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Dec. 10 – The Town Santa Forgot

“The Town Santa Forgot” originally aired on December 3, 1993 on NBC, I just liked this Cartoon Network ad more.

Come the 1990s, the cartoon juggernaut known as Hanna-Barbera was fading. It’s said the company once had control of approximately 80% of the children’s programming on television and even come 1990 it was still around 20%. The studio’s last big hit had been The Smurfs which set all kinds of Saturday morning records despite few animation buffs finding cause to celebrate. There were several spin-offs and specials, some stuck and some which did not, but the name was still fairly prominent on both broadcast and cable.

In 1991, Turner Broadcasting acquired Hanna-Barbera marking a major turning point for the studio. Less legacy properties would be developed as David Kirschner took over. This was the era that brought in more action cartoons like The Pirates of Dark Water and eventually SWAT Kats. Turner would launch Cartoon Network which in its early days was basically a dumping ground for Hanna-Barbera content, both old and new. A swath of new creative directors would be hired like Pat Ventura, Genndy Tartakovsky, and even Seth MacFarlane. Those individuals, along with several others, were the creative minds around the What a Cartoon! series of shorts that would come to define Cartoon Network in the late 90s and beyond.

The original broadcast had its own bumpers, an old staple I wish would return.

Even though Turner was working on creating a cartoon channel to rival Nickelodeon, Hanna-Barbera still had its hands in broadcast animation. We talked about one of the 90s broadcast Christmas specials last year with A Flintstone Family Christmas, and in 1993 Hanna-Barbera produced The Town Santa Forgot. The animated special starred Dick Van Dyke and aired in prime time on NBC that year. Following 93, it would become a holiday staple on Cartoon Network for a few years before being retired to Boomerang with pretty much all of the other Hanna-Barbera properties.

The Town Santa Forgot is based on a poem called Jeremy Creek written by Charmaine Severson. Severson wrote several rhyming poems that were carried by numerous print outlets in the 70s and 80s. Jeremy Creek appears to have first seen publication in 1985 and it tells the tale of a greedy little kid who accidentally brings happiness to a neglected town at Christmas. It was a major hit for Severson and she would follow it up with an annual Christmas rhyme each year into the 90s, though none have risen to the level of popularity enjoyed by Jeremy Creek.

The special was produced by Hanna-Barbera with animation by Wang Film Productions. Wang Film had done work for Hanna-Barbera in the past, most notably with The Jetsons Movie, but it wasn’t handed many Hanna-Barbera originals. As a result, The Town Santa Forgot doesn’t really look like a Hanna-Barbera production. I’d argue it looks better than a lot of the content the company was responsible for at that time. The character designs have a vague hint of Rankin/Bass too, which could be just me or it could be intentional since that company is basically synonymous with Christmas specials. While Hanna-Barbera doesn’t have the greatest reputation, at least this special is an original story with a unique look so I’m already more excited for it than I was with A Christmas Story from a few days ago.

This old grandpa is our story-teller who has to teach his spoiled little grandkids a lesson.

The special begins with a grandfather and his two grandchildren. Dick Van Dyke provides the voice of the grandfather who will serve as narrator. The kids aren’t named, but one is a boy (Troy Davidson) and one a girl (Ashley Johnson). It’s the grandfather who is giving me the Rankin/Bass vibes as he looks like he could fit in with one of the animated Frosty the Snowman specials. The kids are a bit more generic with black, soulless, eyes.

The kids are both talking about all of the stuff they want for Christmas, which prompts Grandpa to sit ’em down and tell them a story about the greediest kid who ever lived: Jeremy Creek.

This is Jeremy. Don’t be fooled by that smile, he’s a little asshole.

Jeremy Creek (Miko Hughes) is a little red-headed child with enough toys for over 400 boys. He has toys of all variety, and he doesn’t like to share. Worse, he always wants more. He can’t possibly have enough toys and when he sees something he wants, he lets his parents know. And if his parents say “No,” then he screams and wails until they give-in. We see Jeremy spy a cowboy doll outside a store and go purple with rage until his parents buy it for him. When he’s home later that night watching television, he sees a commercial for a better version of the same doll and goes into a rage. For once, his parents put their foot down, but that just incites the neighbors who complain about the noise. Eventually, dad (Philip Proctor) lays down the law and tells Jeremy he wants to hear nothing further from the boy and he retreats to his room.

