Thursday, December 6, 2012

Yuletide TV Day 6: Recess

Coolest kids in the yard
Series: Recess

Episode: S2E17 "Yes Mikey, Santa Does Shave"

Original airdate: December 26, 1998

Santa? Animated James Earl Jones Santa, and Robert Goullet Santa

Other holidays mentioned: Kwanza, Hannuhkah, and surprisingly, Arbor Day

Availability: Youtube

Unique Christmas Story:
Recess is one of those cartoons that has unfortunately been forgotten. It doesn't have a place in the early 90's nostalgia, nor in the current realm of outstanding children's cartoons like Adventure Time. 

Much the same can be said about Mikey, the lovable oaf, who is at the focus of this Christmas episode. Mikey is a the lone fourth grader who still believes in Santa Claus, putting him on the outs with his friends and classmates.

He makes it his mission to prove to the others (but, more importantly, himself) that Santa does exist, and what follows is a series of unfortunate and heart breaking misadventures.

Mikey's friends come along on his quest mostly because they don't want to see their friend get hurt, but also, perhaps, just to see if he might be right.

The kids go to the mall only to find the Santa there is fake. They go to a holiday parade only to have Santa be revealed as the mayor who begins pandering to the kids to get their parents' vote. Their final stop at a radio station reveals the unfortunate truth about Santa, and, sadly, radio DJs.

Each event is more traumatizing than the last, but it's Mikey's transformation throughout the episode that is actually the most horrifying. He goes from a kid bursting with holiday spirit, to a deranged crazy person desperately looking for proof that all he has come to believe in wasn't a lie.

Christmas can drive people crazy. I think everyone has that one thing about the holidays that sets them off. There's the song that gets played one too many times, the gift that is impossible to find, or something as simple as the constant wanting that has become so inherent with the holiday. People do their best to keep it all together, but Mikey just can't. While most kids have time to grow out of the childish exhilaration they associate with Christmas and develop more of a calm excitement, Mikey is forced to grow out of it in a day.

The sheer disappointment crushes him, and he decides not to fulfill his role as Santa Claus in the school pageant. Because, why would he want to be a part of something that's a sham?

It isn't an until he talks with a friendly stranger (James Earl Jones!) with some sage advice, that Mikey is able to rekindle his Christmas spirit.

Mikey illustrates the dangers of getting wrapped up in Christmas and the benefits of taking a step back and to have a nice deep breath. When things get overwhelming, we should pause for a minute to realize what the season is about, and do our best to spread those ideas to everyone we encounter.

Watch the entire episode below and share some Christmas spirit in the comments below.

Unique Christmas Message:
Santa doesn't always have the big bushy beard.

I take a look at another Saturday morning cartoon that kicks off its episode with one of the best known Christmas parody carols of all time.

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