|GRANDMA GOT RUN OVER BY A REINDEER (wb, 2000)|
|Why was it such a
This has been one lucky misfit: it's owned by a network that continues to run it, year after year, under the delusion that they've created another holiday classic. The WB, now the CW, has aired this every holiday season for what is now approaching a decade's worth of time. Normally, if these specials fail out of the gate, they'll get rerun twice if they're lucky. But this one just refuses to die, depite the truth that no one on Earth wants to watch it. And there are many reasons why they don't.
Starting with a bad idea to begin with -- converting a dark novelty song into a one-hour happy family narrative -- the expanded tale begins in the town of Cityville. That's not the worst moniker you're going to hear. The family the special revolves around has the last name of....
And they're darn proud of it! It's even the name of their general store. Grandma Spankenheimer, the owner, is a kind and generous old woman who believes spreading Christmas Joy is far better than turning a profit. When someone tries to walk out with a gingerbread house without pay, Grandma just smiles and says "Your credit's good here." Somehow, despite the relaxed attitude toward shoplifting, the store stays open. Cousin Mel doesn't like that, though.
This is Cousin Mel, she's evil and stuff. You're made aware of this the second she opens her mouth for the first time and rants about how Grandma should sell the store and give all the money to her. Really. Grandma's been running that store since before Mel was born, and all Mel does whenever she's in there is complain. How does she figure she's entitled to cash just because she's unfortunately related to Grandma? She knows the perfect buyer: Mr. Bux, owner of the Own-All Corporation, who needs one more purchase to make his outrageous brand name come true.
One of the things Grandma likes to do is dress in an elf costume and read to children who come in the store. Mr. Bux figures she'd be more susceptible to selling it if he made the proposition while dressed as a troll. No, I don't get it either.
Mayhaps, if Grandma's business isn't doing so good, Grandma would sell it! And then give the money to Cousin Mel for no reason! Grandma is so nice she bakes homemade stuff for all her customers, especially fruitcake. (Sure enough, as soon as a fruitcake appears onscreen, we get a ton of unfunny, hacky, old-hat jokes about how bad fruitcake is -- even a song.) But it's not bad enough, Mel thinks, and she slips a little something from a vial into the mixture.
Grandma Spankenheimer heads outside that evening with the baked goods. This is the point in the story when she's run over by a reindeer. The focal point of the whole cartoon, little Jake Spankenheimer, witnesses the event from the window in his room. No one believes him, though, when he runs downstairs and shouts the song title. After all, how could Grandma get run over by a reindeer if Santa Claus doesn't exist?
Well....maybe something else ran her over? .....Maybe they should check? ....Right now? Hello?
The next morning Grandma still hasn't returned home, and everyone actually starts to worry. The police are called, and Jake is still swearing it was Santa who hit her, but he's again told Santa doesn't exist. Jake leads everybody to the scene of the collision, where they all see a big snow imprint shaped like an old lady, crossed by sleigh tracks. "Anybody could have made that shape on their own," the cops say. Darn, will there be no justice?
Hold the phone! One of the cops finds a hair on the ground and examines it closely. After five seconds of scrutiny, he comes to one infallible conclusion: it's a reindeer hair, and not just any reindeer hair, but the kind of hair that FLYING reindeer have! "But that's just a guess," the cop ends with. Guess or not, no one questions Jake anymore. That hair proves the existence of Santa! Wow, that was quick.
The wherabouts of Grandma, though, remain unknown...for months. At this point, G.G.R.O.B.A.R. becomes one of the few Christmas specials to go outside the Christmas season timeline. The search stretches into next September. It takes this long for Cousin Mel to realize she could attempt to sell the store again, and succeed, if Grandma wasn't there to stop her. She tries just that, but Bux points out she still doesn't have ownership. "The deed to this place is signed under Grandma and Grandpa Spankenheimer. Grandpa is still around, so I need HIS permission first to buy your store!" A minor setback. Shouldn't be too hard to fool the old man.
Mel invites Grandpa to her
favorite eating establishment and gets right to the
point. "I know how depressed you've been since
Grandma disappeared, so....how about we spruce up the old
store, add a few new light fixtures, et cetera....all you
need to do is SIGN!"
Grandpa doesn't realize Mel tricked him until it's too late. The only way to stop the sale now is if Grandma is found, and they have one week before the deal closes! Grandpa suggests that if Santa hit her, then Santa might know where she is. "But how can I possibly contact Santa??" Jake explodes. "Oh, wait. I think he has an E-mail address!" Argh, it's been that simple the entire time? Why didn't he think of it earlier? Probably because he wasn't used to having that convenience. At the time this was made, electronic mails were still a new thing. If Winnie the Pooh had E-mail in 1990, his entire special might have never happened.
Back at the North Pole, Santa is depressed. "I haven't gotten one letter from Cityville! They're all too obsessed with their overblown, prefabricated lives to think about me! If this keeps up, I just might have to cancel Christmas! .....In Cityville!" At that convenient point, an elf approaches with a print-out of Jake's E-mail. "AHA! The mystery of Grandma X is solved!"
All this time, Grandma has been recuperating at the North Pole, with a dreadful bout of amnesia caused by the jolt to her head. Santa has no idea where she came from, despite having the power to monitor the behavior of every single person on Earth. Grandma couldn't tell him either, so she was brought up to the Workshop as a Jane Doe. As you can see on the right screen, Santa has two more of these, but we never find out what the deal is with them.
"Send a reply E-mail to Jake and tell her we've found his grandmother! Ho ho ho!" says Claus. "I have a better idea," suggests the Chief Elf....
