Showing posts with the label 2012

Care Bears: Welcome to Care-a-Lot: Holiday Hics and Holi-Stage (2012)

As a CG show aimed at children, this was not even close to the best of the crop. However, it's not completely egregiously offensive to the eyes, ears, or brain, either. Pablum is a good word.

These two episodes didn’t air anywhere close to each other, but the second literally takes place the next day.

Holiday Hics

For a 22-minute episode in which very little happened, this dragged a surprisingly small number of times.

As a Christmas episode, this was actually quite interesting, as it’s a fairly significant outlier. It’s a fantasy version of Christmas that isn’t explicitly set in the winter. I don’t know whether there are seasons in Care-a-Lot in this series, but this episode was not wintry in any way.

However, “Great Giving Day” is still clearly Christmas. Not just because it’s a holiday with an “Eve” that involves caring and giving gifts. Nope, we have a genuine magical gift-giver.

The Great Giving Bear has red fur, a kindly-sounding, older voice actor, a present symbol on his tum…

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…

Bunheads: A Nutcracker in Paradise (2012)

Let's be real. Here's what I want you to take away from this review: BUNHEADS IS STREAMING AGAIN. It's on Hulu. Go. Get thee to Hulu. If you are a musical theater nerd like me, go watch the first couple episodes of Sutton Foster and Kelly Bishop snarking at each other and see if you don't fall hard.

I'll pause here for a quick moment of silence for the fact that this show only received one season.

The basic premise is that Foster plays Michelle, a professional-dancer-currently-slumming-as-a-Vegas-showgirl who decides to change her life by getting married and moving to a tiny upscale California town, where she helps her mother-in-law (Bishop) run a dance studio. The show is by the woman behind Gilmore Girls and features her standout themes: intergenerational female friendships and pop-culture snark. I prefer this to the earlier show because this one is also about dance and art and living a creative life. (I promise The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is on my to-watch list. …

The Amazing World of Gumball: Christmas (2012)

Well, that was odd.

We’d never seen an episode of The Amazing World of Gumball before, and it seems unlikely that we ever will again. Not that this was bad or anything, it just seems like the kind of thing you might watch if A) you had cable and B) you had a lot of time on your hands and were prone to watching whatever came on next.

I mean, it’s on Hulu, but so are a lot of other things.

This show seems to follow a family of animals - the mom’s a cat, the dad’s a rabbit, and there are three kids: a cat, a rabbit, and what Wikipedia tells me is an adopted goldfish. Eh, all the character designs are round enough that the distinctions don’t seem to matter.

The animation style is the most striking thing about this show - highly stylized cartoony characters are layered over real-world backgrounds and combined with occasional CG and stop-motion.

This episode opens with a little Christmas singing, abruptly cut short when the dad hits a man with his car who’s dressed a little like Santa. The…

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.


A Fairly Odd Christmas (2012)

"A Fairly Odd Christmas" is the live-action made-for-TV sequel to the similarly live-action made-for-TV movie "A Fairly Odd Movie: Grow Up, Timmy Turner!" which is itself a sequel to the Nickelodeon series "The Fairly OddParents," which had a Christmas special of its own, though that featured an entirely different version of Santa Claus and therefore doesn't seem to be in continuity with this film.

I should probably add that I've never seen the first live action movie or any of the animated series other than the aforementioned Christmas special.

This apparently opens where the previous movie left off: the now grown-up Timmy, Tootie, and the CG fairy godparents are circling the world in a magic flying van granting wishes to anyone who's sad. They give one young girl a magic unicorn, another a monster truck, they turn a boy's small toy into a giant monster and set it loose on Tokyo, and they help a bunch of robbers empty out an electronics …

The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About Christmas! (2012)

This is a special, double-length episode of a show I knew existed (as I often have a vague sense of programming affiliated with PBS) but had never seen. I had the impression it was educational. I’m not sure about that, but it is boring.

