Friday, December 18, 2015

So It's Come to This: Nickelodeon Ho Ho Holidays

Merry freaking Christmas and a happy stinking New Year from your favorite Nickelodeon pals. I guess.

I just have one question: WHAT THE HELL WAS THIS SUPPOSED TO BE?!?!

There are times where you know something is going to be at least decent and then it ends up being even better than you thought. There are also times where you know something is going to blow and then it ends up being worse than that. This is the latter situation. This was an absolutely despicable, horrendous, poorly written, unmotivated piece of garbage that should have never made it to air. It was bizarre and awkward at times to the point where I believe the actors and actresses just gave up and became self-aware. For every isolated bit that might have been pretty funny, there are ten more that were dead on arrival due to poor set-up, poor delivery, or just poor writing altogether. This was a way to get all of Nickelodeon's shows and have them interact with each other on Christmas Eve in one of the biggest, most anticipated, and critically acclaimed crossovers of all-time. No, because that would have been the intelligent thing to do. Instead, the executive decision was made to have everyone play themselves. Yeah, so that's actually what happened. For some stupid reason, the actors and actresses are playing themselves, but I know this is not how they would act in real life. Almost all of them are literally playing their characters from their shows, and if not, then some campy version of themselves. And they all had to read lines off a script for this because there was no attempt at improvisation or just pretending like they're hanging out with old pals. They are all aware that this is a holiday special, but it actually is not because they are in a fake storyline in a story told by elves. 

Yeah. This was corny beyond belief, but actually salvageable. If these people were all playing their actual characters, do you know how much better this special would be? If anything, that makes more sense than having these idiots try to play themselves which they are clearly unable to because of the stupid plot. And do you know why these people cannot play themselves in a special like this? Because then they end up being meta about it. There is a lot of self-referential stuff in here, especially at the end where they talk about the final musical number like nobody else has ever made that kind of joke before. The delivery there was off-putting and awkward because nobody ever talks like that. You can't have these people play themselves in a live-action special and then turn them into cartoonish idiots. Like I said before, some of these people act no different from how they do on their shows. It's baffling to me how little anybody cared about making this special work. Was it an executive decision? I don't know. Did any of the actors and actresses have any input on what they got to say or do? I don't know. Is this the worst Christmas special ever made? Yeah, most likely. I don't even think that Star Wars Christmas special was this bad, or the several Simpsons holiday episodes that paled in comparison to the ones made in the classic era. 

Now what exactly makes this so horrible beyond the cheesy acting and dialogue? NOTHING MAKES ANY SENSE. We have the Nickelodeon stars at the party that they were all invited to while never questioning who invited them or who the host is. Then we cut to the two mentally retarded elves telling the story. They see a box for a game called Guess the Gift and then we cut to a scene demonstrating how Guess the Gift is played......for several minutes. That was one of the most frustrating scenes in the entire special. It was supposed to be a bunch of random gags slapped together, but the bit ran on way too long and had no purpose other than trying to shoehorn in the cast members who weren't part of the main plot. And none of them were funny. There were about four of these painful segments with obvious jokes and terrible pacing. In the second segment, the stars are singing about snowflakes, and then one of them comes in dressed like an apple. One of the snowflakes (Jace Norman, I believe) points this out but nobody else sees it, and the apple is convinced that he is a snowflake and Jace is not. He believes he should not be discriminated because he is unique, and everyone agrees with him. BUT HE ACTUALLY IS AN APPLE!!!! THEY COULDN'T EVEN GET THAT MOTHERFUCKING JOKE RIGHT!!!! It would complete the joke if that one snowflake saw him as an apple from their perspective, but from the perspective of everyone else, they saw a snowflake. That's the one problem with these two hacky segments. They stick to one joke that was stale and unfunny when it was first told, and they prolong it until you sit there screaming at the screen. But the last segment? It was a rap number about how grandmothers buy terrible presents for their grandkids because they are terrible people. 

By the way, this special relies on stupidity to the highest degree. Pretty much everyone here does a bunch of moronic stuff throughout the runtime and about 2% of it is actually funny. Kira Kosarin constantly breaking things and bringing it up even though nobody else does, Aiden Gallagher drinking an entire room full of eggnog in less than twenty seconds, the whole plot revolving around being trapped in the house but moving around as aimlessly as possible, Coy Stewart wearing a Christmas tree costume because it thought it was a costume party. Everything here was horrendous. I laughed a few times, and that was pretty much it. Except for the last song which had actual singers with talent, the music here is painful. Was this special trying to make fun of itself? I don't know, because nobody was in on the joke and there was no sense of cleverness or wit in anything here. 

