My Favorite Animated Christmas Episodes!
"Ho, Ho, Ho and Yo Joe!"
Tis the season for giving and of course, receiving!!😉
It's also that time where the networks and streaming apps are flooding with Christmas theme programming. So, out of the bunch of content, here are my top picks of animated Christmas episodes! So sit back, grab yourself a cup of cocoa or in my case, something much stronger!
A Huey Freeman Christmas The Boondocks
Let's travel back in time when overt political correctness wasn't the norm, when series such as The Boondocks tackled social commentary while being unapologetically nuanced!
Christmas is coming and while Grandad Freeman is feeling hopeful and optimistic, our radical protagonist Huey Freeman is not feeling the "spirit". Huey is tasked when his Teacher Mr. Uberwitz suggests he creates his very own Christmas stage play at the J.Edgar Hoover School. But with Huey involved, it's not your average "Merry" tale, when the title of the play is called "The Adventures of Black Jesus"!
Elsewhere, Hoodrat Riley Freeman dubbing himself "The Santa Stalker" is causing mayhem by beating the shit out of Mall Santa, because he has to pay what he owes. Was this some hidden metaphor for reparations?
Along with mocking cultural sensitivity, this episode takes an unapologetic satirical dig at Black churches, one's disillusionment of Christmas, and of course, the Charlie Brown Christmas. Then there's Huey's explanation of how Christmas came to exist. Revealing that it was originally a pagan Holiday where only Men during the Roman era, gathered together, got drunk and engaged in orgies! What's even funnier is how the latter half of Huey's explanation was censored with a Charlie Brown "Wah,wah, wah, wah" sound effect after mentioning "Congress' '.
Also as a footnote, after the cancelation of Boondocks, series creator Aaron Mcgruder actually moved on to develop a new series for Adult Swim, "Black Jesus"!
Cobra Claws are coming to town G.I.Joe A Real American Hero
Written by Darla and Gerry Conway..yes THAT Gerry Conway! (Punisher) Claws begins with the Joes having a holiday toy drive litterally, as they find themselves ambushed by a Cobra Rattler when driving the toy donations to headquarters.
Despite managing to evade the Rattler plane, Cobra pulls a bait and switch on the Joe team by planting a rocking horse within the toy wagon.
And it's no ordinary horse by all means! Can you say, "Trojan Horse"?
As the short staffed Joes feel comfortable with their advanced security system while having Christmas dinner, G.I. Joes' Dog Handle Mutt is experiencing severe holiday depression that stemmed from being neglected as a child while his parents were off celebrating Christmas, like maybe Office Holiday parties?And just when the Duke and the Joes let their guard down, Cobra's secret scheme comes to fruition when they emerge from the rocking horse via Destro's shrinking gun as the main mcguffin and in doing so, breach their laser security system.
But wait, it even gets better!! Soon after the outnumbered Joes are captured, Cobra Commander hatches a plan to commandeer the G I.Joe vehicles for a large-scale invasion on a nearby Keystone City ala "Red Dawn"! Framing the reputation of our Real American Heroes while causing harm to innocent civilians.
"Claws" is an example of schizophrenic narratives when you have too many writers working on one episode, while the Trojan Horse plot is generic, the idea of the "Joes" stipulating martial law as in some fascist regime, is genuine especially for a toy-tie in cartoon.
This episode has fun playing with Cobra Commander's hubris if not stupidity for leaving a key supposedly out of the Joes' reach when trapped in a cold meat storage room. Of course, they escape to thwart his plans.
For a Christmas themed episode, it's pretty violent, especially when Roadblock destroys three Cobra driven VAMP jeeps with the soldiers inside. It's a blink and you'll miss it moment.
The ending is humorous, as a giant sized Polly saves the day, then looks down at a nervous Shipwreck.
As with plenty of G.I.Joe eps, there are inside jokes, that only adults can get. i.e. the one about Shipwreck having a "meaningful relationship " with a side of beef, following Cover Girl's reaction. Speaking of whom, it's one of the very few episodes with Cover Girl taking the lead, let alone a Woman in charge. But still, G.I. Joe was not only an innovative series, but progressive for that era. Yo Joe!!
"Christmas with the Joker" Batman The Animated Series
In this episode of the critically acclaimed animated series, The Joker escapes Arkham thanks to a rocket propelled Christmas tree. Upon hearing the news of Joker's escape
Batman is fixated on taking him back to the Supermax mental institution, whereas Dick Grayson/Robin tries to convince the ever brooding Bruce, to spend a quiet Christmas day while watching "It's a Wonderful Life".Batman's response:"I've never seen that, I couldn't get past the title."
Consistent as always!😆
When Bruce agrees to watch "It's a Wonderful Life" on TV, the movie is interrupted by another program; "Christmas with the Joker", who not only hijacked the airwaves, but plans a terrorist attack on Gotham City!Thus episode is memorable mostly for its use of dialogs one in particular, was Joker's fourth wall breaking as he announces "We'll be back in just a moment, but first a word from our sponsors." right after firing cannons towards Batman and Robin.
Not to mention how Robin serves as a comfort to Batman's soul, by taking a breather from fighting criminals to enjoy well deserved festivities. It's actually cool to see cynical Bruce, crack a smile every now and then.I would be remiss had I not mention the brilliant voice work from Kevin Conroy and especially Mark Hamil.
"Seasons Greetings" Robotech: The Macross Saga
In the perentuate episode of Robotech: "Seasons Greetings"
After losing a previous battle that left the remaining Zentari (led by Kyhron) battered, broken and depleted of Protoculture, the alien extremists plan to once again, invade Macross city and take as much Protoculture in order to advance their goals.
