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Freaks and Geeks

The credited main cast of Freaks and Geeks (left to right): James Franco, Jason Segel, Linda Cardellini, Seth Rogan, John Francis Daley, Martin Starr, Samm Levine

I can remember hanging out with some of my friends at another friend’s house back when I was in high school. I think it was 2001, and we were just riffing on some music when one of my other friends entered the room and remarked that we reminded him of some characters from the show Freaks and Geeks. It was the first time I had ever heard of the show, and I can’t even recall which characters he referenced (probably the geeks). We then all watched Galaxy Quest and had a shared infatuation with Sigourney Weaver’s blond wig.

I never would seek out Freaks and Geeks, even though I valued the opinion of my friend when he said it was a good show. It was short-lived though, which implied that it wasn’t very good, and I was at an age where I was spending most of my time playing video games and not watching TV. If I was going to watch something, it was going to be something animated or maybe Jackass or a CKY video. Over the years though, I would hear more good things about Freaks and Geeks, especially as the cast started to find success in film. I don’t think I ever really talked about the show with anyone in-person and most of the chatter was just all online. I was quite curious about it, but by the time the DVD set came out I was less interested. It was also expensive since it included a lot of licensed music and I didn’t want to get invested in a show that was going to end after 18 episodes. I was late to the streaming platforms, and this was a show that I just never would make time for. Recently, Hulu added it and they got the broadcast cut with all of the licensed music in place (I believe some prior streaming options omitted it), and being that it’s winter and COVID is still a thing, I found myself with plenty of time to finally get to know the characters of Freaks and Geeks.

Lindsay is looking to make some new friends and Daniel is her gateway to just that.

Freaks and Geeks is a sitcom set in the school year of 1980-1981 that aired from 1999-2000. It was created by Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, The Heat, Ghostbusters (2016)) and executive-produced by Judd Apatow (The 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Funny People). It was the success of Apatow directed films that really brought posthumous attention to Freaks and Geeks, for the show had a relatively short existence. It’s a show about teenagers and school life with a young, mostly unknown at the time, cast that found itself in primetime on a broadcast network. Network shows set in high school weren’t unheard of in the 90s, but they were usually relegated to the Fox Network which prided itself on being different from the big three of ABC, CBS, and NBC. That network’s hit teenaged show was Beverly Hills 90210, which was more of a soap opera than a sitcom and starred a bunch of beautiful people who looked way too old to be in high school. Freaks and Geeks was set in an unremarkable suburb of Detroit and featured quite young-looking actors (for the most part) in much more of a grounded, real world, setting. It also found itself on NBC and in the unusual position of being a primetime sitcom that was an hour long. I don’t know how Feig and Apatow were able to convince NBC to give them an hour on television in 1999, but they did it somehow. Unfortunately, there was a changing of the guard at NBC in between the show being picked-up and it going to air, and the new boss wasn’t a fan. The show was a critical darling, but it wasn’t a huge ratings hit in terms of 1999 numbers and it was cancelled after 12 episodes. Fans actually had to petition the network to get the remaining 6 of 18 episodes aired, which did happen over the summer in 2000, but on cable.

Since leaving the airwaves of NBC, it would seem Freaks and Geeks has garnered nothing but praise from both critics and viewers, alike. It’s young cast which would have quickly aged out of high school meant that the show was probably never destined for a long run, but it certainly deserved a second season and it would have been a treat to see where Feig and Apatow took things, especially considering that the show was really hitting its stride at the end of its lone season. I suspected that would be the case as I went into the show and it was one of the reasons I resisted it for so long as it always sucks to get into a show when there’s no hope of seeing what would have come next. It’s basically a slice of life type of show so there really was no way for it to ever have a truly satisfying conclusion, but it certainly would have been nice to at least see the cast graduate from high school or something.