This is a pretty great shot.

Once in his room, we get to see Jeremy survey his toys while perched like a vulture on his bedpost. He then starts playing with all that he has as the narrator goes into detail on the sheer volume of what’s in there. There’s army men, baseballs, vampire costumes, and more. He even has toys for boys much older than he, like remote-controlled airplanes, which he uses to harass the neighborhood. While it’s clear to see this kid is spoiled rotten, it’s at least admirable to see him actually playing with and enjoying the toys as opposed to acting like a dragon and simply hoarding them, which is what my kids seem to do.

They didn’t have any computer paper back then. Hell, they don’t have it now!

Eventually, Jeremy gets the idea that if his parents won’t buy him what he wants then he’ll have to turn to Santa. The problem is it’s currently June, but that doesn’t stop Jeremy from drafting a list. He has to tape sheets of paper together to accommodate his vast array of wants and the list stretches for miles. After he has listed every possible toy under the sun, he signs the list with a simple Jeremy Creek – no thanks or nothing. He bundles it up like a roll of wall insulation and drops it onto a mailman’s back to send it to Santa way up at the North Pole.

A conventional, yet unique, depiction of Santa.

Santa Claus (Hal Smith) is then shown flying his sleigh (with 8 reindeer!) up north and comes to land in the garage of his workshop. This Santa has a plump appearance, basically being shaped like a bell, and he enters his workshop where some elves are hard at work. They’re small and a bit conventional looking with pointed ears and hats. Santa is excited to show them that the first Christmas letters have started to come in, and one of them is particularly massive. The list dominates the room and Santa and his elves can scarcely believe someone wrote this thing. When Santa sees the name at the bottom, Jeremy Creek, it never crosses his mind this could be the list of one person and assumes it refers to an actual place.

The elves of this special also manage to look conventional, yet different, much like Santa.

Santa and his elves get out the map and look all over for a place called Jeremy Creek. Sure enough, they find one only to discover it’s not on their usual route. It’s a town with approximately 4,000 kids which matches up with the number of gifts requested and Santa assumes this is a letter from the town alerting him to their plight. Santa, realizing he’s passed this town over for years, decides he needs to make up for it by fulfilling this request.

Young Jeremy has some evil intentions this evening.

Back at his own home, we see Jeremy counting down the days until Christmas while Santa and the elves get busy at the North Pole. The elves sing a simple little song accompanied by a montage of Jeremy pulling down calendar pages. Eventually, the day arrives and Jeremy is eager to receive all of the gifts on his monstrous list. He climbs out onto his roof armed with a net and some binoculars. It seems as the months have gone by, Jeremy has decided he doesn’t just want what was on his list, but everything Santa has in his sleigh! Santa soon appears and Jeremy watches as Santa goes from house to house slipping inside through various ways. His body is like gelatin as he slides down chimneys and exhaust pipes, beating The Santa Clause to that idea, before climbing back into his sleigh and taking off. Oddly, the narration refers to his sleigh as a “green, glowing, sleigh” but it’s colored red. There’s a slight hue with a greenish tint to it, but it reads like the sleigh itself should have been green. Santa completely bypasses Jeremy’s house which confuses and enrages the young boy. He returns to his bedroom and assaults his pillow before despair starts to sink in.

Suck it, Jeremy!

The next morning, Jeremy arises to see all of the neighborhood kids playing happily with their new toys. He allows himself to be hopeful for a moment and reasons that maybe Santa entered through the window or something and he missed it. He races downstairs and, sure enough, the underside of the tree is just floor. His mom (Melinda Peterson) enters the room and remarks “That’s too bad,” when she sees the empty tree. She then explains that Santa must have noticed that Jeremy couldn’t possibly have more room for toys and passed him over.

Elsewhere in the world, some deserving kids are having a good Christmas for the very first time.

