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Santa Claus Tag

yearwithoutsanta frontWith the holidays coming up, I thought I’d present a Christmas selection from my blog, “Way Out Junk.” This features Boris Karloff, not too long after he narrated “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” performing “The Year Without a Santa Claus.” Now I was only familiar with this story from the Rankin/Bass television special, and didn’t even know that it was a story before that, but here it is. Both the original (by Phyllis McGinley) and the TV version start in a similar way: Santa Claus is tired and sore and decides he wants to take Christmas off this year just like everybody else. However, the original story doesn’t have Jingle and Jangle the Elf, Mother Nature, or the Heat Miser and Snow Miser, all major elements to the story most of us know best. Heck, Mrs. Claus isn’t even in this version! The only other character that is in both stories is little Ignatius Thistlewhite, but in the book he’s a Santa believer from the start.

I don’t want to give too much away because there are obviously some differences here (even though you know how it ends), but it’s more fun to bask in Karloff’s mellifluous tones if you don’t know every single thing that’s going to happen. Now enjoy the great Boris Karloff narrating “The Year Without a Santa Claus”:

51j9w3x1ql_sl500_aa240_South Park: The Complete Twelfth Season (2009, Paramount)
purchase this DVD collection from Amazon: DVD | Blu-ray

I haven’t been a steady watcher of South Park since its early days, right after Jesus and Santa Claus fought and Kenny died in every episode. Some time after the brilliant movie musical, South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut, catching new episodes became difficult, what with children running around and Comedy Central being broadcast on an east coast feed here in Los Angeles. By the time TiVo came around, South Park was off of my radar. Now in its 13th season, South Park continues to be the most consistently rude, obnoxious, vulgar and funniest damn show on television. What amazes me about what creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone pull off each week is how topical and current their storylines are. As Comedy Central began airing new episodes last week, they also released the 12th season as a three-DVD collection. When the opportunity presented itself to review this latest season of South Park on DVD, I was excited to look at a hit series with fresh eyes.

The new DVD collection includes all 14 episodes from the 12th season that ran March to November of 2008. Highlight episodes include “Over Logging,” in which the United States comes to a complete standstill when the Internet shuts down. Families travel west to internment camps in Silicon Valley where there is word that there may be some Internet. At the same time, the government and its team of scientists try to figure out what caused the Internet to shut down. “Over Logging” is representative of South Park at its best, blending the dustbowl destitution of The Grapes of Wrath with the fear and paranoia of any 1950s sci-fi horror movie.

“About Last Night” is the election episode that aired 24 hours after this past fall’s Presidential election. Although the production team began planning the episode three weeks in advance, they had to wait for the election results to actually finish the show. Thus, Parker, Stone and their crew completed “About Last Night” at the very last minute. Combining the actual outcome of the election with an Ocean’s Eleven heist (Obama is played as a George Clooney cool cat jewel thief) makes “About Last Night” smart, topical and very funny.

The 12th season also includes the infamous episode “The China Problem.” For those of you who don’t know about it, in this particular episode, Kyle, Stan and the gang all go to the movies to see the latest Indiana Jones adventure. To their horror, they witness their hero, Indiana Jones, getting raped by George Lucas and Steven Spielberg (literally). The show not only screamed what many fans felt after they walked out of the theater after Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, but was also a perfect parody of crisis of consciousness movies like Sleepers. Besides the obvious outrageous nature of this episode, “The China Problem” showed that Parker and Stone still had major cojones by openly mocking a huge money-making film for their parent company, Paramount (not to mention two of the most powerful men in Hollywood).