Freaks and Geeks may have wound up on the radar of many a comedy fan thanks to Apatow, but it’s the cast that will keep viewers around for 18 episodes. It stars Linda Cardellini as Lindsay Weir who is a high school junior that has always been a gifted student. Academics come easy to her, but when the show begins we find out she recently lost her grandmother and it’s brought on a change in attitude. She has stopped socializing with some of her childhood friends and dropped off of the Mathletes program, a competitive math team. She’s also taken to wearing an old, olive, army jacket and has her sights set on making some new friends. She’s basically been living a life devoted to pleasing the adults in her sphere and setting herself up for the ideal future most parents want for their kids and is now likely having some regrets. She wants to have other experiences while she’s young, and she looks to the so-called “freaks” of her school for that kind of fulfillment.

Busy Philipps (front left) is not part of the opening credits but her character, Kim Kelly, is very much a major player on the show.

Cardellini has gone on to have a successful career in Hollywood, but it’s her co-stars that make up the freaks that have become household names. The freaks are basically just the slackers and kids who have no real academic ambition and just have their sights set on enjoying themselves and one day getting out of their small town. The first one we’re introduced to is Daniel Desario played by a young James Franco. Daniel is Lindsay’s gateway into his circle of friends, which all seem to at least know her from the start, but aren’t close with her. The most eager of Daniel’s friends to get to know Lindsay is Nick, played by Jason Segel. Nick is clearly attracted to Lindsay from the start and plays the nice guy routine. He’s an aspiring drummer and idolizes the likes of Jon Bonham and Neal Peart. Seth Rogan plays Ken, who is more of a sarcastic wallflower at the start of the series who gradually becomes more involved as the show progresses. Daniel’s girlfriend, Kim (Busy Philipps), is the only one who takes a combative posture towards Lindsay’s associating with their crowd. She presents a problem at first as she doesn’t understand why Lindsay suddenly wants to associate with them and finds the girl boring.

Much of the first several episodes are spent on Lindsay trying to fit in with her new group of friends while they try to figure out what she brings to the table. Other forces in Lindsay’s life try to pull her back towards academics or the Mathletes. She struggles to find her place as she’s rather open to discussion and being introspective while her new friends almost all avoid any form of conflict. The only one who doesn’t is Kim, but the others just seem to brush off anything she does or says while Lindsay can’t help but take things personally. As viewers, it’s hard to find much to like about Daniel and Kim early on. They seem eager to take advantage of Lindsay, who has had a more privileged upbringing and access to more of everything, while they come from troubled backgrounds and broken homes. Much of the Lindsay/Kim dynamic gets settled in the fourth episode “Kim Kelly is My Friend.” It begins a bit too familiar with Kim seemingly using Lindsay to her advantage as she wants her mother to see she has made a wholesome friend, or someone her mom will approve of. By the end of the episode they seem to find a new understanding and the title of the episode feels like a true a statement. Plenty of the remaining 14 episodes demonstrate a deepening of the relationship between Kim and Lindsay as Lindsay begins to find her own place. Other episodes, like the following “Tests and Breasts,” put the focus on Lindsay and her relationship with another member of her circle of friends, such as Daniel. Just about every character gets a spotlight of sorts early leaving the rest of the episodes to examine other aspects of school life, relationships, and the like.

Left to right: Bill, Sam, and Neal comprise the geeks portion of the show.

As the title of the show implies, there are two social groups the show focuses one. We’ve discussed the freaks, now lets talk about the geeks. The geeks are, as you probably could have guessed, a more nerdy group who are a bit outside the popular crowd like the freaks, but for different reasons. The group begins the series as a trio and includes Lindsay’s younger brother Sam (John Francis Daley), Neal (Samm Levine), and Bill (Martin Starr). All three are freshmen and in that awkward stage where their shared interests are being forced to compete with the onset of puberty. They’ve always been comfortable with who and what they are, but now are beginning to doubt themselves and all to a different degree. Sam is the most conflicted and confused by everything. He’s a sweet boy who likes the comedy of Steve Martin and Bill Murray and also enjoys Star Wars and playing Dungeons & Dragons. He’s also sweet on Cindy Sanders (Natasha Melnik), but she’s a cheerleader unlikely to ever view him as a romantic possibility. Sam questions if his enjoyment of the nerdier things in life are keeping him from attracting someone like Cindy, causing him to contemplate rejecting them. Meanwhile, Neal is the Jewish son of a dentist obsessed with comedy, but also is very much interested in women. Given his background, it’s not hard to imagine both Feig and Apatow seeing a bit of themselves in Neal and his uncompromising attitude towards finding what’s most funny about a situation or joke, He’s also probably overconfident in his ability to be a real Casanova. Even though he has no luck attracting women, he’s fairly certain that he’ll grow up into someone who is not challenged by such at all. Bill is the most secure in his nerdy ways. He’s not that interested in popularity, and while he likes girls, they’re definitely not a priority at this stage of his life.

