Brian’s Exploratory Christmas Endeavor 2016: 5/25
This was actually the first Christmas special I watched this year. Days behind on trying to write about each of these films, I scrambled to remember what all I’ve seen, and decided to cheat a little by going straight for the TV shows (read: short and easy to catch up writing on).
Bojack Horseman is a show I didn’t expect to like, particularly after I saw the first episode. I didn’t really buy Will Arnett’s or Aaron Paul’s delivery (Arnett’s delivery grows on you as his darker scenes play out one after another; Paul got better in Season 2, but seemed to plateau in mediocrity in Season 3), and I felt like the show was trying a little too hard. But the beauty of Bojack is in its dark, vulnerable sensibilities, and its sensitivity to self-hate and, depression and lack of fulfillment, things with which I have a close relationship. And it turns out, it is very funny to boot. There is some great, sharp comedy writing on this show. So if you want my opinion on Bojack as a series, I recommend it and I think it’s well worth your time. As for the Christmas Special…
It’s more of Bojack. It’s more uncomfortable situations handled with a dark pessimism, more hilarious, over-the-top comedy (“FIRE THAT JEW!”)…but it’s specifically centered on Christmas, and in a fun, meta way.
Bojack Horseman is about a washed up actor, whose only moment of glory was about 20 years ago when he was the head of a cheesy 90s sitcom. Ordinarily, the show is about Bojack, and his agonizing existence as a Hollywood wash-up, as well as the lives of his agent, former colleagues (some tragic child stars) and the new friends, businesspeople and love interests with whom he surrounds himself as he tries to find success in his career and any shred of happiness in his life. But Bojack’s Christmas Special is instead mostly about a full episode of that cheesy sitcom, “Horsin’ Around”: Sabrina’s Christmas Wish.
It’s an opportunity for the show to rag on old TV tropes, which is mighty satisfying to watch, an a change of pace that actually feels like a unique and “special” episode for the series. Of course there’s an overarching subplot of the real-life Bojack begrudgingly agreeing to watch this episode with his room mate, Todd (Aaron Paul).
Through “Horsin’ Around”, the Bojack writers get to play with the bullshitty “everything works out” approach TV sitcoms have always taken toward tragedy, and plays it up to Hilarious effect. It also manages to hit one of Bojack‘s trademark dark philosophical moments, still within the frame of the sitcom.
It’s just good stuff. It doesn’t transcend its own animated comedy genre, or the parody genre within this episode to become a “must-watch” Christmas special, but it still does everything right. It’s also boosted by the lovely voice performance of Kristen Schall, whose voice and live acting work are always wonderful.
Bojack Horseman Christmas Special: Sabrina’s Christmas Wish gets ★★★☆☆ from me, with no riding crops and a final rating of: