8 (Days) Of TV’s Best Christmas Specials Of The 21st Century!

Welcome to a very special episode of Breaking Geek: A Breaking Geek Christmas!

I’m not a very merry guy; I hate Christmas music, movies, and TV shows, though I do love getting free shit. My favorite “Christmas” movies are simply films set on Christmas, including Lethal Weapon and Die Hard. I especially hate those “Very Special Christmas” episodes nearly every series forces out every year, like a Christmas turd. I’m tired of watching families and friends coming together for a disgustingly sweet episode, all their worries and conflict gone for just one week of a Season.

These 8 Christmas Specials are more my speed;  Less cheer, more cynicism and darkness. My kind of Christmas.

There are NO SPOILERS ahead, just enough info to get you excited about these very unique Christmas specials.

8. Black Mirror, ‘White Christmas’ (2014) – Available on NetflixBlack Mirror White Christmas Jon HammBlack Mirror is an anthology show, like The Twilight Zone, known for its twisted and dark interpretation of the not-so-distant future where the horrors of technology have gone awry. ‘White Christmas,’ is perhaps the most disturbing episode of the entire series, wrapped up in colorful paper and a pretty bow. After living in an isolated cabin for five years, Matt (Jon Hamm) and Potter (Rafe Spall) share the horror stories that drove them into isolation over a Christmas meal. I can’t go into greater detail without spoiling the episode, but the gist of it is that the the two men find themselves alone on Christmas because because they were literally “Blocked” in real life. Something much darker is lingering under the surface, waiting to be revealed. Perhaps the scariest Christmas special you will ever see!

7. It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, ‘A Very Sunny Christmas’ (2009) – Amazon PrimeA Very Sunny Christmas The Gang With PresentsSpeaking of Christmas specials that aren’t so merry, ‘A Very Sunny Christmas’ offers the same cynicism and asshole characters you expect It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. The gang never ends up in a happy place in any other episode, so why should Christmas be any different?

In this episode, longer and Rated R, Dennis (Glenn Howerton) and Dee (Kaitlin Olson) try to teach their father Frank (Danny DeVito) a lesson about Christmas after he ruined all their perfect Christmas gifts in childhood by keeping them for himself. Meanwhile, Charlie (Charlie Day) and Mac (Rob McElhenney) try to set things right with a neighbor who’s gifts Mac’s family stole during his childhood. This episode is the 1st to delve into all of the characters’ history, featuring child versions of Charlie, Mac, Dee and Dennis! ‘A Very Sunny Christmas’ has Charlie brutally attacking a Mall Santa Claus, due to the fact men dressed as Santa would fuck his Mom every Christmas, a gory stop-motion sequence in the vein of Frosty The Snowman, and Frank being sown into a couch, only to emerge sweaty and naked. And the gang learns nothing… not even about Christmas.

6. Sherlock, ‘The Abominable Bride’ (Jan 1st, 2016) – Amazon PrimeSherlock: The Abominable Bride Christmas SpecialReady for a Christmas mystery? Though billed at a Christmas special, like in Die Hard and Lethal Weapon, Christmas is more of a setting than a theme in ‘The Abominable Bride.’ Rather than being set in modern day like the rest of the series, ‘The Abominable Bride’ takes place in the late 1800’s, with more classic interpretations of Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Watson (Martin Freeman). Sherlock investigates the case of a Bride rising from the dead to kill her husband, relating to the modern mystery of how Moriarty (Andrew Scott) can possibly return from death after a self inflicted bullet to the head. Too dark for Christmas? Not at all! Elementary, my dear reader.

5. Curb Your Enthusiasm, ‘Mary, Jospeh and Larry’ (2002)Joseph, Mary and Larry Curb Your Enthusiasm Christmas There’s a pubic hair stuck in Larry David’s throat! Cheryl wants to buy a Christmas Tree for their Jewish household! Larry’s housekeeper won’t keep her mouth shut about his private plans! Larry covers for Jeff when Susie finds out about some late night phone calls! Christmas tipping goes awry when Larry accidentally tips the same guy twice at the Club and his housekeeper finds out the gardener received more Christmas money! Larry’s in-laws (including Kaitlin Olsen, from Always Sunny) invade his house, bringing a ginger bread manger of which Larry eats the baby Jesus and his virgin mother Mary! It’s amazing how much material Curb Your Enthusiasm can fit into the 1st 11 minutes of a 30 minute episode. As it always goes on Curb Your Enthusiasm, all these events collide and things continue to spiral out of control as Larry attempts to fix everything, only to ruin Christmas for everyone. Typical brilliant Curb episode that’s more naughty than nice.

4. Arrested Development, ‘Afternoon Delight’ (2004)Arrested Development Afternoon Afternoon Delight Christmas SpecialSky rockets in flight, Afternoon Delight! Leave it to Arrested Development, my favorite TV show of all time, to tie a surprisingly dirty song and marijuana (a strain named Afternoon Deelight) to Christmas. GOB (Will Arnett), currently the president of the Bluth Company, starts wearing his father’s $60,000 suit (“Come On!”) and sets out to provide his depressed employees with a great Christmas party! As always happens when GOB is in charge, everything falls apart and it’s up to his brother Michael (Jason Bateman) to put everything back together. Featuring Micheal singing the poorly chosen ‘Afternoon Delight’ with his niece, the first appearance of the Banana Suit, and a very stoned Lucille Bluth (Jessica Walters), this expertly written episode contains some of the most classic moments from the groundbreaking series.

3. South Park, ‘Woodland Critter’s Christmas’ (2004) – Hulu, SouthParkStudios.comSouth Park Woodland Critter's Christmas Stan and Animals“Hail, Satan!”

The best of the many South Park Christmas episodes, ‘Woodland Critter Christmas’ features rhyming narration, in the style of Dr. Seuss, driving Stan through the story while outright contradicting his words and feelings on the matter. After killing a mountain lion to ensure the immaculate conception of the virgin Porkupiney the porkupine, Stan quickly learns these adorable animals’ savior is actually the spawn of Satan. After all, who else would have sex with a porcupine? After witnessing their sacrifice of Rabbitty the Rabitt and the ensuing Blood Orgy, Stan must teach the mountain lion cubs how to preform an abortion to save us all. It wouldn’t be South Park without a Blood Orgy, right? Definitely the most inappropriate Christmas episode you’ll find anywhere!

2. Community, Regional Holiday Music (2011) – HuluCommunity Regional Holiday Music Christmas SpecialCommunity CRUSHES it with its Christmas episodes. In season 3, Community brings the Holiday Cheer with original Christmas songs, dissing the now forgotten show Glee in the process. After Jeff (Joel McHale) shuts down Greendale’s Glee Club by reporting them for using unlicensed music, Glee Club Instructor Cory Radison (Taran Killam, SNL), or “Mr. Rad,” recruits the study group to fill in for the Glee Club for a 2nd time (the last Glee Club died in a bus crash). Of course, none of them want to be involved, as their last experience was like “being on Ecstasy.” Abed (Danny Pudi), well intentioned and always seeking a perfect Christmas, is seduced by Mr. Rad’s infectious singing and goes on to spread the cheer (or glee) across the study group through songs. The songs include one about glee, a rap from Troy (Donald Glover aka the rapper Childish Gambino) about being a Jehovah’s Witness that was merely pretending to be into Christmas, and Annie’s (Alison Brie) sexy parody of ‘Santa Baby.’ As with all the specials on this list, certain revelations lead to a dark ending, without glee. And to think, “they were this close to Regionals!”

Abed: What if you were a Jehovah’s witness

That was merely pretending to be into Christmas?

Gathering clues and blending in

To take down the holidays from within?

Troy: You mean like a spy investigating?

Making it seem like I’m celebrating- when actually I’m infiltrating Santa’s operation?

Troy: YOIP! Going deep cover past enemy lines,

Making everybody think I’m on the christ-a-mas side,

Rockin’ warm sweaters,

Hangin’ big ass lights,

If the fat man could see me yo it’s gotta look right

I’ll watch all the TV specials that I never could,

I’ll even cry during the sad ones like James Bond would

And when the big night comes it’s time to set the bait,

Cold milk, hot cookies,

Decorative plates!

And he’ll come down the chi-muh-ney

And it will be just him and me

But he won’t know we’re enemies ’cause I’ll play sincere

Bring a trap, like that,

Hug him tight, get on his lap

And tell him he can come back every year.

‘Cause I am Jehovah’s most secret witness

So I might have to dedicate my life to Christmas

And act just like I love it ’til the day I die!

Abed: A-B-E-D

Connoisseur of Christmas

On the spectrum?

