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Dec 162015

The Muppets have been around for ages. Muppets Magic features all of the segments that were done on The Ed Sullivan Show from 1966-1971.

If you’re not familiar with the old series, I’ll give you a quick rundown. The Ed Sullivan Show (1948-1971) was a non-competitive variety series where the biggest stars perform all sorts of acts. Many of them appeared more than once and some up to 25 times. In those days it was a very big deal to be on that show. Nowadays the closest thing to it is competition shows like America’s Got Talent, American Idol, and The Voice.

I admit that it was way before my time. In fact, I first heard about The Ed Sullivan Show when I was in sixth grade in social studies class. The subject was about The Beatles and the lessons included watching footage from old performances. Many of which were their appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show. The best part was that there were no homework assignments involved.

Now back to the Muppets. They have made a total of 20 appearances and each performance was completely different with a variety of characters. The most common characters were Kermit and Mahna Mahna. Even Big Bird appeared once and I recognized Splurge in another segment.

Among the segments were performances that were later on The Muppet Show like Mahna Mahna, Java, a Frog Eating Worms, Happy Girl Meets a Monster, and The Computer Dinner which featured the first Cookie Monster.

There was also a segment called Scrap Flap that was later remade into Hugga Wugga, which is a classic by the way.

And let’s certainly not forget the Christmas themed segments since the Christmas holiday is coming up. There were two different sketches. One was about funny reindeer concerned about no snow and the other was about thieving monsters arriving at Santa’s (Arthur Godfrey) workshop. I recognized one of the monsters as the first Grover, though he plays a completely different character here.

Ed Sullivan must have really enjoyed having the Muppets on his show since he also hosted the Muppet Christmas special The Great Santa Claus Switch.

This compilation DVD is a great one, a true blast from the past for Muppet fans. The franchise is still as big as ever, but sometimes it’s good to look back on the classics.

Dec 102014

One of the newest, not to mention funniest, Christmas specials I have seen this year is How Murray Saved Christmas. In a town called Stinky Cigars, resides every holiday icon ever celebrated.


They include April Fool a nutty individual, the groundhog that talks like Woody Allen, some old presidents, Christopher Columbus, and the Easter Bunny that’s a rap star. Can you believe it?

Then we have the shops with some funny names like Get Stinky Fitness Center, Out of my Gourd Candle Shop, and Salvador’s Dollies. That is so clever.

Of course the real focus of the story is Murray Wiener (voice of Jerry Stiller), who is a bitter man that runs a diner. It’s almost Christmas and Santa gets a concussion. The inventive Edison Elf (voice of Sean Hayes) gathers everyone together, but the only one who can substitute for Santa is Murray. After some extra convincing, Murray agrees to the task. Surprisingly, he doesn’t even know the names of the reindeer.

Eventually the reason behind Murray’s grouchiness is revealed and it’s something I wouldn’t have seen coming.

It is odd that Santa isn’t so nice to his elves. They are underpaid with no health benefits. Santa even charges them for cocoa when it should be free for the worker elves. I also noticed that Mrs. Claus isn’t around. What could’ve happened to her?

Another interesting character is the town doctor, Doc Holiday (voice of Jason Alexander). He can identify people’s ailments, but never really cured anyone. The Doc sure loves to sing and dance though, despite that it annoys everyone.

At MegaCon 2013, I met Billy West who does various voice roles.

This was definitely a good Christmas special to add to my list of favorites. Not only is it a musical, everyone often speaks in rhyme. I haven’t heard that much rhyming in an animated feature since the old Dr. Seuss specials.

Dec 212012

The hilarious Ernest P. Worrell (Jim Varney) has an amazing holiday adventure in Ernest Saves Christmas. Ernest works as a cab driver in Orlando, Florida and meets Santa Claus (Douglas Seale, who I remember best as Clapper the butler from Rags to Riches).

Santa is on a mission to find Joe Carruthers (Oliver Clark) a former children’s show host because Santa must retire and transfer the Christmas magic to the most worthy beneficiary, or it will be lost forever. However, things don’t go smoothly because Joe doesn’t believe, but that’s not the worst of it. Santa forgets his magic sack in Ernest’s cab and ends up arrested because he has no money and claims to be Santa Claus, even though he is.

Meanwhile, Ernest also helps a runaway teen named Harmony Starr (Noelle Parker). Although Ernest gets fired from his job, he and Harmony go to Vern’s house to decorate for Christmas. We still don’t get to see what Vern looks like, but the hijinks with Ernest are as funny as ever.