The two cliques cross paths at times in the show, but for the most part their stories are self contained. Sam and his friends have their problems to deal with, while Lindsay and her friends have their own. They’re both able to be quite relatable, though this is coming from someone with a bit of a freak and geek background myself, so maybe this show plays differently for someone who was a jock in high school. There are a lot of ongoing plots that the show is willing to just let simmer in the background like Sam’s pursuit of Cindy and some problems at home for both Neal and Bill. For Lindsay, there’s a bit of a “will they or won’t they?” towards her relationship with Nick. She gets caught in a relationship quite quickly with him as a result of her feeling pity for him, but she keeps up appearances by convincing herself that since he’s a nice guy he’s worthy of being her boyfriend, and that’s never a healthy way to begin a relationship. It gets called off after a few episodes and tension is allowed to play out for the rest of the season. It’s definitely something that would have continued into a second season, though at the same time, it’s not exactly a Ross and Rachel situation as I don’t get a sense that the audience is rooting for things to go one way or not. Then again, I was never into Friends and I get the sense most people dislike Ross so maybe it is the same? Nick is at least likable, but it’s reasonable to doubt if he’s right for Lindsay.

I love Tom Wilson on this show. I would have been very interested in seeing how he was utilized in a second season.

The main cast of teens and young adults is great. They absolutely are capable of carrying the show, but thankfully they also don’t have to. Making up the rest of the cast is an assortment of utility players. Lindsay and Sam’s parents Jean (Becky Ann Baker) and Harold (Joe Flaherty) are excellent as parents that try to be supportive and keep their kids on the straight and narrow, but also stumble. Flaherty is particularly terrific in his portrayal as Lindsay’s father as he tends to get frustrated with trying to relate to his daughter quickly so he just makes demands that are only partially effective. He changes as much as the kids as the episodes roll along and anytime an episode lingers on him it’s for the better. It’s reasonable to wonder if he would have followed in the footsteps of other TV dads and taken on a bigger role had the show continued. Dave “Gruber” Allen is also perfectly cast in his role as counselor Mr. Ross. He spends a lot of time trying to keep Lindsay on the path she was on before the show began, but unlike some of his fellow teachers, he doesn’t exactly discourage her from hanging out with her new friends. He doesn’t consider them lost causes and tries his best to be a positive influence on their lives. He’s just a great character because most people can probably remember someone like him from their adolescence. Possibly my favorite member of the recurring characters is Tom Wilson’s Ben Fredericks, the coach and PE teacher the geeks tend to find conflict with. It’s just great to see Wilson outside of the Back to the Future franchise even if he’s playing a Biff-adjacent type of character as it’s not hard to imagine Biff becoming a hard-ass of a gym teacher. He gets a lot opportunity to show his range though leading to some really nice scenes with both Sam and Bill.

As I alluded to at the start of this post, the music licensed for the show plays a substantial role in evoking the spirit of 1980. Every episode begins with Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation” as the main cast is shuffled quickly through a picture day setting at school. Over the course of the first 5 or 6 episodes we’re exposed to the entire self-titled Van Halen debut album, which must have been pricey on its own. There’s also numerous other cuts along the way, some that come as expected while others are a bit of a surprise. It’s mostly era appropriate too, though as a former punk rocker back in the day I feel obliged to point out that Daniel at one point ends up with a copy of Black Flag’s Damaged several months before it was actually released. Music plays a large role in the lives of the freaks as well since they start their own band playing mostly Cream covers. They all have an appreciation for Led Zeppelin and in the last episode Lindsay discovers The Grateful Dead. In an era where televisions only had a few channels and video games hadn’t quite taken over, music was a huge past time for kids and it’s great to see that reflected in the show.

