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Weekend Discussion Thread – Episode Guide, First Draft: 1113- The Christmas that Almost Wasn’t

Movie: (1966) Santa has to get a job — as a department store Santa — to earn money to pay his overdue rent bill.

Opening: Jonah wants to sing a Christmas carol, but picks the one song people don’t know the words to
Invention exchange: Kinga still plans to marry Jonah, but Synthia isn’t helping; J&tB have the Re-Gifter; the Mads have Humbug FM
Segment 1: J&tB review classic Santa toys
Segment 2: J&tB try to explain the creepy toys
Segment 3: Santa and Baby Whipple visit
Closing: Christmas slide show
Stinger: Hohohohoho, hey Sam, this is fun! Hohoho!
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (40 votes, average: 3.40 out of 5)

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• Skeleton Crew songs: All four breaks feature the band’s version of “Patrick Swayze Christmas.”

• The “I’m a baby” running gag just doesn’t land for me. Sorry…
• The scene with the kids giving pouring out of houses to give Santa money must have been a scene that seemed very familiar to Joel.
• Is this the first time Jonah has summoned “Jet Screen”?
• That was Elliot Kalan as Baby Whipple.
• Classic riff: “They’ve created their own Thunderdome.” “Jonah, can’t we get beyond Thunderdome?”
• Fave riff: “You can always tell when a building used to be an i-Hop.” Honorable mention: “Wow this tea kicked in fast!” and “You sure you’re not confusing children with spiders?”

Thoughts?

64 Replies to “Weekend Discussion Thread – Episode Guide, First Draft: 1113- The Christmas that Almost Wasn’t”

  1. Ro-man, aka one of several possible Steves says:

    EricJ: That line only applies to Science Facts, not show criticism. :raspberry:

    Proving conclusively that it is possible to be technically correct, but still totally wrong. ;-)

       2 likes

  2. Jason says:

    To me, the butler was a dead ringer for Count Olaf from A Series of Unfortunate Events (which is another Netflix series, so it would have been a perfect opportunity for cross promotion). I’m surprised nobody caught that.

       3 likes

  3. littleaimishboy says:

    . (Joel going “Eeeew” whenever Arch Hall Jr. comes onscreen is not “nasty” or “mean” or “bullying” because . . . why, exactly

    Because it’s JOEL, silly.

    Because when Joel was hosting everything was candyland happydance.
    But then the dark shadow of Mikedor was spread upon the land, and lo! all was cruelty and despair and jokes about Wisconsin or Minnesota or whatever that state with all the cows & lakes is called …

       17 likes

  4. Funniest episode of the new batch!

       0 likes

  5. This episode was the low point of the season for me. It just lays there. And I agree, I didn’t get the “I’m a baby” thing, either. After a while, and several viewings, it just started to annoy me. It seemed like I was clearly missing something that they all thought was hilarious. Other than this episode, I’ve been pretty happy with the new run. I hope they get another season to really get comfortable in their roles. It makes me happy knowing that the show is back.

       5 likes

  6. trennerdios says:

    The Original EricJ: Carnival Magic was a tough-slog movie with fun riffing, Core was a reasonably goofy movie (c’mon, it’s got Peter Cushing!) with painful, painful tough-slog riffing, of the presumptive-running-gag Widdle-Baby variety.
    But let’s all save that barroom brawl for later.

    I always get the heebie jeebies when I completely agree with you on something. It’s always so out of left field.

       1 likes

  7. Joseph Klemm says:

    Sitting Duck:
    Regarding the scenes of the kids chipping in for Santa’s rent, the first thing that came to mind was It’s a Wonderful Life. Specifically when the citizens of Bedford Falls, perhaps feeling the teensiest modicum of guilt over having taken advantage of George Bailey’s doormat personality all those years, pool their resources to cover the money Uncle Billy so carelessly misplaced. Yeah, I’m not that fond of It’s a Wonderful Life.

    You’re not alone, as I consider It’s a Wonderful Life to be one of the most overrated films of all time.

    On the bright side, when it came to paying homage to that film, at least The Christmas That Almost Wasn’t chose that moment rather than doing yet another “what if X was never born” story, thanks to the overkill of this trope, is one of the main reasons I despise It’s a Wonderful Life (the other reason is that it takes forever just to tell George Bailey’s backstory).

       3 likes

  8. Trumpys Dad says:

    Mike "ex-genius" Kelley: (And, truth be told, art by popularity isn’t a very compelling argument, or “Gilligan’s Island”, the very top rated show for many years, would be considered one of the best sitcoms of all times. Sorry, but sometimes the majority opinion is just wrong, and you don’t even have to venture too far to come up with examples in the Real World of that).

