Ho ho howdy folkses! Welcome to the Eleventh Day of The Twelve Days of Shitmas! Our previous entry was so bad all the Christmas gingerbread men bit their own heads off rather than watch it through to the end. Today's selection is also terrible, but not quite as terrible as it should have been considering it was made to promote a line of glow-in-the-dark insect larvae finger puppets...or maybe it's precisely that terrible and I'm just losing my ability to tell the difference.

Shitmas and toys go together
like Ex-Lax and hot cocoa.

We're posting a new review of a different Christmas special every other day, culminating in what we consider the worst of the bunch on Christmas morning. We're in the home stretch now, with our penultimate Shitmas review. It's a peculiar relic from a time when most syndicated TV cartoons were designed primarily as extended advertisements to sell mass-market toys. It was the decade of G.I. Joe, Strawberry Shortcake, The Care Bears, He-Man & the Masters of the Universe, JEM, Teddy Ruxpin, The Go-Bots, Pound Puppies and The Transformers to name just a few. A handful of these programs were fairly well-developed with relatable characters and engaging stories, but most were produced in the most cynical, perfunctory manner under the crass assumption that kids would watch any old shit the advertisers could throw their way.

Sadly, that assumption was correct. Kids watched in droves, eagerly sucking down every last drop of the proverbial kool-aid, getting all glassy-eyed and sugar-rushed from it, and excitedly extorting their parents into buying a metric shit-ton of the useless, plastic crap advertisers shoved down their eager throats. 80's kids were fucking stupid, and I should certainly know. I was one of them.

The GLO Friends were introduced by Hasbro in 1982. I remember the commercials, but as a boy of twelve I'd already aged out of the target demographic. I didn't pay any attention to them at the time, and I don't recall being aware that The GLO Friends Save Christmas even existed.

I'd have loved this shit at four or five, though.
They fucking glowed in the dark!

Most toy-based cartoons had Christmas episodes, which is no surprise considering the importance of holiday sales to toy manufacturers' bottom lines, but The GLO Friends Save Christmas was slightly unusual in that it was made as a one-off special rather than part of a pre-existing series. Audience response to the special was poor, and the entire GLO Friends toy line was cancelled shortly after its initial broadcast. However the cartoon had a brief second life as one of three rotating 15-minute segments added to the My Little Pony program the following year.

I wasn't exactly the target demographic for that one, either so all of these characters were new to me when I first watched The GLO Friends Save Christmas for this review.

Before we get into the nitty gritty I'd like to thank Disco's 80's Toysale for their exhaustively researched GLO Friends toy line information page. I'd never have been able to figure out the glowy little fuckers' names without it.

We open with the laughing, dancing, singing and all-around so fucking happy glowing bugs doing their laughing, dancing, singing and all-around being so fucking happy thing. This opening number is a frenetic, hyperactive assault on the senses called "We're GLO Friends," an expansion of the jingle from the toy ads, and features each of the characters occupied in some emphatic and enthusiastic leisure activity.

One GLO Fuck is an artist, frantically painting a winter scene of their village, another GLO Fuck is gleefully constructing a snowman, an old lady GLO Fuck is roasting chestnuts in her kitchen, and several other GLO Fucks are zipping around on ice skates at an Olympian pace.

All are having just the most wonderful time you ever did experience since the instant your soul first emerged from the sea of serpent's milk that circled the void before the beginning of creation.

It's a strenuously saccharine display, akin to being tied up with twizzlers and forcibly spoon-fed meth-laced cupcake frosting from a 55 gallon drum. We're being vigorously programmed, via a golden glowing bullhorn, to believe that these little bugs are just impossibly good and cute and sweet, and gosh darn it we're going to love the little fuckers just so darn much, lest we be shunned by decent people everywhere and no one will ever so much as look us in the face again.

The bio-luminous chemical that makes them glow has been shown to produce feelings of euphoria but eventually causes hair loss, dementia and death.

These plucky, cheerful shenanigans eventually devolve into a good-natured snowball fight, and after a series of quirky mishaps one of the snowballs lands smack in the chestnut pan. The cook, Grannybug GLO Fuck, feigns disappointment, but giggles when after she's poured the now-cool chestnuts out the window the rest of the gang consume them with glee.

Eight hours of work completely ruined! Now isn't that just too precious?

After a brief and nauseating reprise of the song we fast forward to Grannybug GLO Fuck, gently rocking Baby GLO Worm GLO Fuck in a chair by the fire. Baby expresses concern that Santa might not remember to come this year, but Granny assures her that Santa comes each and every year and has never failed the good children and tuneful grubs and dancing insects of the world yet.