However, they are soon confronted by Rick Hunter and his squadron and during the skirmish,
the Zentradi with the aid of a suicide bomber dressed as Santa Claus, detonates a ring of explosives around the city serving as both a distraction and sending a very cryptic message. As the human casualties began to pile at enormous levels, the people of sector one are no longer thinking of Christmas, but instead thankful to be alive.
Footnote: It's episodes like "Season's Greetings" that further gave credibility to the Robitech series.
During a time when most syndicated animation based programming had to adhere to the FCC's standards and practices policy-be it removal of violent content and adult themes, Robotech bucked the trend by unapologetically showcasing the casualties of war and unrest during what was supposed to be a very happy and peaceful time.
Ironically, the scenes of civilian death and destruction, mirrored the 2016 terrorist attack that had occurred within Berlin right around Christmas . In spite of the vicious attacks that resulted in the loss of many lives, the populace within Macross carried on by celebrating Christmas in spite of casualties and collateral damage.
The similarities compared with the people of Berlin, as they are now showing resilience and faith via refusing to let the cowardly terrorists "win" !
"Reinforcement" Spectacular Spider-Man
Despite the dull character designs, Spectacular Spider-Man is one of the very best Marvel animated series to date! I purchased both seasons for only $20 at Amazon Video and its well worth the price!
In "Reinforcement" the Holidays are approaching, and a mysterious entity called "Master Planner" reassembles the Sinister Six, sans Otto Octavius and Shocker for one helluva Christmas party-to destroy Spider-Man once and for all!
Meanwhile Peter and his classmates are enjoying their Christmas break from Class, ice skating in what seems to be Rockefeller Plaza. And what better opportunity than for the Six Supervillains to attack in order to draw Spider-Man to the forefront?
Peter is being distracted between his affections for Gwen Stacy and Mary Jane, until the real drama begins as Spider-Man confronts Mysterio, Rhino, Electro, Sandman, Vulture and Kraven. Can he stop them just in time to celebrate the holidays or will his Christmas be permanently canceled?
What I love about this episode, is how the narrative follows the tried and true tropes of the previous Sinister Six adaptations, i.e. Spidey uses his brains to defeat the Six, as opposed to going all out fisticuffs.
The "love" triangle scenario is palatable and preferred over Parker being this loser who no woman would bat an eye in his direction. He's now "Playa Parker"!
The ending of this special episode is bittersweet. Yeah Spider-Man saves the day, but its his and Aunt May's first Christmas without the deceased Uncle Ben. Very poignant.
Other notable highlights would be Spider-Man talking with a lisp accent after burning his tongue with hot cocoa. Also Electro's "Spider-Man, come out to plaaay" reference.
"Comfort and Joy" Justice League
This "filler" episode features how the Justice League honors that most wonderful time of the year, when not giving bad guys the beatdown. While Flash is visiting an orphanage in his hometown Central City, J'onn Jonzz the Martian Manhunter, is alone and brooding and understandably so, since his entire race including his family has been wiped out leaving him, a sole survivor as with Superman.
However, the ever optimistic Boy scout Supes as Clark Kent, invites J'onn to spend the holiday with his adopted parents.It's funny to see even the Flash run afoul with scarcity issues when hunting down the most sought-after toy, Rubber Ducky-a rapping doll that farts! Because kids like those kinds of things. Then again, when you're the fastest Man alive, what is your last and only option?
Meanwhile, to celebrate the holidays, Hawkgirl takes John Stewart to some intergalactic sleazy establishment where of course, your average bar brawl ensues.
I mean what episode or movie that takes place in a bar would be incomplete without a fight scene?!?
What I love about "Comfort and Joy" is how this isnt your basic Christmas oriented tale, instead it gives us a perspective of how each of the League views Christmas with clever dialogue especially the exchange between Flash and Humanite, and how J'onn finally realizes the true meaning of Christmas.
As a footnote, this was the last lighthearted episode, since the following two parter-Starcrossed is very dramatic when you factor in Hawkgirl's betrayal and John's broken heart. Ah, love...😉
Holiday Knights The New Adventures of Batman
Knights by all definitions, is a very enjoyable anthology which follows a timeline counting down from Dec 22 to New Year's. The first segment has Bats alter ego Bruce Wayne under a spell after Harley Quinn kisses him with a chemical induced lipstick, leaving him as a zombie following Harley and Poison Ivy's commands like splurging on Women's gifts and closing at some expensive store before outlasting his usefulness of course.
While performing a stakeout as Santa and his "Elf" in the Mayfield's department store, Harvey Bullock and Lt. Montoya run a foul into Batman nemesis and shapeshifter Clayface, as he goes berserk in the mall. With Batman nowhere to be found, who can stop him? Batgirl, that's who!
Funniest moment: Harvey's short-lived respite after Batgirl defeats Clayface, is when Montoya tells him that he has to "roll up his sleeves" to retrieve the jewels Clayface had swallowed!
This multi part episode wouldn't be complete without including the Joker. As soon as he appears on a taped broadcast, he announces some good news and bad news: the good news is that for the next year, he will not kill anyone; the bad news is that he intends to make up for the loss in activity that very night!
Joker intends on using a sonic weapon he confiscated from a murdered scientist, to kill thousands as soon as the clock strikes twelve on New Year's eve! And of course, its up to Batman and Robin to put Joker's plan on pause indefinitely!
The three vignettes in Knights, were cleverly squeezed into a 22 minute timeframe with a great epilog with Commissioner Jim Gordon meeting up with Bats at a diner albeit a short lived meet-up still a cool bookend to my favorite Christmas episode.These are among my favorite things!
You can find these Holiday not so hidden gems available on major streaming platforms!