    So you don’t think much of Gilligans Island? That is fine. But to dismiss it as drivel for the unwashed masses is harsh. If you read Sherwood Schwartz’s book about it (yes, there was a book) he explains that the premise was to gather 7 people of different stations and interests and have them confined together to make a new society: who would lead, who would do the manual labor, how would they learn to rely on each other. Now you could approach it and just be dry and serious (and maybe appease the critics) or you could camp it up with dome slapstick and try to have some fun with it to appeal to a different crowd. Actually the Ginger vs. Mary Ann thing isn’t about do you prefer Tina Louise to Dawn Wells, it is a choice of do you prefer sweet and wholesome or a glamorous party girl. But it is not designed to be debated in our higher learning institutions. It’s target is two guys having a beer going ‘That Mary Ann sure is cute.’ ‘No way – I’d rather be doing the town with Ginger.’
    You know, growing up I never cared for the Three Stooges. It was only when I got a little older that I got the social satire of the depression era did I develop an appreciation for them. Was my opinion wrong when I was young? Is it wrong now? Or is it, I don’t know, my opinion as of right now? Should I poll the majority (or the minority elite) to see if my opinion is valid?
    Anyway, I hope I am not pouring gasoline on the subject and I don’t feel the need to weigh in with my daggers in the Joel vs. Mike vs. Jonah thing. Just saying I enjoyed Season 11 and was ok with Jonah but after seeing the Live show in DC I was impressed and am very comfortable with Jonah now.
    Of course, I could go on with my controversial Josh vs. Kevin debate ………..

       11 likes

  9. majorjoe23 says:

    Jason:
    To me, the butler was a dead ringer for Count Olaf from A Series of Unfortunate Events (which is another Netflix series, so it would have been a perfect opportunity for cross promotion).I’m surprised nobody caught that.

    That series debuted in January and the MST3K episodes were filmed in September. I’m guessing it just wouldn’t have been on their radar at the time.

       1 likes

  10. Danzilla "Cornjob" McLargeHuge, Student of Kaijuology says:

    I know I’m late to the party, but here goes…

    Just when you think there are no insane old Christmas movies left to riff…

    This is another episode I wasn’t crazy about the first time around, but came to love upon a second viewing. The movie is so hard to pin down… is it trying to be charming, endearing, whimsical, a comedy, marginally entertaining, what?! Because it fails on nearly all those fronts. It’s nowhere near as bizarre as getting kidnapped by Martians or fighting an envoy of Satan, but dealing with an overzealous landlord is still one heck of a weird premise to base your Christmas movie on. But hey, that’s why MST3K exists. The end result is a pretty darn funny episode (although it was REALLY in need of a “Jonah era” original Christmas song). It’s not quite the classic that SCCTM and SC (or even some of Rifftrax’s Christmas offerings) are, but it’s still a hoot, and will officially enter my Holiday Riffing Rotation this December!

    Some thoughts:

    -“The Krampus’ are calling” might be my favorite “hitting the button” line this season.

    -Kinga’s still planning her wedding. It’s not a big part of the episode this time, but that’ll change in the next episode. I love her line, “I’m thinking black and darker black.”

    -The Re-Gifter is a classic MST3K invention AND prop! A fun idea for sure!

    -Jonah refers to Max and Kinga as the “Masters of the Alternaverse”. I see what you did there, Joel… ;)

    -The opening credits really remind me of Catalina Caper, right down to the laid back, slower paced riffs.

    -I love that the Skeleton Crew interstitials use a thus far unheard rendition of “A Patrick Swayze Christmas”! I wish they had used a bit of “Merry Christmas (If That’s Okay)” as well.

    -REALLY big oversight not making an Ernest Thesiger reference when the creepy butler is onscreen.

    -Dear God, these must be the creepiest Santa elves in any movie I’ve ever seen.

    -Moment of riff restraint: Mrs. Claus tells Santa, “How many times have I told you not to come down so fast?”

    -The “Baby Whipple” running gag seems to be hit or miss with a lot of MSTies, but I thought it was funny in most places. The issue was that it didn’t have an obvious origin or clear reason for being a running joke. It was funny to me because of the repetition and performances of the riffers, and I honestly laughed at it many times, and that’s what counts.

