|FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE: A CHRISTMAS ANGEL (ctv, 1992)|
was it such a misfit?
This one is set a few
years later than "Bestest Present," and opens
with the dad and kids (now in their teens) driving home
with a Christmas tree tied to their roof, as so many
millions of others do.
He's referring to Lizzie, not to all women in general....at least I hope.
Unfortunately, as sometimes happens in Christmas stories involving trees, they picked one that was much smaller-looking outside than it is within the house. They have to collectively shove hard to get it through the door, and once it's in the stand, it needs a little trimming. A LOT of trimming.
Elly, the mother, was told by John they were just going out to get groceries, not a tree. It was supposed to be a pleasant surprise, but it made a mess everywhere and it falls to the ground as soon as Elly walks in. She slaps her forehead and groans, "This...is Christmas." She found the true meaning at last!
One establishing shot of the house later, Elly is sweeping up the last of the needles while two-year-old April crawls around. Lizzie wants to decorate the tree now, but Elly says to wait because she has too many other things to do, including keeping an eye on April. As she's saying this, April digs out an object from the ornaments box. Elly turns around, gasps in horror, yanks the package away immediately....and scolds Liz for not watching her. You just said that was YOUR job, didn't you, El? Way to pass the buck.
"You know I've had this angel for years!" explains Elly. "It's my favorite ornament!" Is it going to get lost at Philpott's, then? Is this just going to be a repeat of Special #1?
Not quite. Elly's angel suffers a different fate. No one else wants to help Lizzie decorate, and on top of everything else Elly saddles her with April and won't take no for an answer. While Liz is stringing the lights around the tree, April reaches for the package again and takes out the angel. Lizzie turns around just in time to see it fly through the air and smash into oblivion.
"HOW COULD YOU, ELIZABETH?? HOW COULD YOU LET THE BABY AROUND THE TREE?" Well, gee -- you wouldn't listen to her, you wouldn't help her, and then you gave her the baby despite seeing what happened earlier -- you're lucky April isn't in pieces. This is hardly Lizzie's fault. Yet she gets treated like garbage in this cartoon, especially by her mother. Despite the fact that Elly's negligence is to blame, Liz vows to make it up to her by obtaining another angel somehow. Everyone must appease Lynn -- I mean, Elly at all times.
In The Bestest Present, Elly's family was voiced by Lynn's family. The brother, the sister and the husband were all played by the people who inspired them. This one has different people. "Mike" gained a noticeable Canadian accent after puberty. "See all dat sneww? Dat's big box, babee! I'm gonna make COOOLD HERD CASH clearing driveweys! You betcha!" How much money can you really make from driveways? In Mike's case, about $100 in 1992 dollars.
"What are you gonna
get with it?" says his friend Gordon, who's never
heard of so much money in his life. "A bunch of
You want to know who's actually playing Mike? Vic Sakay, who would go on to become Lester on "Chuck."
Elizabeth tries to make amends by creating a construction paper angel. It's not nearly as fancy, but it should relieve a bit of her parents' current fury with her. That is, until her dad walks in and sees April on her floor eating a glue and glitter buffet. Now this one really is Lizzie's fault -- she was the only one around to watch the baby until this moment. But she takes the heat as yet more proof in court than nobody in her family appreciates her, so she leaves the house to look for someone who will.
Good timing -- up from the street comes Dawn Enjo, Liz's best friend and the only Asian person in the entire country. Dawn invites Lizzie to go sledding on Dead Cliche Peak, and she could really use something to take her mind off all the abuse, so she happily agrees.
Nope -- she can't catch a break here either. By the time she gets to the toboggan, it's packed with people. Dawn fits on, but Lizzie just bounces off the end, and everyone else protests the "extra weight." WHY-IS EVERY-BODY ALWAYS PICKIN'-ON-ME?
Fine, then! Lizzie will just go sledding by herself! Here's a hill NO ONE is sliding down! And it looks PERFECTLY SAFE!
No joke...Lizzie really sees nothing wrong here. She even taunts the others Kevin McAllister style while they're out of earshot: "I JUST FOUND A HILL NOBODY IS USING, WANNA COME?? OKAY, MORE FOR ME THEN!!"
It doesn't work out.
She blasts through a prickly briar patch, zooms through a log, spins in circles out of control, and much much more. In what may be a first for a cartoon character, she slides across a pond of thin ice and it only cracks and breaks AFTER she's reached the other side. This is the first lucky thing that's happened to her all day; maybe life is looking up? Maybe not, as she ends the ride by bashing into a tree and knocks herself out.
By the time she wakes up, darkness has fallen....and she got here so fast, she doesn't know where she is or what direction would lead to anyplace familiar. She's lost in the woods, and it's getting colder by the minute. Enough is enough; stop bagging on Lizzie, cartoon, or you're going to kill her.
Fortunately, Liz finds a log cabin for shelter. An old lady with an Irish brogue already lives inside, but she's more than happy to invite Lizzie in and warm her up with some hot chocolate and/or a roaring fireplace.
As for what happens inside the cabin, these next two screencaps speak more than any words can.....
This is credited as a "song" Lynn wrote, but it's more like a rhyme recited in rhythm while Lizzie and the lady dance and stomp around. It's embarrassing stuff, to be sure, but Lizzie learns through its educational lyrics that her family still loves her, even though they treat her like moose manure.
The old granny leads Lizzie across a bridge, and she starts to recognize where she is. Elizabeth walks up the path to her house and goes inside, but only Farley is there because everyone else is out looking for her. Liz turns around one more time to thank the old woman.
Wait a doggone minute....she just disappeared from view, and the horizon is too far off for a woman of her age to reach in that time span. And how did she know where Lizzie lived? And....wait a minute, there was no log cabin there at all! She was an ANGEL! A CHRISTMAS ANGEL! Well, happy Snowflake Day, angel! Happy Snowflake Day EVERYONE!
John and Mike are still out by the river, looking for Elizabeth. When they find her woolen hat, they fear she must have fallen in. The whole family races back to the house to call 911, but as they're about to dial the second 1, Lizzie appears around the corner wondering what's going on. Happy Hugs for everyone!
There is one more scene before the credits, but it's just the family opening their presents and saying corny things, so I don't feel like elaborating. They didn't forget about Mike's subplot -- guess what, he decided to spend the snow-mow money on his family, BIG surprise. Even if it's out of character for Mike.
Why didn't it fit in?