It starts off relatively inoffensive, if bland. Nick and Sally are two kids who are friends with the Cat in the Hat, and they arrive at his Christmas party and are promptly put to work as waiters while he sings about how awesome his party is. They think this is awesome. Kids at home: when doing favors for your “friend” is the super-fun part of your relationship, maybe rethink the friendship.

Anyway, all the guests are animals, and a bunch of them are introduced during the song and subsequent party games. These include an annoying young caribou/reindeer, a mouse, a crab, and a bunch of other animals in passing (I wasn’t paying close attention, it didn’t seem important). The guests leave, and the kids offer to help clean up, but the Cat sends them home …

Transformers: Rescue Bots: Christmas in July (2012)

Picture us sitting on the couch, trying to figure out what in the heck we’re watching. It’s ugly flash animation, it’s hard to follow, the writing seems to have been dashed off by a middle schooler pressed for time.

I don’t have any huge historical fondness for Transformers as a franchise, and even I can tell something is terribly wrong. Apparently this is a series about the loser bots who couldn’t make the cut, and Optimus Prime found a backward town to dump them in so they could learn to be subservient to humans.

It’s funny because I wrote that as a joke, but I just looked up the premise of the show, and it’s basically that.

So in this episode, the kid (there’s always a kid) is teaching the robots about seasons, because they’re space-faring life forms that somehow don’t understand orbits and weather. It’s summer and very hot, and one robot asks why they can’t have snow in the summer.

Cue lightbulb. The kid goes to visit a guy who is apparently the local mad scientist? There are a…

Mr. Christmas (2012)

Mr. Christmas is a short documentary about Bruce Mertz, a retired electrician in Concord, California who spent more than three decades building elaborate holiday light displays in his yard. At a cursory glance, his display wasn't much more impressive than hundreds of other throughout the country: there were animated displays, a large number of bulbs, and the whole thing was synced to music - we've seen thingslike that.

What set Mertz apart from those wasn't scale - his yard was modest-sized, even if he filled it with lights - it was artistry. The documentary only provides a brief look at how he built and maintained his display, but it's incredible to see. There's no laptop managing the whole thing: it's all done using analog dials and timers. And all the pieces were made by Mertz himself, down to the paint covering the lights (he wasn't satisfied with the longevity of the color on store-bought lights, so he developed his own paint mixture).

The documentary…

Arrow: Year's End (2012), Three Ghosts (2013), The Climb (2014), and Dark Waters (2015)

This is one of those times I stumbled across a few Christmas episodes while watching a series.

I saw Arrow's pilot back when it originally aired. I actually liked it quite a bit on its own merits, but was underwhelmed by the move away from comic book tropes. It felt like a really good dark and gritty take on a superhero origin, but I'd kind of had my fill of those. I decided not to follow it but to pick it up later if I heard it was worth it.

What actually got me back on board was The Flash, which was much more in line with what I wanted from the genre. A handful of crossovers convinced me Arrow would head in a more interesting direction given time. Besides, like I said before, the pilot was actually quite good for what it was.

Years End (2012)

The first Christmas episode occurs a little less than halfway through season one. The season started strong with a few missteps. But a few episodes before Christmas, it took a dive for the worst, and this one doesn't do much to corr…

The Swan Princess Christmas (2012)

The Swan Princess Christmas is the third of four direct-to-video sequels to The Swan Princess, a movie which failed to make ten million dollars during its entire theatrical run and has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 44%. This is the first and only installment of the franchise I've ever seen, so I can't attest whether the abysmal writing, direction, and animation were par for the course, or if this fails to live up to the series's pitiful legacy. Assuming Wikipedia is right, this was the first in the series to be computer animated.

For the majority of this movie's run time, the plot is essentially incomprehensible. The two leads, Derek and Odette, are getting ready to spend their first Christmas together. They have three talking animal sidekicks who almost never interact with them: a puffin, a turtle, and frog trying to get women to kiss him. And there's a cat who's working with the ghost of the villain from the first movie.

