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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 hook is that K…

Prometheus (2012)

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If you're like most people who have seen Prometheus, you're likely wondering why I'm talking about it on a blog devoted to Christmas. Actually, if you're like most people who saw the movie, you're probably more interested in when you're going to get the two hours you wasted watching it back. Well, I can't help with the second question, but I can shed some light on the first:

I'm talking about Prometheus here because it's a Christmas movie. No, really. The crew of the ship wake from cryo-sleep a few days before Christmas. One of them sets up a Christmas tree. There's some subtle Christmas music in at least one scene. The sole survivor flies away on New Years Day.

Oh, and the movie is about Christmas.

That last statement is 100% true and at least twice as meaningless. This is because Prometheus is about a lot of things. It's about faith as it pertains to God and the concept of God as it doesn't pertain to faith. It's about sacrifice; …

The Brain Scoop: The Nondenominational Holiday Botanical Celebration (2013)

Christmas is past, but we're still working our way through a backlog of online holiday shorts. The Brain Scoop is a Youtube series hosted by Emily Graslie, the Field Museum of Natural History's "Chief Curiosity Correspondent," a custom-made title that makes a lot more sense after you watch a few episodes.

The series is sort of a science education show on speed. It delivers everything you loved about shows like Bill Nye, but doesn't dumb down the subject matter. The show feels like it's primarily aimed at adults who grew up watching PBS, though - for the most part - the subject matter's appropriate for kids, as well.

This episode focuses on various decorative Christmas plants, with a focus on toxicity levels and side effects. If that doesn't sound awesome to you, I don't know what you're doing on this blog.

Doctor Who: Time of the Doctor (2013)

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I found the final Matt Smith Doctor Who episode to be engaging, though it lacked a satisfying payoff. That is to say, it's a good example of his entire run. Fortunately, it was a Christmas special, so I can discuss it here.
Oh, and just so no one complains later, discussing it will include details. So then. Spoiler. Warning. Got it? Good.

They certainly went to great pains to establish this as Christmas-related. The doctor follows an unknown transmission to a planet besieged by all his enemies. Once he gets down, he finds a town named Christmas. They play with this quite a bit: there are no shortage of lines about how the Doctor is protecting or saving Christmas. This is in addition to a Christmas dinner playing out in Clara's apartment in the present.
In some ways, a Christmas special is the perfect time for a regeneration, at least from a symbolic standpoint. They play with this, as well: the days in Christmas are almost impossibly short.
In the town, he comes across a crac…

Super Santa in Jingle Bell Justice (1998)

I just came across this 7 minute short on Youtube. Stylistically, it feels a lot like Powerpuff Girls, with some great homages to the Adam West Batman and 60's spy shows. I particularly like the super-spy spin on Mrs. Claus, who isn't stuck at the North Pole this time.

Reflections and Modulations

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Wow, December flew this year, didn’t it? For me, it wasn’t just because the span between Thanksgiving and Christmas was as short as it can be. My job is more involved and takes more of my brain than last year, plus I have more outside-of-work commitments too. All that’s just to say that I’m a little sad that it’s Christmas already, I feel like I barely registered time passing.

I’m really glad we finally saw some Bing Crosby specials (Meta, 1,2,3,4), and I’m also glad we evisceratedThe Christmas Shoes. We also found a few hidden gems this year, perhaps most notably Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July. Who knew that was good?

This is the fourth year, and Mainlining has become… a tradition. I don’t mean that in a sarcastic way, either. This: the watching of bizarre and terrible and wonderful Christmas stuff, collecting new music, new books and movies and decorations, finding more and different things to see and do, this is now part of how we celebrate the season.

Stay tuned as the y…

The Best Christmas Movies of All Time

So, cards on the table: I tried to put together a simple top 10 list of the all-time best Christmas movies, but I ran into a snag - 40% of the list would have been Shane Black action movies.

But, as I listed things out, I started to notice that a lot of movies were falling nicely into pairs. So, rather than try to assemble a blanket pool, I'm breaking these into five categories, each of which will feature the two best holiday films that genre offers.

From these, I'll whittle it down to a simple "top 5" list. What that will represent is a look at the best Christmas films from the entire range of the holiday selection.


Best Animated Christmas Movies
There have been a lot of animated Christmas movies, but surprisingly few great ones. Both of these movies under-performed at the box office, but both are phenomenal films.


Nightmare Before Christmas
An homage to Rankin/Bass specials, Nightmare Before Christmas displays all of Tim Burton's style unencumbered by his limitat…