Sweet Christmas! Clobberin’ Cory Robinson delivers the Burning Hammer to this episode of the cult classic TV series, Amazing Stories. Why? Santa Claus is the star of this one for goodness sake. Find out in his review below.
Christmas is coming a little early this year for you readers here at Comics X-Aminer (really early actually) as we take a look at the Christmas themed episode of Amazing Stories entitled “Santa 85” The episode starts with Santa (played by Douglas Seale best known for voicing the Sultan in Aladdin and for playing Santa again in Ernest Saves Christmas) going over the nice list with Mrs. Claus right before going out to deliver presents on Christmas Eve while adjusting his pants so we can get the average “Santa Claus is too fat” joke quota in. Mrs. Claus mentions to her husband that he has to be careful because the world has changed so much since he first started delivering presents to which he proclaims “not on Christmas it doesn’t” and that he has observed changes over the years but Mrs. Claus tells him that he only observes changes in the world in his own way. Then Mrs. Claus gets out the usual message that people should always believe in Christmas and that nothing else in the world is as important so obviously you know the moral of the story going into this episode so I’m just going to give you the rundown below.
Santa then boasts to Mrs. Claus that he has never let a child down even though he doesn’t always give them what they ask for, but he finds a way to make it up to them in the form of another present or something else. During his night of spreading Christmas cheer, he stops at little Bobby Mynes’ house and listens into Bobby (played by Gabriel Damon best known for voicing Littlefoot in The Land Before Time) talking to his parents on whether Santa Claus is real or not and that he is expressing his doubts. While trying to find a way into Bobby’s house because the family put a grate on the chimney, (doesn’t Santa have magic or something) Santa trips the house alarm while trying to enter through a window. This causes the police to come and arrest Santa who I guess has never been in a situation before when he gets caught, and goes to the police station but not before Bobby pleads with his parents to let Santa go.
Unfortunately it doesn’t work and Santa is put into a patty wagon along with a bunch of drunks who were arrested trying to commit crimes while dressed as Santa so it seems like the fat man is up shit creek. While at the police station, he strikes up a conversation with the local deputy on Christmas spirit and how much the town sheriff (played by Pat Hingle best known for playing Commissioner Gordon in the Tim Burton Batman movies) hates the idea of Christmas because all it makes him think about are all the crimes committed around this time of the year. Santa then requests a conversation with Sheriff Smyvie to which he reluctantly agrees to as long as it gets Santa to be quiet, and the two talk about why Smyvie hates Christmas so much. The main reason is because he grew up in an orphanage and never really had any friends or family and that when he was a kid, he wrote Santa a nine page letter telling him what a good boy he was and that all he wanted was a Buck rogers toy ray gun but Santa never delivered him one. While this is a touching moment between two people talking about the spirit of Christmas and what it means to everybody, Santa doesn’t have a comeback for forgetting Smyvie’s toy so he just says that he sometimes makes mistakes.
Meanwhile back at Bobby’s house he starts to hear sleigh bells outside his window and finally realizes that the reindeer have been at the back of his house the whole time because none of the police officers bothered to scope around the house for other intruders and decides that the best course of option is rationally to bust Santa out of jail. Bobby’s plan is to tie a piece of rope to the window of the jail cell to Santa’s sleigh in order to get the reindeer to move in the other direction fast enough to blow off the brick wall of a prison. This miraculously works though as all of the drunk Santas (and the real one) run out of jail scot-free while the real one gets onto the sleigh with Bobby and a chase begins between Santa and Sheriff Smyvie. After a long chase through town, Smyvie tries to cut the sleigh off at the pass but Santa finally remembers that reindeer can fly and through some really bad stop-motion, they fly over the sheriff’s car and get away scot-free. Smyvie gets out of the car to contemplate what happened and finds a present on the ground addressed to him. Naturally he opens it to find…… (surprise) a Buck Rogers space gun. Even though Santa caused thousands of dollars in property damage and has kidnapped a child, the sheriff gets his Christmas spirit back as he decides to follow a group of carolers that randomly show up and starts singing with them instead of trying to find the drunk Santas as the episode fades to black.
This was a really bad episode and the only reason why it was bad is because of the god awful story and the script that was translated from it. Obviously it was a Steven Spielberg idea that the showrunners (Joshua Brand and John Falsey) had to make into an at least watchable episode, but they couldn’t do that. The directing was fine and the cast was great especially Douglas Seale as Santa and Pat Hingle as the Sheriff but there are so many problems with the script that no matter how hard the actors try, it’s just going to fall flat. The problem I have is that Santa is just so idiotic in this episode that he gets caught breaking into a house and has no backup plan to get out of the situation and it is never really explained how he has the time to get to so many houses. Now I know the moral of the story is to always believe in Santa and Christmas but then halfway through the episode we are given another moral that people should not be so gullible and that the belief in Santa for children can cause people who are less fortunate to take advantage of them. It’s a very backwards message that doesn’t know quite what it wants to say and the whole point that Santa isn’t perfect and that he can screw up sometimes comes across rather harshly as it had a lasting negative impact on someone’s life in the episode.
Overall, just avoid this episode even during Christmas time as it portrays Santa as a bumbling buffoon who is out of touch with the world and apparently has no problem with a child busting him out of prison. If you really want to watch the episode, you can do so here at the NBC site: http://www.nbc.com/amazing-stories/video/santa-85/2909102
Xaminer Rating: 3/10