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Showing posts with the label Christmas in July

Ben 10: Merry Christmas (2006)

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This is the first episode of Ben 10 Lindsay and I have seen, though I was mostly familiar with the premise going in. A kid has the power to transform into ten different aliens, so he uses his abilities to fight various threats. I hadn't realized the series took place during a cross-country vacation in his grandfather's RV. I'm fairly certain that's intended as a nod to the 70's Shazam series . Ben Tennyson is more than a little reminiscent of Billy Batson, who could likewise call upon otherworldly powers and transform. This series is more or less an update. This episode begins on a hot summer day while Ben, his grandfather, and his cousin, Gwen (also a series regular - apparently, she uses magic in some other episodes) are driving through Death Valley. After a failed attempt to improve the air conditioner, the RV breaks down. They find a strange door in the desert with cool wind blowing through the cracks. When they go through, they find a wintery town decorat

Your Family or Mine: Christmas in July (2015)

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This is the kind of show that reminds me why I have never wanted cable. We watch a lot of repellent things in the name of Christmas, but this was a special level of awful. It’s a sitcom, distinguishable from other sitcoms only by its exceptionable levels of imbecility. Kate and Oliver are married. Apparently the ‘humor’ of this show comes from them dealing in succession with one or the other of their families. Like every other ‘family’ sitcom. This episode follows them and their extras, I mean daughters, on a visit to Oliver’s parents. Oliver’s mom insists on getting the family together in the summer to take the annual Christmas card photo, because “people are fat in the winter.” There’s some clever comedy coming here, folks. In the beginning of the episode (before I stopped thinking to prevent my neurons from shutting down in pain) I was confused. Is Kate not the mother of those two (seven-year-old-ish) girls? If she is, why does she seem flummoxed and confused by things tha

The Red Green Show: Xmas in July (2001)

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You’re not mistaken, we’ve already done the actual Christmas episodes of this show . As I said then, The Red Green Show is a hybrid sketch comedy/sitcom/mockumentary/parody of both local access and home improvement shows. And probably a few other things besides. The main Christmas elements of this episode were in the “plot” portions. Each episode has a “plot” that opens the show and resolves at the end, with additional short scenes interspersed between the other skits. This episode’s plot concerned Harold’s ill-fated attempt to bring a Christmas in July celebration to the lodge as a tourist attraction. He is not exactly met with kindness and goodwill toward men. Harold tries again, mounting a parade, but he unwisely lets Red drive. Eventually they give up on Christmas in July. We enjoyed that this showed some of the potential downsides of trying to force unseasonable holiday cheer: holiday costumes are too hot to wear, impatience and otherwise uncharitable behavior that would

Workaholics: The Strike (2011)

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I believe this is the second episode of Workaholics I've ever seen, and - while I found aspects humorous - I don't see any reason I need to watch a third. To be fair, "The Strike" was part of the series's first season, so it's entirely possible it improves substantially over time. Feel free to chime in with a comment if that's the case. The show revolves around three idiotic roommates - Blake, Adam, and Anders - who work together at a call center. Based on what I've seen, I'd describe it as having aggressively low production values. My sense is that this is intentional, that it's designed for the audience to laugh at the show as much as they're laughing with it. Imagine a version of Office Space without a POV character, lower everyone's IQ to Beavis and Butthead levels, and you'll have a good idea of what you're in for. This episode opens in the middle of summer with the trio getting ready for "Half-Christmas," w

Garfield and Friends: Sludge Monster/Fortune Kooky/Heatwave Holiday (1989)

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Raise your hand if you liked Garfield as a kid. It’s okay, don’t feel too bad, we’re right there with you. I used to watch this show, but Erin remembered this exact episode, in that spooky way where every line comes into your brain right before it’s spoken. If you missed this series, it’s made up of super-short bits that are more-or-less animated versions of actual Garfield strips and short cartoons with slim plots. Some of the pieces are Garfield, and the others are “U.S. Acres,” a property which, until this moment, I assumed only existed on this show. No, apparently this was a second comic strip by Jim Davis, and it was limping to the end of its not-critically-acclaimed run around this time. Of the three six-minute shorts that make up this episode, the last one was the best. Briefly, the first one is about Garfield and Odie being scared of a monster story, and the second is a U.S. Acres bit about playing pranks to make unlikely predictions come true. Both of these stories are b

Christmas vs. Fourth of July (Book, 1908)

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I wish I were about to tell you about an obscure mystic war between the forces of winter and summer, but instead this is a little message book about injured children and giving to the poor. The intended message from author Asenath Carver Coolidge seems to be that both holidays should be less about buying things, but that the Fourth of July especially shouldn’t be about buying fireworks. This book appears to be a Christmas tie-in for the author’s pet issue: preventing injuries from fireworks and firearms. She wrote multiple books on the subject. While the Fourth of July is still a common time for injuries today, regulation has brought the numbers down from the time that Coolidge was writing. Time Magazine reports that at the height, according to the book Fireworks, Picnics, and Flags: The Story of the Fourth of July Symbols , “Over the course of five consecutive Fourths, from 1903 to 1907, 1,153 people were killed and 21,520 more were injured.” But let’s run through the book.

