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Jan 052011

With Matt Groening’s success with The Simpsons, he was able to create Futurama (1999-2003), then brought back in 2010-present), which is about a cryogenically frozen delivery boy named Fry, who wakes up in the year 3000 and living his dream. Traveling through space… as a delivery boy working for his elderly nephew Professor Farnsworth. Leela the mutant captain, Bender the comedic robot, Doctor Zoidberg the lobsterman, Amy the attractive intern from Mars, and others accompany Fry on these adventures.

Some of my favorite episodes are the ones when the Planet Express crew finds adventure on other planets. Sometimes it’s a spoof on something else like the Slurm Factory and the planet Nintendu 64. Other times it’s something generic like the planet Amazonia. Those giant women are hilarious. “Me want snoo-snoo!”

Other than Bender, there are plenty of creative robot characters. Some of my favorites include the defective vending machine, the Femputer, and the Mad Hatter bot. “Change places!”

There are also different types of mutants that live in the sewers. Most of which have different body parts in the wrong places. It’s so artistic that each mutant is completely different. This show also features various celebrities’ heads in jars of water. I don’t see how that keeps them alive.

I’d have to say that Futurama is a good creative series of comedy and space travel. One thing I still don’t understand. Why doesn’t reoccurring character Zapp Brannigan ever wear any pants?

Dec 232009

Merry Christmas, everyone. Guess what today is. That’s right. It’s Christmas Eve’s Eve. I know it’s not a common term, but we all look forward to the night of the 24th. So why not the 23rd too. It’s also a good time to tie up all of the loose ends that you can so you can enjoy the Christmas holiday, stress free. Here are the top 12 Christmas specials that I enjoy while preparing for it.

#12) A Garfield Christmas Special: After Garfield has a blissful Christmas dream, Jon takes him and Odie to his parents’ farm for the holidays. Garfield is against it at first, but he warms up to Jon’s grandmother very well as the whole family prepares for Christmas. Even Odie gets creative when he secretly builds a gift for Garfield out of a small block of wood, a plunger handle, a fork, and some string. Perfect for a cat, next to gift bows.

#11) The Simpsons Christmas Special (1989): In the pilot episode “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire”, Bart gets a tattoo, which causes money problems for the holidays. Homer works at the mall as a Santa Claus than looks for a Christmas miracle… at the dog track. There were several other Christmas episodes, but they weren’t nearly as good as this one. It’s a good Christmas special for those who enjoy classic Simpsons, but personally I much prefer the Halloween specials. They’re so much more creative when spoofing other horror films.

Miser Brothers

#10) The Year Without a Santa Claus: In this special, Santa is ill and won’t be able to take his yearly sleigh ride. And what’s worse, he’s left under the impression that no one believes in Santa Claus anymore. Mrs. Claus sets out to prove him wrong by sending two elves, Jingle and Jangle Bells, to look for Christmas spirit. Only to wind up in South Town where it never snows. Of course the real icons on this special are the Miser Brothers. Snow Miser has the power to freeze the world and Heat Miser has the power to heat everything up. Who’d have thought that their mother was none other than Mother Nature herself? How creative. The Miser Brothers also have catchy songs about them. “They’re too much.”


 #9) Santa Claus is Coming to Town: This is a great story about how Santa Claus grew up and became the jolly old icon we all know and love. Santa was a baby who was adopted by a family of toy making elves called the Kringles. They named him Kris. While trying to give toys to the children in Somber Town, where toys are declared illegal and dangerous, Kris has to be sneaky to get them to the children. He goes down chimneys at night while leaping from rooftop to rooftop, like a ninja. Then puts the toys in stockings and changes his name to Santa Claus. Santa’s kindness spreads quickly. He even manages to change the wicked Winter Warlock by giving him a toy. Winter becomes a helpful ally by showing Santa how to check on the children in order to see if they were naughty or nice. As well as making the reindeer fly with magic feed corn. The orders piled up too fast, so the deliveries had to be limited to once a year. Christmas couldn’t have been a better choice.

#8) He-Man and She-Ra: A Christmas Special: Those of us who have grown up on these 80s icons would surely remember this one. At the royal palace on Eternia, The Eternians and Etherians prepare for Adam and Adora’s birthday, which happens to be around Christmas. However, no one has ever heard of Christmas before. That all changes when Orko accidentally ends up on Earth and rescues two lost children from an avalanche. Soon they all return to Eternia. After the children explain about Christmas, King Randor and Queen Marlena decide to combine both celebrations at the palace. How wonderful is that. Even Skeletor gets into the Christmas spirit as Hordak tries to attack the children. It’s totally against his principles. Thank goodness Christmas only comes once a year.

#7) South Park: Mr. Hanky’s Christmas: South Park had several Christmas episodes, but this is my most favorite because it was only Christmas carols performed by the South Park characters and hosted by Mr. Hanky. ‘Tis the season for creativity. “Isn’t that swell?” Who’d have thought that Santa listens to Duran Duran. I must admit. The idea of a living piece of poop is disturbing, but Mr. Hanky sure is a festive little guy.

