Come the late 90s I was definitely losing track of what was airing on Fox Kids. X-Men came to an end, as did Spider-Man and The Tick. They were replaced with Silver Surfer and a new Spider-Man cartoon that was pretty awful. There was also that live-action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles show called The Next Mutation which was a bit horrifying to look at. Even a lot of the comedy shows were coming to an end like Animaniacs, Eek! the Cat, and Life with Louie.
One of the shows that was meant to replace one of the above-mentioned was Space Goofs. Space Goofs is a French cartoon about some aliens who crash land on Earth and wind up hiding out in a seemingly abandoned home for rent. They’re pretty wise to the fact that if humans find them they’ll be rounded up and experimented upon so they do their best to scare people away and keep their presence a secret. All the while, they learn about human culture largely via watching television.
It’s a show I recall seeing ads for, but I don’t think I ever watched it. It originally aired at 9:30 on Saturday mornings and I just wasn’t awake at 9:30 when I was in my teens. After some reshuffling took place on Saturdays, it moved to 10:30 where I would have been far more likely to be awake, but I never checked it out. By 1998, Fox had a ton of competition on Saturday as ABC had revamped its One Saturday Morning and Kids WB was now a real contender with Batman, Superman, and Pokemon. As such, it would seem Space Goofs got lost in the shuffle. After the first season, Fox booted it from Saturday to Monday afternoon where it went to die. It doesn’t look like the show ever popped up on any other network like a lot of Fox Kids shows.
As part of that inaugural season, Space Goofs tackled Christmas. This was a segmented cartoon show so each short is only about 10 minutes in length. It was animated by Gaumont Multimedia and actually has a bit of a modern look to it as it was probably done digitally. The backgrounds are pretty minimalist and the character designs are simple. Perhaps the most interesting aspects of the show include the theme song by Iggy Pop and the character Candy (Charlie Adler), who is clearly a homosexual. It’s still considered progressive and even taboo in some circles to have a homosexual character in a children’s cartoon in 2020, so to have one in 1997 is pretty surprising. It sounds like the French dub was more obvious about it, while the subject isn’t really tackled head-on from what I’ve seen in the English dub. In the Spanish dub, the character’s gender was changed to female to avoid any controversy. Since we’re talking about a little green alien, I suppose that works.
The episode begins with the aliens sitting around the television in their pajamas watching a horror movie. Our aliens are Candy, Gorgious (Danny Mann), Bud (Jeff Bennett), Stereo Monovici (Jeff Bennett), and Etno (Maurice LaMarche). Candy has that Charlie Adler gay voice you’ve probably heard before while Etno is LaMarche doing his Vincent Price impression. It’s a colorful collection of voices that are quite suitable for these illustrations.
The aliens are all watching a film about a red blob. Bud, who is the most involved in the program, is getting rather anxious and is further upset when his comrades all retire for the evening. Left to himself, he starts to freak out, especially when he hears noises coming from the chimney.
Unbeknownst to Bud, Santa (LaMarche) and his elf helper Brad (Adler) are about to pay them a visit. Santa and Brad discover there’s a house with five individuals in it who have never appeared on the list before. Santa is determined to make his presence felt at this home in the only way Santa can – by bringing presents. He goes into a rather extravagant speech before the two set down on the roof. It should be noted, Santa is only accompanied by two reindeer, a severe Christmas fail.
When Bud hears noises coming from the roof he wakes up the rest of his alien buds who all gather at the fireplace. Bud is convinced the red blob from the movie he was watching is coming after them, but the rest aren’t so sure. Etno takes a look up the chimney and he does indeed see a big red blob coming his way. Of course, this isn’t a monster, just Santa’s big red ass which crawls down the chimney with animation that reminds me of Stimpy’s butt dance during the “Happy Happy Joy Joy” song from The Ren & Stimpy Show.
Etno informs the others that Bud is right, and he’s pretty freaked out. He mentions the blob resembles an apple, and sure enough, as Santa’s rear descends into view it does indeed look like a big red apple (or a big, red, ball-sack) which gets the attention of Gorgious. Gorgious is essentially a giant mouth with eyes and a nose, so he does the thing he’s best equipped to do: he bites Santa’s ass. Santa climbs out of the chimney in a surprisingly calm manner despite the chunk missing from his bottom. Bradley is surprised to see Santa finished already, but Santa informs him (his face is contorted with pain) that there appears to be a clog in the chimney. It would seem Santa is rather embarrassed by the whole ordeal and would prefer Brad didn’t know he just went ass to mouth with an alien.
Inside the house, the aliens are congratulating Gorgious on a job well done, their pajamas suddenly vanishing. Bud isn’t congratulating anyone though as he knows the blob will be back. He then screams and points at the fireplace as some goo starts to leak in. Etno nominates Candy to do something about it, and he turns to the camera and says “Ships” to express mock enthusiasm in a cheeky manner.
Santa is pouring some kind of corrosive substance down the chimney and is a bit gleeful about it. Candy checks it out and does not look eager to stick his head up the chimney. He looks back at his comrades and sees their assuring expressions, sighs, and sticks his head up the chimney. He screams and re-emerges shouting “It’s chemical warfare!” as his scalp melts away. He then realizes he’s standing in a puddle of the substance and his skin (Etno says shoes) melts revealing human-like feet underneath. We then see the burned part of Candy’s head basically turn to ash making him look like a giant, green, lit, cigarette. An interesting visual for a children’s show.