Jeremy storms off to the livingroom where his dad is watching television in his new Christmas socks. The program is detailing the story of an impoverished swamp town that woke up to a wonderful surprise. A pile of toys was left in the center of town for the girls and boys after years of receiving nothing at all. It’s soon revealed this was the work of Santa Claus and the town is none other than Jeremy Creek. Jeremy’s parents are shocked to see a town with the same name as their son, who soon puts two and two together and realizes his massive list of presents was given to the kids of Jeremy Creek.

Jeremy isn’t having any of this.

Jeremy is initially angry that his presents went to these kids. Then the news woman reads a letter from Santa which states someone brought this town to his attention, but chose to remain anonymous. Jeremy finally starts to feel something as his mom explains that people who do a kindness like that don’t need the adulation that comes with it. Jeremy is moved to tears, but he doesn’t want his parents to see, so he races back into the den and retreats to the underside of the Christmas tree.

If he can fit down a chimney, he can fit in a tree.

There Jeremy smiles as he looks up at the brightly decorated tree. He’s finally happy, but much to his surprise he spies a small Santa inside the tree. Only it isn’t an ornament, but Santa himself! Santa explains he figured out what happened, and that the kids of Jeremy Creek want the person who wrote them the letter to be properly thanked. Santa makes a sack appear and asks Jeremy what he would like for Christmas. Jeremy tells Santa that he wouldn’t know what to ask for and that he’s finally figured out that giving is better than receiving. Santa is overjoyed to hear this and tells Jeremy that from now on he will be his gift-giving assistant.

An older, wiser, Jeremy bids Santa farewell.

Jeremy, feeling inspired, changes from then on. He gives away all of the toys he couldn’t possibly find time for which is a callback to some of the scenes we saw earlier of him being mean to other kids in the neighborhood. And come Christmas every year, Jeremy helps Santa deliver presents. He climbs out onto his roof on Christmas Eve with a pair of binoculars and waits for Santa. When Santa arrives, he hops in his sleigh and helps deliver all of the toys. As the years go by we see Jeremy get older until eventually he’s too tall to fit in the sleigh. Santa sadly informs him that his time as his assistant must now come to an end. Jeremy is visibly sad, but he gives Santa a warm hug and hands over his binoculars for Santa to give to the next lucky boy or girl.

And now the kids get to have their own change of heart.

Back in the present, the story is done and the little boy and girl are feeling less selfish. They remark they don’t care what Santa brings them, even if he brings nothing at all! They both also aspire to be the next boy or girl that Santa makes his assistant. The grandfather says it could be either one, or both, and he also breaks the fourth wall to tell the viewer it could be them too. The special ends with an external shot of the house with the mailbox covered in snow. The snow soon slides off revealing the name J. Creek.

That sneaky, son-of-a…

The Town Santa Forgot is a charming little Christmas special. It has a conventional message in that giving is better than receiving, but it’s a message that surprisingly isn’t often relied upon to anchor a Christmas special. Young Jeremy is easy to dislike, as who hasn’t encountered a spoiled little brat in their life and actually enjoyed that kid? The poem origin of the special is retained, though maybe not word for word, as Dick Van Dyke narrates it. He is well cast in this role as he’s not asked to do any embellishment and to just use his natural speaking voice.

I’m a bit embarrassed to say I didn’t see the twist ending coming. Not that I was surprised by it, I just gave it no thought. It wasn’t until then it became obvious that the story the grandfather was telling took place before the present. The toys are a bit older and the television in Jeremy’s house is in black and white. It’s a fun little reveal though to find out Jeremy had been telling us his story the whole time. It’s also a fun twist on the Santa myth for him to select a selfless girl or boy to help him each year. I suppose it’s not a popular addition though since kids would certainly become suspicious when they couldn’t find a single person who received that honor. In that though it makes the act of selflessness become something that is perhaps unattainable, but still worth aspiring to.

This one has a lot less music when compared with other Hanna-Barbera Christmas specials. That’s not a complaint.

As I mentioned in the lead-in, the look of this cartoon is actually quite nice. Early 90s Hanna-Barbera productions should probably get more love than they do as I remember enjoying the look of several of the cartoons from that era. The animation is smooth and distinct and the character designs have some personality, which is harder than you think when it comes to Christmas. There aren’t any animation gaffes I noticed, nor is a bunch of animation recycled as often would happen with older Hanna-Barbera cartoons. The music is pleasant, and there’s only one song of sorts when the elves are shown getting the gifts ready for Christmas. I went into this one with the aim of just finishing off the big Hanna-Barbera Christmas specials, but I may have stumbled upon the best one from the venerable production company.

