Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Day Three Hundred and Fifty-nine - Phineas and Ferb: Season 2, Episode 21, "It's CHRISTMAS! But where's Vanessa?"

Yup, Phineas and Ferb's Christmas Vacation special (a whopping eleven minutes longer than their regular episodes) is one of my favorite holiday episodes along with Futurama's "Xmas Story." It and a third completely awesome episode from another series... that I will talk about in a bit... make up my Triumvirate of Holiday Cheer!

Set atypically for the series during Winter Vacation, Phineas and his step-brother Ferb set out to organize the town of Danville in a giant undertaking to thank Santa for all the cool presents he's given them over the years. In a giant montage of industriousness, the whole town (minus Candace) decorate the Tri-State area with all the trimmings and the boys, themselves, create a full-service rest stop for Santa to enjoy up on their roof.

Meanwhile, Agent P is snooping after Dr.Doofenshmirtz in the B-story. It seems Doof just can't get up enough apathy to ruin Christmas with his brand new Naughty-inator and has a grand musical number to relay that fact to the typically entrapped Perry. Some annoyingly persistent carolers push him over the edge, though, and he turns on the Naughty-inator, which tells the elves at the North Pole that the entire city shouldn't get any prezzies.


The third act of the special is all about Phineas and the gang rallying together with the help of two elves to save Christmas by creating, wrapping, and delivering every present... in a giant rocket sleigh! In the end, everybody's happy, even Doof, and things return to normal just in time for the kids' parents to arrive home with the grandparents who were flying in.

First, I should acknowledge that Phineas and Ferb is always, always cheesy, but it's a forgivable cheese. Their universe of flexible physics and convenient plot devices is so earnest and innocent, something that can't really be said in other, more Whovian universes that I've become familiar with. There's also really good comedic timing with all of the bits and musical sequences. Even if they stretch and break their own rules, it all snaps back in the end and is done in a spirit that makes the breaks not only forgivable, but hilarious.

Second, while I like the special, I do have to admit that it's not the strongest episode of Phineas and Ferb ever. For one thing, there's no Vanessa, and if you remember our previous visits to P&F for Couchbound, Vanessa is one of the main draws for me (played by Olivia Olsen who also voices Marceline on Adventure Time). For another, both the Doof story and Candace's freakouts over gifting for her boyfriend are boring as all get out, even if some of the accompanying gags (like Candace's metaphor explanations and the carolers) are fun.

I want to give a quick shoutout to Clancy Brown, who guests as Santa Claus and another hearty "I miss you" to Olivia Olsen whom was absent from this episode. Almost everyone else makes an appearance, though, from from Meep to P&F's stalker. I just wish I could've heard Olsen's beguiling tones. Oh, well. Make sure you stick around for the credits. Like Futurama before them, the P&F crew homages A Charlie Brown Christmas in a very cute way.

Now, since it's not on Netflix (at least, this year), I think I should mention what my favorite Christmas Special of all... Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas from Community. A stop-motion favorite reminiscent of Rankin and Bass animated classics like Rudolf. It's hilarious, but also poignant, as it covers a major character's holiday nervous breakdown and his friends' attempts to snap him out of his partial psychotic break with reality. It's cute, it's funny, it's animated... and darn near perfect. Too bad I have to rely on my DVDs and can't share it with you. Still, I have all my ornaments from the episode sitting next to my TV, so it sort of works.

Happy Holidays, Potatoes~


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