Matt Originally posted on 12.10.02.
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This guy had more than just a Christmas special. Here's a review of his regular cartoon show.
Yes, he had a cereal. It didn't taste very well, but the box sure was purdy.
Frogger, Donkey Kong, Q*Bert, Pitfall Harry, and other video game luminaries are immortalized in this strangely entertaining cartoon series from six-thousand years ago.
The Christmas season is in full effect, and what better way to delve deep into the holiday spirit than by watching Pac-Man try to feed Santa's reindeer power pellets? Isn't that right up there with trimming the tree and tacking socks all over the mantle? Indeed, it happened. Christmas Comes To Pac-Land, a 1982 holiday spinoff of the Pac-Man cartoon, sought to bring kids closer to the true meaning of this most special of days. How? Mm, not really sure. Doesn't really matter, either. Any show that has a scene with Pac-Man's family stumbling upon a comatose Santa Claus is a-okay no matter what its convictions are.
The show still makes the rotation during Cartoon Network's ongoing Christmas special marathons, so if you're lucky, you might be able to catch it before next year. Don't worry if you miss it - the events weren't exactly earth-shattering, and unless you really wanted to see icicles growing off of Pac's roundish chin, viewing isn't essential. Still, it's more in-season right now than it'll be in, let's say, April or July. If I'm ever gonna review the beast, now is the time. Here's your vicarious look at Christmas Comes To Pac-Land!
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Pac-Man and the misses, who is known as 'Pepper' on the cartoon, are enjoying a rare snowfall in Pac-Land. They're making 'Snow Ghosts'. Now, as uncultured as I am about the nuances and intricacies of this faraway land, I must take issue with their decision to forge snow statues out of their sworn enemies - the very beings who keep trying to kill them. If someone ran over your foot, would you repay the favor by crafting huge works of snow-art in their honor? I think Pac-Man's a bit masochistic. But I guess you'd have to be a little masochistic if the cards God dealt you from his super-sized pinochle deck turned you into a yellow ball without genitalia.
I understand you, Pac-Man. Baby Pac is there too, but all that thing does is say 'goo goo gaga' while giggling. I wish Baby Pac would've been some kind of idiot savant who always managed to save the day in between the goos and gagas. Then again, it doesn't take a genius to save the day on this show. All you have to do is eat some Chicarina and bite all your enemies to death. On the plus side, Pepper's sun-flip visor is pretty fashionable.
Uh oh - it's the ghosts! Inky, Blinky, Sue, Clyde! And the other one! The ghosts only exist to annoy Pac-Man - if they're not trying to chomp him, they're sitting around a table trying to think up the best method of chomping him. It's a fairly unique plot device, I'll give it that. You never see this kinda shit on any other cartoon. The only way the squad of villains or heroes can succeed is by, literally, eating their nemesis. I wish I could go through life toppling those who would thwart me by biting their arms off, but that's a glory found only in Pac-Land. I guess it's a compensation prize for being a stout yellow ball. Without genitalia. The Pac family just barely survives this first onslaught, but the ghosts swear revenge.
Next, we see Santa Claus flying high up in the sky, preparing to drop his loot down to all the good boys and girls. It's the real deal, not a Pac-ized version of Santa. After sensing that he went a bit off-route, Santa's sleigh spirals out of control. The end results aren't pretty - the post-crash mess unveils an unconscious Santa and a bunch of reindeer ready for the glue factory.
When Pac-Man finds the wreckage, he's not quite sure what to do. See, there's no 'Santa Claus' or 'Christmas' in Pac-Land. This is all very much foreign territory for them. The situation is even more dire than you think - since Pac and friends have no idea that Santa typically hands out lots of free gifts, they've got no unending loyalty to him. They just think he's some kind of space alien. Creatures of lesser virtue would've just walked away after stealing the guy's wallet. But not Pac-Man's family! They're nice balls!
Santa explains his predicament, telling all about his job as toy-giver and peacemaker. The citizens of Pac-Land look at him like he's insane, which let's face it, was to be expected. Still, they're good guys, and if this space alien says he's supposed to bring toys to an unknown race on an unknown planet, they're going to do everything they can to help. Unfortunately, Santa's sleigh is ruined and all his reindeer appear pretty close to death. Oddly, they take Santa inside and fix him a nice hot cup of cocoa, but they leave all the poor deer outside at the crash site. I guess Pepper doesn't want animal hair all over her couches. And really, who would?