There’s a lot of loose ends when the credits roll on season one, like where Lindsay and Nick’s relationship is heading, but sadly we’ll never get to see how that stuff would have resolved itself.

Freaks and Geeks consists of a simple premise, but one that is frequently hard to execute. It’s difficult to find kids and young adults who can actually act, and while few members of the cast were actually high school age at the time of shooting, they were all close enough. And they’re all really good! It’s not surprising so many have received bigger roles in the years since the show came to an end, some of which were roles from Apatow, but also many found their own way through the entertainment industry. The show is funny, but also captivating. It’s not afraid to be honest with its characters and it tackles some pretty interesting subjects. The only one that I felt stumbled a bit was the requisite drug episode when Lindsay is worried Nick is addicted to pot, which seems kind of ridiculous, but they are kids, I suppose. There are issues of parental infidelity as experienced by a kid and also the issue of one’s mother dating an adult her child is familiar with and not exactly a fan of. Like a lot of Apatow’s movies, the show is rather adept at putting its characters into uncomfortable and awkward situations, for both them and the audience, and we have to see how they untangle the knots. Mostly though, it’s just enjoyable to watch these characters, and the show, grow over its 18 episodes. Some of that growth is intentional and some of it is just the natural progression of a show discovering itself and coming to a greater understanding of what it is, who inhabits its world, and where everything is going. The show was cut down too soon, but the final episode does at least have a touch of finality to it, especially for what I consider the two main characters of Lindsay and Sam. I wish there was more, but I’m happy I finally took the time to watch what we have.


Dec. 18 – Little Dracula – “The Bite Before Christmas”

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Original air date September 6, 1991, the rare Labor Day Christmas special!

There was a huge demand for cartoons in the early 90s. Cable was expanding and needed content for all ages while a new broadcast network was also making noise. That network was Fox, and after scoring primetime hits with Married…with Children and The Simpsons, the network started to look at other areas where it could compete. It would end up placing a premium on original sports content and also children’s programming. Before long, Fox Kids was the premiere destination for cartoons and other kid’s shows forcing the more venerable networks like CBS and ABC to play catch-up. Out of this success came a lot of cartoons people remember fondly, but Fox’s “try anything” philosophy also meant a lot of shows came and went.

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Little Dracula produced a total of 13 episodes, but only 6 aired in 1991 with the rest seeing broadcast in 1999.

One such show is Little Dracula. The Walker Hahns Productions show ran for a mere six episodes in the fall of 1991. Based on a book series of the same name by Martin Waddell, the tagline present on IMDB refers to the titular character as a green-skinned, child, vampire who aspires to be like his father, Big Dracula, yet also enjoys rock ‘n roll and surfing. Sure sounds like a winner! Fox aired just five episodes on its network basically over one week in September and then brought it back for a Halloween special the next month. Despite that, a full 13 episode season was produced and the remaining seven episodes went unaired until 1999 when the show was brought back on Fox Family, likely to fill some time during the Halloween season. The show was released across several PAL VHS tapes (as the books originated in the UK), sometimes paired with other cartoons, and was generously merchandized as well with action figures and various toys. It’s the toy commercial I remember most, which isn’t surprising considering how quickly the show came and went. I know I saw at least a little of this show as a kid and was likely perplexed when it went away, but I moved on and never really thought about the show again. That is, until now!

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This one is going to be a bit different from your normal Christmas special.

