Sunday, April 22, 2012

Episode 49: Doug's Christmas Story

This episode is bonkers. A couple of days before Christmas, the kids of Bluffington are having fun on a frozen Lucky Duck Lake. Some people are just skating around, but most of them are playing hockey with a pine cone.

A real puck is the cheapest part of playing hockey, but they've all got skates and sticks. Anyone got a few dollars to get a real puck? Fuck that, a pine tree just dropped something we can use. It's not the same shape or weight, but whatever. Doug and Skeeter don't have real sticks either. Skeeter has a broom, and Doug has a rake. I assume Doug brought the pine cone, and everyone is going along with it so they don't hurt the poor kid's feelings.

Anyway, Porkchop dives for the pine cone and slides out to the thin ice sign.

Who put that sign there and how? The ice starts cracking as soon as Porkchop gets near the sign and he runs away as fast as he can. Because even if can't actually read English, he can see the ice is breaking apart. Once he's out of harm's way, the ice around the sign breaks enough for the sign to sink into the water.

The pine cone slides out to the broken ice and Beebe skates out there to get it. Porkchop sees her and sees the ice cracking further and rushes to stop her.

She tells him to get out of the way. "I'm busy." Too busy to look 10 feet in front of herself, apparently. So what's a dog to do? With the ice starting to crack around her, Porkchop bites her leg and drags her to safety.

She's screaming in agony the whole time, which means she's just not going to notice the enormous cracks in the ice. Everyone gathers around her to see if she's okay. Doug rushes up and asks what happened. Connie tells him that Porkchop attacked Beebe. Chalky says he saw the whole thing, and that Porkchop came up behind her and bit her, indicating that he did not, in fact, see the whole thing. No one even sees the big hole developing in the thin ice. Doug scolds Porkchop.

At home, Doug is telling Porkchop he's not supposed to bite people, "even if it is Beebe." Porkchop acts out the whole thing, because he can't speak, but he can skate around and recreate past events as one man shows.

Doug doesn't understand. He tells Porkchop this is no time for clowning around, and then orders him into his igloo. To think about what he did, of course. Doug leaves with Judy to do some last minute Christmas shopping.

And now we finally get to see what Bob White has been doing since he lost the election to Mrs. Dink.

He's a radio host. The first thing we hear is perfect. "And here's my secret: just make sure you marinate the cocktail weenies in grape jelly first." Anyone want to try this? Let me know how it goes.

The next caller asks if he's heard about the little girl being attacked by a dog. He jumps up, shocked. It's time for action.

At the mall, Judy is ignoring Doug's thoughts about how he shouldn't have yelled at Porkchop and saying the store doesn't have any 9 irons like their dad wanted.

She suggests they just get him three 3 irons. Because golf is too baffling for a high school girl to understand. Doug ignores her suggestion and gets excited about a hat he wants to get for Porkchop.

If Doug's imagination is correct, this hat will be too cute to not buy. Also, it's strangely convenient that this sporting goods store sells hats for dogs. Hmmm. Meanwhile, Judy has decided that it will be cheaper to get a 2 and a 7 iron. Good work, idiot.

On the way home, Doug's looking at the hat and says, "I hope he doesn't already have one." Then he notices the large crowd outside their house. There's police and press vehicles. He shoves his way through the crowd to see this.

It's what they do to dogs that attack people. The former mayor walks up and announces that kids are now safe from this brutal, trained killing machine. Porkchop is taken away.

Inside, Doug asks if they can really put Porkchop away for good. Phil says, "I wouldn't worry about it too much, son. This time of year everyone's thinking about peace on Earth and good will towards...dogs." The doorbell rings and Doug gets a letter.

It's from Mr. Bluff's lawyer. They are pressing charges against Porkchop. Doug says, "this is crazy. Everybody knows Porkchop's a nice dog." This gives Phil an idea; get everybody to say what a nice dog Porkchop is. Theda suggests they circulate a petition. Doug thanks them for the idea, but insists he do it himself, because Porkchop is his best friend and having help with things is something sane people want. Also, how many signatures would it take to save a criminal? This is crazy busy-work Phil and Theda have put on Doug. They probably know Mr. Bluff won't give a shit about Porkchop's nice history. All he knows is that Porkchop apparently attacked his daughter.

