The Santa Clause (1994)

I don't recall having liked The Santa Clause when I saw it years ago (probably when it aired on TV sometime in the 90's), nor do I recall thinking it was a "good" movie.  But I have vague recollections of seeing it and thinking it wasn't an excruciatingly painful experience. Turns out my memories were distorted, because that was kind of awful.  I mean, I was expecting it to be an obnoxious vehicle for Tim Allen.  And I was expecting the fat jokes as the new Santa took shape. What I wasn't expecting was the abysmal acting from just about every minor character.  Nor was I ready for reindeer fart jokes or anything of the sort. The movie has an interesting premise, which is almost certainly lifted from Piers Anthony's "Riding a Pale Horse," save that Tim Allen becomes Santa instead of Death.  Portraying "Santa" as an office rather than an individual has merit, though it certainly doesn't get enough exploration.  Actually, the mo

Animaniacs Holiday Episodes (1993)

Now this show holds up.  There's an occasional dated reference, but in general Animaniacs is still really fun to watch.  There were two fully holiday-themed episodes released in 1993. Animaniacs: A Christmas Plotz / Little Drummer Warners (1993) Most of this episode is a cute riff on A Christmas Carol, with the CEO playing the role of Scrooge and the Warners as the ghosts. It has a nice ironic twist that I enjoyed quite a bit, and an assortment of short original songs. The second short in this episode is more or less a musical medley of Christmas Carols, loosely plotted around the Nativity. Now I'm often downright allergic to religion in my Christmas specials, but I actually found this fun and quite sweet.  The music is really well done, and a nice mix of spinning the lyrics into comedy and playing it straight. Animaniacs: Twas the Day Before Christmas / Jingle Boo / The Great Wakkorotti: The Holiday Concert / Toy Shop Terror / Yakko's Universe (1993) As you can

Never Make an Elf Angry

Apparently, the war on Christmas just took a turn for the worse .  A pastor in Denmark executed a stuffed Christmas Elf by hanging.  He soon found a collection of garden gnomes in his front yard, which the media has dismissed as being from neighbors upset at the statement. That's because they don't know the code.  Christmas Elves don't operate within the law; that doesn't mean they're without order.  You make a Christmas Elf mad, you can expect to hear about it.  For the little things, they'll mess with your shoes.  Cross a line, and they'll hire a team of dwarves to go to town on your plumbing. But if you go after them personally - if you cross the elf family - they send you a message in gnomes.  Then it's just a matter of time.  Maybe days.  Maybe weeks.  Maybe years.  Sometimes they like to do it quick; sometimes they like to let their enemies sweat. But in the end, they'll demonstrate what those gnomes are for. For hundreds of years, Chri

Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

I have really fond memories of this movie, and I was convinced I'd regret watching it again.  I'm happy to report that not only does the movie hold up, it's actually a bit better than I remembered.  This one really deserves its status as one the best Christmas movies out there. I appreciate that a spoiler warning is fairly absurd for a movie that came out in 1947 and that almost everyone's seen a dozen times on TV, but... I want to be sure for this one.  If, for whatever reason, you've never seen this, stop reading now and go see it.  Find it on TV, put it on your Netflix queue, or buy it on Amazon.  You can buy the digital download for four bucks .  Do what you have to, but make sure you see it. What really impresses me is that this is a fantasy without the supernatural.  There's ostensibly nothing magical that occurs in the movie, and yet it's magic to the core. The movie never confirms that Kris is the real deal.  Sure, he found a house for sale m

Hercules and Xena Holiday Episodes (1996)

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)

Yes, Virginia, Macy's is cashing in

I'm underwhelmed by Macy's "Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus" themed window display. Technically, it's actually quite impressive: there's some ingenious design and use of movement and perspective at work, and, thanks in part to a voice over, they actually manage to convey the story in a manner you can follow. No, my issue here isn't technical: it's personal. "Yes, Virginia," in all its incarnations, grates on me. It brings out my cynical nature. Oddly enough, I actually kind of like the editorial itself. Sure, its got logic problems (the burden of proof always lies on the party proposing the existence of the entity in question: come on, that's obvious!), but it's also really pretty. Plus, in the part everyone cuts, Church talks about fairies. And I've always really liked fairies. No, my real issues aren't with the editorial: they're with the story itself, starting with the deification of Virginia O'Ha

Hello Kitty's Furry Tale Theater: How Scrinchip Stole Christmas (1987)

Until now, I've never seen an episode of Hello Kitty's Furry Tale Theater.  Hell, I'd never heard of the show.  Ignorance, of course, is bliss. I'm going to ignore the second half of this episode - a boring and unfunny riff on Phantom of the Opera - and focus exclusively on the first short, a boring and unfunny riff on "How the Grinch stole Christmas." There are myriad things wrong with this.  The jokes are trite, the animation is crap, and so on and so forth.  But the real issue here is that they're not so much adapting or paying tribute to the original as they are outright stealing the idea.  Yeah, they're doing it openly, but that doesn't change the fact it's still basically a version of the Grinch. If they'd changed either more or less, it wouldn't be pissing me off as much.  If they'd done it as either a parody or a straight up adaptation, it would have had a point.  But doing the basic premise with a few irritatin