Airing in that first group of episodes on Fox Kids was a Christmas episode, “The Bite Before Christmas.” It’s a bit perplexing that Fox elected to air a Christmas episode in September, but my guess is maybe it was going to be held until December but someone at the network just did not like this show and wanted to just get it over and done with. The show was essentially replaced by Beetlejuice, so it’s not as if the network was against horror themed cartoons, but maybe they just didn’t see the appeal of this particular cast of characters. The show may have been short-lived, but it appears the producers at least sprung for a decent cast of actors. They brought in Joe Flaherty from SCTV to handle the role of Big Dracula and gave the roles of Granny and Igor to veteran comedian Jonathan Winters. It’s an amusing little quirk for the show to possess, but obviously it wasn’t enough to impress anyone into ordering more episodes.

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Little Dracula can apparently tolerate sunlight, which I assume has something to do with that ridiculous hat.

How does a family of vampires celebrate Christmas? Well, we’re about to find out. This episode begins with Little Dracula (Edan Gross), his friend Werebunny (Joey Camen), Igor (Jonathan Winters), and Deadwood (Melvyn Hayes) out chopping down a Christmas tree. Little Dracula, sometimes called LD, is wearing a weird looking hat and Werebunny looks more like a bat than a bunny. I don’t know what Igor’s relationship is to everyone, or if he’s even a vampire. He looks like a less gross version of the Walter Cobb character who will show up on The Ren & Stimpy Show eventually. I think he’s the castle’s handyman and inventor. I remember his action figure featured an action in which his brain popped out, so maybe he’s some kind of undead thing. Deadwood is a purple skinned guy in torn shorts and the way he takes orders makes me assume he’s a vampire’s thrall, but during the opening credits it’s shown that Igor may have brought him to life in a Frankenstein’s Monster way.

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Igor and Deadwood are probably my favorite characters. Deadwood likes to make little offhand comments which Igor seems to frown upon, likely because he views him as something akin to a slave or dog, at best.

Igor makes a remark how he loves it when they fight it, in reference to the tree being difficult to chop down, which is rather creepy. He’s going to hitch the tree to a sleigh and makes Deadwood, dressed up as Rudolph, haul it back to the castle. Before doing so, Deadwood makes a remark to the camera so he’s apparently our character capable of breaking the fourth wall. As the sleigh heads back to the castle high up on a hill, Little Dracula informs Werebunny what Christmas is to them. Basically, Big Dracula has been trying to capture Santa for 10,000 years so their custom is to lay traps. Werebunny is horrified by this, but Little Dracula sees no reason to reevaluate his position on Christmas.

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Garlic Man is a wonderfully terrible villain.

As they make their way into the castle, a snowbank rumbles and inside is one of the villains of the show. Maggot (Neil Ross), who looks like a wart-covered goblin, is spying for his boss Garlic Man (Brian Cummings) to see what’s going down at Christmas. Garlic Man resembles a man in a radiation suit, only his head is a bulb of garlic with sunglasses and some kind of mouth apparatus that makes his breathing sound a little like Darth Vader’s. He’s rather absurd looking, but it’s also a bit funny so I like it. At his side is another henchman by the name of No Eyes (Danny Mann). He’s just a big, ugly, dude with no eyes and a cybernetic hand. Garlic Man wants to spring a trap on the Dracula family and I guess destroy them? I don’t know if he possesses a higher purpose. It’s interesting to see the family of monsters who feed on humans as the good guys, which is probably why the villains are so ugly and obviously bad so viewers aren’t confused.

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Mrs. Dracula’s television special is the B plot of this one. The payoff isn’t particularly good so don’t get your hopes off.

Inside the home, Big Dracula (Joe Flaherty) awakens. It’s nighttime, and as he rises from his crypt he hears his wife talking to someone. Mrs. Dracula (Kath Soucie) is speaking into a television camera as she’s apparently hosting a Dracula Christmas program. There’s also a narrator, though he is only heard and not seen which confuses Big Dracula. Mrs. Dracula makes some comment about filling time now that a shopping network is gone and I don’t know if that’s just a one-off remark or if that refers to a previous episode. She hands her hubby a sweater to give him that “Arsenio Hall casual look” which helps to date this one. Dracula rightly points out he’s not a casual guy, but he’ll relent and put it on.

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Even the undead appreciate a nice tree.