So, Doug starts going door-to-door to collect signatures. Mr. Dink is happy to sign, and says Mrs. Dink would be happy to sign too, if she was in town. Then everyone starts refusing to sign.

People are really shitty. The guy above starts to sign, but his wife points out that it's the dog from the news and he changes his mind. Another woman tells Doug this is no time for petitions; he should wait until after the holidays.

In one of the old standard movie/television cliches, Doug walks by an appliance store and catches a little bit of relevant information on the tv in the window. The local news is talking about the accident and shows their re-enactment of the vicious attack.

Doug is outraged. He finally decides to talk to Beebe, so he runs to the hospital. Mr. Bluff refuses to let him see her though. Doug tries to tell Mr. Bluff that Porkchop didn't mean to hurt her, that he was just playing with her or something, but he won't hear it. They'll let the court decide whether putting an innocent girl in the hospital is "just playing with her" or not. Furthermore, he just doesn't like dogs. "They don't have any money. They don't even know what money is!" Later, he will run for governor of Massachusetts.

Doug's interaction with Mr. Bluff makes him finally admit to himself that he needs help. He says he knows just who to turn to, and then we get a fantasy.

That's right. Doug has finally realized he needs help, and who better to help him than himself? Actually, three of himself. A dog is in trouble, and we need the suave spying of Smash Adams, the rough adventuring of Race Canyon, and the magic quailery of Quailman.

So Doug busts out a map of the pound and points out the entrances and guard locations, and the barbwire fence. He says the mission is to get Porkchop out and asks for ideas. Quailman says he'd fly in, use the Quail-eye to paralyze the guards and ask them to let Porkchop out. Doug says he can't fly. Race Canyon says he'd go in and start punching and kicking the guards. Doug says no. Of course. Smash Adams says he'll need some high tech gadgetry, and asks if he knows any inventors. So that is how Doug decided to go to Al and Moo.

They've used the holiday break, and their father's bakery, to develop many devices that combine the delicious flavor of holiday baked goods with state-of-the-art weapons technology. Doug says he doesn't want to hurt anybody, just make a clean getaway. So all they have for that is the cupcake you see in the picture above. It's actually a smoke-bomb. Remove the cherry to set it off.

Doug and Skeeter go to the city pound and run into the most peculiar obstacle. Apparently the pound has a very strict "no cupcakes" policy. There's a large sign stating this right behind the guard at the reception desk. As a part of the plan, Skeeter starts screaming in agony, claiming to be sick. He starts clutching at his stomach and rolling around the floor. Doug sneaks into the backroom as the guard is distracted by the telephone. The guard completely ignores Skeeter.

In the backroom, Doug starts calling out for Porkchop, but one of the other dogs points at a door labeled "VERY BAD DOGS." Thanks, helpful dog! If Doug can't save Porkchop, I hope he at least saves you! Out in the front, Skeeter fails to stop the guard from eating the cupcake.


In the back, Doug has walked down a spiral staircase to the dungeon full of very bad dogs, only to be directed to another doorway by another dog that happens to know where Porkchop is. Thanks, other dog!

Yes, he's in the "VERY VERY BAD DOGS" room. Doug enters to find a single cage, with one tiny window, lit with dull red lights. He immediately sets off an alarm and gets caught by a guard. Porkchop tears up and waves goodbye at him.

At home, Doug feels hopeless. He's staring at Porkchop's igloo trying to think of some way to save him.

Unfortunately, he can only think about various Christmases. First there's the one where he got Porkchop.

Cute as fuck. Next there's last Christmas, "when he gave me this journal."

FUCKING WHAT!? This entire show is based on the writings of a young boy who believes his dog gave him the journal he's writing in. I'm not sure what to make of this. It's just crazy that he believes this. I don't remember how old I was when I stopped believing in Santa Claus, but I never would have believed my dog bought something for me. I always thought it was weird to give dogs Christmas presents. They're dogs. They don't have Christmas. They don't even know what Christmas is.

