Homestar’s first Halloween special, as you’ll recall, came out pretty good, especially given its age. For its follow-up in 2001, Mike and Matt decided to try something a little different, and presented us with an interactive experience with all the humor we’ve come to expect from the series, as well as replayability. I won’t give away the gimmick yet, but I’ll just say one thing – if you want to see everything this cartoon has to offer, you’ll want to go through it at least three times. Let’s make a visit to The House That Gave Sucky Treats.
Intro: Strong Bad’s Treat Snatcha is equally as lame as the mini-game from the previous Halloween toon. Oh well, at least with modern internet speeds, we’re not forced to play it while waiting. Also, I just love Homestar’s little entrance here, it’s awesome.
Coach Z: No idea who Humpty Hump is supposed to be, but it’s funny looking, and I love his little song. Preferred treat: Boston Baked Beans. I quote his response to that choice far more often than I should.
King of Town: I’m somewhat aware of Hagar the Horrible, but I can’t say I’ve ever read any of his comics. I do like the “Idaho” costume in the background too, even though I’ve seen practically nothing of The Simpsons, I thought it was funny even without getting the reference. Preferred treat: Stick of butter.
The Cheat / Strong Mad: Strong Mad’s costume is pretty generic, but seeing as how I’m from Illinois, and the particular football player he’s dressed as was from the Chicago Bears, I do vaguely know what that’s all about. And The Cheat is cute as always. Preferred treat: Rocks, because it makes absolutely no sense, especially if you choose it without having chosen Pop Rocks in a previous runthrough.
Marzipan: That song she sings at the start is embarrassingly lame, and being musically retarded, I don’t know who Joey Ramone is, so yeah, it’s pretty much lost on me. Preferred treat: Steak. Strong Bad’s kinda just wasting good (and probably expensive) food there for the sake of being a jerk. Well done.
Poopsmith / Pom Pom: Well, I’ve played Lazer Tag before, so I guess that counts as recognizing a costume, and I’m somewhat aware of who Michael Moore is, so … sure. Preferred treat: the pumpkin, but if that doesn’t count, then the Astro Pop. Fun fact: The Poopsmith will somehow unlock Homsar in all the Halloween toons in the future as well. Kind of a weird running thing they have going.
Homsar: I’ve only seen a little bit of Popeye, but I still knew who this was supposed to be, and I thought it looks quite funny on Homsar. Preferred treat: The wrench is pretty funny, but I like the taffy response too. I guess the wrench is my favorite, if only because it’s Homsar’s.
Strong Bad: I used to watch the old Carmen Sandiego game show all the time as a kid. Never played the PC games though. Preferred treat: Marshmallow bunny, with Butterfinger as a close second, if only for the aftereffects once Strong Sad shows up. Weird fact: clicking “kewpie dan” on the paper (if you choose the bunny) used to make a weird popup appear, but it no longer does.
Strong Sad: I know who Andy Warhol is, but I can’t say I’d recognize him by sight, so if someone did actually think to give him the soup based on appearance alone, then bravo. Preferred treat: Baking chocolate, because Necco Wafers are just terrible.
Bubs: Don’t know or care who Mars Blackmon is. Preferred treat: Bazooka bubblegum. His response to that one is another thing I like to randomly quote, and I like how it eventually spawned a never-released set of shorts making fun of similar comics. They were eventually put on a DVD, and I’ve read the transcripts of itthem, but never actually watched them.
Homestar: This costume has many new connotations to it now that I’m a fan of the Cinema Snob. I’ve never watched or heard of The Greatest American Hero prior to this, so that’s all I can think of. Preferred treat: Circus peanuts, definitely. Nothing compares to the epic Homestar circus dance.
Ending: Here we have the now-standard “stand around and critique each other’s costumes and also ramble about other crap” scene, which is always pretty enjoyable. Strong Bad’s ripping on the Lazer Tag costume is pretty funny, as is Strong Sad’s creepy experience. But of course, the best part of all this is the final line. I don’t know why they felt the need to have the dialogue constantly repeat, but it’s worth it. Also, if you actually do try to vote for one of the costumes, the email comes up with the text “I choose YOU, [character name]chu!” Kind of odd seeing a reference to something that a younger audience would actually understand, but sure, I’ll take it.
Alright, time to move on to something else. Now as a kid, Halloween and Christmas are the two big holidays of the year. Well… for families that celebrate Christmas. Sorry for generalizing there. And I always liked Easter as a kid too. But shut up. Point is, Thanksgiving is often overlooked, because it’s not as fun as the other two. It’s basically just a big dinner, and I guess normal families usually have some sort of reunion on that day, but mine rarely did, so yeah, I never cared for it much. And this next cartoon continues in that same spirit. Let’s just watch Some Stupid Turkey and then move on.
