy made-for-TV realm typically dominated by Hallmark. Personally, I kept hoping a few characters from A Princess for Christmas would show up in cameos, but no dice. Maybe they can make a sequel where their nations go to war or something - I hear shared cinematic universes are all the rage these days.

You should be able to figure out at least sixty percent of the movie from the title, but I'll throw you a bone. The movie opens to a montage of New York just before Christmas. I often find myself wondering if there are film companies that send people out every time it's snowing in Manhattan in December and start filming for the sole purpose of selling that footage to productions looking for generic shots of flakes falling in Rockefeller Plaza. There must be, right?

Amber, the movie's protagonist, dreams of one day making it big, but for the time being…

The Mensch on a Bench Hanukkah Activity Kit

In addition to the crappy doll I've already reviewed, The Mensch on a Bench brand has expanded to infect numerous products. I've seen ads for toy animals, and more dolls. And, of course, the activity kit I'm looking at today.

Do I even need to specify I found this on clearance? I got it at Michael's for 70% off the original price, which was still $2.99 I'm never going to see again.

Among the lies I found on the packaging were that there were eight Hanukkah card inside - mine only included SEVEN. Also, this claims the book includes "10 Fun Activities," when none of the activities were fun.

Setting that aside for a moment, let's look at what's included. There are the aforementioned eight (seven) identical Hanukkah cards and envelopes, six crayons, four markers, two sticker sheets, and the activity book. The cards are ugly, the crayons and markers are cheap, and the stickers are... well, they're stickers - not much to say there. Almost everythin…

Book Review: Holidays on Ice

Holidays on Ice
David Sedaris, 2008

I haven't been subjected to this unpleasant an attempt at "humor" in some time.

I thought I knew what I was getting into with this, and I expected it to be mixed. Erin spoke in the past about how much he disliked most of the Sedaris segments on This American Life.

The first story is the most famous: the author's lightly fictionalized account of working in Macy's Santaland. It's not bad, I guess. Aspects of it are amusing. However, I have a certain personal affection for the hardworking Macy's elves, the flagship store itself, and the young aspiring theater folk of New York, so I found the author's "ironic" cynicism unamusing and tedious.

The narrators in the four stories that follow are universally unlikable. Even though the point is often for the reader to therefore feel superior to the humorless adult who misses the point of a children's play or the murderous, racist grandmother, that doesn't act…

Book Review: Dreaming of a White Wolf Christmas

Dreaming of a White Wolf Christmas
Terry Spear, 2017

New Release! I received a copy of this book from NetGalley for the purpose of review.

I sort of hate that I'm spending any more time and energy on this godforsaken turd of a book.

The heroine starts out on a camping trip, where she's bitten by what honestly sounds like a fluffy puppy. After some terrible description and confusion on my part, I guess that must have been a wolf because now she's a werewolf. She sees a mysterious wolf across a river. And that's the set-up.

Two years later, she has abandoned her friends and family to live alone and write paranormal romance. The author spends endless pages introducing the male lead by recapping what sounds like at least a dozen earlier books, none of which have any bearing on the events of THIS book.

The male lead is a PI who's been hired to find her because her adoptive parents died and left her money. It's mentioned a few times that the heroine is adopted, which…

Game Review: Holiday Helper

What's your opinion of humanity? I ask, because it's about to be lowered.

Holiday Helper isn't really a "game" in any meaningful sense of the word. It's not really ANYTHING in any meaningful sense of any word, though it seems to be masquerading as a party planning assistant. That's what I get from the back, anyway:

The box is almost seven by five inches and one and a half inches thick. There's room for quite a lot in here. Only, in this case, it's a lot of air.

In case it's unclear just how ridiculous this is, here's a picture with everything - yes, everything - unpacked.

Turns out, when the back makes a big deal about how the cards include 12 contests, 12 party themes, and 12 drink recipes, it neglects to mention these are crammed into the same 12 cards. That, two dice, and some cheap knickknacks are all that's included.

