When Arrow debuted back in 2012, I doubt anyone foresaw the massive franchise that would grow out of it. To date it’s launched three spinoffs (The Flash, Batwoman, and Legends of Tomorrow), had three more shows retroactively added to its universe (Black Lightning, Constantine, and Supergirl), one of which recently launched a spinoff of its own (Superman & Lois), and it’s even branched out into animation before (with web series Vixen and Freedom Fighters: The Ray).
But even with all that, Beebo Saves Christmas is still an incredibly odd addition to the roster … chiefly because it refuses to acknowledge how odd it is.
It’s a Christmas special based on a fictional toy that’s appeared sporadically across Legends of Tomorrow and briefly turned up on the other shows. That’s a nutso thing to do. It’s like if, in the 90’s, Fox Studios decided to capitalize on Simpsons mania by making a real life McBain movie (hey! why didn’t they do that? it would’ve been awesome!)
Thing is, nowhere does Beebo Saves Christmas drop the pretense that it’s anything but an ordinary Christmas special. It’s like that Rick & Morty episode where they pick up television signals from other universes. In the Arrowverse, Beebo is a well-established toy and multimedia franchise; for them, a Beebo Christmas special would be nothing unusual, and they’d go into it not needing any introduction to Beebo and his cast of supporting characters, so that’s how Beebo Saves Christmas presents itself.
The special commits to this gimmick. It drops us in with no attempt to explain who or what Beebo and “Bo-Ville” are. It keeps everything thoroughly child-friendly, with none of its parent show’s love of violence and drug use. It even has Beebo feeling out of place with the fast-paced modern world, like he’s a character who’s been around for decades and is now getting the Brady Bunch Movie treatment.
Given all that … is this special any good? I’d say: yes! It’s not going to join classics like the claymation Rudolph or the Peanuts Christmas special (and nothing, of course, can come anywhere close to the majesty of How the Grinch Stole Christmas). But it’s legitimately funny (my biggest laugh was the sentry AI that’s a cross between Siri/Alexa, an automated customer support line, and “The Nozzle” from Venture Bros.), it has a decent message about recognizing that other people can enjoy different things than you, and has an overall vibe that’s just endearing.
I doubt I’ll put it into my “watch each Christmas” rotation, but I could see myself drifting back to it several Christmases down the line and still enjoying myself.
Oh, this week also had the third part of Flash‘s Armageddon event, didn’t it?
Gotta say, wasn’t thrilled by this episode. It feels like maybe they were set on five episodes for this event before they broke the story, and found out there really wasn’t enough material to fill all that runtime, so this middle installment just drags things out.
And the way it drags stuff out is mostly by people sitting around in rooms, being either sad or pissy at each other. Just, not a good time.
But in the spirit of the season, I’ll list the things I did like about this episode:
- Seeing Black Lightning again, and him having a great rapport with Barry, like they did back in Crisis.
- That the not-calling-them-the-Justice-League formed at the end of Crisis has apparently been meeting and going on adventures this whole time. They fought Felix Faust offscreen! If the padding this episode had been flashbacks to that, all my complaints would be retracted.
- The Top was fun, and I loved her giving the antithesis of a typical Flash pep talk: “That sadness you got? Get over it! You wanna find your hero? Then lose the weakness. (…) Forget about your grief, your guilt, your sadness. Forget about your damn dead boyfriend! Bury it!” This is still The Flash, though, so embracing your emotions (or, in this case, shooting them from your eyes) is what saved the day, but it was a nice change of pace while it lasted.
- And, of course, that ending. After a mostly dull episode, that is one hell of a WTF moment to end on, and I love it. Though, while what happened was a surprise, the who was utterly predictable. There’s only one person with both the means and desire to so thoroughly screw with Barry Allen’s life:
Question of the Week: I can think of several Christmas and Thanksgiving themed episodes in the Arrowverse, and at least one Halloween ep (featuring Gumball the Baby Dominator), but what other holidays would you like to see featured?