None of your business

Thoughts too fast to comprehend

Just wanna do right

By my friend

If years were seasons, this December

Would be the December

Of our December

More blueprints than Howard Hughes,

But if there are blueprints,

How do we choose?

We have to be happy to get to the end,

We have to save Christmas to save our friends–

Both: We have to save Christmas to save our friends,

We have to save Christmas to save our friends!

1. Community, ‘Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas’ (2010)Community Abed's Uncontrollable ChristmasThis episode is truly the most magical Christmas special of all time! A season before ‘Regional Holiday Music,’ Community delivers another wholly original musical, this time in a glorious, fully animated, stop-motion episode. Paying homage to Rudolf the Rednose Reindeer and The Nightmare Before Christmas (my other favorite “Christmas” movie), ‘Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas’ explores the source of the mental breakdown which has Abed seeing the whole world in claymation. It includes Willy Wonka-esque songs ejecting members of the study group from Abed’s dangerous hallucinations one at a time. The episode even features a remote control Christmas pterodactyl and the line, “Somewhere Tim Burton just got a boner.” Sincerely dark like every special on this list, this ending does provides the most Christmas cheer.

Make haste, there’s not a moment to waste! Only a little over a month to check out all these unconventional Christmas classics.

THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE Trailer #4… With Screengrabs!

Just in time for the release of Doctor Strange, DC is touting their wares with new trailers for The Lego Batman Movie and Wonder Woman! The Wonder Woman trailers continue to worry me, but The Lego Batman Movie keeps looking more and more fantastic each time!

The latest trailer sets up more of the story and offers the first real footage of Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson), Joker (Zach Galifianakis), and mask free Bruce Wayne (Will Arnett, mask or no mask). It offers more action, as well as more lonely Batman living the mundane life between acts of heroism.

Check out the trailer now, but stay for the Original Screengrabs I made for you!

I included some notes on the Screengrabs, in case you missed something.

“Police Clown-Hunt”
Notice the sign… “Batman Forever.”
“Hard on Crime, Easy On The Eye”
“4-Ever…” hmm… must be a bunch of cool references to other Batman flicks…
Wayne Manor
Batman still deserves this lobster.
I thought he was a tech genius…
Portraits of Thomas and MARTHA! Wayne
Working out in bathrobes, or is it Bat-Rodes? (Har-de-har-har)
Little Bruce won’t be happy for long…
The Batsub
Bat Zeppelin
Bat Kayak! 
The Joker… and some much lesser used villains…
Dick Greyson likes to perch like Batman
Evil Joker
Happy Joker
A Batman V Superman shout-out (parody). Bat references indeed.
Sad Joker
Barbara Gordon
The police’s plan…
Bruce Wayne’s reaction.
A daring catch!
They reference “Master Builders” from The Lego Movie!
Did they break Robin out of Prison?
There go Robin’s clothes again…
One butt, one seat.

THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE SDCC Trailer & Poster: Life Doesn’t Give You Seat Belts

Yet another gift arrives from DC during San Diego Comic Con 2016!

Earlier DC showed us teasers for Wonder Woman and Justice League, but now we have a longer trailer for the best looking upcoming DC Film of all: The Lego Batman Movie!

Producers Chris Miller and Phil Lord promised The Lego Batman Movie “is chock full of stuff for Batman aficionados. It is just a 90-minute Easter egg.” The trailer certainly confirms this statement as it is full of Batman references of all types, from the ridiculous versions of the character that exist due to action figures and strange comic story lines to every film iteration of the character. Watch the trailer now!

“Bruce Wayne Lives In Batman’s Attic.” Love it. Not just because it’s hilarious, but because that exact idea is key to a strong Batman interpretation.  The Batman is real, Bruce Wayne is the mask.

That sort of detail confirms that though in Lego form, this version of a Batman film is still more than welcome, approaching the character in a way we’ve never seen on the big screen; through humor. In an age where Batman is at his darkest in the films (though lightening up a bit in Justice League), I cannot wait to see my favorite comedic actor, Will Arnett, voice Batman/Bruce Wayne in this spin-off from the The Lego MovieThe Lego Batman Movie Trailer Joker and RobinJoining Arnett is his Arrested Development co-star, Michael Cera as Robin, bringing a refreshing combination of more wide-eyed excitement and innocence than the traditional Dick Grayson. Ralph Fiennes is the perfect sarcastic Alfred (though I love what the DCEU has going with Jeremy Irons), and though we have yet to hear dialog, Zach Galifianakis has the Joker laugh down.

