Friday, December 17, 2021

"Christmas: Impossible"

 If I don't overly like this story in cartoon form--and I don't--it's at least in part because, out of all the character designs here, the nephews' are unquestionably the most hideous:

BWAHAHA!  Merry Christmas.  Seriously, HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?  And if this was the best you could do, why did you go ahead and release it?  Just chalk it up as a learning experience and destroy all hard drives containing this footage.  Come on.

The reasons I don't like the story in comic form are different, but...they are still very much present.

In comments to the previous post, David noted that he was operating under severe space limitations, and you can see that here probably more than anywhere else.  In the cartoon, there's a whole sequence before this opening of the kids causing havoc and stealing Scrooge's cookies, which here--appropriately--have become scones (I guess they could have been scones then--I don't know if it was specified and I don't want to go back and look but--well...scones.  enjoy them in good health.  Let it be noted that giving ducks teeth always makes them super freaky-looking.  I don't understand how this happens: surely the artists can SEE what they hath wrought?

Hmm..."I never got on Santa's good list" becomes "I missed being on that list one year as a lad."  A little screw-up here, though either way, eyebrows are raised.  If he NEVER got on the list, we have to wonder what kind of horrible kid he was, and if it only happened one year, we've gotta think, well, if you wanted this gift so much, why didn't you just put it off 'til the next year?  In the cartoon, he's a lot more explicit about how it's bad to be obsessed with money.  I think the authors realized that this didn't quite work with his character, but they went with it anyway.  What the hell.  The writing here is definitely better, even if it can't exactly save the story.  Could anything?

I will say that as far as Scrooge's contradictory stories here go, if we want to be a bit conspiratorial, we can justify it: Scrooge really IS just fucking with the kids to try to get them on the straight and narrow, and he just didn't quite keep his story straight.  Also (as become relevant later on), he's conspiring with Santa to uphold this story.  Is this an overly baroque conspiracy theory?  Yeah, well, maybe I've been listening to too much Knowledge Fight lately.  But I like this version better than the one we're actually given.

Anyway, they get the idea that they should go to the North Pole to put their names on the "nice list."  Seems dubious to me, but did anyone ask me?  I doubt it!

They're trying to do this mock spy-movie sort of thing, so we get a lot of these hijinx which, I suppose I should make some stab at objectivity, probably aren't too terrible but which I don't find interesting either.  La.

There's a lot more in the cartoon about this clean-up, and also a talking prisoner doll that sounds like Edward G. Robinson (each one comes with a key, you see, leading to confusion about which is the real one).

I just want to point out that this story (this is in the cartoon, too), we get a festive joke about barfing.  That is all.

You can guess what's happening.  It's a sort of thing that might be legitimately heartwarming if it happened in a better story like this with better depictions of the characters.

In the cartoon we actually get to SEE HDL's gifts.  Not that they're that exciting, but it does add something to the story that we miss here.  One of them gets one of those prisoner dolls.

I believe I'm on record as being opposed to hacky jokes about how much people hate bagpipes and/or accordions.  Because they don't.  But even if they did, it would still be the laziest shit imaginable--even more so than usual here, because the writers clearly just thought, hmm, what would Scrooge want more than anything?  Scottish so bagpipes.  Blah.  Way to hit us with the delightful surprises, ya jerks!  Not that I know what Scrooge's most cherished unfulfilled childhood with should've been.  It seems probable that this whole premise was a non-started.  As I say, I prefer my imaginary version where this "Scrooge's secret wish" thing is just a plan cooked up with Santa.  Therefore, in my capacity as a guy who write a blog, I declare that to be the truth.  You are very welcome.


Anonymous Elaine said...

Yes, the design of the nephews in the cartoon is the WORST. Donald's pretty bad, but the boys are horrific. Scrooge gets off easy, due to his whiskers and glasses and hat; the fewer features on one's Duckhead, the more one looks like a weird rubber toy, and the more disturbing the facial expressions.

I do like the interior of Santa's workshop, though, and the great list on all those rollers, and Santa's rolltop desk.

The comic does suffer from the imposed page limit, for sure. I also miss the kids' hijinks at the beginning and the Jailbreak Bobs and their multiple keys. I like both the cartoon's storyline and the comic fairly well, though. It's fun to imagine HDL dreaming up a plan to insert themselves onto Santa's good list. Their final decision to write in Scrooge's name rather than their own names is not well enough set up in either cartoon or comic, but it works OK for me, anyway.

In the comic it's Louie who gets the idea of going to the North Pole; I don't remember whether that's the case in the cartoon (and I don't want to rewatch those hideous nephews to find out), but I like Louie getting the role of idea man here. Louie also gets a good line: "We ruined Christmas and then we saved it." That's a fun twist on the perennial "Our Character Saves Christmas" storyline.