I think I'm developing an allergy to them, the cloying little shits.

Now we cut to Santa himself getting ready to make his big annual trek around the world, distributing toys and presents to Christians and people who pretend to be Christians while flipping the Jews a hearty yuletide bird.

At least they've got Hanukkah Harry.

Santa is played by Carrol O' Connor, veteran star of the groundbreaking sitcom "All in the Family", where he played the loud-mouthed boor and equal-opportunity bigot Archie Bunker.

Which explains Santa's anti-Semitic bias.

It seems Santa has no sense of urgency even when faced with the immovable deadline of Christmas Eve, and he drives his team of handler elves to distraction with his delays and digressions as they frantically attempt to get him airborne on time. He dismisses their concerns out of hand, saying "Why I've never missed a Christmas yet!"

Which is what they call "ironic foreshadowing."

We pan across to a copse of trees overlooking Santa's loading/launch area and see an oddly matched trio watching his every move.

The ring leader is Blanche, the Wicked Witch of the North Pole, who's there to fuck with Santa; hanging around her neck as a living stole is an unnamed Arctic Fox who's there as Blanche's wise-cracking sidekick; and then there's a doe-eyed, tender-hearted Moose who's there mostly because the plot requires it.

I'm sure there's a fascinating back-story about how they all met but we're not gonna hear it.

Blanche is as mean as a rattlesnake on bath salts and she hates that old fat-assed Santa with the seething passion of a thousand burning suns. She's played with raspy, screeching gusto by Sally Strothers, also from All in the Family, where she played Archie Bunker's long-suffering, socially-enlightened daughter Gloria.

Blanche complains incessantly to anyone who will listen about how Santa is such an insufferable goody two-shoes and why, oh why can't the world stop talking about that jolly fat fuck and see what a fabulous, narcissistic hot mess she is.

Or cold mess, as the case may be.

The poor, beleaguered Moose is stuck on the receiving end of Blanche's expositional vitriol, but he's too good natured and sweet to fully comprehend it. He thinks Santa deserves all the attention he gets because he brings so much joy to the world.

Blanche tries vainly to change his opinion by reminding him that Santa told him he was too clumsy to be part of the Reindeer team pulling the sleigh, which apparently shattered his long-standing dream. Moose longs for the prestige and acceptance a job as a flying reindeer would provide, but he's a gentle soul and hasn't the capacity for vindictiveness. Though he may lack the talent and coordination he has the simple wisdom and self-awareness to accept his own limitations.

He has many limitations.

Moose is played by prolific voice actor Lorenzo Music, making his second appearance in this year's Shitmas festivities. He also provided the voice for Garfield in A Garfield Christmas Special.

In his vigorous defense of the Jolly Old Elf, Moose makes the observation that "Without Santa there wouldn't even be Christmas," a fateful sentiment that gives Blanche an epiphany that sets the special's plot in motion.

Blanche gets it in her head that if she can stop Santa from his appointed rounds then the whole world will know her as the aging narcissistic bitch who stole Christmas, and she'll therefore be prima facie famous. She doesn't seem to discern that there are different kinds of fame and they're not all golden gateways to wealth and adoration, however. If she succeeds she'll probably be strangled, stabbed, shot, poisoned and drowned like Rasputin by an angry mob of parents who can no longer bear the dreadful, ceaseless cries of their toy-less, traumatized Children. I kind of doubt that's the reaction she's hoping for, but she doesn't really seem capable of thinking her plans through.

Blanche sings a fevered musical number now about how she's going to destroy Santa and ruin the year's most beloved holiday. It's a frantic, ear-splitting, balls-to-the-wall performance that's the absolute antithesis of all those glassy-eyed, cult-like International Correspondence School commercials Struthers made for Late Night TV back in the 90's.

Where else can you get a high-school diploma and a TV/VCR repair certificate by mail?

So Blanche screeches about stomping on Christmas trees and shattering millions of childhood dreams, and her little Fox minion gleefully and repeatedly chimes in about how much fun all the misery is gonna be.

The poor Moose is terrified and distraught that Blanche could be so cruel, but he still lets her ride him like a flying horse as they chase the departing Santa in his sleigh...because Moose is a spineless collaborator, too craven and weak to follow the dictates of his conscience.

He'd have let the Nazis win.

As Santa passes by over the forest Dragonflyer GLO Fuck and his little passenger Shuttlebug GLO Fuck enthusiastically watch him fly by like a couple of groupies at a Aerosmith concert.

They want to have his babies.