Anyway, Doug imagines future Christmases.

I guess his big Christmas present this year will be a tombstone for Porkchop.

So now it's Christmas Eve and it's time for Porkchop's trial. This alleged dog attack is high priority for Bluffington. Who cares if it's Christmas Eve!? We've got a dog we've got to put on trial now! Mr. Bluff asks the judge to make it quick because he's missing his office Christmas party.

So they bring in Porkchop and the trial begins. They brought in a special dog psychologist to testify against Porkchop.

You can tell he's a dog psychologist and not a quack lunatic because he has bones sticking out of every available pocket. He says some crazy bullshit about Porkchop while Doug and Porkchop play charades. Doug finally figures out that Porkchop wants them to go to the lake. The prosecution calls their last witness.

Oh shit, she needs a wheelchair! Doug is surprised, and realizes for the first time that Beebe really was hurt. He revisits the fantasy with Quailman, Smash, and Race. Race now wants to plead guilty. Smash calls him crazy, and Quailman does nothing but loudly insist that Porkchop didn't do anything wrong. They argue until the voices in Doug's head get to be too much for him to take.

He yells, "quiet" and determines to deal with this himself.

After the fantasy, we join Beebe near the end of her testimony. She says Porkchop pulled her across the ice, and then tries to say it sounds worse than it really was. The prosecutor says, "no further questions," and Beebe tries to add that it really didn't hurt, but the prosecutor just says, "no further questions," louder. Doug asks if he gets to ask any questions, but Mr. Bluff says she's far too tired suffer any more torment from him and the dog. The judge calls her brave, there's some applause, and he announces that he's ready to render a verdict. So what we have here is a dog on trial, Doug is a lawyer (with three extra personalities arguing inside his head), and a complete disregard for the entire judicial process. Excellent. Doug starts to plead with the judge.

He asks if Porkchop gets to tell his side of the story. The judge points out that no one speaks dog, and everyone laughs. Doug says Porkchop has been trying to tell him something about the lake, and suggests they just go out there. The judge refuses. It's Christmas Eve, and they all have families waiting! This sets off one of the greatest courtroom speeches in film and television history.

"That's just what I've been trying to say! Porkchop is part of my family. Just as much as Beebe is to the Bluffs."
"But he's just a dog."
"Yes, but...but he's a part of our community too! Like everybody here! Well, maybe not the biggest part, but...I mean, isn't Christmas when we're supposed show how much we care about others? Show how much we care about everybody in the community? Mrs. Warts, when you went to Peakville to visit your Aunt Maxi, who babysat little Jimmy and Jeffy? Porkchop! And Mr. and Mrs. Larkin, when your house burned down, who was there the next morning with hammer and nails, and a big batch of cookies too? Porkchop!"

A woman chimes in saying, "he lent me twenty bucks!"
Another woman says, "he helped me fix my transmission!"
A bald man with a shitty comb-over says, "he saved my hair!"

Doug continues, "and Judge Peterson! Who was there after your daughter got in that accident? Who taught her to walk again?"

Judge Peterson says, "well...I helped a little."

So with as much insanity as he can force on a small town, Doug has convinced Judge Peterson to go out to Lucky Duck Lake. Out on the lake, Beebe is using crutches and trying to remember where she was when Porkchop bit her. Patti spots the pine cone they were using and Beebe starts to hobble over towards it. Porkchop starts to go nuts.

Why is Porkchop the only one that can see she's walking toward thin ice? She walks away and no one is watching her. Porkchop starts trying to chase after her and Mr. Bluff just assumes he wants to attack her. Luckily, she breaks through the ice.

Porkchop breaks free from the guards and dives into the water after her. No one else tries to help. It's thin ice. Only dogs can save drowning people surrounded by thin ice.

Everyone finally realizes that Porkchop was trying to save her. How many dumbass kids do you think froze to death in the waters of Lucky Duck Lake in the years before Porkchop moved to Bluffington? I bet it was a lot, but not quite enough to change the name to Kidsicle Lake.