I interpreted Scrooge's two lines about the good list to mean that he had missed out one year as a lad, possibly his last year of childhood--and then ever after in his adulthood. You have to somehow imagine that Scrooge wanted to receive the bagpipes *from Santa*--because of course he could have bought himself bagpipes at any time after childhood. Unless perhaps he's psychologically incapable of spending money on anything just for fun? Yes, the "Scottish, hence bagpipes, which are annoying" sequence of thought here shows a distinct lack of creativity. It does allow for a cute enough final joke, though, if you're the right age for it.

December 17, 2021 at 4:40 PM  
Blogger Pan Miluś said...

Ah, yes! My late dad, the musician, was real virtuoso with the accordion and for that reason I find this type of jokes extra annoying.

As for the story - script wise I found it always my favorite of the five here. I did like the premise of kids wanting to brake into Santa's workshop to put their names on the list and (call me naive) the first time I seen it I actualy didn't see the twist comming and I found it heart warming.

BUT NOW SOMETHING CRAZY about how I interpreted the cartoon when I Seen it for the first time...

[Mind you MAYBE It was just my young mind fresh after some of my first Rosa stories that made me expect some layer of Scrooge character and I know I'm propably giving the writers of THIS thing WAAAY to much credit to think outside the box-like that]

When Scrooge has the dialog :
- The One thing that I wanted more then anything else I never got, because I never got on Santa's good list.
- Well, why you didn't just buy it? (ask Dewey)
- You can not buy being on Santa's list...

The way Alan Young say the lines felt extra sad (like he is about to tear up) and they have Scrooge looking at the paiting of old times and this very sad Scootish-like music plays...

WELL - The way I interpretted it and still stick with me every time I seen it -

OooooH! Scrooge isn't talkig about the gift itself! He is sad about the share fact he never got into Santa's good list. Like just read Scrooge dialog above and remove "because"! Now think about this for a moment!


Scrooge is so rich he can go and buy wats he wants at any point. And let's remember it's not just about Scrooge as a kid, after all Santa also brings gifts to adults in this world as well! He isn't sad he didn't got the gift, but the fact he ISN'T seen as a good person!!! And who better to be the ultimate judge of are you good or not then santa? (in duckverse) Scrooge realises that the selfish/greedy life he lead up to this point was wrong and feels guilty about it, and as much he can lie to himself (and his minions) that he is an resenoble guy... no, Santa see him as a bad person, there is no geting around it. Scrooge is a old man, who lead wrong life of selfishness and just want to know he is doing right in the world.

Yeah, I'm diging deep into this but this is SERIOUSLY that what I got of it watching it for the first time at age of 16 (!!!)

BUT also note that there is an extra interpretation to the gift he gets at the end. Yeah, HD&L put him on the list but... by what if he realy earn it this time? He did tell the kids to change their ways to not grow up like him and that noble act that was enough for Santa to absolve him.

Also, him geting the backpipes (again) may not be just the gift he wanted as a poor child but something from the past that brings him the memory of his childhood. It's the Rosebud that got away!

So yeah, as much the entire middle portion of kids in the Santa workshop of Meh, with very ugly and unitneresting Elfs and whatever slasptick... the way the story book-ends I found sweet and it works for me and I think there are some layer there.

And to end this nice post on terrible note: The guy who did Polish dubb realy drop the ball, as aside adding even more toilate humor to the dialog... He makes Scrooge mention he is from... IRELAND (!!!) To quote all the Polish fans : "WOW... JUST... WOW! Seriously dude? SERIOUSLY?" And it's in the last scene of Scrooge taking the backpipes (!!!) before puting the very scottish kilt! How nobody working on the Polish dubb didn't catch this I will never know, but it's to me among the biggest f--ups in Polish dubbs of Disney movies (top 5 easy) Conisder this random trivia of the day. Marry Christmas!

December 17, 2021 at 4:43 PM  
Anonymous Elaine said...

I think the theory Pan Miluś came up with in adolescence fills out my speculation that Scrooge must have wanted to receive this gift *from Santa*...since he could have bought himself bagpipes later, but that wouldn't have fulfilled his need. Pan's interpretation would make sense of this, because what Scrooge wanted was to have this particular symbolic confirmation that he is on Santa's good list. And now he's got that, because the bagpipes *are* from Santa! Thanks, Pan! I'll interpret it that way from now on!