But you want to know the one thing that made this even worse? The ending.

THE ENDING. THE ENDING. Rico Rodriguez, for some bizarre reason, always wanted to sing a song with the Nickelodeon stars but he never got a reply so he invited all of them to this party. Then he would trap them and ruin their Christmas. Beyond the fact that this plan is asinine and is not even funny on a "so bad it's good" level, Rico is an absolute creep for doing this. That is one of the worst motivations I have ever heard for anything. Do these writers even realize how ridiculous that sounds? That would be like me killing John Cena because he stole my sandwich. When you have eight, yes, eight writers working on this, you know you can do much better than just turn this into a zany Saturday morning cartoon. Even the stars themselves don't really care about what happened. They just shrug it off because that's what actual people do in a similar situation. If the characters themselves do not care about anything that's happening to them, why should I? This special was so disconnected from its audience, I have no idea who this is going to appeal to. Little kids? Yeah, pretty much. They will love this special in 2015 and seven years later, revisit it and realize how awful it really was. That's how these things work because this special will not work in reruns. It barely even functions now. Kevin Kopelow and Heath Seifert were noticeably the two main writers of this mess. 

They came back to Nickelodeon for this?! Well, I guess it happens to everybody at some point. You just start losing your touch.

I'm done here. This special was absolutely horrible. Almost every joke is painfully predictable, really stupid, or runs way longer than it has to. Everybody here is absolutely idiotic and they act like they just stepped into a parallel universe (except for Buddy Handleson, who is the only bright spot in this whole thing). And with the exception of the last number, the music..........basura. I hate the idea that this special had to be made. It just boggles the mind how eight writers could let this happen and they actually thought they did a great job. I know the actors and actresses had fun doing this, but as a fan and a reviewer, I did not have fun watching this. Although it does make me wonder how Disney Channel would handle this kind of thing........

Final Grade: D (Buddy Handleson kept this thing from going any lower. I love that guy and he was the only one who was actually funny. Also, as awkward as the snowflake segment was, the fact that it was so ridiculously stupid made me laugh. Although, that's probably because I have pity.)
Episode MVP: Buddy Handleson

What I'm about to say could be considered controversial on a real level, so I just want to say that I'm not endorsing this attitude in the slightest. But, unfortunately, being familiar with 4chan's /tv/ image board, I can tell you that they were probably disappointed that Brec Bassinger and Kira Korsarin weren't covered waist-deep in eggnog but they were probably just grateful Isabella Moner was.

Also speaking of that scene, I have no idea who that other girl was. Is she the one who plays, uh, Chloe or whoever on Henry Danger? I don't recognize her at all. She's not on Game Shakers (interesting that none of the players on that show were even there), or NRDD, or Bella (at first I thought maybe it's Lilimar, but that's a solid nope on that) or Thundermans, etc. The fact that everything kept sticking to her because she sat on a marshmallow chair One, prop sight gags don't really work for me and two, that's probably another one that got /tv/ all excited. Yeah, I promise I'll quit making a squicky list of all the things that probably kept /tv/ happy save for one I'll save at the very end. But, hey, I guess someone was happy watching this at least, though, um....ewww.

I guess grown-ups just don't trust kids to really be able to improv on their own. Disney Channel can't even trust two adult and veteran actresses, Sofia Carson and Sarah Carpenter, to do more than act from a script when they're supposed to be spontaneously excited about Andy Grammar. I think Sofia Carson and Sarah Carpenter are capable of acting spontaneously excited about Andy Frickin' Grammar. Disney Channel probably doesn't even trust Debby Ryan and Bridgit Mendler to say their own names without reading first, "Debby [staring at the camera]: Debby Ryan" and "Bridgit [staring at the camera]: Bridgit Mendler." Which is probably why they abandoned the network for live performances and an actual live show respectively. They probably don't trust Selena Gomez to be able to play you like a love song on repeat-repeat-repeat without reading the original instruction manual first. They probably forced Zendaya to do her Wand ID with a pronunciation guide for her own name (Zen-DAY-ah). 