To get a Christmas tree, Derek goes snow…

Scooby Doo: Haunted Holidays (2012)

For better and for worse, I found a DVD at the library called Scooby-Doo: 13 Spooky Tales - Holiday Chills and Thrills. It’s interesting, at least, containing a mix of ‘winter’ episodes and actual Christmas content from several of the various Scooby-Doo series. (For example, it included this one.)

Haunted Holidays is a special that was produced direct-to-DVD for this compilation, and I rather liked it. Or at least it wasn't awful.

The premise is more than a bit sketchy: Fred, Daphne and Velma are helping with a Christmas parade for a big toy store, for some reason, when it’s attacked by a crazed evil snowman. The thing has freezing breath and shapeshifting; it’s actually almost scary when it turns into a snow-spider-beast or a snow-alien-mouth-tentacle-thing.

Despite Shaggy and Scooby’s reluctance, as usual the gang tries to get to the bottom of the mystery, which involves a supposed ‘curse of the sinister snowman’ placed on the toy store by the guy who owned the old-fashioned h…

A Christmas Story 2 (2012)

You might think a direct-to-video sequel to A Christmas Story would have no chance of living up to the original, but I thought it was a worthy successor. Granted, I consider the original one of the most overrated pieces of crap ever produced, but I think it says something that WB's home entertainment division was able to meet the same level of quality. Specifically, it says they're two-bit hacks who could barely figure out which way to point the camera, and even then I spent most of movie wishing they'd get that wrong and save me from at least a scene or two of utter agony. Watching this on DVD is enough to make one nostalgic for the days of televised movies, where you at least get the soothing respite of a commercial break to dull the pain.

A Christmas Story 2, referred to in its trailer as A Christmas Story 2: The Official Sequel is set 6 years after the original, and Ralph is about to turn 16. If such a thing is possible, the plot is slightly less defined than it was in…

Home Alone: The Holiday Heist (2012)

Do you remember the scene in the first Home Alone movie where Kevin tied a bucket of paint to a rope and swung it at the robbers? Have you ever stopped to consider what the entire movie would have been like from the perspective of the paint inside the bucket? I mean, I assume it would have started absolutely still and sat that way for hours on end, before being slightly jostled. Then, a few hours later, it would have sloshed around, before splashing against the wall. Finally, it would have settled again.

Mostly, it would have just been still. It would probably have dried a little as the movie progressed. Not a lot and certainly not quickly, but an imperceptible quantity of paint would have dried up.

While that's not the plot of the fifth Home Alone movie, I think it offers a nice encapsulation of the experience of sitting through the film.

That's another way of saying this movie isn't as shockingly awful as its predecessors. And that this improvement is a very, very bad t…

The Snowman and the Snowdog (2012) [Nice List]

Lindsay and I reached dramatically different conclusions on this; probably as extreme as anything we've ever seen for this blog. That said, we can't actually point to many details we're in complete disagreement on: we simply weighed the positive and negative aspects of the special differently.

Extremely differently.

This is a sequel to The Snowman, a British Christmas special that's been around for three decades. The original is hands-down the best animated holiday special that I've ever seen, and I've seen damn near all of them. If you haven't seen The Snowman, just... no. Stop reading this, track it down, and watch it. I don't care if it's late, if you're tired, if you came across this write-up in the middle of April, or any other excuses. It is required viewing.

It's also something that, by all rights, should never be touched again. Before we put this on, the very notion of a sequel didn't just feel unnecessary: it was blasphemous. An…

The Snowman and the Snowdog (2012) [Naughty List]

So once upon a time there was a gorgeous piece of art, The Snowman.

And some people saw The Snowman, and thought, hey, we should do a sequel! We’ll get the creator on board, it’ll be great.

Two years later, The Snowman and the Snowdog was born.

And.. it’s not terrible. GOD F*CKING D*MN IT.