It’s small and through binoculars, but we do get a “Santa passing in front of the moon” shot.

The Town Santa Forgot is no longer shown on broadcast or cable television, which is too bad because it’s a lot better than some of the specials that still show up on broadcast networks today. My understanding is it’s available on Boomerang, but I’m not a Boomerang subscriber so I can’t confirm that. It is available on DVD for a very reasonable price. It’s included on the same release that features A Christmas Story and Casper’s First Christmas. If you’re like me and you still cling to physical media and like to stockpile Christmas specials, it’s a DVD worth owning for The Town Santa Forgot alone. Consider the other two as bonus features.


Dec. 20 – The Garfield Show – “Caroling Capers”

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Original air date December 15, 2009

Back in the 1980s, Garfield was pretty damn popular. His presence was pervasive in pop culture, so much so that younger people today would probably be surprised. He originated as a comic strip by Jim Davis, but his popularity grew enough to pave the way for some prime time animation specials. These proved popular, and were the springboard for his own show:  Garfield and Friends. Of those old specials, one of the most celebrated was A Garfield Christmas. It’s one of my personal favorite holiday specials and I included it in my countdown a few years ago as one of the 10 best holiday specials of all-time. It premiered in 1987 on CBS (my mother, who liked Garfield, somehow missed it when making our Christmas tape VHS that same year) and would be shown every holiday season for a few years, though it quietly disappeared in the 90s. Maybe audiences grew sick of Garfield, but I’m a bit surprised just how fast it fled from the annual network rotation. Later on in the 90s you could sometimes find it on cable, but now the special is seldom shown.

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The Garfield Show ran from 2009 to 2016.

What’s not really remembered too fondly is the second cartoon series based on the fat cat. Simply titled The Garfield Show, it premiered on Cartoon Network in November of 2009 and would run for over 100 episodes, eventually making the move to Boomerang in 2015. The Garfield Show is a CG animated program executive produced by Davis and it actually returned a lot of the cast and creative group behind Garfield and Friends. It was a half-hour based program in which each episode was split into two cartoons. It’s not a show I am that familiar with. I was aware of its existence when it originally aired, mostly just from seeing it on the channel guide and mistaking it for the old cartoon. It’s not something I was supposed to be aware of though since I didn’t have kids at the time and few of my friends did. It was created to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the character and I assume it was to re-introduce the characters to a new audience. Since it ran for so long I’m left to assume it was fairly successful.

“Caroling Capers” is the show’s first Christmas episode and it aired during the first season on December 15, 2009. It features the main cast of characters. There’s Garfield (now voiced by Frank Welker as Lorenzo Music passed away in 2001) whose personality is unchanged from his other iterations. Odie (Gregg Berger) the dim-witted mutt with a heart of gold. Jon (Wally Wingert) is just as awkward as always and is constantly being pestered by his cat for more food. And in this episode we also have Nermal (Marc Saez) the vain kitten from next door who annoys Garfield to no end.

garfield and odie

“Caroling Capers,” like most Garfield stories, is all about Garfield trying to get some free food.

The episode opens with Jon decorating his Christmas tree and having a difficult time with the star. He remarks how Christmas is his favorite time of year and that it feels like just yesterday he took down the Christmas decorations from last year. Garfield, watching television and looking quite relaxed in a lounge chair, remarks that’s because he probably did and that Jon rarely gets to taking them down before Halloween. Odie is watching TV as well and seems very into the Christmas special they’re watching. He angrily glares at Garfield who won’t shut up about his growling stomach (the sound of which also seems to annoy Odie). On television, Garfield takes note of some carolers in the program Odie is watching. They sing for an old woman, who then gifts them some treats. Garfield, after being informed the Christmas turkey is still hours away from being ready, decides that this may be the solution to his tummy trouble.

