Chaos Attraction

Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer: The TV Review

2016-12-12, 6:54 p.m.

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So apparently the notifylist stopped working and nobody said anything about it to me and I can't find anything about it. Grrr. Have now replaced with TinyLetter.

Regulars of Holidailies will know that I loooooooove Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer, and am an aficionado of terrible Christmas music and the works of Dr. Elmo in particular. Last Christmas I ordered a “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer” sweater and spent a lot of time trying to actually get ahold of the thing before the holidays, which didn’t happen. I do, however, have it this year to bust out. I also managed to find a shirt last year that says “Watch Out Santa, Here Comes Grandma” to go under it.

However, I have somehow never managed to see the TV special “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer” before this year. Happily, this has been remedied, while I was wearing the proper outfit. Here comes the review!

For the record: the story is narrated by Dr. Elmo, except he’s supposed to be a kid named Jake (presumably this is being narrated from the future?) and Dr. Elmo is also playing Grandpa. And while the most appropriate Grandma-themed songs from the Dr. Elmo oeuvre are definitely written into the plot this show, as they should be, almost everything isn’t sung by Dr. Elmo, which I find a little disappointing. And one song in particular...oy.

Anyway, when you see Grandma get run over by the reindeer within the first 30 seconds of the movie, where do you go from there for the rest of the hour? Answer: LET’S GO TO THE FLASHBACK!

So Grandma owns a general toys-n-fun store called “Spankenheimer” (the family last name, apparently), where she dresses up as an elf, reads to kids, hands out merchandise on credit, and employs family members. For those of you wondering how Grandma’s store makes money, Jake the narrator assures us that “You can keep a store going on goodwill and baked goods.” This annoys the shit out of Cousin Mel, who in this story is clearly an expy of Daphne from Scooby-Doo, except money-grubbing and evil. Some guy named Austin Buck, richest man in town, offers to buy the store and Grandma says no, which also annoys the shit out of Mel. “I’d tell you to put a cork in it, you greedy money-grubber, but grandmas shouldn’t talk that way.”

Young Jake, who I’m guessing is probably in double digits in age, asks his mom if Santa is real. Mom hedges about this, giving the proper answer of explaining who Saint Nicholas is and how Santa represents the spirit of that. When asked, Dad is all, “What your mother said.” Grandma is all, I’ve seen Santa in the smiles of everyone at Christmas. “If you run into him, say hi for me,” says Jake. IRONY.

It’s time to sing “Grandma’s Killer Fruitcake!” This will become a plotline.

Cut to December 24, and Grandma heading out to donate some eggnog and fruitcake to a shelter. Nobody will go with her, everyone’s been drinking eggnog, and the show points out the line “We begged her not to go” by yelling, “We’re begging!” Eleven minutes in, Jake peeks out the window to see Grandma get run over. Again. The first time. Poor Jake tells the family what he saw and literally everyone blows him off and tells him to shut it and Cousin Mel bitches about Jake’s belief in Santa. Except Grandpa, who casually says, “I was too busy watching Grandma being run over.” Seriously, he says that. Grandpa in this show is just as out of it and generally uncaring about Grandma as I’ve always pictured him in the songs, so good job there.

SOMEONE GO OUTSIDE AND CHECK, PLEASE. But they can’t find her except for the body print left in the snow (so much for the lines about hoofprints on her forehead and incriminating clausmarks on her back), and all of her stuff. Cops are called: .”Yes, we’ve been drinking eggnog....They’ll be out first thing in the morning.” The cops say there’s no such thing as Santa but somehow can identify reindeer hair. Grandma’s fruitcake is left behind, but even the dog won’t eat it. This will become a plotline. The cops write this ups as a “sleighicular hit and run, a 12-24,” get it? Everyone hunts for Grandma and nobody finds her and months later, she’s never shown up. Grandpa plays cards with cousin Mel, the store goes downhill, Mel’s ready to sell and gets Grandpa to agree to do it.

We briefly see Grandpa in a daydream of the song “Grandma’s Spending Christmas With The Superstars,” which Dr. Elmo actually gets to sing. He thinks Grandma is dead and signs everything over to Mel. Once Jake finds this out, he skates over to Austin Buck’s tower of an office and Buck is all, well, if you think she’s out there, go find Santa, then. Duh.

