Happy Holidays! We’re celebrating in our usual fashion with Twelve Days of Christmas Episodes – ever day leading up to the 25th, I’m watching one Christmas episode and searching for holiday cheer. Some are good, some are not good, but hopefully they’ll get you feeling all Christmas-y on the inside, where it counts. I’ll be watching for standard holiday tropes, and grading each episode based on its level of cheer. First up, a delightful cartoon that I only just learned has nuclear Armageddon as part of its backstory.
Adventure Time – “Holly Jolly Secrets”
Original airdate:December 5, 2011
Jake (the dog) and Finn (the human) dig up a buried treasure – a suitcase full of the Ice King’s old VHS tapes. They put up fliers about their secret tape watching party, including the information that nobody is invited. Beemo (who appears to be a sentient GameBoy) can play the tapes (“They go in my butt.”), and they set out to some old-school video watching. The tapes are the Ice King’s video diary, which include him roleplaying as Princess Bubblegum, and discussing his relationship with his favorite penguin. Finn and Jake are weirded out, but they assume there have to be evil secrets somewhere on the tapes.
The Ice King spots a flier and wants to join the tape-watching party. As he knocks on the door, they ignore him and watch penguin dance parties and self-loathing rants. Finn’s convinced that the tapes are important, but he’s not sure why. Finally, they call Princess Bubblegum for help do decode them. Ice King intercepts the call and tries to pretend to be the Princess, but nobody is fooled. (He still doesn’t know they’re watching his tapes. He just wants to watch secret tapes.) So he brings on a snowstorm, trapping them in the house.
Finally, Ice King realizes that they’re watching his tapes and creates an army of snowmen to attack. He breaks into the house through the chimney. During the attack, Beemo plays the last tape. Unlike the others, it shows a human antiquarian named Simon Petrikov, talking about the ancient crown that he found. (The Ice King’s crown.) He talks about how the crown ruined his life as we see him blue and grow a beard. Everybody feels uncomfortable until Finn gives him the tapes back. And then they decide on a new tradition – once a year, when the weather gets cold, they gather all their friends together to watch old tapes and wear big sweaters.
Best Line – “I waited for him to leave, but he played in those boogers for hours.” — Finn
Christmas Dinner – Despite the setting of the show, Finn and Jake eat some seasonal food while watching the tapes. Candy canes, fruitcake, even a bundt cake with a sprig of holly.
Celebrity Guest – Comedienne Maria Bamford voices Wildberry Princess.
Santa Claus – When Ice King dons a red tablecloth, he looks a heck of a lot like Santa. He also sticks an apple on his nose, because somebody with a red nose has to lead the pack. Double bonus Rudolph multiplier!
Winter Wonderland – An actual magical snowstorm!
Gift Exchange – Finn gives the King his tapes back, he gives Finn a very small pine and tree and Jake a live skunk.
Hanukkah Shout-Out – When they bundle up, Jake wears a yarmulke.
Holiday Sweaters – After the snowstorm, Finn, Jake, and Beemo all put on adorable (and seasonally appropriate) scarves and sweaters. Who knew they had reindeer sweaters?
Holiday Cheer-O-Meter – Tough call. The ending is adorable and the turn when Finn returns the tapes to Ice King is really sweet. But it’s balanced out by the dark backstory (including the first time I found out that this show is set after the apocalypse) and the fact that we basically watch the Ice King have a nervous breakdown. But then, when everybody shows up at the end in their sweaters, it’s really darn cute. I’ll give it a 7. Cuteness counts!