Putting on a festive hat and scarf, Garfield hits the neighborhood hoping to score food in exchange for Christmas carols. He first shows up to the front door an old man whom he interrupts while cleaning the floor. He sings a carol and his performance is quite terrible prompting the grumpy old man (Welker) to toss a bucket of water on Garfield and slam the door in his face. Undeterred, Garfield goes to another house and its the home of some bachelor who I have seen featured in other episodes (and is also voiced by Welker, who basically voices everyone, it seems). Garfield again performs for this guy and he’s just as awful as before so the man fetches a spray bottle to get Garfield the Hell off his property.

garfield bucket

Garfield’s singing fails to impress.

Odie has been watching this whole time and laughs at Garfield’s misfortune. Nermal then shows up to offer his 2 cents and also to demonstrate how to properly carol. Nermal invites Odie to be his backup singer and the duo perform for the same man that just sprayed Garfield. He falls for the two and offers them a prime rib dinner and figgy pudding. Garfield faints in shock while the two chow down, with Nermal remarking you either got it, or you don’t.

Garfield rises from the ground and gives chase, proposing they share some of that delicious food in keeping with the holiday spirit. Nermal shoots him down pointing out that Garfield never shares his food with them, which Garfield is forced to concede. He then suggests he could be their vocal coach, and Nermal seems to find the idea absurd. Garfield demonstrates his singing once more, and a Christmas ornament on a decorated tree in someone’s yard shatters (which makes no sense, since Garfield is singing low, not high). When Garfield tries again, the needles fall off the tree. Even after such a poor demonstration, Nermal offers to let Garfield in on their caroling if he can hit a high C note. Garfield explains the best way to do that is to yank out a nose hair, which he does and then (mostly) hits the note while running around in pain. Nermal lets him in, and Garfield explains he’ll be the conductor at the next house. When they begin their caroling for an elderly woman, Garfield stops them and demonstrates how he wants them to perform, prompting the woman to dump a bucket on his head. Nermal and Odie then resume their duet for food as he reminds Garfield he’s just not adorable enough.

conductor garfield

Garfield is about as good at conducting as he is at singing.

Garfield decides he needs to find a way to be more adorable if he wants to score food with this idea. He peeks in on a gentleman watching the same special Odie had been watching and notes that the carolers all sing rather high. Garfield decides he needs to sing higher if he wants to impress, which strikes me as a bad idea. Garfield tries some warm-ups, that sound terrible, then tries again on the next guy. He seems startled to see this bulky gentleman in the doorway, but he goes through with his performance. Singing so high he sounds like Welker’s version of Slimer from The Real Ghostbusters, it’s not much of an improvement, but it certainly is higher. The gentleman at the house is not impressed though and thinks Garfield is making fun of his unusually high voice. As the high-voiced man glares down at the cat, Garfield runs away suggesting maybe he needs some back-up singers.

Garfield is then shown conducting in a shed. It sounds fine, and it’s revealed he’s leading a trio of performing mice. The mice agree to join Garfield’s troupe so long as they get first dibs on any cheese gifted their way. With that, Garfield leads his new band to the next house which happens to be inhabited by a young woman. She sees the cat and his three mice performing and immediately freaks out. She grabs a broom forcing the critters to run. The lead mouse tells Garfield they’re out.

nermal and odie

Nermal and Odie actually make for a fun pairing.

While Garfield is wearily walking down the street, Nermal and Odie are performing for the first house Garfield hit. They have a wagon full of food at this point, and the old man who once dumped water all over Garfield happily gifts them a pair of hams. Garfield can’t believe it, and angrily kicks a can that was sitting on the sidewalk which lands in a nearby wheel barrow. The pinging sound catches Garfield’s ear, and he gets an idea. Rummaging through a nearby trash can, he comes out with some sticks and more cans. The sound of steel drums are then heard and they attract Nermal and Odie who find Garfield drumming on the cans which he placed in the wheel barrow. They both look at each other as if to suggest they have an idea, and soon we get a montage of the two caroling while Garfield plays “drums.” The people they visit all react favorably and hand out more food, and Garfield finally gets to share in the festivities.