Pac-Man agrees to help in any way he can. Santa suggests that he retrieves the lost sack of toys - without those, Christmas can never be saved. Of course, it's a little rude of Santa to send Pac-Man out into the middle of a blizzard to carry a two-ton sack of toys on his back while he just sits in the house drinking hot chocolate, but I suppose Santa's used to the royal treatment.
In previous scenes, Pac-Man was shown rolling around in the show without a care in the world. Now he's absolutely freezing and looking miserable. So either the snowflake temperature dropped by 75 degrees in the past twenty minutes, or Pac-Man's just making a pissy face because he doesn't like today's assignment. Would you want to retrieve a giant sack of toys for some creature who crashed in your backyard? Pac-Man's a pretty gracious host, but I think he's starting to second-guess his chosen level of hospitality.
After another run-in with the ghosts, Pac-Man and his stupid dog manage to get the toy sack. It's certainly big, but nowhere near as large as you'd think. I don't see how Santa gives a toy to every good boy and girl on Earth with a sack that small. I guess there's a lot of really bad kids in the world. I hope I'm not one of them; I so wanted a pogo stick this year.
Now near-death himself, Pac-Man arrives back home with the toys in tow. Everyone starts congratulating him for saving Christmas, but here comes Santa with the 'Oh ho ho not so fast!' bullshit. Apparently, Santa feels that it's too late to make the Christmas run. He's sure that this is going to be the first Christmas in history that he misses. Personally, I got the feeling that Santa just didn't want to make the trip, and was getting mighty comfortable in Pac-Man's weird chair with Pepper constantly bringing him cocoa. He's such a bad houseguest. And since he seems to be settling in for a long stay, Pac-Man warms himself up as quickly as possible and starts punching his head, trying to conjure up a way to save Christmas and get this jolly freak the hell out of his house.
See, the big problem here is that Santa's reindeer are tired. They've been beaten and bruised, and really aren't up for making a super-fast trip across the universe. If Pac-Man wants to save Christmas, he'll need to figure out a way to boost their energy levels. Just fill a syringe with some liquid ephedra and stick it up their asses, Pac. No no, he's too pure for that. His solution has to be a little more cheerful. So, after persuading the ghosts to let them pass 'in the spirit of the holidays', everyone goes to the fabled Power Pellet Forest. Why the ghosts were so easily swayed by the thought of saving a holiday they previously never heard of is beyond me, but these were pretty kooky ghosts to begin with.
I really hope Pac-Man isn't planning to do what I think he's planning to do. You don't waltz into a foreign country and start eating all the native food unless you're absolutely sure it's not going to kill you. Likewise, you don't take reindeer from a faraway planet and feed them oodles of glowing pellet drugs. Please Pac-Man, please think about what you're doing. Reindeer physiology is much different from Pac-people physiology.
Sure enough, that's what he does. The reindeer chomp away at the power pellets, and immediately start glowing. I was waiting for them to throw up or at least engage in some kind of drunken Charleston dance atop the snowy terrain, but no such luck - they're a-okay and primed for a long night of chimney hopping and getting whipped by that fat red asshole. Santa is thrilled. Not sure if that's because the reindeer are back to normal or because he snuck a few power pellets in his mouth and found them mighty tasty. Either way, he flies away from Pac-Land, presumably never to be seen or heard from again. Pac-Man feigns delight over Christmas being saved, but we all know the truth. He's just happy that the big alien isn't sitting in his favorite chair anymore, flirting with his hot wife. Pepper's a looker.
When they arrive back home, everyone's surprised to find that Santa's made an extra stop this year...at Pac-Man's house! Presents for everyone, even the ghosts! God bless us everyone! It's about as merry an ending as anyone could've wished for. Unless you were hoping a comet would hit Santa immediately following his takeoff, in which case you'd be at least a little disappointed.
Overall: You really can't fault the Pac-Man cartoon for much; it was obviously meant for a very young audience. They're allowed to be goofy and nonsensical because the viewers were too young and too busy pissing themselves to notice. And seriously, the mere fact that they were able to get an entire cartoon series based on a game as simplistic as Pac-Man is a feather in their cap. At heart, all a Christmas special needs to do is make you feel festive. I immediately ran up to my attic and started pulling down half-working strands of holiday lights after watching this, so I guess Christmas In Pac-Land was a success. 7 out of 10. More like 6, but I'm feeling all cheery and giving.