Are ya ready kids? (Aye Aye, Captain!)
I can’t hear you! (Aye Aye, Captain!)
Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? (SpongeBob SquarePants!)
Absorbent and yellow and porous is he. (SpongeBob SqaurePants!)
If nautical nonsense be somethin’ you wish. (SpongeBob SquarePants!)
Then drop on the deck and flop like a fish! (SpongeBob SquarePants!)
Ready? (SpongeBob SquarePants!)
Argh, argh, argh, argh, argh!
— SpongeBob SquarePants’ theme song
The naïve but lovable SpongeBob SquarePants made his debut back in 1999. While a show about a cleaning product shouldn’t have found an audience with young kids it was a surprise hit. Along with the longevity the series has enjoyed, there comes a quandary: How do you keep pushing boundaries, while still retaining what makes the show successful? The creative team has found an answer with It’s a SpongeBob Christmas! This is the characters’ first foray into stop-motion animation, and there’s no better time to try it than a holiday special.
The result is a holiday special which harkens back to the Rankin/Bass animated classics of old. Stop-motion animation is one of my loves and I was pleased with how well done this was. Influenced in concept and execution by ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas and Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town, the story is simple: Plankton has a plan to get his hands on the secret krabby patty recipe. He’ll use Santa to obtain it, but he first has to convince the jolly old elf he’s worthy. This will be done by feeding everyone in town a piece of fruitcake laced with Jerktonium, the effect of which makes Plankton look like a nice guy in comparison to the townsfolk who have now been corrupted. Even though SpongeBob initially helps Plankton, by the end he has saved the town and Christmas too.
It’s a SpongeBob Christmas! is a sweet holiday treat, punctuated by musical numbers that’ll leave you smiling. Even with an obvious air of nostalgia for adults, the classic series elements are all here to keep the kids enraptured, most notably the song “Don’t Be a Jerk (It’s Christmas)” which details how to behave properly during the holidays. The 22 minute short moves at a quick clip, more concerned with chuckles than dramatic story elements. It’s an effective and immensely re-watchable outing which can easily secure a permanent place in your rotation of annual holiday viewing.
Presented in standard definition 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, the picture quality is great, the series classic color palette translating surprisingly well from two to three dimensions. The Dolby 5.1 Surround track didn’t need any tweaking, as everything falls into place quite nicely.
Given that the feature presentation is only 22 minutes, Nickelodeon makes the disc worth purchasing by backfilling with bonus material. An information behind-the-scenes featurette gets into how the special came about. A highly detailed storyboard comparison takes on the entire narrative, rather than select scenes. For those who remember this early TV holiday tradition, a Bikini Bottom yule log burns brightly on an endless loop. And the package is rounded out with a handful of MP3 tunes.
If you’re looking for a new holiday viewing, It’s a SpongeBob Christmas! is definitely worthy of consideration. You can easily catch it on Nickelodeon through the holidays, but this exceptional Nickelodeon DVD truly deserves a purchase.