This cartoon has a number of Peanuts references in it. I’m not going to bother pointing them all out, because I’m sure most people are already able to pick up on them, and if not, then you probably don’t care. Knowing that, it’s kind of ironic how much this toon distances itself from “the true meaning of Christmas”. First of all, they don’t call it Christmas. There’s plenty of reasons why Matt and Mike may have decided to do this, not the least of which is to make it appropriate for viewers who don’t celebrate Christmas. Though to be fair, Decemberween does share far more similarities with that holiday than, say, Hanukkah. Overall, it doesn’t really matter, and I’m sure that most people are sick of the overly PC attitude of the media today, but here, I feel like it works. Calling the holiday “Christmas” would give it ties to Jesus, which the previous Holiday Greeting arguably did in a rather awkward and borderline offensive way, and it’s best to just have it be a generic gift-giving holiday. Besides, it’s a funny name.
I’ve got a lot of other things to say about this toon, but since they don’t really fit into any sort of narrative or meaningful reflection, I think it’s time to bust out the bullet point format again. I feel like doing it this way is kind of taking the easy way out, but it suits the shorts quite well. If I was reviewing a show with longer episodes and some sort of a cohesive, ongoing plot, then I’d probably stick to paragraphs more often, but I’m not, so I won’t. I hope people don’t mind.
- I think this is the third time that Homestar has been surprised by Strong Sad’s presence. It’s a completely useless running gag, but one that I find inexplicably funny.
- Strong Sad “getting locked in the bathtub” always kind of bugged me. Clearly he meant the bathroom, right? Actually, no. Many years later, in another Decemberween toon, we actually get to see what he was talking about.
- Homestar mentions that he might be able to get Strong Bad to like him again. I’m not sure if there was ever a time when they were friends, but then again, this is Homestar we’re talking about, who doesn’t seem to care or notice that Strong Bad doesn’t even like the gift that he picked out. So I won’t look into that too deeply.
- Coach Z makes a nice little callback to Yello Dello with his “sports play” analogy. I wonder how many other times he’s used that. And apparently Bubs is starting to use that advice too. I like how it kept getting brought up again throughout the cartoon.
- Another thing about Coach Z – this cartoon actually shows off all three main facets of his personality, which is surprising, given how early in the series this is. You’ve got the actual coaching side (his advice), the creepy side (Scratch n’ Sniff Calendar), and the pathetic side (gets drunk off Listerine). Well done, Coach.
- The rejected presents from Bubs’s store were amazing. We’ve got Tag Team Wrestling for the NES (the origin of Strong Bad’s name), monogrammed oven mitts (another Yello Dello reference), a freaking Strong Sad voodoo doll, and a Peter Frampton album that is, mysteriously, already signed specifically for Strong Bad. That one’s a bit obscure, but there were Frampton references on the Strong Bad main page and the making out email. So… yeah.
- You can click and drag the colored lights on Bubs’s store. I don’t know why you would want to do this, but there you go.
- I should totally get someone a Deep Impact DVD for Christmas one year, but it would have to be someone who would understand the joke. Unfortunately, I don’t think I know anyone who would.
- Speaking of that DVD though, I realized that Strong Bad wasn’t able to tell what the gift was before he opened it. If this really happened three years in a row, I think I would have probably caught on by year four. And actually, were DVDs even around in 1998? *goes to check* Huh. I guess they were, but most people hadn’t made the switch from VHS yet. And apparently, Deep Impact was released on DVD on December 15, 1998. That works out oddly well. I have now learned something today.
- The song at the end is a classic. I don’t really have anything in particular to say about it, but I like it. I just kinda wish that it made sense when singing it out of context. If you don’t realize that the lines are sung by different people, then parts of it are sort of odd.
And with that done, I’ve finished up everything from 2001. Mostly. Like I’ve already said a few times, there’s some stuff that I intentionally skipped over, and I’ll be getting to that at some point. But next time, we’ll be starting the material of 2002, which some call “the year of the SBEmail”. Okay, maybe nobody actually calls it that, but they should, because emails 8-56 were all released in that year. Holy crap, that’s a lot of emails. There’s a few other things scattered throughout the year too, but the vast majority of the content is going to involve us looking at the back of Strong Bad’s head as he stares at a computer monitor. Good thing most of it is legitimately funny. But if it does get too repetitious, then I at least have some other site features to cover when I feel it’s about time to take a break. So next time, viewers, join me as I’ll be making snarky comments about Strong Bad making snarky comments about his viewers. … Huh.