The 4 Craziest Holiday Episodes of '80s Cartoons
The Internet is better than Santa Claus: You can get whatever you want, you don't have to wait all year, and, unless child services repeatedly missed your house, you definitely couldn't ask Santa for porn (which is weird when you're talking about a hairy man who's famous for having a huge sack and an unbelievable excuse for sneaking into people's houses while they're sleeping to make them happy).
"Why do you think I keep a naughty list?"
While most Christmas things are presents for the kids, cartoon Christmas episodes are presents for the parents: They're the only sure way to get the kids to just sit down for a bit, sweetie, Mommy and Daddy are very tired. Which may be why parents in the 1980s didn't notice that their kids were watching solid crazy.
Christmas Comes to Pac-Land
A cartoon about Christmas coming to an arcade game ... that's something an alien pedophile would make when it found out that it couldn't get a hu-man van-driving license. It's a random smashing together of concepts aliens have heard that kids like without understanding any of them. If you shot the TV executive responsible in the face, it would reveal a robotic skull bent on harvesting the innocent hopes of children for profit. And that would still be a better kid's story.
It features Pac-Man throwing away small white balls. That's how badly wrong it gets Pac-Man.
The Pac-Man cartoon was made by Hanna-Barbera, which means that Christmas Comes to Pac-Land had lazier animation than stop motion of a sloth's decomposition. The only characters that look halfway decent are the ghosts, because they're meant to wobble wildly from shot to shot. The script was a bitter idiot proving that he could still hate video games despite knowing nothing about them. The whole thing sounds like someone being sarcastic to children they despise and looks like it was animated by people who didn't understand that many emotions.
Including "hatred of child characters in cartoons."
Hanna-Barbera knows less about enjoying video games than Martin Luther. It's so aggressively anti-Pac-Man that even his house didn't have straight edges. At one point they cut out to a top-down view of the ghosts chasing Pac-Man, and do so in big sweeping curves instead of taking the one and only and obvious chance to look like the game. Only one member of the staff had ever even seen a picture of a maze, and he's still lost in it. When the writer of this trash was told "Pac-Man," he started cleaning out his desk, and no one noticed that he was missing.
This is what they think Pac-Man being chased looks like.
The Walking Dead is a better Pac-Man cartoon than Christmas Comes to Pac-Land -- at least the prison episodes had straight hallways with sharp turns, and some characters were trying to eat the others. It's also a better kids' show, because the entire third act is Pac-Man dragging a sack of toys through the freezing cold and trying not to die. You'd swear that the staff were channeling their own feelings about finishing this stupid project.
Thanks, cartoon, I really wanted an upskirt of Santa Claus.
The series even ruined other cartoons by featuring voice actor Peter Cullen. We always technically knew that people only worked on these cartoons for money, but listening to Optimus Prime make Santa say "Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good CHOMP"? That's like finding out that the magical night when your mommy met your daddy was for $10 and only resulted in you because she was too drunk to turn over.
The Smurfs' Christmas Special
The Smurfs aren't just a cautionary tale about the hazards of inbreeding -- they're a guaranteed cure for nostalgia. Take the most ardent '80s child you can find and force him or her to watch an episode, and it'll go from Smurfing blue to A Clockwork Orange. The show is animated proof that kids are idiots. We'd have watched the health and safety instructions of senior citizen suppositories if they came as cartoons.
And it would still have been better than the movie.
The Smurfs' Christmas Special was appalling, and not just because they sing the goddamn theme song twice before anything even happens. (Note: Smurf singing should be higher on the fictional Geneva Conventions than Borg assimilation.) A pair of children are lost in the woods, and their very existence turns the entire series creepy. We see that the Smurf village and Gargamel's hovel aren't even 10 minutes from the local town, which means that Gargamel isn't an evil wizard out to plague a magical race of beings: He's a homeless man shivering in an abandoned ruin and nobody gives a shit about him. And even on Christmas day, everyone is perfectly content with the crazy old man dying alone.
"Why won't anyone help me?"
It explains everything -- his ragged robes, how he's constantly talking to his cat, and all those "magic potions" he's brewing? That's how my subconscious would deal with drinking cooking wine and lighter fluid, too. Gargamel is constantly tormented by beings no one else can even see, and society's mental health plan is "just hope his killing urges stay targeted on imaginary things."
Those "magic symbols" are clearly smeared in his own fluids.
Oh, and in this episode he gets into child slavery and sells his soul to Satan.
It doesn't go well.
Pictured: not well.
The episode ends with the No. 2 Worst Ever Way to End a Christmas Episode: deus ex cantates. They defeat the devil by singing at him. It's even worse and lazier than when the Care Bears do it, because at least the bears care enough to use more than one color.
This is how animators dare people to fire them.
They just sing at the bad guy and he fades away. That is not how carol singing vs. flamethrower fights normally go (just ask my parole officer). The Smurfs are just so good and defenseless that everything works out for them. Which is an even worse lesson for kids than "Men who sneak into your house at night are there to give you nice things."
G.I. Joe "Cobra Claws Are Coming to Town"
After two Christmas cartoons sucking worse than an animated version of Debbie Does Dallas, G.I. Joe saves us by kicking Christmas' ass. Duke and Shipwreck aren't known for introspection, as proven by the fact that they call themselves Duke and Shipwreck without laughing -- but "Cobra Claws Are Coming to Town" is more self-aware violence than a zen monk defeating ninjas blindfolded. Cobra's plan is to turn themselves into toys to sneak into their target's home at Christmas. You'd swear that the writers got Hasbro's actual evil plan mixed up with the script.
Yes, it's a Trojan rocking horse. Yes, they say that out loud, in case anyone missed it.
A 1/20 scale Cobra army attacks G.I. Joe. Because that works so well, even at full size.
Teddy bears with twice the combat ability of Cobra. Even more, now that Cobra is shrunk.
Luckily they target Mutt. In an organization where everyone has at least one laser-equipped jet pack/snowmobile, his combat specialty is "owns a dog." This lets them take out the security system, get re-enlarged, and capture the Joes, and the rest of the episode is standard issue "Cobra Commander has a cunning plan, Cobra Commander screws it up."
I'm afraid this is exactly what it looks like.
I'm afraid of this, even though it isn't. Although it says a lot that Shipwreck chose the beef instead of Cover Girl.
Then G.I. Joe kick ass by dealing with the mandatory Christmas lesson the same way they deal with everything else: shooting it as quickly as possible. The Yuletide angle is Mutt feeling down during Christmas dinner because his parents never had time for him during the holidays. He is then immediately shot in the face by miniature fighter jets. That's what Hasbro thinks of character development. And as if to apologize for the whining, Roadblock immediately gun-butts a jet out of the air.
"I don't care if you crackers fly quick, your whole plane ain't as big as my-"
Even a miniature Major Bludd can't give little enough of a damn about Mutt's unhappy feelings. They receive no development. No moral lesson. The rest of the episode is escaping (and detonating) Cobra's plot on Christmas day. Then, standing in the smoldering wreckage, Mutt suddenly admits that maybe this Christmas thing isn't so bad. It's awesome. He's not healed by the giving spirit, unless you count giving bullets to the bad guys until they explode and he feels better. He even misses the irony of how he got over his busy parents by working through Christmas day, just like them, continuing the tragic cycle.
And unless Junkyard has puppies, the cycle ends here.
He-Man & She-Ra: A Christmas Special
Every Christmas, my siblings and I would check the TV listings, desperately hoping that the He-Man and She-Ra Christmas special wasn't on at the same time as Mass. Because if it was, we'd have to try to get out of Mass (which never worked). Even at 7 years old, we knew that a man who demanded power from the heavens and then immediately actually got it had a much better deal than us.
And possibly a deal with Zeus.
Princess Adora is on Eternia for a birthday party with her twin, Prince Adam, and the two worst parents of all time. This is the anniversary of her being kidnapped by the evil Hordak as a baby to spend almost her entire life in military slavery. And despite presiding over a military dictatorship that deploys its entire army once a week, King Randor apparently figured, "We've still got the boy. So who gives an Orko's ass?"
Note: Orko does not have an ass.
All this despite Etheria being so close that you can swing by for a birthday party. And then the Christmas special makes it so much worse. Orko accidentally ends up on Earth, so Man-at-Arms immediately uses his "Finder Ray" to locate him, then sends She-Ra back to Etheria to get a crystal for his instantaneous Transporter Beam. "Hey, Princess, sorry for leaving you in serfdom your entire life. But the instant our talking fart cushion disappears, we instantly locate him, then send you back to the world of your own slavery like it was the corner shop to pick up magic batteries."
"Then stand in the corner and be our Christmas tree."
The rest of the episode is the No. 1 Worst Christmas Solution Strategy: Skeletor is overcome by Christmas spirit and saves the day. Despite only having heard of it 10 minutes ago. Which means that they could have pulled this any day and it would have worked. The next time Skeletor's about to capture Castle Grayskull, the Sorceress should shout, "Wait, Skeletor, for 'tis the season of Zorbleth, the Qwaxnar of Knobend!" Skeletor is immediately swayed by the Earth children, even though they look like they were born under Earth power lines.
All I want for Christmas are my two missing chromosomes.
He even magics them up some winter gear when they're freezing to death on a mountainside.
Of course a man who dresses like that doesn't feel the cold.
Then they all laugh as he keeps yelling at the puppy to stop licking his face. Yeah, laugh it up, kids -- a dog happily slurping at your face is a different story when your face is made of bones.
Skeletor spent Boxing Day playing fetch with his own jaw.
Luke also explains how Die Hard is the greatest Christmas movie ever made and watches the Crysis 3 series. Luke has a website, tumbles, and responds to every single tweet.