The montage ends at the Arbuckle residence with Jon setting out the turkey and calling for Garfield and Odie. Odie drags the wagon into the room with Garfield laying in it, patting his full stomach. Nermal is there as well and they’re all too stuffed to consider eating dinner. Jon remarks that Garfield not being hungry must be a Christmas miracle, which causes Garfield to rethink his fullness. He smiles at the turkey while remarking that maybe he can handle a few bites as the episode ends.

jon turkey

Jon is also still around and still making way too much food for a bachelor and his pets.

The Garfield Show, for one, really shows its age. I don’t think it looked particularly good when it aired, but the CG looks pretty dreadful in 2018. The show basically looks like a Playstation 2 game with very simple textures and backgrounds. There’s obviously some other limitations at work as Garfield and his buddies keep hitting the same houses throughout the episode instead of showing us new faces. Garfield’s mouth also moves this time, implying he (and Nermal) are actually talking though the mouth movements aren’t particularly good. There’s also lots of animation shortcuts as we usually see the aftermath of the water being tossed at Garfield, or the needles falling off of the tree, rather than seeing those things actually animated. I would not call the show ugly, but it’s definitely not as charming as the original specials and cartoon. I will say the Christmas decor looks fairly nice, and I like the festive clothing worn by the characters in this episode.

As the voice of Garfield, Frank Welker is obviously trying to do a Lorenzo Music impression and he mostly does a decent job. It’s sort of odd that someone with Welker’s background would feel the need to imitate another voice actor, but maybe he just also felt this was the most appropriate voice for the character. Garfield is a low energy character, and the sleepy quality of his voice is part of his charm. The other music in the episode is kind of weird and sounds like an episode of Rugrats. For the carols, the characters just say “La-la-la” or “meow-meow-meow” to the tune of “Deck the Halls” which is fine. The sound design on Garfield’s drums is quite nice though.

One thing this episode does get right is the humor of Garfield. It’s not a laugh out loud kind of show and is more of an understated brand of comedy. It fits with the character, it’s the limitations of the technology behind the show that ultimately hold it back and keep it from being a true holiday classic. I’d much prefer to watch the classic holiday special, which in addition to being funnier is also rather sweet and does a better job of getting that Christmas message into the show. This one is just fine though, and as a 12 minute cartoon the caroling scheme works well with the character. Garfield just wants to get fed while doing as little as possible.

If you want to watch this one this Christmas, then you have several options. While I don’t expect Boomerang to air it, the entire show is on Netflix. There was also a holiday themed DVD of the show released titled Holiday Extravaganza which may or may not be easy to come by. There’s also an official YouTube channel for the show, so I feel comfortable actually linking you to this episode since it’s apparently official. It’s also free!


Dec. 10 – The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries – “Feather Christmas”

feather christmas title card

Original air date December 12, 1999

One of the earliest Kids’ WB shows was The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries. It centered on Granny (June Foray) and her pets Tweety Bird (Joe Alaskey), Sylvester the cat (Alaskey), and Hector the bulldog (Frank Welker) and they went around, I bet you’ll never guess, solving mysteries. The personalities of the characters are all pretty much the same as you remember from the old Warner cartoon shorts. I don’t know if Hector technically is the same character as the bulldog who often showed up in those cartoons, but he’s just a big dog who likes to inflict pain upon Sylvester, usually in response to the cat trying to eat Tweety. Yes, even though they’re on a team now, Sylvester still very much wants to eat Tweety. The show ran from 1995-2000 with even one holdover episode not airing until 2002.

The_Sylvester_and_Tweety_Mysteries

The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries ran from 1995 to 2000 and produced 52 episodes.

The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries was not a show I watched. By the time it premiered I was aging out of television cartoons. I did take a look when it first launched, but found the show too long and a tad boring. That first season of 13 episodes contained one long-form story over the half hour television slot while future seasons would switch to a two-segment formant. The little I’ve seen of those are definitely much improved in the pacing department, though I haven’t seen enough of them to really offer an opinion.

Our episode today is from season 4, so it’s actually just half of an episode. “Feather Christmas” is the first segment in the show’s 41st episode and it originally aired December 12, 1999. The second segment (not covered in this post) is actually a New Year’s special and is titled “A Fist Full of Lutefisk,” if you’re interested.

