Monday, May 26, 2014

X-MEN Episode Sixty-Two - December 23, 1995



Have Yourself a Morlock Little X-Mas
Written by Eric Lewald & Larry Parr

Summary:  As the X-Men prepare for Christmas, Wolverine and Storm take Jubilee shopping in Manhattan.  Their trip is interrupted when they discover an ambulance that’s been hijacked by the Morlocks.  Realizing that Leech needs medical attention, the three X-Men help the Morlocks escape the authorities and follow them into the sewers.  As Leech nears death, Wolverine reluctantly agrees to do a blood transfusion.  On Storm’s orders, Rogue flies Beast in for extra help, only to discover that Leech has miraculously been cured.  Storm, realizing that she cannot lead the Morlocks, relinquishes her title to Callisto.

Continuity Notes:  Jubilee befriends a Morlock girl named Maryanna while she keeps watch over Leech.  Also, Rogue claims that this is Jubilee’s first Christmas with the X-Men, which compresses the entire run of the series so far pretty tightly.

“Huh?” Moment:  Leech’s powers somehow knock the staff of the hospital he was sent to unconscious, which is odd since his power is the ability to take away a mutant’s powers.

Production Note:  The closing credits are back to featuring a clip from a previous episode, as opposed to the montage of past scenes with the standard theme playing in the background.

Review:  I guess every kids’ TV show has to have a Christmas episode, so here’s the X-Men’s contribution.  What always struck me about this episode is that it’s one of the better-looking AKOM episodes; there aren’t any specific scenes that stand out, but the cast tends to be well-drawn and the overall look is pretty consistent.  The fact that there’s only one brief action scene in the episode probably helps, giving the animators much less complicated movements to bring to life.  It’s also one of the few episodes to feature every cast member (except for Beast) in normal clothing, and even though some of the X-Men have questionable taste in pajamas, most of the cast looks surprisingly okay.

The Leech story obviously isn’t enough to fill twenty minutes, so the episode cuts to the X-Men’s Christmas Eve preparations throughout the show.  Most of this material is on the level of an ‘80s sitcom, but some of the banter between Gambit and Jean (arguing in the kitchen over Christmas dinner) is cute.  The real humor comes from Cyclops’ inability to sing a Christmas carol, which is the funniest moment of the episode, if not the entire series.  Cyclops is so stiff, so utterly robotic, of course he can’t carry a note.  And finally we’re supposed to be laughing at him.

Regarding the main story, it hits all of the classic Christmas Special notes.  The X-Men spend time with people less fortunate, grouchy Wolverine eventually gets into the Christmas spirit, and there’s a Christmas miracle just in time to save a sick kid.  The story can’t be scrutinized too much without falling apart, though.  If Wolverine’s blood could transfer his healing powers to someone else, the X-Men are horrible people for not storing a blood bank of it and offering it to the public.  (And even Wolverine acknowledges that it shouldn’t work…but then gives a needlessly cryptic speech about the two times it actually did work, which is surely the oddest moment of the episode.)  There’s also a continuity issue that causes problems, as the show once again transplants the comics’ continuity over its own.  In the comics, yes, Storm did become leader of the Morlocks and then proceed to forget about their existence.  In the cartoon, however, Storm immediately named Callisto as the ruler in her place in episode five, most likely because the cartoon’s producers knew from the history of the comics that Storm stories and Morlock stories rarely intersect.  Now, the show’s taking one of Storm’s angst points from the comics and transferring it into the cartoon, even though the show already made an effort to circumvent this potential problem years earlier.  Also, what’s wrong with Leech in the first place?  The episode’s unusually vague.  I can’t imagine why no one ever says what’s wrong with him, unless the censors were squeamish about naming specific diseases that kill kids.

Credit to http://marvel.toonzone.net/xmen/ for the screencaps.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I don't know how this works, medically, but I'm thinking that Wolverine's adamantium in his bones would lead to his blood killing any one else.