Thursday, May 24, 2012

MST3K: Episode 521 - Santa Claus

I'm watching all of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes in order. More about that here and here.

Episode 521: Santa Claus

First aired: Comedy Central on 24 December 1993
Availability: iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Amazon (Volume 16 standard edition / Collector's Edition), Shout Factory (Volume 16 standard edition / Collector's Edition), Best Brains (Volume 16 Collector's Edition)

Better suited for Hallowe'en.
I've never been to Mexico. But if the Santa Claus that's in this film from South of the Border is how things are there, I understand all the news about drug cartels and murders. That kind of screwed up world would benefit most by drugs and murder.

Maybe that's a little harsh. But go watch this edition of the Santa Claus myth and then come back and argue.

At Christmastime, Santa gets ready for his trip around the world by playing the organ or keyboard-TV or something and looking creepily at images of stereotypes of children from all around the the planet while toys are made by child slaves in the North Pole sweatshop, only it's not at the North Pole but on a cloud just beyond the moon, but even that far away, Santa can keep an eye on things with a giant eye he stole from the Martians from The War of the Worlds* which is hardly creepy at all, so he loads his sleigh with his toys made by his child slave labor force and heads out in his sleigh pulled by giant, creepy, white, wind-up reindeer, only the Devil wants to ruin Christmas for everyone, so he keeps interfering with Santa's deliveries, but the wizard Merlin, who lives with Santa tells The Right Jolly Old Elf how to escape a dog after Santa's Magic Flower is lost, so he manages to deliver a doll to a little Mexican girl, saving Christmas for everyone. The end.

Santa watches us.Martians watch us.

I'm thinking the whole idea of Santa was kind of foreign to the makers of this Mexi-flick. Of course, what we Americans have done to the whole Christmas story by taking the birth of the Savior and mixing in tree worship along with a character who's a combination of Nikolaos of Myra and Basil of Caesarea, with influences from Coca-Cola, political cartoonists, poets, and Montgomery Ward, is pretty confusing all in itself.

Our hero.
I really shouldn't criticize the makers of this film for throwing in Pitch and Merlin. But I will. I mean, really. That's just plain nuts. The whole Santa thing didn't need any more weirdness thrown in, but leave it to a bunch of Mexican filmmakers to make it even more weird.

Of course, weird means ripe for the riffing. And M&tB have a fun time with this film.

That's not to say I enjoyed it. This film is a little too weird for me. And I've seen, and enjoyed, some weird films. I've also seen and hated some weird films. This is one of the latter.

Now, M&tB make it better. They certainly couldn't make it worse. But better is what they do. And they succeed. It's just that I dislike this movie so much that it keeps me from enjoying the episode.
The Mads gift exchange.M&tB gift exchange.
However, there are parts of this episode that I loved. Like the gift exchange. Gypsy's gift to Mike of the JOIKE sweater is hilarious. If you missed it, she started it when the other guy was there, but it took her a while to finish.

The Gift of the Magi parody is great. It shows the lovable nature of TV's Frank, who, despite being evil, is, well, lovable. It also shows how rotten Dr. Forrester is, plus how he doesn't want to be disliked, just feared.
What would a Christmas story be without the traditional rivalry of Santa and Satan?You know, it's just not Christmas unless the wizard Merlin is helping Santa save the day.
The Bots attempt to reunite Mike with his family is funny because of how wrong it goes. It does show that the Bots do like Mike, and want to do something nice for him.

There's an all-inclusive Christmas carol, a fight between Pitch and Kris Kringle, and a snowfall in space.

There are so many things to like about this episode that the scales come down on the positive side. But, had the MST3K crew not been up to the task, this would have been a horrible, horrible episode. The movie is that bad.

But they saved the day. Just like Merlin saves Christmas every year.



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