Here we are at the third and final week of this year’s Three Weeks of Christmas. Yes, I am well aware of the fact that today is actually the day after Christmas. It is indeed December 26th which is also known as Boxing Day. Ah, what the hell am I babbling about? I’m ending this installment in style by giving you not one but two of the greatest animated holiday presentations of my younger years. Similar to how I looked back at The Simpsons episode Marge Be Not Proud last year, this year I’m covering the Nicktoons favorites, Doug’s Christmas Story from Doug and of course, The Santa Experience from The Rugrats.
First premiering on Nickelodeon in 1992, The Santa Experience tells the story of the Rugrats’ first Christmas together. The adults rent a cabin in the woods to bring everyone together and all types of shenanigans take place. Sadly, the kids are a little skeptical about jolly ol’ Santa Claus. Chuckie (like everything else) is afraid of him while Tommy is excited to meet the man who puts smiles on every child’s face across the globe. After a bad incident with a mall Santa, the kids have mixed feelings on what to expect for the holiday. Both Tommy and Chuckie are now frightened of St. Nick, Phil and Lil sacrifice their favorite toys to Angelica in order to get the other what they want for the holiday, and Angelica is paranoid that her greedy prank will earn her a spot on the naughty list which will lead to her receiving nothing but lumps of coal come Christmas morning. She tries to right her wrong before it’s too late while Tommy and Chuckie try to re-enact Home Alone by setting up traps around the cabin to catch Santa once and for all. When the red clad character finally visits the cabin, everybody sees that he’s about as nice and sweet as every kid claimed.
There’s a hilarious scene where Angelica calls “Santa” on the telephone and very aggressively tries to get a hold of him. She really was a mean toddler. This episode though shows a softer side of her. It opens the soul of a young girl who is tough on the outside but deep down but has the heart of a saint. We rarely get to see this side of Angelica.
The presents the babies received included a teddy bear and a spinning top. Man, if I recieved stuff like that growing up, I would have wound up throwing a huge hissy fit at the lack of video games or Batman action figures. That’s just my spoiled side talking. I did receive a case of popsicle sticks and glue one year from a relative encouraging me to be creative. It would be found in a wastebasket later that day. I’m horrible.
Oh, the Rugrats also had a Chanukah special in 1996 but I don’t recall it too well. It was a retelling of the origins of the holiday using the tots in place of the main characters. See, in addition to being Catholic, the Pickles family were also Jewish. Didi, Tommy’s mother was a Jew and while that fact was never explicitly stated early on in the show, there were several references over the years to her faith. My favorite was her calling her grandmother “bubbie” in the episode where Tommy runs amok at a bank. In terms of children’s programming portraying key events in the history of Judaism, I actually prefer The Rugrats Passover special as it was the first time I ever learned about the true meaning behind the holiday. Tommy Pickles as Moses for the win. There was also a Kwanzaa special that I have no recollection of whatsoever.
Coming in a year later in 1993 was Doug’s Christmas Story. The kids of Buffington are out having a great time playing ice hockey but unbeknownst to them, there’s a patch of thin ice nearby. Doug’s trusty dog, Porkchop, notices Beebe, the town’s richest adolescent, about to cross it and stops her by biting her leg, accidentally injuring her severely. Not knowing his intentions, the town brands Porkchop as unsafe and is locked away for the holidays, separating him from his family. This causes Doug to become very sad. Soon, he tries to put together a plan to bail him out which goes awry. The shot of Porkchop crying and waving goodbye while Doug screams out his name is legit one of the saddest moments in cartoon history.
Doug gears up to have the worst Christmas ever but is determined to clear his sidekick’s name. In his imagination, he enlists the help of his three alter egos: Race Canyon, Smash Adams, and Quailman, but they prove to be ineffective. Beebe’s family presses charges against the Funnies and at the trial, Doug diligently reminds the judge and jury how much good Porkchop did for all of them. There’s nothing like seeing an 11-year-old boy bring an entire courtroom to their knees. The residents of Buffington agree to return to the scene and figure out why Porkchop did what he did. When they go back to the ice rink to see what really happened, a handicapped Beebe treads on the same thin ice and nearly drowns until Porkchop saves her. It’s then discovered that the four legged animal was in fact trying to help Beebe before. Porkchop is now deemed a hero.
When Doug was bought out by Disney and switched to ABC in 1996, another Christmas special aired. In this one, Doug’s younger sister, Cleopatra Dirtbike Funnie, was born. I can’t really explain that name, though. There was a lot wrong with Doug after Disney got their hands on it, but I remember quite liking the anticipation of the new member of the Funnie clan.
I never owned any pets growing up outside of a couple of goldfish so I never realized how close a relationship can be between a kid and their pet. Also, this was probably the only episode of the series where Doug wore pants (well, khakis really). It would be weird for this winter – themed episode for Doug to rock his trademark shorts. While I enjoyed this episode, it is kind of a downer until the end. Definitely one of the darker episodes of the series. I prefer the more upbeat aforementioned Rugrats special. You won’t see either of these installments on Nickelodeon nowadays but maybe you can try with the new overnight programming block, The Splat, which exclusively airs classic Nickelodeon shows on Teen Nick. The fans finally got their wish after all!
I sincerely hope you all enjoyed reading these articles. They brought back a lot of great memories. I also hope that everyone had a very Merry Christmas. Wishing you a happy new year! See you all in 2016!
Special thanks to doug.wikia.com, dougfunniesjournal.tumblr.com, rugrats.wiki.com, and acartoonchristmas.com for the images!