The Chief Elf takes the sleigh over to Jake's to get him, and pull him over to the Pole. If Grandma sees her grandson, it might snap her out of her memory loss. But that doesn't happen.
Chief Elf takes them both back to Cityville. Something there must be able to get her memory jogging like Carl Lewis, right? Before that, though, they have to get Grandma to the top floor of the Own-All Corporation. They're almost out of time!
Mel and her malicious lawyer are walking down the street when they spy Santa's sleigh in the sky, and Grandma inside. Jake and Santa race inside to stop the sale and leave Grandma unattended. Mel's lawyer sneaks over and claims she's a friend who came to get her. Knowing nobody, Grandma falls for it and leaves.
Are there two Mels? How could she be in the closing meeting right now if she's also on the street kidnapping Grandma? Who can guess, but just as Mel is about to close the deal with Bux, Jake arrives screaming "STOOOP!" Jake swears he's found Grandma and she's right outside -- which, unfortunately, she no longer is.
Santa Claus is a good enough substitute, though, and he proves his identity by telling Bux exactly what he wanted for Christmas at age five. The word of Santa is good enough for Bux, so he stops the sale just in time. Santa explains the whole story -- that he accidentally hit Grandma with the sleigh and all. Mel is one steamed bimbo, until she hears what's happened. She's found a new straw to grasp.
"If you hit her with your sleigh, and she is nowhere to be found, you're responsible for her disappearance and that is grounds for YOUR ARREST!" Mel spits. "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!" Jake Darth Vaders.
Mel and Mel's Lawyer have Grandma cooped up in a snowy log cabin (it's still September). As she sits there, they start discussing a new scheme right in front of her, with no reaction (if Grandma has bad hearing, it hasn't been discussed anywhere else). If they can use this incident to milk the magical udders of Santa for all they're worth, this changes everything for the better. Who cares about the store anymore?
Her lawyer crunches the numbers on her pocket calculator. Six billion kids times an average of fifteen bucks per kid equals...WOW! Once they realize how much Santa must be worth, they immediately don Carmen Miranda outfits and start singing their "song," "Grandma's Gonna Sue The Pants Off Of Santa." It goes a little something like this:
If that wasn't lazy enough, the only movement throughout the entire song is their swiveling their hips back and forth. That is all they do for over a minute. This cartoon is cruel and unusual punishment.
Santa's trial lasts three months, taking things to the following December and endangering Christmas. Jake can't understand why Grandma would just run off and disappear again. This is a pretty slow kid. By the time he realizes the kidnapper is OBVIOUSLY Mel, the trial has reached its final day and there is once again no time to lose.
Jake uses his dog Doofus to track Mel's scent and find out where she's been going daily. He finds the log cabin, where Mel is gleefully watching Santa fry in court on TV.
"The jury is about to find your
friend in the red suit guilty!"
There's suddenly a knock on the door. It's Mark Trail! "If that's your car parked down by the road, you'd better check it out! There are some BEARS hanging around it!" says the Forest Ranger. Mel believes the Ranger and leaves. Of course, the Ranger is really the Chief Elf on Jake's shoulders.
Jake must bring Grandma's memories back. He takes her to the store, and shows her the elf costume she used to wear, but she remembers none of it. He brings her back home, but she doesn't recall anything in there either. As a last-ditch effort, Jake decides to give Grandma a bite of her own homemade fruitcake. THAT works. "Jake? Where am I?"
"OH YEAH!" Jake grunts while thrusting his elbows.
Jake feeds Grandma the whole story next. "Well, if everything you've told me is true, why aren't we at the courthouse right now, trying to stop it from happening?" She has a point, Jake, maybe you should listen to her. Why is the DOG'S name Doofus? He was actually useful.
Grandma appears in the courthouse alive, surprising everyone and infuriating Mel. "If your grandmother is indeed right here," says the judge, "then Santa is acquitted of all kidnapping charges." Well, good, the special's ove-----
"NOT SO FAST! There's still the matter of reckless driving, vehicular injury, and leaving the scene of an accident!" Mel's other lawyer who hasn't been seen until now points out. This is a good point, and one I didn't expect the cartoon to address. Why would Santa Claus commit a hit-and-run? That's not like him.
"I can explain it all!" announces Jake. He brings out Grandma's fruitcake and asks a member of the jury to taste it. "Do I haaaave to?" he whines. It's funny because fruitcake is awful, get it? As the guy lifts the lid, a pungent odor floats out and down the courthouse aisle. Chief Elf lets in one of Santa's reindeer, who immediately rushes up to the cake and tries to lick it.
"You see?" concludes Jake. "Cousin Mel spiked Grandma's fruitcake with the ingredients of this vial, to ruin her business! But what she didn't know was that the combined concoction had the exact effects of REINDEER-NIP!" The judge and jury are awed by Jake's flawless logic, and could just kick themselves for not thinking of that. Cousin Mel knows her geese are cooked and offers a full confession. "I HATE THE GOODY-GOODY FEELINGS OF CHRISTMAS! All this caring and sharing! So I kidnapped Grandma and cooked up this whole trial, so I could throw Santa in jail and get all his money! Hey, I deserve to be rich!"
What more proof do you need? Mel is arrested for kidnapping and "almost ruining Christmas."
Santa and the Spankenheimers emerge from court to a cheering crowd and a thousand other Santas. Who are all the Santas? Did every mall Santa show up to offer support? No clue; they're just there.
GRANDMA...." Mr. Bux begins.
Why didn't it fit in?