Phineas and Ferb: S'Winter (2008), I, Brobot (2008), Phineas and Ferb's Family Christmas Special (2011), and Phineas and Ferb Save Summer (2014)

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It shouldn't be entirely surprising that Phineas and Ferb is a treasure trove for the "Christmas in July" trope: with more or less the entire series set during summer, they've found numerous excuses to play with holiday and winter tropes over the years. A few of the episodes I'm looking at are admittedly a stretch - there's a reason we've only done one of the episodes below to date - but together they offer a surprisingly comprehensive look at the range of different approaches to the "Christmas in July" premise. S'Winter (2008) S'Winter is one of the earliest episodes of Phineas and Ferb produced. It's typically combined with "The Magnificent Few" to fill a half hour. But "The Magnificent Few" has jack to do with the holidays, so we'll just shove that aside. I've been wrestling with this episode for several years. There's a argument it could count as a Christmas episode, but it falls just short

Camp Lazlo: Kamp Kringle (2007)

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With no information about this show other than this episode, I can tell you it’s a Cartoon Network production about a boys’ summer camp, in which all the characters are animals and the humor is very broad. Lots of fart jokes. Given that it isn’t really our style, we were surprised how much of this we kind of enjoyed. The episode begins with the campers on a bus going up a mountain to watch a meteor shower. They’ve passed the snow line, so when the bus breaks down, the kids jump out to play. They almost immediately run across a decked-out holiday village, complete with surly elves. Santa then appears and welcomes them in for a visit. (He explains that he moved his operation to this mountaintop because the polar ice caps are melting.) Santa’s workshop is quiet, however, because they’ve all worked hard to be done early so that Santa can have an overdue vacation. Of course this is when a stray meteorite destroys all the toys. Santa declares that he’s not giving up his holiday,

Transformers: Rescue Bots: Christmas in July (2012)

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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

It's Punky Brewster: Christmas in July (1985)

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I'm following Wikipedia's convention and using the series's unofficial name to differentiate this from Punky Brewster. In the vein of Star Trek: the Animated Series, this is actually a sequel of the live-action series in which the main characters reprise their roles. Like many cartoons, each thirty-minute block was divided into two fifteen-minute chunks. We're only covering the half that relates to Christmas, obviously. The episode opens on a hot day in July. Punky Brewster and her friends stop to admire a skateboard in a toy store window. Punky muses over whether or not she's going to get it for Christmas, and she laments that she won't know for months. Fortunately, Glomer, the 104-year-old magical half-gopher/half-leprechaun in her backpack reveals that he's friends with Santa and might be able to help her find out. Maybe I should pause for a moment and give you a moment to review the opening credits to this show, which offer a tad more context:

Misadventures in Romance Reading (Christmas in July)

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When we decided to tackle more Christmas in July media, I did a search for books. The main one that came up when I searched was a romance: Christmas in July (A Christmas, Colorado, Novel: Book 2) by Debbie Mason. Romance isn’t a preferred genre for me, but sometimes I like it, and this book was available through my local library, so I decided to dive in. At the beginning, I was intrigued. The book (and, I imagine, the series) takes place in a town called Christmas. The main character, Grace, is a baker. Her signature dessert is a Sugar Plum Cake with a “wish” hidden in the decorations. Her husband, Jack, was in the army, but he’s been MIA for over a year, and she’s finally decided to move on. So far, a nice dash of holiday theme and an interesting premise. Of course, this is the moment when her husband and his crew are found alive. But he has amnesia, and doesn’t remember her, and he’s been attracted to this other woman in the meantime. And all of that could actually have

Merry Fourth of July

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May you get everything on your list. [Photo collage from Holiday 2015 Balsam Hill Catalog and July 2016 Toys'R'Us Catalog.]