The cards are ludicrously stupid. I'm not really sure who the target audience is for these. It's 2017 - fr…

Toy Review: Nifty Inflatable Mistletoe

Before we begin - before I say one more word - I need to clarify something. The use of the term "Nifty" in the title is only in service to accurately providing the branding for the item I am reviewing. It should not under any circumstances be viewed as a descriptor.

Because, dear reader, the object I am discussing is not nifty at all, nor is it rad, far-out, hip, or mod. No, I fear it is instead quite square.

First, some background. This was found in the post-apocalyptic wasteland of the after-Christmas "men's gifts" section of a Fred Meyer last January, when it was marked down by 90%. "Marked down from what?" I'll pretend you asked.

From twenty dollars.

I'll let that sink in for a moment. Twenty. Goddamned. Dollars.

I know what you're thinking - you're thinking I paid two dollars for this for the express purpose of mocking it in a review. You're thinking I'm going to say that it's below the level of quality you'd expe…

Gilligan's Island: Birds Gotta Fly, Fish Gotta Talk (1964)

Sometimes the best way to tell where you stand with someone is the quality of the gift they give. Is is thoughtful? Is it well-chosen? For the holiday, this pile of garbage got you a clip show.

The episode opens with the castaways listening to a little Christmas music on the radio. Gilligan makes a wish that they would be rescued for the holiday. Just then, an announcement breaks into a broadcast. A rescue ship is heading for the island to save them! (Why this is on the general radio is sort of unclear, although there's some hand-waving about it being a holiday-timed human interest story.)

They bustle about to create a signal fire, and, as they are expecting to be rescued any minute, begin reminiscing about their first day on the island.

Cue the flashbacks. To be fair, my internet research indicates that some of this was footage from the pilot and some was reshot because the cast changed after the initial pilot was filmed. Apparently the pilot was never aired during the original …

The Easter Bunny is Comin' to Town (1977)

Shockingly, this stop-motion Rankin-Bass special is not the same as the 1971 Here Comes Peter Cottontail. However, it is essentially identical to the 1970 special, Santa Claus is Coming to Town. The plots and setups are basically the same - they've just changed the character names and lowered the quality to make them distinct.
In this version of the Easter Bunny's origin, he's a baby rabbit located and adopted by a town of orphaned kids called "Kidville," because contrary to what the special's narrator would have us believe, there is clearly no God. He's discovered in the woods on Easter, so the kids call him, "Sunny," after the Easter Sun, which is not a thing. I'm pretty sure they're thinking of the Winter Solstice, which is (for all intents and purposes) Christmas.

Within a year, the bunny has enslaved the children of Kidville (at least that was my reading). For some reason, he convinces them they need to introduce capitalism and trad…

The Brady Bunch: The Voice of Christmas (1969)

Despite going on for four abysmal seasons and spawning numerous spin-offs, the Bradys only seemed to produce two holiday-themed installments: this and the 1988 made-for-TV movie, A Very Brady Christmas, which we sat through two years ago. That means as soon as this article is over, we'll be free of the Bradys forever.

What I'm saying is Christmas miracles do exist.

Which is actually the thesis of this crappy episode. The premise centers around Carol Brady getting laryngitis right before the holidays. This is devastating to her, because she's supposed to sing "O Come All Ye Faithful" at church on Christmas. Just so we're clear, there's no, "because if she doesn't an orphanage will close" coming. The sum total of the stakes at play are that she won't get to sing like she wants to if she doesn't get better. That's it.

Naturally, everyone freaks out. The maid makes a family recipe that's supposed to cure laryngitis but mainly ju…

6Teen: Deck the Mall (2004)

Before watching an episode, I'd never heard of the Canadian animated series, 6Teen. After, I found myself nostalgically missing the innocent years in which I'd never seen it.

The series's premise is simple: six teenagers work at the mall, hang out with their friends, and deal with life's challenges. By engaging with relatively serious subject matter and cutting back on slapstick, the show manages to masquerade as something intelligent and mature, while in reality being as superficially hollow and pointless as Saved by the Bell. At least, that's my read after seeing this episode.