Brothers Chuck (Gailard Sartain) and Bobby (Bill Byrge) work at the airport as storage agents. They soon discover Santa’s reindeer in some crates and have no idea how to handle the situation, especially when the reindeer jump up onto the ceiling. Chuck and Bobby even call Animal Control, but they can’t help either. Can you believe that Chuck actually thinks the reindeer are alien goats?

Soon, Ernest and Harmony find Santa’s magic sack and set out to return it to him, but have no luck. However, they are tempted to explore the magic in the sack. Ernest tries it out and quickly decides to do all that he can to get it back in the right hands, but Harmony has other ideas.

The next day when Ernest and Harmony find out that Santa is in prison, they go in disguise and bust him out. In fact, Ernest undergoes several disguises throughout this movie. They include a smooth talking government employee, a rough and tough snake wrangler, and the classic Auntie Nelda character from Hey Vern, It’s Ernest.

Later, Ernest and Santa go to find Joe at the movie studio. Harmony guards the magic sack but is so tempted she steals it and decides to run away again. And after Ernest and Santa were so nice to her, what a shame.

Santa finds Joe filming a new movie called Christmas Slay, which is a horror film about an alien that terrorizes children on Christmas. Joe is actually concerned about the foul language required, which goes against his principles. Santa is even more concerned about the whole concept and punches the director in the eye, which is a priceless moment.

Time is running out. Joe has yet to learn how to deal with the responsibilities, Ernest struggles to get the sleigh and reindeer ready, and Harmony needs to search her heart to know what’s more important. Santa must pass the torch soon, or all is lost.

This is a classic Christmas movie indeed. Ernest has his clumsy moments as usual, but he sure has a lot of Christmas spirit, “Know what I mean?” as Ernest would say.

Dec 182012

That’s right. Years ago, the classic Atari icon PAC-Man had a holiday special called Christmas Comes to PAC-Land. PAC-Man also had a TV series back in the 80s, but I’ll get to that later.

It’s winter in PAC-Land, yet no one there has ever heard of Christmas. That soon changes when Santa Claus crash lands during his sleigh ride. Luckily, PAC-Man, his wife Pepper (a.k.a. Miss PAC-Man), and their son PAC-Baby find him. Santa is safe, but the reindeer are ill and the sack of toys is lost in the woods. It’s all up to PAC-Man to save Christmas now.

PAC-Man is glad to help in any way he can, even brave the cold to find Santa’s sack. Unfortunately, the ghost monsters Clyde, Blinky, Pinky, Inky, and Sue find it first and eagerly play with the toys inside. I find that a little strange because the ghost monsters seem a little old for kids’ toys, even if they are ageless.

Although PAC-Man finds Santa’s sack, he didn’t bring any power pellets to take on the ghost monsters. He should have. Now the odds are against PAC-Man, not only with the ghost monsters, but to also get the toy sack back so Santa can meet his deadline.

This was a good Christmas special from the classic PAC-Man cartoon series. Even Rudolph makes an appearance, but as Dasher’s substitute. I’m not sure why that is.

Dec 142011

That classic 80s icon that was made famous by Don Adams returns in the holiday special Inspector Gadget Saves Christmas. Santa and his elves are hard at work at the North Pole until Dr. Claw infiltrates the workshop, disguises himself as Santa, and takes over by making his elves his personal drones.

Now it’s up to Inspector Gadget to stop Dr. Claw from ruining Santa’s reputation in order to save Christmas. As usual, Gadget has no idea what’s going on. Luckily, Penny and Brain came along and secretly help him out.

Before Gadget’s arrival, Dr. Claw did send his MAD agents to stop him. Yet they end up fumbling and Gadget wasn’t even trying because he never noticed them. How does he do it?

Eventually, Gadget finds the real Santa in a cell after Dr. Claw traps him. However, Gadget arrests the real Santa because he didn’t see through Dr. Claw’s disguise. Santa tries to convince Gadget otherwise, but no dice. You know Gadget. When he comes to a conclusion, he sticks with it, even when it’s totally wrong.

Meanwhile, the brainwashed elves trap Penny in a giant jack-in-the-box. Now it’s up to Brain to save Santa as Penny looks for a way to free the elves from Dr. Claw’s control. Once that’s done, Gadget unwittingly helps Santa defeat Dr. Claw, who still gets away in the end.

This is an excellent Christmas special. Even though we actually see more of Dr. Claw than just a hand while he’s in disguise, we still never see his face. It’s what makes him such a mysterious villain.