It's kind of a Holy Grail to be able to let child starlets, especially older ones like the aforementioned Sofia, Debby, Bridgit, Selena and Zendaya who have been at it for a while and probably want to do something different, to be let loose and actually do some improv. The closest any of those stars have been to doing improv on Disney Channel is either Jessie's Green-Eyed Monsters (the one Christian and Sean really hated) or when Disney Channel ran the short-lived Prank*Stars (yes the asterisk is a part of the title) show and only Selena and Debby did that (that was very late in WoWP's run and just before Jessie, just  when Debby started dyeing her hair red). The closest I can recall any of the Nickelodeon stars doing improv is, um, this.

I can see why Buddy has basically been playing the same role over and over again since he was still in single-digits on "the enemy network," it's admittedly a role he wears well. Everybody else...yeah. It just feels like they're out of their element. Yeah, ok, play yourselves...but at the same time don't stray far from your regular roles because the tweens who watch this think Jack Griffo and Max Thunderman are literally the same person. If you follow this blog a lot you know I'm probably way too huge a Debby Ryan fan for what I should be, which means I follow all her social media, which means I know that people literally thinking she's Jessie Prescott instead of Debby Ryan drove her nuts to the point where it probably goes a long way to explaining why Jessie's final season outright sucked. It's why she doesn't want to dye her hair red anymore, she doesn't want people to see Jessie Prescott instead of Debby Ryan. We certainly saw that happen to Jennette McCurdy (who's supposed to be a friend of Debby IRL) too, probably Ariana Grande as well. I have to wonder when, for example, Kira's breaking point is. Jace Norman at least has apparently regular employment in NOMs to break out regularly, but most of everyone else is stuck being who they normally play.

But yeah, it could've been better. Obviously it's trying to be a variety type show, it should've stuck with it better. Kopelow and Siefert know how to do this. I mean, if only there was, say, a show that kind of tried to be the variety model, and had Christmas special variety show episodes, and had skits, and so on. Maybe this completely fictional and hypothetical show could've, oh, I don't know, aired on Disney Channel from 2009 to 2011 and starred someone named, oh, I'll just pull a name out of my hat, how about Demi Lovato.

Oh, and that reminds me, there's another actress who kind of went nuts playing the same role, though granted there are complications behind that story, but people now pretty much look at her work on Glee, or on Princess Protection Program or the Camp Rock movies (as cheesy as they were) and say, hey, she's not bad at all. 

At the end of the day it's just cheap, throwaway programming so I guess I can't really blame them for not wanting to put much effort into it. Rico Rodriguez is a bit of an odd choice for a guest star especially since he's closesly associated with "the enemy network," what with both his own work on ABC and his sister's on Austin & Ally. Then again, that might explain exactly why he's there. And speaking of Rico, it was the other Rico (who plays Ace McFumbles on Bella) who was the complaining snowflake, not Jace (he wasn't in that skit). The kid who played ChrisPo on 100 Things was the apple, along with his costar who plays Fenwick and the girl who plays Piper on Henry Danger. That was their sole contribution to this mess, and likewise Jace, Riele, Cree and Benjamin were stuck in the Guess the Gift skit (that's such a Dan Schneider skit to do, I'm not sure who wrote the snowflake one, maybe Scott Fellows?)

Yeah, when I'm bombarding you with random trivia and suppositions of various actresses' attitudes (especially ones where I've been told you don't know me! You don't know what I think!) for an episode/Christmas special review, it means there isn't much to review. You're really getting what you expect.

I'm not kidding when I say the Monstober "Man Behind the Mask" reveal was much better executed, and that was a three-minute long barely-veiled advertisement for Descendants (yet again).

Episode Grade: This really is the definition of a flat D right here. 
Episode MVP: It's a five-way tie between the little girl from the Thundermans who got shot at the wall from a catapult as if she's trying to get up the Wall from Game of Thrones, Dove Cameron for having a cute expression as Calum Worthy pulled the mask off her face to reveal she was the person in the mask during the Monstober episodes, Sofia Carson for when Calum Worthy also took the mask off her face revealing that it was also her who was in those Monstober episodes, so both she and Dove can remind you to watch Descendants, Demi Lovato for being on a show that actually knew how to do this, and finally, Debby Ryan for having excellent penmanship on her signature on all those legal notices she keeps sending me that I keep ignoring.

It's a canon fact that Aiden Gallagher's tongue has been all over Isabella Moner. It's outright stated in the episode's dialogue, right there, right out in the open, as plain as day. Also, likewise all over Jack Griffo.

They really did not think this entirely through. Anyway, Happy New Years' and a merry Martin Luther King Day!

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