Posts

Showing posts with the label Solstice

The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: Chapter 11: A Midwinter’s Tale (2018)

Image
A Midwinter’s Tale is, depending on your point of view, either the eleventh episode in the first season of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina or the series’ holiday special. It continues the plot of season one while adding the usual seasonal tie-ins you’d expect from a genre show’s Christmas episode.

First, a little about the series as a whole, since I’ve got a few things I want to get off my chest. It started out extremely promising, pulling in elements from John Hughes and 50’s Americana, then blending that with surprisingly dark horror elements. It was never great, but it was intriguing… for a couple episodes. Then it did something I didn’t expect.

It dropped everything but the horror and devolved into a Buffy clone. Everything unique about the tone and setting got sidelined to focus on the macabre, horrific elements. And, for what it’s worth, it wasn’t a bad facsimile of Buffy’s later seasons. There were some fun moments and cool visuals, and some of the characters were neat. But…

Trolls (2016) and the Trolls Holiday Special (2017)

Image
We watched the Trolls Holiday Special and walked away with one big question: Is Trolls a Christmas Movie? After we got around to watching the movie itself, we decided the answer is ehhh... not really? Probably not?

However, its one holiday element is unique enough that we wanted to catalog it.

The movie Trolls (based somehow on the plastic dolls from back in the day) is a surreal confabulation of light, color, and pop music. The trolls are small and brightly colored, and the favorite snack of a larger creature that looks much more like your stereotypical common troll. These "Bergens" believe that the only way to be happy is to essentially steal the trolls' happiness (by eating them).

However, (and this is where the holidays come in) they only eat trolls once a year, on a holiday called Trollstice. Other than being a pun on solstice, Trollstice has very little in common with Christmas though. There is one very early scene in which the bergen prince wakes his father on Tr…

Winter on Watership Down, Parts 1 and 2 (2000)

Image
We live in a strange world. It turns out there was a Watership Down animated series that ran for thirty-nine episodes between 1999 and 2001, including a two-part Christmas episode.

First, some background. The novel, Watership Down, is a seminal work of epic fantasy starring rabbits in the British countryside. If you're unfamiliar with the story, you may think the premise sounds humorous, but it's a tale of prophecy, war, death, and legend. The book functions as a meditation on mythology, exploring how the rabbits' society is built on the tales it tells. Without it, it's unlikely we ever would have gotten Redwall, Mouse Guard, or numerous other fantasy stories about animals at war.

Watership Down was adapted into an animated movie in 1978. This one goes on a list with Secret of NIMH and The Last Unicorn of animated features that traumatized kids in the 70's and 80's. The Watership Down movie didn't pull many punches: rabbits literally tore each other's …

Fraggle Rock: The Bells of Fraggle Rock (1984)

Image
The Fraggles are usually pretty great, and this episode is no exception.

In this Christmas/Solstice themed episode, Gobo questions the utility of their holiday, The Festival of the Bells. He sets out to challenge the myth and find out whether or not the Great Bell actually exists.

There's a surprising amount of existential angst in this episode for a children's show starring puppets.

Meantime, Doc and Sprocket do a bit of exploring of different holiday traditions, and Doc teaches Sprocket about the link between Saturnalia and Christmas in about ten seconds. It's awesome.

There's more than a bit of sappy “look inside for the truth” type stuff by the end, but it really amuses me that not having their festival has actual measurable implications.

Also, I'm a sucker for Fraggles, and a sucker for Solstice-themed holiday episodes. I really enjoy the main song of the episode: “There's a Promise” aka “Raise Your Voices” is fun. And Cantus is in it! What's not…

Hercules and Xena Holiday Episodes (1996)

Image
I remember watching these episodes in high school; they often aired back-to-back.  I remembered the basic plot of each, but little else.

Both of these shows are obvious, campy, melodramatic and purposely anachronistic.  I love them.

Hercules: The Legendary Journeys: A Star to Guide Them
(Season 3, Episode 9)

The premise here is that Iolaus and two other guys are called to attend something special (the birth of Jesus, obviously.) On the way they stop to save a country full of babies by deposing a Herod-like king.  It's basically just a normal week.

Corny?  Hell Yes.  These shows in general treated history like one big fun toy chest they could mix and match things from, so I'm not really bothered by the timeline problems inherent in the story.  Nor do I care that they mixed up Herod with a little Macbeth and a little Oedipus to create the main plot, and then it isn't even related to the Jesus part.


Xena: Warrior Princess: A Solstice Carol 
(Season 2, Episode 9)

The premise her…