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Scrooge U: Part XXI -- Yakko, Wakko & Dot deliver "A Christmas Plotz"

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Scrooge U: Part XXI -- Yakko, Wakko & Dot deliver "A Christmas Plotz"

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I got notes from a number of JHM readers yesterday who said that I was far too hard on "Alvin's Christmas Carol." Though one in particular -- an e-mail from Trendy Trudy -- really stuck out. She said.

What did you expect? This was an episode of an animated television series. You know how they grind those things out.

You should be happy that the "Chipmunk" production team even tried to work in a reference to "A Christmas Carol," rather than beating up on those writers up for not being truer to Charles Dickens' original text.

What did I expect? How about a little style & wit? Like the way the writers of "Animaniacs" handled their adaptation of "A Christmas Carol," "A Christmas Plotz"?

Copyright 1993 Warner Home Video

Mind you, this animated version of Charles Dickens' classic holiday tale isn't set in 1840s London. But -- rather -- 1990s Hollywood.

But I'm guessing that you knew that already. Given that one of the very first things that you see in this cartoon are caricatures of Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Clint Eastwood and Roseanne carolling outside the gates of Warner Bros. Studios.

Copyright 1993 Warner Home Video

However, in spite of the stars who are singing just outside his window, Warners CEO Thaddeus Plotz is not in a holiday mood. Once again, Wakko, Yakko and Dot have broken out of their water tower and wreaked havoc on the lot.

Plotz holds Ralph (a security guard on the lot) responsible for the Warners' latest escape. Which is why this CEO sends his security guard packing. Of course, given that Thaddeus has actually fired poor Ralph on Christmas Eve ... Well, you just know that Plotz is going to pay for that.

And -- sure enough -- crumudgeonly cartoon character Slappy Squirrel soon shows up in his office dressed as Jacob Marley. And -- after first complaining loudly about how the studio is only paying her scale to do this lousy cameo -- Slappy then warns Thaddeus that he will soon be visited by three spirits.

Copyright 1993 Warner Home Video

The first to arrive is Wakko Warner as the Ghost of Christmas Past. Wakko tells the CEO that he's here to show him some scenes from his past. With that, Wakko quickly sets up a screen & a projector. And -- after tossing Plotz into a nearby seat and then getting himself a box of popcorn -- these two then settle in to watch a highlight reel of Thaddeus' youth.

Which -- to be honest -- isn't all that pretty. It shows Young Plotz making his very first trip to the mall to see Santa. Only this CEO-to-be brings a quartet of attorneys with him to make sure that the fat man actually comes through with all of the presents that Thaddeus asks for.

We also get to see Young Plotz firing his own father. So that Thaddeus can then become the new CEO of Warner Bros. Studio. Which makes it pretty clear that Plotz is the type of guy who always puts himself first.

Copyright 1993 Warner Home Video

Next up is the lovely Dot, who plays the Ghost of Christmas Present in this "A Christmas Carol" parody. She takes the greedy CEO over to the trailer park where Ralph the security guard lives. Now that he's lost his job, Ralph's family is so poor that all they can afford for Christmas dinner is turkey-flavored jello.

This infuriates Ralph Junior. Who vows one day to have his revenge on Plotz.

Copyright 1993 Warner Home Video

And as Wakko Warner (in his role of the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Be) points out, Ralph Junior does eventually get his revenge on Thaddeus. After becoming the next CEO of Warner Bros. Studio, Ralph Junior then forces Plotz to do his father's old job. Which is work as a poorly paid security guard on the lot whose main responsibilty is to try & keep Yakko, Wakko and Dot in line.

Copyright 1993 Warner Home Video

This (to Thaddeus' way of thinking, anyway) is a fate worse than death. Which is why -- the very next morning -- Plotz hurries over to the trailer park where Ralph & his family live. After first profusely apologizing to Ralph and then offering this security guard his old job back, Thaddeus has a helicopter deliver the enormous Christmas gift that Yakko, Wakko and Dot have personally picked out for Ralph's family.

Copyright 1993 Warner Home Video

It is -- of course -- is the world's largest fruitcake. A holiday favorite that Thaddeus just despises. Which makes it all the more amusing when the Warners then arrange to have this 10-ten treat dropped directly onto the newly reformed CEO's head.

With Plotz now pinned under this behemoth of a baked good, Yakko, Wakko and Dot quickly scamper up the side of the fruitcake. And -- after whipping out spoons and shoveling pieces of cake into their mouths -- they call down to Thaddeus and tell him that they'll have him out in no time. Easter at the absolute latest.

Copyright 1993 Warner Home Video

You see what I saying yet? While this adaptation of "A Christmas Carol" is obviously a parody, it still stays reasonably faithful to its source material. It has a Scrooge character, a Crachit character, a Jacob Marley character as well as the three Christmas spirits.

More to the point, in spite of all the great sight gags & wordplay, this episode of "Animaniacs" also manages to follow the basic plot of Dickens' classic holiday tale. In that all of the ghosts visit Thaddeus on Christmas Eve. And Plotz (filling the Scrooge slot in this story) still undergoes his transformation once he wakes on Christmas morning.

Whereas the writers of "Alvin's Christmas Carol" ... They played fast & loose with virtually every single aspect of Dickens' classic story. While still hoping to elicit the same sort of emotional response from "Alvin & the Chipmunks" viewers that people typically get when they're watching a really good version of "A Christmas Carol." You know? That feeling that wells up inside of you as you're watching the now-reformed Scrooge rush about on Christmas morning, trying to make amends.

And speaking of things that well up inside of you ... Tomorrow, be sure and bring some barf bags along as we journey to Bedrock and experience one of the oddest "Christmas Carols" ever produced.

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  • For what it's worth, the song Yakko sings as the ghost of Christmas Future in this episode is priceless. It's like a big broadway production, and even all these years later I still recall having laughed through most of it.

  • I just went and bought the video for $.88, thanks to the link above.  I'm so excited, I'd forgotten what a great episode that was.

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