The others return and it’s basically time to decorate the house. Their Christmas décor is surprisingly traditional, and we get a look at some other secondary characters. There’s Granny (Winters), a toothless old vampire who apparently wants to smooch Santa. She remarks she hasn’t been kissed in quite a while which is essentially kid’s show speak for saying it’s been awhile since she got laid. We also see the family has a little pet that’s just essentially Thing from The Addams Family. Igor is the one who is going to be responsible for putting together a trap, while Little Dracula and Werebunny are expected to clean up.

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I’m sure this will work.

On the roof, Garlic Man is on the scene dressed as Santa. No Eyes is wearing a reindeer or moose head over his and the eyes are marked with an “X” which is clever. Maggot is there as well dressed as an elf, and they’re a bit confused why Garlic Man wants to pose as Santa when the Draculas intend to capture him. He brushes their concerns aside while pointing out that Dracula is “0 for 10,000” in regards to capturing Santa and jumps down the chimney. In the room below, Little Dracula uses his magic wand to make the base of the fireplace disappear leaving a hole that goes into the basement or somewhere. He does this to sweep a bunch of dirt into it, but it also causes Garlic Man to extend his fall. As Maggot and No Eyes listen above, Maggot comments on how fast Garlic Man must be going while No Eyes sees this as an opportunity to get drunk with their boss gone. He removes his mechanical hand and affixes a tap handle to it instead which dispenses black eggnog. The liquid is coming from somewhere in his body, which doesn’t seem to concern Maggot.

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Horn-ball Granny has some ookies to tame first if she wants to get her man tonight.

Big Dracula and the kids have crafted a massive cage to trap Santa. Little Dracula baits it with hot cocoa while Granny brings in the cookies. Only there was come confusion and she made Christmas “ookies” instead. They’re basically little monsters with adorable stocking hats. Granny tries to subdue them with her hypnotic powers, but she’s apparently well past her vampire prime as the little devils resist until her eyes literally pop out of her head. Those bounce everywhere and the family is forced to track them and the ookies down. Igor also enters to announce he’s finished his part of the trap, and stumbles into the chaos. He adds he built a loveseat for Granny and Santa to enjoy inside it as well, so apparently everyone is in on this whole “get Granny laid” subplot.

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I think Igor just put a sign on the washing machine and called it a Santa trap.

When things are settled down the family gets to celebrating Hawaiin style, apparently for Mrs. Dracula’s show. They’re having a grand old time until their Santa trap is sprung! Excitedly, they go to see what’s inside and Granny dives in first to get her kiss. We hear her smooching up a storm, but when she pulls away a beard and mask are stuck to her kisser. The mask belongs to Garlic Man, who then emerges angrily and retrieves his mask and proceeds to blowing garlic on Big Dracula. Maggot and No Eyes emerge as well and they’re able to round up the family, except for Little Dracula and Werebunny. They run for it, but LD promises they will return, as he uses his wand to create another hole to escape through. I guess that’s all the wand can do? They wind up in LD’s fancy flying car, which I know was released as a toy, and take off. High in the sky, LD radios to some spirit guide network to inform them what happened and request help. He’s pointed to a truck stop, because truckers are apparently tough and nothing else is open on Christmas Eve.

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Your stereotypical tough guys.

Little Dracula and Werebunny enter the truckstop and find a whole bunch of tough looking folks. As the camera pans, we see a Rambo look-alike arm-wrestling with a tough looking dude. There’s a table of ninjas swinging swords and an angry looking muscled woman drinking alone. Even Popeye appears to be enjoying a cold one at the bar. Little Dracula announces to the bar that they require assistance. In the background, we can see the bar TV tuned to the Dracula Christmas Special, which Garlic Man has taken over. A lone voice answers Little Dracula’s call. He sounds like John Wayne, but all we see are his boots.

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You’re in trouble now, Garlic Man, because here comes the big man!