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A pair of Christmas crooks.

The special opens with a shadowy couple sneaking around a home at night. They snatch a bird from a cage and then sneak around the Christmas tree to hand it off to a driver outside. As he leaves with the creature, a little girl shows up with an empty bird cage in hand. She’s clearly just woken up and is immediately distressed about the bird-napping. The lights come on and it’s revealed the thieves are actually her parents.

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Hey cat, tampering with the mail is a federal crime.

At Granny’s home, Sylvester is making out his Christmas list. He recounts how each year they head to New England to visit a comically distant relative of Granny’s and every year he gets the same present:  a rubber mouse. This year he wants a little yellow bird (what else?) and he hopes that by being extra good Santa will finally gift him what he wishes. Tweety shows up to inquire what he’s doing and Sylvester hides his letter from him. Tweety then basically taunts him as he seals it in an envelope and heads out to a mailbox to send the letter. As Tweety sits perched on the mailbox lid, Sylvester gets sick of his incessant nagging and flicks him down into the mailbox. When Tweety reminds him he needs to be nice or Santa won’t give him anything, he immediately regrets his decision and starts reaching into the mailbox and pulling out letters. Tweety slips out the rear door of the mailbox (apparently it wasn’t locked) and then watches and continues with his chattering. A Mailman shows up and eventually puts a stop to Sylvester’s mail destruction.

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I’ve stared at this picture for several minutes and I still have no idea what’s in Hector’s mouth.

Sylvester winds up in a snowdrift just outside the house, while inside Granny is singing a rousing rendition of “The Feast of Stephen” while Hector snoozes beside. She leaves when the phone rings allowing for Hector to go nosing through the bags of gift-wrapping by the piano. Granny returns to announce they have another case, while Hector emerges from the wrapping with a bunch of…something…in his mouth. Dog treats? I don’t know.

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Nice house.

At the Fontleroy residence, the little girl (Laura, voiced by Laraine Newman) from earlier is howling about her missing bird while the parents try to sell her on a new pet. As the dad (Mark L. Taylor) lists off different pets as options, their butler presents an example. The one for a dog is an old Warner character, a brown dog that may or may not have a name, but he’s pretty recognizable. It ends up being the butler who passes on Granny’s business card to Mr. Fontleroy and at first he mistakes Granny for a pet substitute, then smartens up.

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Laura is portrayed as a brat, though she’s also clearly been wronged by her parents in regads to her bird. I’m not sure who to root for.

Granny shows up and the Fontleroys explain what happened. They hated the bird, and Mr. Fontleroy claims it even bit him several times, so they had their chauffeur take it away in the middle of the night. Now they regret their decision since their daughter is inconsolable and they want Granny to find it. The problem for them is their chauffeur is off for the rest of the year and they don’t know what pet store he returned the bird to. Granny agrees to take “the case,” though this doesn’t strike me as much of a mystery.

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Sylvester “helping.”

Granny heads out with her animal companions and Sylvester is eager to appear nice and helpful. He opens the door to the pet store for Granny, but mistakenly pins Hector and Tweety between the door and the wall in doing so. Hector does not take kindly to this and he and Sylvester have a rumble through the store causing a great mess. The store had taken in the bird, but the problem is the owner then traded it to another pet store for a blue-tongued skink.

Granny heads to the next store, and this time she forbids Hector and Sylvester from coming in with her and Tweety. They sit outside on the curb when Hector notices a tree lot nearby and silently asks Sylvester (Hector is mute) to watch his “spot” on the sidewalk until he returns, which Sylvester agrees to do. Hector happily runs over to doggy paradise while Sylvester notices a Salvation Army-like volunteer ringing a bell for charity donations. Sylvester heads over to help and begs for change alongside the bell-ringer. When that fails to generate any additional donations he straps himself into a one-man band costume and makes a ton of noise which just drives everyone away.

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Hector gets caught relieving himself on a tree.

At the tree lot, Hector finds a nice douglas fir to mark and is enjoying himself until the tree lot owner chases him away. He hides in another tree to avoid the attendant, or at least that’s what the guy thinks, and he pounces only to find it’s a little old lady. A much bigger man in her company comes over and pounds the man into the ground. Meanwhile, Granny finds out this second pet store has traded the bird to a third pet store, and she’s off to Bob’s Pet Emporium for another try.