Jake has a dog named Doofus, who is the smartest character in the show. He’s the Koko of this world. Doofus hands Jake his old Christmas list, which reminds Jake to write Santa an e-mail at santaclausisreal.com asking for his grandma. This gets him a response, as Quincy the elf is sent to pick up Jake and bring him to the North Pole in September.

“Grandpa, I’m going to the North Pole to find Grandma!” “Fine. Thanks for telling me.”

There’s a song in this show I either haven’t heard or it was too dull to remember, “Feels Like Christmas,” which seems to be about Santa and the Mrs. losing their spirit. Which is not a plotline here, really. Anyway, Grandma turns up in bed at the Pole with a yearlong case of amnesia. She has no idea who Jake is but agrees that this Mel character sounds pretty bad and she’ll go along with him to stop Mel. They bring along Santa to explain everything. Mr. Buck is all, anyone can dress up like Santa, like my employees, but this Santa can ID whate he wanted for Christmas.

So what did happen to Grandma? One of the reindeer smelled her fruitcake and went crazy nosediving for it and they hit, Santa apologized to a newly amnesiac Grandma (can’t kill her in this show), picked her up to get free health care at the North Pole, and had Quincy leave a note. But what happened to the note? Anyway, let’s arrest Santa, and meanwhile Grandma disappears because Mel and her partner in crime, “Ms. Slime” hide her in a cabin until Santa’s found guilty. Mel and her partner seem to think that this is a good way to get ahold of Santa’s money because he must be loaded. Uh....?

Because this song hasn’t made it into the show yet, the evil bitches perform “Grandpa’s Gonna Sue The Pants Off Of Santa,” except in Carmen Miranda outfits. Why has this song become a fake tropical Mexican song? I can hear one of my coworkers in my head calling it racist already. Also, Grandpa hasn’t even sued.

Cut to December and the trial’s going on. “If the beard fits, you must convict.” Doofus the dog tracks Grandma to the cabin, Jake and Quincy dress up as a forest ranger to lure Mel out of the cabin, both of them and the dog go down the chimney, and they rescue Grandma, bring her to the store, and make her eat her own fruitcake. HEY GUYS, FRUITCAKE CURES AMNESIA! But boy, was she out of it for a year. “I thought I was in Hawaii. Only it was cold.”

Jake and Grandma go to court and Jake manages to get Santa cleared of all charges by forcing the jurors and judge to eat both Grandma’s original recipe fruitcake and the fruitcake that was found at the scene of the crime. “Do we have to, Your Honor?” “Good question, do we have to?” “In the name of justice, we eat fruitcake.” Turned out that Mel drugged the fruitcake (is this a good idea for the people of the law to be eating it, then?) and as an added bonus, whatever she added to it somehow turned fruitcake into the equivalent of reindeer nip and it makes reindeer--or at least that one--crazy. Doofus finds the original note, Mel confesses to everything, and gets arrested because “that’s what you get for being selfish and stupid.”

Austin decides he wants to franchise the store and let Grandma run it as a chain instead. Santa leaves, but Grandma gets out the drugged fruitcake again (why?!) and gets run over FOR A THIRD TIME. Don’t worry, she lived.

Well, that certainly was a thing, all right. I actually think it came out better than I would have expected it to be, go figure. When you turn a song about accidental Christmas murder into an hour long kid’s special in which you can’t actually kill off Grandma and have to come up with something else to do for an hour, which means you gotta pull a plot out of your ass based on the previously established works of Dr. Elmo, it’s not that bad. It could have been so much worse if you think about that. Hell, it stuck to the plot of the songs better than a lot of movies do. There’s a certain logic to a lot of the action in it, which is to say there’s at least some logic behind the decisions like “I left a note!”

Eh, I’ve seen worse. I wouldn’t say it’s particularly good, but it’s not the worst Mr. Hankey I’ve ever seen either.

Oh, and I didn’t know Nostalgia Critic reviewed this. There’s a transcript.

There is also a TV Tropes page. Also, Cousin Mel made the Villians Wikia.

Also, interview with the actual writer of the song, who was not Dr. Elmo. (Warning: blooming popups with that link.)

Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer Supernatural fanfic. Someone had to do it.


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