The plot concerns the six leads trying to maintain some modicum of holiday spirit despite dealing with last-minute shoppers. Plus, a couple of their parents are dating, which is creating tension around conflicting holiday traditions.

Bored out of your mind yet? Did I mention one gets a job working as one of Santa's elves? Oh, then they all get locked in the mall on Christmas Eve.


Saved by the Bell: Home for Christmas, parts 1 and 2 (1991)

I place Saved by the Bell in a similar category with Full House. Both shows aired around the same time, and many in my generation - myself included - are growing nostalgic for the joy of hating them.

Looking back, I'm not entirely sure how Saved by the Bell was green lit, produced, aired for multiple seasons, or made money. I don't think I've ever met anyone who unironically liked it. The series was truly and profoundly idiotic. It was aimed squarely at teenagers, but it talked down to its viewer, offering overly simplified solutions to watered-down problems.

Take this two-parter from the show's third season, for example. As far as I can tell, this is the only Christmas episode produced for the main series. It centers around a Christmas play the kids are putting on in the mall and a homeless teenage girl Zack has a crush on.

Laura is living out of a car with her father, who's unable to find work due to lacking a physical address. She works in the mall, but of cour…

Trapped in Paradise (1994)

We’ve had a lot of firsts here at Mainlining Christmas. Our first movie, our first book review, our first watch-all-the-holiday-episodes-in-a-series binge… but this one is special.

This is our first Christmas movie starring Nicolas Cage.

Trapped in Paradise is the story of how Erin and I were trapped in hell for a very long two hours.

The movie follows Bill (Cage) and his two idiot brothers, who are getting out of prison early for Christmas. One brother (Alvin, Dana Carvey) is apparently a kleptomaniac and the other (Dave, Jon Lovitz) is a liar and schemer. Bill hates them, yet is too stupid too see through a series of pathetic ploys that send them all fleeing New York for Paradise, Pennsylvania.

Ostensibly, they’re there on behalf of a fellow inmate, who asked Dave to intercede with his estranged daughter. In fact, they’re there to pull an easy bank job and steal the town’s Christmas fund. Or something. The explanation for what the money is and how the town functions is pretty thin…

Happy Endings: Grinches Be Crazy (2011) and No-Ho-Ho (2012)

According to the internet, a lot of people were devastated when this series was cancelled after its third season. This knowledge leads me to one of three conclusions:

1. This is one of those shows you need to watch for a while before it gets good.
2. This is a case where some episodes are much stronger than others.
3. This show's fan are extremely generous viewers.

We absolutely hated these two episodes. The characters felt two-dimensional and dull, the stories were absurdly idiotic, and the tone didn't gel with the writing. I kept thinking I was watching a live-action show set in the world of Family Guy.

This is (yet another) circle-of-friends sitcom in the vein of, well, Friends. It goes for a farcical, over-the-top tone, like the far superior Community, but I didn't feel like it committed enough to sell it. As a result, it came off as unrealistic people behaving unrealistically. I knew intellectually that was supposed to be funny, but I just didn't enjoy it.


Party of Five: S'Wunnerful Life (1997)

Seinfeld famously referred to itself as the show about nothing, a somewhat self-deprecating title meant to imply an absence of premise, plot, and purpose. But I've seen almost every episode of Seinfeld, and I don't ever recall seeing an episode where nothing significant happened. Actually, I'm having a hard time thinking of a single episode of any show deserving of that distinction.

Save, perhaps, this one. We just finished watching this episode from the fourth season of Party of Five, an hour-long drama from the 90's, and I'm already finding it difficult to retain shards of story in my memory. It's not that nothing happened - characters did and said stuff - but none of it felt at all meaningful or important. I can attempt to tell you some of what happened, but I can't tell you what it was about. Honestly, it didn't seem to be about anything.

There were a bunch of characters living their lives, and they experienced different events around the holidays.…