So that's how Porkchop became a town hero. It wasn't when he taught a girl to walk again. No. He had to save Beebe twice to get the town's recognition. On Christmas Day, Beebe and her dad stop by the Funnie's to ask if there's anything they can do to thank Porkchop, and somehow he communicates the most insane idea ever.

Look at all those dogs that think they're people! Mr. Bluff organized a Christmas dinner for all the dogs in the pound, and Bob White used his radio show to find homes for them. So after Beebe, he also saved a bunch of dogs. What an amazing dog!

Like I said...bonkers. Would it be insensitive to suggest that Porkchop is not actually a dog, but Doug's mentally handicapped younger brother that the Funnie's make sleep in a dog house? Doug just thinks and writes about him as if he's a dog. Maybe he even behaves like a dog most of the time. In elementary school, I knew a girl that would bark and growl at people, and talk to her hotdogs at lunch. Maybe Phil and Theda are far worse parents than I've ever imagined. No, I've gone too far. I'm sorry.

But I don't know how to explain all the things Porkchop has apparently done for the town. If he really loaned $20 to someone, then Mr. Bluff's reasoning is shit. Porkchop knows what money is, and often has money to lend. Porkchop knows how to fix cars, build houses, bake cookies, babysit and teach people how to walk again! He's a miracle dog, or maybe Doug is actually doing all this stuff and crediting his dog for some crazy reason. It's possible to be crazy and the most awesome, helpful person alive. It probably helps to be crazy to be the most awesome, helpful person alive.

And crazy he remains. His idea of help is three alter egos. He rejected his family's help, and then turned to himself once he decided he needed help. It was an unnecessary step he took to asking Al and Moo for help. And their help led to a ridiculous plan that wouldn't have worked even if it was carried out by competent people.

The whole misunderstanding between Beebe and Porkchop is possible. It's entirely possible that Porkchop saved Beebe from falling through the ice. Dogs have saved people from worse situations. It's possible everyone thought he was just attacking her and went crazy about it. People get hysterical about less. People are idiots. But I'd guess that most of the rest of the story is embellishment because Doug doesn't simply write down the series of events. He makes it interesting.


  1. In retrospect, I thought this was a wonderful, heartwarming Christmas special. But there is, however, one major continuity error:

    In the scene where Doug thinks about all the good times he had with Porkchop, he thinks about the time he gave him his journal last Christmas. But he had that journal even when he was still living in Bloatsburg!

    Also if you listen carefully to the sound coming out of Porkchop's walkman in that scene, it is The Beets' "Killer Tofu". But Doug didn't know who The Beets were until he moved to Bluffington!

    1. It's likely this is a second journal. If Doug really spent a summer mowing lawns, then he has to have lived here for at least a year, and very possibly two. And if he's been journaling all this time, especially if he was while still in Bloatsburg, then it's likely that journal got filled up and Porkchop gave Doug a new one.

  2. Doug and Skeeter don't have real sticks either. Skeeter has a broom, and Doug has a rake. I assume Doug brought the pine cone, and everyone is going along with it so they don't hurt the poor kid's feelings.

    And this can't be the Great Depression of the 1930's and that's all kids could use at all.

    Who put that sign there and how?

    Of course when you watch too many cartoons like I did, it becomes less trivial, It's just there!

    Porkchop bites her leg and drags her to safety.

    Trying to be a normal dog for once here!

    Cute as fuck. Next there's last Christmas, "when he gave me this journal."

    I guess in this world, dogs do know something about money (and people like Mr. Bluff would just deny the somewhat multi-sentient status of animals on his planet).

    I always thought it was weird to give dogs Christmas presents. They're dogs. They don't have Christmas. They don't even know what Christmas is.

    Mr. Bluff may want you to be apart of his empire then!

    Mr. Bluff asks the judge to make it quick because he's missing his office Christmas party.

    No doubt there'll be some hanky panky going on there!

    This sets off one of the greatest courtroom speeches in film and television history.

    Emmy-winning material here! :-P

    Only dogs can save drowning people surrounded by thin ice.

    And if he was one of those rescue St. Bernards out on the Alps, he'd have on one of those liquor barrels around his neck!


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