Olive the Other Reindeer

#6) Olive the Other Reindeer: The Simpsons creator Matt Groening teams up with Drew Barrymore to produce this unique animated special based on the children’s book. I say unique because the animation style is similar to Paper Mario. Olive (voice of Drew Barrymore) is not like other dogs. After hearing that Santa is short one reindeer and can’t make his flight, Olive feels that she is a reindeer and heads to the North Pole. At least she has Christmas spirit. A Postman tries to stop Olive so he can avoid the extra loads of mail. His efforts are hilarious when Martini the penguin (voice of Joe Pantoliano) defeats him with pens, paper airplanes, and a Jack in the box. What a wuss. It’s a cute musical adventure. I’ll tell ya. Drew Barrymore has a great singing voice.

#5) A Muppet Family Christmas (1987): The Muppets spend Christmas with Fozzie’s mother at her farmhouse. Only to find Doc and Sprocket (Fraggle Rock) there also. Doc (Gerry Parks) is angry at first, but he soon warms up to the Muppets and their craziness. Eventually the Muppet characters from Sesame Street arrive to join in the Christmas fun. They do all kinds of great acts together. Acts like; the Electric Mayhem singing “Jingle Bell Rock”, a home movie of the Muppet Babies at Christmas, Ernie, Bert, and the Sesame Street monsters perform “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”. Even Fozzie does a comedy routine with a Snowman. Only to get heckled once again by Statler and Waldorf, who are good friends with Fozzie’s mother. The only problem is if there’s enough room for everyone. The farmhouse isn’t exactly the “Holiday Inn”. Soon a blizzard approaches the area. Although it’s safe inside the farmhouse, Miss Piggy still hasn’t arrived yet and Kermit really gets worried about her. Meanwhile, the Swedish Chef wants to cook Big Bird for Christmas dinner, but has a change of heart when they become friends. Kermit and Robin also find a Fraggle hole in the cellar and meet the Fraggles. Christmas is what truly brings people together. In this case, several groups of Muppets. Isn’t it great?

#4) Mickey’s Christmas Carol: There have been many versions of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. This was the very first version that I’ve seen, which made me familiar with the story. Various Disney characters play the different roles. Scrooge McDuck plays Ebenezer Scrooge. I’m pretty sure that this special was where he got his start before starring in his own series Ducktales. Other Disney characters include; Mickey Mouse as Bob Crotchet, Donald Duck as nephew Fred, Jiminy Cricket as the Ghost of Christmas Past, Daisy Duck as Isabelle, and Goofy as Jacob Marley (That’s a twist). Even characters from Mr. Toad and Robin Hood are a part of it. I still find this version of A Christmas Carol a favorite, as well as the shortest and simplest. Which made it more of a favorite when I was a kid.

#3) The Christmas Toy: This Jim Henson classic is much like Toy Story. When no one is looking, all of the toys in the playroom come to life. Including Mew, a cat toy. It’s Christmas Eve and Rugby the tiger remembers being the top toy last year. So he sets out to the living room to relive his glory days. Not a smart idea because if a toy is caught out of position, it becomes frozen forever. In other words, the toy dies. Even if it’s caught by the cat. What Christmas means in the playroom is that new toys will arrive as part of the “community”. Some toys feel that the new arrivals are replacements. As far as I can tell, the only way an old toy is replaced is when they’re put in a yard sale or donation. They should be grateful if they’re still kept. It was really creative how the hallway and living room appear spooky and dangerous from a toy’s perspective. When Apple the doll organizes a rescue mission to save the stubborn Rugby, it becomes an adventure of a lifetime. I wonder if this was the actual inspiration behind Toy Story.

#2) Emmett Otter’s Jug Band Christmas: This other Jim Henson classic, based on the children’s book, is along the lines of “Gift of the Magi”. Emmett Otter and his Ma have money problems and try to get each other a Christmas present. Opportunity knocks when a talent contest comes along and first prize is $50. Emmett joins a jug band and made a washtub bass out of his mother’s washtub. Ma Otter also enters, but sells the tool chest to buy something to wear for her number. The talent contest was a neat setup, much like the various performers on The Muppet Show. The competition doesn’t seem too intense, except for the River Bottom group as a rock band. Let’s face it. In many talent shows the rock band always comes out on top. Now “Battle of the Bands”, that’s another story.

#1) It’s a Wonderful Red Green Christmas: ‘Tis the season for creativity and this special has lots of it, much like the series. In fact, this actually inspired me to use red and green duct tape to wrap Christmas presents. It’s especially helpful when you only have a little bit of one roll of wrapping paper that isn’t big enough to wrap the whole gift. With the right amount of duct tape, it will fit perfectly with other wrapping paper. That was my own idea.

Duct Tape Present

Like The Red Green Show uses old appliances, there are at least a couple of segments that feature an old version of Christmas lights. Remember the ones where if one bulb goes out, they all go out? A real pain in the butt. Red (Steve Smith) even has an interesting philosophy about Santa. He’s just an average guy who is much like the other lodge members. So of course he exists. One of my most favorite segments is the “Handyman Corner” sketch on how to prepare a Christmas feast with your car while it’s running. Not very sanitary, but hilarious.

There you have it. Christmas cheer by the ton. Happy holidays.