At the Dracula residence, Garlic Man is finally ready to apparently kill Big Dracula. Little Dracula makes his triumphant return though, and he’s brought some backup. The backup he brought is none other than the big man himself, Santa Claus! He jumps from his sleigh to confront Garlic Man who cowers in fear because Santa represents goodness. He wails that he’s melting, but maybe something was lost in translation as he doesn’t melt at all, but rather shrinks until he’s just an ordinary bulb of garlic. Maggot then approaches Santa to ask if he brought him the bicycle he asked for, and Santa produces. He brushes aside Maggot’s badness and essentially puts it all on Garlic Man. Meanwhile, No Eyes has picked up their boss and jumps on Maggot’s handlebars and tells him to get going before anyone notices.

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It just wouldn’t be Christmas if Dracula and Santa didn’t end the night as friends.

With the bad guys departed, attention turns to Big Dracula and Santa. Dracula thanks Santa for his help and expresses a willingness to put their rivalry to bed. Before they can shake hands though, Mrs. Dracula’s show gets his attention once again as the narrator is signing off. He demands to know where the voice is coming from, as this has been a running gag all episode, and Little Dracula picks up a microphone and opens it up to reveal a tiny person with a huge mouth inside, a rather tepid payoff though I don’t really know where they could have gone with this. Granny then goes after what she wants, and gets it. As she smooches Santa her head pops off when he recoils. The camera quickly pans to a group shot of the rest of the family who wave and do the customary wishing of a happy holiday as the episode ends.

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The special ends with perhaps the least festive “Merry Christmas” I can recall seeing.

Well that was certainly something. Horror themed Christmas specials are pretty interesting and a welcomed change of pace, even if the horror elements are rather minimal. The best gag was probably Deadwood reaching into a stocking and pulling out a severed foot. The books apparently had lots of gross gags like this that the cartoon really couldn’t get away with. This show visually is all right, no better or worse than what was common in the era. Igor had some fun lines here and there, and it was bizarre watching the characters try to corral Granny’s eyes, but little else stood out as memorable. The lead character, Little Dracula, is possibly the worst part of the show as he doesn’t contribute much. The cliché vampire accent he speaks with makes it tough to understand what he’s saying, not that he’s ever saying anything worth hearing. He makes too many puns involving the word “Drac” (his favorite being Drac Attack) to the point where it feels like each episode had a quota on them or something that they needed to hit.

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Garlic Man turned out to have a rather major weakness.

I mostly liked the villains, even if their motivations are a bit perplexing. Garlic Man’s plan worked, but he just kind of sits on his hands and waits for Little Dracula to save the day. Maggot and No Eyes are actually refreshing as they were not depicted as comically inept henchmen. Instead they’re more like abused help and it shows when Garlic Man takes his fall and they see it as an opportunity to essentially drink on the job rather than go to their boss’s aid. Santa had a fairly conventional design with the only notable element being he goes sleeveless in this universe. The John Wayne voice was an interesting choice. I don’t know that it works, but at least it’s different. The ultimate resolution of the episode was quite weak though as Santa literally just had to stand in Garlic Man’s presence to defeat him. The show may not have had the budget for a true action scene, but man, is that weak.

As for Christmas cheer, there’s not a whole lot here. Sure, Santa saves the day, but he doesn’t impart any message or anything. We don’t even get the full Santa experience as the show apparently lacked the budget for reindeer. They appear briefly and don’t appear to be even animated. It did avoid the Santa in front of the moon sequence though, which is notable in and of itself. There is some festive décor going on in this episode, but that’s rather minimal as well. Most of the Christmas stuff is basically contained to the opening moments where the characters chop down a tree and a group of zombies moan carols briefly.

Still, horror tinged Christmas shows are hard to come by and if that’s something you like then this might be worth a look. Little Dracula is not a highly regarded cartoon or one that is well-remembered, despite it seemingly being average as opposed to poor. As a result, it’s not streaming on any of the major platforms nor is it available on DVD. Since it’s essentially a dead IP, you can find this and other episodes on YouTube for free. Your only other option would be to track down a PAL VHS cassette and I don’t even know if this episode was released on any of them. You probably wouldn’t want to do that anyways so YouTube is your best option.


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