Stereo then suggests they try a new method of trapping the intruder and produces a giant mousetrap. They first test it on a teddy bear, which decapitates it reducing Gorgious to tears while the others react in a gleeful manner. On the roof, Santa decides it would be best to descend headfirst on this next try as he squeezes himself down the chimney. The aliens wait with the trap below, and once Santa’s face comes into view, they shove it up the chimney! They hear a satisfying snap as Santa goes soaring through the sky with the mousetrap attached to his head while Johann Strauss plays.
One of the reindeer makes a quip (“Right out of the ballpark.”) as Santa climbs onto the roof. He orders Brad to get the trap off of him and I can’t tell if he’s talking through his mouth or a nostril. Brad sticks a foot on his face for leverage and pries the trap off. As Santa heads back to the chimney, the reindeer suggests, rudely, he try the door. Santa gives him an angry look, marches towards him, and insists this is tradition. He’s going down the chimney!
Below, Candy is giving directions to someone as they drive a truck into the room. He pops the hood and produces some jumper cables. This is not going to end well for poor Santa. As the aliens ready the cables, they all make sure to inform the audience that this isn’t a safe thing to do. I’m glad we got that out of the way.
Santa, going rear first once again, approaches the fireplace near enough so that the aliens can attach the jumper cables. Once affixed, Etno gives the order to start the truck and Santa is once again sent rocketing into the night sky, again accompanied by Strauss. Bradley can only watch as Santa comes to rest in a Christmas tree.
Bud and Etno, with heavy bags under their eyes, keep their eyes glued on the ceiling. Bud is freaking out as they hear footsteps above them and the unmistakable sound of a chainsaw. The others are losing their will to keep this up, but Etno says they have one final weapon. On the roof, Santa is basically going mad as he and Brad are constructing something massive. When the camera pans out, we see what looks like a makeshift bobsled track on the roof of the house.
Inside the home, the aliens have filled the fireplace with dynamite, and Etno has his hands on the activator. On the roof, Santa has climbed into a bobsled (with a helmet on) that’s numbered “13” which seems awfully unfortunate. As he descends the track, the sled picks up tremendous speed causing all of the hair on his face to be torn from him and his nostrils to flair like giant parachutes. The camera cuts quickly from Santa, to Etno, to Santa, to Etno throughout and when the jolly fat man hits the chimney Etno activates the dynamite.
Santa is sent blasting off into the night sky leaving the aliens feeling victorious. As they celebrate, presents start littering the room. The aliens are confused, but they begin to open them and find them to be full of things they wanted, including a new teddy bear for Gorgious. They realize that whoever was trying to get into their home meant them no harm. Stereo remarks how they mistook him for the color of his skin, and it seems the aliens are about to learn an important lesson, until Etno wonders aloud what else he brought them and they dive back into the presents.
We then return to the sky, where a heavily bandaged Santa is flying through the air, his reindeer seemingly frozen. Bradley seems fine though as Santa remarks that the alien house was a piece of cake, even though he can scarcely move. He then asks Bradley what house is next, and he starts listing off some horrifying names: Frank Stein, Lizzie Borden, Young Jack Ripper. Santa then looks at the camera and his bandages fall off revealing his face as he laughs ready to take on all-comers. The sleigh passes in front of the moon to end things.
I never really heard any good things about Space Goofs, so this wasn’t a show I was eager to check out. This episode has been on my list for years, to give you an idea of just how excited I was to watch it. Turns out though, it’s pretty solid. I didn’t find anything hilarious, or really felt myself getting attached to any of the characters, but I did enjoy the premise. It’s not often you encounter a Christmas special in which the would-be gift receivers do their best to keep Santa out. Futurama would go on to do so, but the circumstances were entirely different. Here we have some aliens with no knowledge of Santa just afraid someone is breaking into their home. Meanwhile, this version of Santa is basically a fanatic. He’s going to deliver those presents if it kills him. I definitely enjoyed watching his descent into madness as the episode went on and it felt appropriate that he didn’t feel defeated in the end, but somehow invigorated despite his broken body.
The personalities of the aliens don’t really have a chance to shine through. The cartoon is fairly brief, so I imagine it would take several episodes to give me a real handle on things. It’s obvious Etno is the de-facto leader or voice of reason, while Bud is probably supposed to be the one the audience likes the most. Candy is definitely unique and I enjoyed the Charlie Adler screams when the acid dripped all over him. Their designs feel very “90s” to me, for lack of a better description. I’m reminded of the stop-motion cartoon Bump in the Night when I look at some of them. The voice acting was great though, which I expected of this cast, and I liked the addition of classical music which had my mind going back to Loony Tunes shorts.
If you want to check out this holiday edition of Space Goofs then you’re in luck. Apparently no one sees much value in the property, so the official Space Goofs YouTube channel has uploaded every episode of the show, from what I can tell. No subscription required, you’ll just have to sit through an ad break midway through. There are certainly worse ways to kill twelve minutes this Christmas.