Let’s talk about The Doug Christmas Special
Doug gets distraught and tries to imagine a way to get Porkchop out of the animal shelter. That means time for Doug to call in his Alter Ego’s. ALL THREE OF THEM. Quailman, Smash Adams, and Race Canyon. This event is giving Doug some serious trauma. Either way the plan is a bust as Doug fails to get Porkchop out of the pound. Doug even tries to go talk to Beebe in the hospital (she isn’t even that hurt!) and can’t get passed her dad. Doug pleads to save Porkchop from being put down (actual language here) because Porkchop is Doug’s best friend. To which Mr. Bluff says “get better friends”
Change of pace for the site, but let’s talk about a cartoon from the 90’s—a Nicktoon. Now, Nickelodeon had no shortage of strong holiday specials with Rugrats and Hey Arnold! Being the headliners. Today I want to talk to you about the craziness of Doug’s Christmas Story.
The season 4-episode details about the time Doug has to clear the name his loyal dog, Porkchop, from a crime he didn’t truly commit. The town is seeking blood from Porkchop for this “crime” and this all takes place before Christmas.
The episode satirizes how people can be swayed into a mob mentality over a perceived slight and the role the media plays in this. This episode is played straight up until the end leading to a very heavy episode of Doug. Hey Arnold talks about the horror of war and the scars it leaves on the innocent civilians caught up in the conflict. Doug’s Christmas story is about how a town wants to kill a dog for biting the town rich girl. Nickmas—fun for the family.
Now, how did the citizens of Bluffington, the fictional city in Doug, get caught in a uproar about a dog? This guy
The episode itself opens with the kids all playing some sort of ice hockey on a frozen pond. There is thin ice on some parts but town rich girl, Beebe Bluff, skates too close. To prevent her from falling in, Porkchop has to bite her on the leg. We do get to see Porkchop try to stop her normally, but that fails and he resorts to biting her. It is important that we see the actual event itself and it is very clear that Porkchop wasn’t acting with malice. That gives the viewers a very clear perspective of the insanity that unfolds shortly after.
While Doug is away Christmas Shopping, someone calls into the radio show of the disgraced former Mayor of Bluffington, Mayor White, complaining about the biting incident. 1st Mayor White claims he was robbed of office due to election fraud. 2nd this is obviously meant to satirize talk radio hosts such as Rush Limbaugh or Don Imus. The rise of the Political Talk Radio host in the 90’s was meteoric due to the removal of the Fairness Doctrine and jeez 90’s media was going to let you know.
Either way through his actions, Mr. White has created a fervor over Porkchop. People want blood. When Doug returns home, he finds the police/animal control (not clear here) take Porkchop into custody. Top it all off, Doug is getting sued by the Bluff Family! Again, this is DAYS BEFORE CHRISTMAS!
Doug tries to figure out how to save Porkchop, but his parents are ineffectual. They suggest getting a petition in support of Porkchop. Doug tries but everyone either doesn’t want to get involved in the political scandal, doesn’t want to do it because they hate the dog for biting Beebe, or gets mad at Doug for ruining the holiday vibe.
The day of the trial arrives, which is Christmas Eve and makes no sense, and it is a complete show trial. The fix is in with Beebe’s dad asking the judge to wrap it up and the judge promising a short trial. The Plaintiffs bringing in a racist dog scientist that gets into dog phrenology. It goes poorly for Doug and only gets worse when Beebe shows up to the witness stand in a wheelchair. It is so bad that all of Doug’s Alter-egos get out of there.
Still, Doug defends Porkchop despite the system being stacked against him. It is here when this -episodes veers into the absurd. Doug begins going through a George Bailey style defense of Porkchop citing all of the things that Porkchop has done for the town. These feats range from fixing a fence to delivering a child! Heck, Porkchop even lent a guy 20 bucks. Where does a dog even find 20 bucks?!
With this wild defense, Doug finally gets the court to go out to the frozen pond to see Porkchop’s side of the story. It is there that Beebe jfinally falls into the pond and Porkchop rescues the ungrateful girl. With that Porkchop is heralded as a hero. The town apologizes to Doug for nearly killing his dog due to a disgraced mayor. The episode ends with a feast for the other dogs from the animal shelter and the dogs being adopted.
It is a wild ride and super heavy at times, but this Doug episode is really good. You can discern the satire pretty quickly but the topic is very dark. Doug mentions Porkchop getting put down several times. Not only that it showed the ugly side of people. The town was committed to killing an innocent dog. Sure the audience knows that Porkchop isn’t going die, but it takes its sweet time making it clear. The humor is very much in line with Early- Simpsons and top notch. Now, it’s been a long time since I’ve watched the original Nick run of Doug (I do recall Disney’s Doug lacking), but I kind of want to revisit it to see if the jokes are just as sharp.
Overall, this is a wonderful Christmas Special for someone looking for something different from the usual Rankin-Bass fair. I mean it stuck with me enough to recap it for people on the internet. Overall, a great time. Check it out on Paramount+ if you are interested. It is a fun one.