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More of Sylvester’s helping, though actually he’s not really to blame for this one.

When Granny and Tweety enter the store, Sylvester notices a woman trying to string up Christmas lights. He sees this as another opportunity to be helpful and thus impress Santa Claus. Sylvester offers to take the lights up the ladder for the lady, and she’s happy to let him do so. She holds the ladder, which is on wheels, while Sylvester strings the lights, but a phone call from inside her shop causes her to abandon the “puddy cat.” The ladder rolls off, and Sylvester is forced to hang on for dear life. He uses the string of lights as a lasso to rope a giant Christmas tree that Hector was about to pee on. The tree is uprooted and is taken along with Sylvester while Hector gets caught as well. Inside the pet shop, Granny finds out the store is expecting the bird to arrive at any minute. Outside, Sylvester and gang come to a stop when they collide with a delivery truck. Granny heads outside to find the damaged bird cage the little yellow bird was traveling in, but no bird.

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Were you aware that Sylvester is a Christ-like figure?

At the Fontleroy residence, Granny is dismayed to only be able to present to the family a damaged bird cage with no bird. Outside, Sylvester is watching when the bird flies over to land on the window beside him. He thinks it’s his gift from Santa and he’s overjoyed to have a little yellow bird of his very own to consume. He looks over at the sad little girl, and it’s enough to convince him to give the bird to its rightful owner. As he goes to present it, the girl sees Sylvester and decides she’d rather have him. Her parents point out that she has her bird back, but the tantrum ensues nonetheless.

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Every Christmas special needs an unselfish act.

Back at Granny’s house, everyone receives gifts from the Fontleroys as a thank you for returning the bird. Sylvester rips his present open to find yet another rubber mouse. Tweety flies over to smartly remind him there’s always next year, which just provokes Sylvester into chasing him around as the camera zooms out on the house.

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And Sylvester’s unselfish act is largely unappreciated.

Since “Feather Christmas” is only one segment of a half hour show, it ends up being rather brief. It works out well then that there isn’t much of a mystery to solve, since there’d hardly be time for anything substantial. Instead, it’s basically just a story about Sylvester trying to be good, but also not trying all that hard. A problem I have with the show in general is present here and that’s in how the physical comedy bits feel a bit redundant with the old cartoon shorts. I suppose that’s fine if you were a little kid in 1999 who may not have been that familiar with those toons (though I think they were still on television then), but if you grew up with the packaged blocks of those cartoons then this episode probably won’t make you laugh. I liked some of the personality in Hector and his embarrassment over getting caught urinating on a tree. There isn’t a lot of Tweety in this episode, which I’m also okay with as he was never one of my favorites. I always rooted for Sylvester in those old cartoons.

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Tweety just has to get in one last dig before the episode ends.

It’s a bit surprising that Sylvester is shown doing the right thing at the end, Christmas spirit and all, but actually doesn’t get anything. There isn’t even an implied presence from Santa Claus at the episode’s end, just gifts from the family they (sort of) helped out. On one hand, you’re not automatically owed anything for doing the right thing, but on the other characters usually receive some token from old Saint Nick in these tales. I suppose it’s intentionally trying to up-end the norm for a Christmas special, but it didn’t really do it in a funny way. Not much of this was very amusing, so I can’t say I missed out on anything by not watching this show in the 90s. For what it’s worth, the show is at least well-animated and the voice acting is good. Other episodes feature more cameos of classic Looney Tunes characters and those are probably a bit more enjoyable for that reason alone.

The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries have only received a partial home video release. The 13 episode first season, which contains a different Christmas episode that will likely be covered here some day, is on that set. This episode was never released though along with the other seasons. This show actually was still airing on Boomerang as recently as 2017 so I suppose there’s an outside chance it could pop-up this month? I’m not sure if the channel still has the rights to broadcast it. If you must watch it though, it looks like WB isn’t too concerned about piracy so it’s not hard to find. If you want my opinion though, if you really want to spend Christmas with Sylvester and Tweety just check out the far superior “Gift Wrapped.”


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