I'm not sure that Scrooge's lecturing the kids is enough to get him on Santa's mental good list, even though you can argue it indicates something like self-knowledge and regret on Scrooge's part. I do agree that he has to have earned it, though, since obviously Santa knows about the kids' fraud, so the mere fact that his name is on the physical good list isn't sufficient. Perhaps one could think that the boys' action tells Santa that Scrooge must have some good in him which the boys have experienced, since they wouldn't sacrifice their own chance at presents out of concern for someone who was *just* a selfish, greedy con artist. I could put this together with Rosa's L&T by saying that Scrooge did spend most of his adult life wrapped up in selfishness, and that it was the entry of Donald and the boys into his life that redeemed him. So, Scrooge alone = naughty list. Scrooge interacting with his family = just barely on the good list!

December 17, 2021 at 7:21 PM  
Blogger Achille Talon said...

Good review as e'er, and a fun choice of subject for this year!

While we're mixing and matching continuity (oh, boy! my favourite game! as is well-known), perhaps something could be made of the Classic DuckTales “Once Upon a Dime”'s assertion that Fergus McDuck… I'm sorry, (sigh) “MacPapa”… was a bagpipe player by trade. I'm not sure what; but something, at any rate.

Anyway… boy, Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas. Watched it once or twice when it came out and never again; I'd very nearly forgotten its existence. It's not that I ever actually liked it, but your review jolting memories about this “Santa's list” business, the keys, or for that matter the Fantasia characters in the first story… Very nostalgic in a weird way, making all this very winter-appropriate! Auld land syne and all that mishmash.

My memory of this particular story, in its animated form, are mixed. These impulsive young gits simply weren't the Junior Woodchucks I knew and loved (this was before I'd even so much as watched much of Classic DuckTales, for context), and I wasn't fond of a lot of the humour, or the weird characterisation of Scrooge… but I *did* like the worldbuilding about Santa's workshop; I loved (and still quite like) the basic premise of kids attempting to sneak their name onto Santa's list by hand, and the faintly steampunkish visual realisation of the list in question.

This is my first exposure to the comic adaption (I don't think I was even aware of its existence). Seems a valiant effort to make the stories work as best they could — kudos to David — though I really think this one suffers a lot from the rushed pacing.

Contra some comments on the previous story, I, for one quite like the colouring and its attempt at adding depth… I certainly wouldn't all Duck comics covered like this, but I find that these lush things, which end up being reminiscent of the classic “hand-drawn cell animation on painted background” look, are lovely as occasional treats. Particularly fond memories, in that respect, of the Italian Donald's Inferno — and of a story whose title I cannot, for the life of me, remember, also Italian, which had the Ducks adventuring in a rather psychedelic early conception of “cyberspace”.


December 17, 2021 at 8:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, I don't really see the issue with the gift. It's not about the bagpipe itself, Scrooge is so rich he probably owns a dozen bagpipe factories, but that it's "that gift he wanted from Santa as a kid back when he COULDN'T just buy anything he wanted, but that Santa never gave him because he wasn't a good kid". Getting it from Santa now is acknowledgement that Santa DOES think he deserves it, and that's gotta hit him in the heart. The bagpipe represents Santa's respect.

It's how most of these "Scrooge wants a present from Santa" stories go, really. What matters isn't the gift itself, but who it's from. Which is a nice moral when you're writing for an audience that's still mostly giving their parents hand-made ornaments and such.

December 18, 2021 at 11:55 AM  
Blogger Adamant said...

@Achille Talon

Pretty sure the cyberspace story you're thinking of is this:

December 18, 2021 at 11:58 AM  
Blogger Achille Talon said...

No, that can't be it — I read the one I have in mind in a French digest, whereas this one, if I.N.D.U.C.K.S. is to be believed, has never been published there! But thank you for trying.

December 18, 2021 at 4:58 PM  
Blogger ramapith said...

The comic's odd inconsistency as regards Scrooge's lecture to the nephews is the result of an edit requested by DTVA—seemingly incompletely.

In the three-panel sequence you showed, Geoff, I originally scripted Scrooge's dialogue as:
"Humbug! I got rich by being tough and smart!... If I slipped—if I took the wrong path, my deals soured!"

In other words, in my version, the only mention of Scrooge vis-a-vis Santa's good list was to have been panel three, where he mentions having missed being on it one year. Because it seemed un-Scroogelike to me that he should never have gotten on it.

DTVA (perhaps understandably) wasn't satisfied, and wanted the adaptation to hew closer to the film. But someone made a mistake—insofar as the film dialogue was all put into the first panel, and mine was left unedited in the third, even though it now contradicted the first.

Wak! It's enough to make you toss your Christmas cookies!

December 19, 2021 at 2:31 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home