    -Whoever is dubbing Mr. Prune sounds exactly like Bela Lugosi. It’s a thick Hungarian accent. The guys make a single reference by following one of Prune’s proclamations of “Children!” with “…of the night!”, a line from Dracula. There are a few few Count Count jokes in there as well.

    -The idea behind Segment 1 is a great one. It’s one I’ve pondered myself. I loved it!

    -This episode has two bubble edits. It still feels like cheating.

    -Self reference: “The “T” stands for “the”?”

    -In the second interstitial, Max reveals that the Boneheads were created by Kinga to be “a race of atomic supermen which will conquer the world”, a reference to/direct quote from Bride of the Monster. Did Prune’s accent remind them of Lugosi’s stint in the infamous Ed Wood flick/penultimate Season 4 episode?

    -No callbacks outside of the “atomic supermen” line.

    -Classic MST3K Lines: “Nightmare fuel.”; “Hello? Hello? Hello? HELLO!” (And a Santa variant); “Can’t we get beyond Thunderdome?”

    -Speaking of nightmare fuel, dear GOD, all of the toys in Prim’s department store are legitimately horrifying. I wanted more jokes about how demonic they all look, but Segment 2 mostly makes up for it. Hysterical stuff, but I wish they had done more than four toys.

    -Wow, a Santa that’s afraid of children… MERRY CHRISTMAS!

    -The sequence with Prune and his butler stalking Santa is an hysterical stretch of riffing. “I’m gonna crop dust these kids.”

    -I give it a year before official “Think of something! Think of something! Think of something!” tee shirts and bumper stickers hit the market.

    -Theater antics: a smudge appears on the print, and Tom digs through a bunch of junk to find a duster to remove it.

    -The Kid’s Assemble bit is a nice rapid fire list of crazy names, similar to (but far briefer than) the Spaceship Toy Set bit from Starcrash.

    -Nice Dune reference: “The Spice must flow.”

    -Segment 3, with Joel as Jewish Santa and Elliot Kalen as Baby Whipple is goofy as heck. Like in The Time Travelers, it’s weird seeing/hearing Joel in an MST3K episode as someone NOT Joel Robinson, but it’s a funny segment and his reactions to Whipple are hysterical. But did anyone else wish Paul Chaplin would suddenly pop onscreen as Pitch and start fighting him?

    -Yet another Roger Rabit reference: “Shave and Haircut… he’s looking for Toons!” Someone this season is a fan.

    -What is it with these Christmas movies and weird reindeer?!

    -The still frame sequence is hysterical. A weird movie moment with hilarious riffing. My favorite line: “Who noodled in my Santa bag?”

    -A nice old school moment at the end: after staying alone in the theater to rattle off more Prune eBay buys, Crow is pulled out of the theater by Jonah. It had a “Phantom Creeps” vibe to it.

    -The still frame parody ending might be my favorite of the season. It’s nice to see Gypsy still knitting sweaters, but I was really hoping Jonah’s would say “Joikeah” on it. Ah well. The Mad’s are equally hysterical, and Patton’s face as he proudly cradles his first aid kit is the definition of priceless.

    -End Credits Music: A Patrick Swayze Christmas; To Earth; Sidehackin’; The Canada Song

    -Favorite Riff: “Do you even chair, bro?”

    -Honorable Mentions: “You can always tell when a building used to be an IHOP.”; “Paging Dr. Freud…”; “As long as you don’t sing…”

       4 likes

  11. Cornjob says:

    This was a hard slog the first time but it’s starting to grow on me a little after a 3rd viewing. Still the weakest episode of the season for me, but time will tell. The Toy bear that killed another bear and wore it’s victim’s skin as a suit cracks me up.

    Part of what makes this one a little tough for me is that after all the psychotic Santa Clauses we’ve seen, this one seems kind of blah. The movie itself seems to be a relatively serviceable, if legalistic, kids movie which doesn’t lend itself to riffing the way Martians and Ice Cream Bunny do.

       3 likes

  12. Johnny Drama says:

    Guess what? Toddlers still love those wooden toys! I work in retail and recently saw a wee one screaming because he couldn’t get one.

       0 likes

  13. Mr. Krasker says:

    The Original EricJ:

    Well, who under 60 knows anything ELSE Rossano Brazzi was in?

    Perhaps anyone who watched Cinematic Titanic’s treatment of Frankenstein’s Castle of Freaks?

       0 likes

  14. Mr. Prune looks like Jaz Coleman of the band Killing Joke (one of my favorites!) : )

    http://www.stereogum.com/1109062/killing-joke-singer-missing/news/

       0 likes

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