Finally, the poster. Enjoy!The Lego Batman Movie Poster



I am shocked, shocked I tell you (shell-shocked)! I never thought I’d write this, but Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows is… good! Not great, but good! Unlike the 1st film, this sequel has lost all of its Michael Bay/Transformers sensibilities and production design in favor of a film that feels like a direct adaptation of the Animated Series from the 90s!Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Out of the Shadows ReviewI watched 2014’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on Hulu the other night in preparation for this sequel. Watching the 1 st film, my initial worries were confirmed: it was a Michael Bay-esque mess (you’d swear he directed it) with more visual cues from the Transformers movies that anything in Turtle “Canon” and a brand new origin that stripped the characters of their complex relationships and personalities from the original animated series and live action movies of the 90’s. Shredder was a God-Damn transformer, William Fichtner played his typical Michael Bay role (Don’t trust that guy! Remember Armageddon?), and Megan Fox was a smoking reporter… with no reporter skills, nor any resemblance of classic April O’Neal besides having breasts. The Turtles were created by April O’Neal’s (Megan Fox) father with evil Fichtner, the former destroying his creation after learning about his research’s application (a la Amazing Spider-Man’s unnecessary backstory). They were April’s turtles that she saved only to throw down a sewer. Splinter (Peter Donald Badalamenti II) was just a rat that was experimented on, same as the turtles, instead of a former Ninjutsu master that trained under the same Sensei as Shredder. This Splinter learned Ninjutsu from a book! He was never trained AND was lacking the history with Shredder that always made their conflict personal and Shredder’s hatred appropriate. Worst of all, the plot was about poisoning New York and using the Turtles DNA as a cure, a dastardly plan that doesn’t fit the MO of the Shredder we once knew. And… the CGI was terrible, even for its time.

While not erasing the events of the first movie like it never happened, this year’s sequel, Out of the Shadows, fixed all these problems and modeled itself off of the 90’s Animated Series which is the most popular iteration of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to this day, even though they initially came from the pages of a comic book. In fact, as far as comic book movies go, TMNT: Out of the Shadows is better than last week’s release, X-Men: Apocalypse.Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Out of the Shadows Review Bebop and RocksteadyThis movie is all about giving kids of today the same feeling I got from the Animated Series, while also serving as sweet nostalgia for those that grew up with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles like myself.Shredder (Brian Tee) has been toned down to a guy in a costume nearly identical to the show; no more whirling robot arms that look like an Iron Man suit got jacked by a Transformer. The Foot Clan has stopped using guns like in the previous film and are back to being actual ninjas! Bebop (Gary Anthony Williams) and Rocksteady (Stephen Farrelly) are nearly perfect adaptations of their TV counterparts, as is Krang (Brad Garrett), fully realized with perhaps an overabundance of CGI, but cool none-the- less (his suit looks a lil’ like a Transformer, but it’s also true to the character). Casey Jones (Stephen Amell from Arrow) is awesome and fits in nicely with the other new characters. Best of all, with the introduction of all these fan favorites, it never feels crowded, though Shredder and Krang deserved a little more screen time.

The tone has been nailed this time as well. It’s humorous and fun! 2014’s initial entry took itself too seriously (again, look no further than the updated origins and generic terrorist plot) while Out of the Shadows reminds you how fun it is to be a Turtle, of the Teenage Mutant Ninja variety. The Turtles, Michelangelo (Noel Fisher), Donatello (Jeremy Howard), Leonardo (Pete Ploszek), and Raphael (Alan Ritchson), have distinct personalities past their archetypes: the leader, the brains, the goofy one, and the badass. They grapple with issues having to do with simply being brothers vs. learning to be an actual team, even if Master Splinter doesn’t offer as much sage advice as he did in the old days.Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Out of the Shadows Review KrangAnd the plot feels just like it came from the cartoon. No more terrorist acts like poisoning all of New York; instead, after a portal transports Shredder to the wrong location, Krang tasks him with collecting 3 relics to complete an inter-dimensional doorway which will allow Krang to invade the Earth with his warship. Meanwhile, Bebop and Rocksteady are mutated so the Foot Clan have a fighting chance against Mutant Turtles and Casey Jones takes up the vigilante mantle after he allows Bebop, Rocksteady, and Shredder to escape on his watch during a prisoner transport. Who can save the day? Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! Who still love Pizza!

