Merry Christmas! I hope you’re having a wonderful holiday and are able to share it with family and loved ones. If you’re reading this (which I appreciate), I’m sure you’ve got holiday traditions and other plans filling up your schedule, so I’ll get right to it. I’ll be taking a quick look at The Powerpuff Girls’ “’Twas the Fight Before Christmas.”
The Powerpuff Girls premiered in 1998 and is all about three super-powered preschool girls who were created in a lab by Professor Utonium. Together, Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup use their “ultra-super powers to fight crime and the forces of evil,” and, in this special, they save Christmas (of course).
As the name implies, “’Twas the Fight Before Christmas” draws some inspiration from the traditional Christmas poem. It’s mostly expressed through the festive rhymes and cadences of the narrator (Tom Kenny a.k.a Spongebob).
The girls are at school, filled with merry and mirth, excited for when old Saint Nick travels earth. Spirits are bright and carols are sung, though there’s one bratty girl with a heart full of dung. Princess Morbucks is her name, with only one aim: to become the newest Powerpuff and bask in the fame. Rich, bratty, and tending to flaunt, she’s sure Santa’ll give her the thing that she wants. The girls tell it straight to little miss haughty: Santa never gives gifts to those who are naughty. Upset and enraged by the words of the Puffs, Princess decides to head home in a huff (ok, that’s enough rhyming).
After this discovery, Princess flies to the North Pole and sneaks into Santa’s workshop. After discovering that she’s literally the only naughty kid in the world, the naughty “list” being just a sticky note with her name on it (that’s gotta sting), Princess pulls a fast one by switching the lists. The night of Christmas Eve, the girls notice something’s up when they of all people (as well as everyone else in town) wind up with coal in their stockings, and red flags are raised when they’re confronted by Princess, who has super powers now. The Powerpuffs decide to head to the North Pole themselves and settle things with Santa, but Princess won’t let them, claiming she’ll get there first to blame everything on them.
What follows is the “fight before Christmas,” an extended chase scene as the Powerpuffs and Princess race across the globe to meet Santa, both parties using all of the powers at their disposal to get in each other’s way. Eventually, they crash into Santa’s workshop and land at the feet of the big man himself, who’s none too happy. Just getting back from his trip, Santa is distraught over every kid in the world being naughty except for one (*ahem*) “little, itty-bitty perfect little angel,” forcing him to deliver coal everywhere. The Puffs try to explain that there’s been a mistake, but the irate Santa doesn’t want to hear it, trusting his infallible list. His tune changes, however, when he finally realizes he’s talking to the Powerpuff Girls, the most un-naughty super-super powered preschoolers on the planet. While Santa fawns, Princess explodes, going on a bratty rant, insulting Santa, demanding presents, and claiming her superiority on a global-scale. Astonished, Santa not only realizes his error, as a brat like Princess could never possibly be nice, but puts her on the Permanent Naughty list. Santa takes away her powers, giving Princess her just desserts for Christmas. Since Santa’s workshop got wrecked by the battle, the Powerpuff girls deliver gifts to all the kids in the world who mistakenly got coal, thus saving Christmas. Hooray!
What’s to like about it:
As far as Christmas specials go, this is one that feels particularly Christmas-y, as much time is spent establishing the holiday mood. The special is much longer than a regular episode, so there’s time to halt the plot to enjoy the festivities. There are a number of scenes solely about the Puffs decorating their house or the Narrator rhyming about kids, across town and worldwide, getting ready for Christmas. Not only is there more time for Christmas, but there’s also more of what you typically see in the show, like action sequences.
The big chase scene between the girls and Princess is fun and thrilling to watch. Punches are thrown and traps are set at high-speed in what’s basically a super-powered dogfight. The girls unleash more of their powers and in more creative ways (who knew a fight between preschool girls could be so exciting?…uh, not that I’m condoning it). Just as the girls know how to deliver a punch, this special delivers some good punchlines too.
Most of the humor comes from the dialogue. There are some great interactions between Blossom (Cathy Cavadini), Bubbles (Tara Strong), and Buttercup (E. G. Daily) that show the voice actresses have some great chemistry together. One of my favorites is when Bubbles, after discovering that everyone in town has coal in their stockings, tries to explain the situation to her sisters, and they keep chiding her for peeking in her stocking early, completely missing the point.
What to glean:
Besides the obvious “don’t be a selfish brat” moral, I think this special provides a subtler lesson in how perspectives can affect attitudes. Sides of it are seen through Santa and Princess. Both of their attitudes are affected by pre-conceived notions from secondhand sources. Santa thinks everyone is naughty thanks to his sabotaged list, and he becomes un-jolly. Princess’ daddy spoils her, telling her that she’s better than everyone else, so she acts like a brat. While Princess doesn’t change, Santa sees the truth when he sees the Powerpuffs and Princess for himself, allowing him to make a real decision regarding their Nice/Naughty status.
Similar things might be said about us. Caught up in our own lives, we get tempted to let other people and things form our opinions for us, affecting our worldviews. Maybe we hear bad news on TV (murders, thefts, politicians, etc.), especially around the holidays, and lose faith in humanity. This special uses Christmas to invite us to stop and see how the world really is for ourselves, to break out of our Truman Show-esque mindscapes and acknowledge some of the good that’s around us: carolers singing, charities giving, and loved ones celebrating. Doing so gets us one step closer to embodying peace and goodwill towards men. If three little girls can do it, so can we.
Merry Christmas, and have a good night.