Camp Candy: Christmas in July (1989)

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Camp Candy was, apparently, an animated series where John Candy voices a character based on himself at a fictitious summer camp he runs. I don't recall ever having seen or heard of this series before in my life, though if I still remember this episode an hour from now, I'll be both surprised and disappointed. The Christmas in July episode opens the same way Wikipedia assures me every episode in this series starts, with Candy trying to teach the kids a sport, leading to a flashback of something that happened earlier in the summer. This is portrayed as a story being told by Candy, though it's unclear why he's telling the kids about an adventure they were present for. It's also unclear how he's able to provide descriptions and commentary for other characters' dream sequences. Actually, this episode features dreams within dreams within a story. But don't get excited: it was all crap. Once we're firmly entrenched within a flashback, the kids and C

Christmas in July (1940)

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Christmas in July is an extremely odd black & white comedy written and directed by Preston Sturges, who adapted it from a play he wrote in the 1930's, which wouldn't actually be produced on stage until 1988. Astonishingly, all of that is less convoluted than the movie's plot. That isn't a criticism (though I will have a few later on) - the movie's refusal to follow convention makes it more interesting than most comedies I've seen from the period. Apparently, Sturges is remembered as something of experimental filmmaker, testing his boundaries and playing with structure in his comedies, at least if I'm understanding the Wikipedia article I just skimmed. That certainly seems fair: Christmas in July definitely played with expectation, tone, and theme. The story centers on Jimmy, a young man interested in advertising who has entered a contest to create a slogan for a coffee company. The contest carries a twenty-five thousand dollar prize, but the movie

A Seasonal Announcement from Mainlining Christmas

YOU WON! Yes you, you lucky people. What did you win? MORE CHRISTMAS. It’s July, and this year we’ve decided that 32 days of holidays in the winter just aren’t enough, so we’re bringing you some special Christmas in July content. According to Wikipedia , “Christmas in July” has a few different contexts: First, starting in the 1930s, some American summer camps would hold a special Christmas in July celebration, including decorations, presents, and Santa. Second, places in the Southern Hemisphere where July is the middle of winter sometimes hold bonus Christmas in July parties to make up for the fact that it’s boiling hot on December 25th. Third, and perhaps most familiar to us, it’s a lovely excuse for a sale at a time when marketers are stuck in a lull between the Fourth of July and the Back to School season. We may touch on all these areas, or not. It’s summer, we’re not making too many promises. Maybe we’ll go to the beach and send you pictures of starfish photoshop

Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated: Wrath of the Krampus (2012)

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Do not make the same mistake we made: do not start with this episode. I've always kind of liked Scooby-Doo as a concept and as an early attempt at animated horror/comedy. But I've never actually seen an approach that worked. The originals had some cool designs on some of the monsters, but the stories were never interesting. Well, this is where that changes. Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated updates the concept and characters in a way that remains true to the show's original concept and history, while simultaneously offering extremely intelligent writing, complex character and relationship development, as well as multi-season plot arcs with satisfying payoffs along with way. I don't just mean "satisfying for a cartoon," either: this is the kind of in-depth, multi-dimensional story telling that's rare on live-action TV. We, of course, stumbled across it because of the Christmas episode. Only it's not really  a Christmas episode, at all. The hoo

Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July (1979)

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Whoa. WHOA. We just watched the epitome of stop-motion Christmas specials. I know, I know, you don’t believe me yet. Just give me a minute. You know Rudolph , and Frosty , and Rudolph’s Shiny New Year , and Frosty’s Winter Wonderland , and Santa Claus is Coming to Town , and The Year Without a Santa Claus . But did you know that every last one of these takes place in a vast shared universe, which involves still more epic figures deserving of winter myth-making? No? Then you haven’t seen this one. For me, Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July retroactively improves all the specials that came before it. The premise is straightforward on the surface. An evil wizard who used to rule the Arctic wants to destroy Santa’s hold on winter, and to do so, he decides to take down Rudolph, using his friendship with Frosty as a lever against the young reindeer. Oh, and we happen to establish the source and purpose of Rudolph’s magic, which I don’t want to spoil for you. What? You d

Phineas and Ferb's Family Christmas Special (2011)

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Phineas and Ferb's second Christmas special was quite a bit smaller and less ambitious than their first. I also liked it quite a bit more. This is essentially a half-episode, which is a format the series is used to: most Phineas and Ferb episodes are broken into two unconnected 11 minute shorts. This differs from the norm in that it's a standalone: there's no "second short" following it. My guess is it was produced to be aired along with the much longer special from the prior year (with commercials, they should fill out an hour together). The plot to this episode is intentionally thin: the boys are putting on an old fashioned Christmas TV special in the middle of summer. While this ostensibly uses the show's normal formula, it doesn't really commit to it. The sequences with Perry and Doofenshmirtz are far shorter, and Candace's attempt to bust Phineas and Ferb is tacked on. I don't think this is a problem: in fact, it demonstrates the writers