The one plot point that worried me was in the introduction of the Purple “Ooze.” Unlike the traditional origin, there is not simply Green Mutagen which transforms any being into a combined version of their species and the last species they touched (in the old days Splinter touched the Turtles so they became humanoid, while his touching a rat made him half rodent). The Purple Ooze turns you into the animal you are in your soul (what mumbo-jumbo is that Dr. Tyler Perry?), creating Bebop and Rocksteady… who are apparently a Rhino and Warthog on the inside… while also offering the Turtles a chance to become human. Luckily the latter idea is not over explored, with the Turtles deciding not to use the Ooze without too much time spent ruminating on the subject.Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Out of the Shadows Review Megan Fox Middrift April O'NealOtherwise, the other characters are fine as well. Megan Fox remains better eye candy than a fully fleshed out April O’Neal, while Will Arnett continues to bring the funny as comic-relief Vernon Fenwick, now calling himself “The Falcon” after receiving all the credit for saving New York City in the 1 st film so the Turtles could remain a secret. Tyler Perry as Baxter Stockman is a fun addition, especially knowing his character mutates with a fly eventually in TV show continuity. That fact, as well as the ability to easily bring back Shredder, Bebop, Rocksteady, and Krang, leave the franchise with a lot of places to go!

When you get down to it, this movie just feels like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, while the 1 st film felt misguided and over Michael Bay-ed. Sure, it’s meant for kids and it’s not the smartest Comic Book Movie out there, but if you’ve ever liked the Turtles, it’s damn fun!

Oh, and as an added bonus, the original theme is played during the credits: new version, classic lyrics!

Bonus Points for Nostalgia!


Turtle Power!

Podcast #17: Turtlenecks & Porn Star Lips

Nick and Andrew play the 2nd and final round of the Oscars Game: 2015!

Arguments over the Street Sharks “Jawsome!” legitimacy lead to Nick and Andrew’s ‘Elektra’ lament. They watched the ‘Daredevil’ spin-off as part of their “POS Film Series” and you get to hear about it… without having to watch the not-so-Jawsome movie yourself! Talk ends with ‘The Avengers: Age of Ultron,’ as it always does, where our heroes disagree about the appeal of the poster for Earth’s Mightiest Heroes’ 2nd big-screen adventure.

Now with “The Stan Lee Theory!”

Chris Pine cries for no man! Except a single tear for Leonard Nimoy! (Okay, he's crying at the Oscars...)
Chris Pine cries for no man! Except a single tear for Leonard Nimoy! (Okay, he’s crying at the Oscars…)

Tune in every Friday for a new ‘Breaking Geek’ podcast!

Michael Bay Forgives Megan Fox By Letting Her Play With Teenagers (The Mutant Turtle Kind)

There is now a trailer for Michael Bay produced (not directed, thank god… may God have mercy on Marky Mark’s soul…) latest live action version of the infamous Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Gone are the foam masks and stuffy costumes… here be creepy looking CGI turtles.

And I kinda enjoy it.

Leonardo Turtle 2014Somehow the Turtles’ origin (still driven by mutigen) is also linked to April O’Neil’s (Megan Fox) father. Reminds me of THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN.

Yet there does seem to be hope! Shredder, the greatest preschool-era villain, is Nolan-esque looking more like a terrorist with an army than a ninja with other ninjas. But Shredder is played by William Fichtner who knocked it out of the park as the villain Butch Cavendish in the underrated LONE RANGER.

Will Arnett aka Lego Batman aka G.O.B. Bluth… my favorite actor, plays Vernon Fenwick, who appears to be a reporter of some kind.

Overall it looks like a Michael Bay movie… with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles… and Megan Fox’s cleavage as April O’Neil. Continue reading “Michael Bay Forgives Megan Fox By Letting Her Play With Teenagers (The Mutant Turtle Kind)”

Benedict Cumberbatch: Best Sesame St. Cameo Since Will Arnett

Sesame St. has really nailed it these past few years with great cameos and parodies meant for adults.

My favorite comedic actor, Will Arnett, once appeared as a magician, in reference to the underrated Emmy winning comedy, ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT.

It was hilarious. More hilarious to me than it was educational to that wide-eyed muppet and your child.

Since then, the show has had Mad Men parodies and Stephen Colbert appearances… all the while I became a Cumberbitch*.

And then this happened. Continue reading “Benedict Cumberbatch: Best Sesame St. Cameo Since Will Arnett”