Because if it were terrible, I could just tell you it was terrible and we could all move on. But no.

I enjoyed it.

However, as I told Erin after the movie: “I liked it the way I feel emotional at Pixar movies even if the scene isn’t actually any good.”

The writers did an excellent job checking off all the boxes and twisting the emotional beats to create a perfect facsimile of The Snowman. It’s like the uncanny valley. It’s almost perfect, but there’s something unsettling. Something wrong.

This version stars a new little boy, which I liked. And I liked a lot about the animation. The building of the snowman especially was very well done. This was clearly carefully created. I was emotionally move…

Passion For Truth Ministries: Truth Or Tradition (2012)

When right-wing pundits rant about "The War on Christmas," there's one group they always leave out, and that's Christians who boycott the holiday due to its pagan roots and lack of Biblical origins. These groups are incredibly inconvenient for both sides of the holiday debate: the right wants to paint a picture where atheists are attacking Christmas, and non-Christians certainly don't want them as allies (these groups tend to be even more hell-fire and brimstone than the ones they're battling). But Christians who don't celebrate Christmas are a significant group - about 5% of Protestants fall into this category.

I'm going to be considerate to these people and say that Jim Staley's reasons shouldn't be considered representative for the larger group.

Staley is the pastor for "Passion for Truth Ministries." He seems to be trying to recreate a more primal version of Christianity inline with what its founders believed. This 2-hour video,

The Mistle-Tones (2012)

I don’t know what the message of this movie was supposed to be. I mean, I know it must have had one, it’s the type of movie that has a feel-good message to tie everything up in a bow at the end. It’s an ABC Family Original.

But I watched the movie, and I’m not sure what the message was.

It should have been that Christmas is about being with people who care about you, or that singing is about enjoying yourself, not beating someone else. Or about seeing what’s important in life. However, it all got a bit muddy in between montages.

Because, while I kind of enjoyed this movie, in a so-cheesy-it’s-almost-good kind of way, it was quite a bit lacking in actual plot or character.

Holly wants to join the singing group, the Snow Belles. She wants to do this because her mother founded the group. Even though the woman currently running the Snow Bells (Marci) is a horrible person and has obvious delusions of grandeur, and the most important thing this group of women does is sing at the mall, Hol…

Duck Dynasty: I'm Dreaming of a Redneck Christmas (2012)

The best thing I can say about this episode is that it isn't, strictly speaking, unwatchable, and even then the statement is made at what I consider my most generous of moods. But it is, of course, Christmas, and at Christmas we should be charitable and giving. So I will give the Robertsons this: their Christmas episode was not literally unwatchable. It was merely crappy. Idiotic. And stupid.

I should most likely add this represents my first real experience watching the Robertson clan, unless you count the Youtube video that got Phil Robertson suspended from A&E for a few weeks. The experience was not quite what I'd expected.
The only thing I really understood about the series Duck Dynasty was that it was a reality show staring a family of millionaires bearing an odd resemblance to ZZ Top who'd made their fortune producing duck calls. As it turned out, I was slightly off: this wasn't remotely a reality show.
It pretended to be a reality show, but the situations we…

Santa Paws 2: The Santa Pups (2012)

Just to recap, this is the sequel to the spin-off of the Christmas-themed installment of the direct-to-video series that was spun-off of the direct-to-video sequels of two theatrical movies loosely based on a dog who played Comet on Full House.

Got it? Good. You bet your ass there'll be a test later.

This one's... complicated, actually. There are three credited writers on IMDB, which doesn't surprise me. Because, believe it or not, I think one of those writers might have been competent.

That isn't to say the script or movie are good, per se. Most of the movie is utterly painful, there are astonishingly stupid plot decisions, the characters are vapid, and there are real reasons to think that the people who wrote this didn't even bother watching the prior films (not that I blame them). But, all that said, there were a handful of scenes where the quality of dialogue climbed substantially, and there were a few choices that were - dare I say - not idiotic in nature.