Blanche uses her magic ice wand to make the forest trees reach up to Santa's sleigh and drag it into a raging river.

Grab 'em by the jingle bells.

Blanche makes the water around Santa and his Reindeer spout upward and freeze to form a cage of ice atop an ice floe.

Dragonflyer and Shuttlebug GLO Fucks fuck off to GLO Town to get some help as Blanche lands on the shore and gloats triumphantly like a schoolyard bully who just grabbed a handful of lunch money from a kid half her size.

When Moose sees Santa stuck in the cage and stranded in the middle of the river the desperate reality of the situation finally penetrates his thick alcine skull. He charges Blanche like an enraged bull, but she just sticks out her boot and he trips face-first into a snowbank. She gives her wand a little spin and he spirals into the sky and out of view.

So Dragonflyer and Shuttlebug GLO Fucks show up to tell everyone about Blanche and Santa and the Reindeer and the cage of ice, and they all decide they've just got to do something to try to rescue Santa and save Christmas because they're so fucking nice.

They're not nearly so goddamn cheerful now, though.

I don't mean to be a dick, but why the fuck are a bunch of worms and bugs living at the North Pole anyway? Did they fall out of a plane? Were they part of an experiment left behind when a remote research lab closed? Was it spontaneous parthenogenesis?

Also what's with this fucking turtle? the GLO Fucks set out towards the river but soon Blanche appears, blocking their path and hurling insults, telling them they're just a bunch of puny bugs and can't do a damn thing to thwart her nefarious, poorly thought-out schemes anyway.

I'd stomp on 'em, but that's just me being a dick again.

She wiggles her wand and makes some kind of scowling, living vapor that sweeps up the GLO Fucks and carries them away into the forest. It takes them right in the direction they were already going, though, which seems to me to be rather more of a help to them than a hindrance. The shiny little shits are so tiny and slow it might have taken them weeks to reach Santa on their own, but Blanche just sent them on an express train directly towards their goal.

Self-sabotaging behavior is an adjunct to many mental health conditions.

The mystery mist drops the GLO Fucks further off in the forest, where they just pop right back up, dust the snow off themselves and continue their journey.

Meanwhile back at the river, Santa and the Reindeer are still crammed into their tiny cage. Santa tries to squeeze through the bars of but he's too fat and eventually gives up.

Why hasn't that thing floated off downstream?

One of the Reindeer laments that they'll be stuck there forever, but another helpfully points out the razor-sharp icicle spikes on the ceiling above that are ever-so-slowly moving down to impale them.

I think Santa could probably make it if he were to lie down and let the Reindeer get impaled first, then he could eat them and prop up the ceiling with their bones.

Venison is a bit gamey but it's protein-rich and very lean.

The prospect of imminent mortal danger inspires Santa to sing "The What If There's No Christmas Blues." The Reindeer sing backup and form an impressive kick line, which is all the more astonishing a feat when one considers how tiny that cage looked from the outside.

It's like Radio fucking City in there.

Back in the woods the Glo Friends are feeling cold and afraid, so they sing a little song about being brave to cheer themselves up. They cross over a deep crevasse by straddling a log and when they reach the other side they hear a series of distant, plaintive cries.

Bookbug GLO Fuck takes out a book on strange voices he happens to have brought with him to address this very specific kind of crisis, and he tells the rest of the gang that what they're hearing is either a ghost or a large moose.

The dude to the right is Skunkbug Glo Fuck. He has purple fart clouds wafting right out of his ass.

The Glo Fucks split into two groups now, with Dragonflyer GLO Fuck, Shuttlebug GLO Fuck and a few others investigating the mysterious voice while GLO Worm GLO Fuck in the lavender hat and oxford shirt takes an advance party ahead to find Santa.

He's handi-capable!

The group that set out to look for the source of the voice almost immediately finds the Moose stuck high up in a tree by his antlers.

"Well, a couple of friends and I went bar-hopping, and next thing I know..."

As a few of the irrepressible little fuckers try to cut the Moose loose, we pan across the forest and see Blanche appear from a zap of her magic lightning. It hasn't escaped her notice that the GLO Fucks are getting close to Santa, so she decides to put an obstacle in their way to slow them down. She casts a spell that makes ice flowers grow in the center of the path.

The Santa rescue group walks up and they all start ooh-ing and ah-ing about the pretty flowers and none of them suspect for an instant that the wicked Witch, whose evil magic has been demonstrated to include wholesale manipulation of ice and water, may have had something to do with a bunch of unnatural, jagged, icy blossoms standing directly between them and where they need to go. Sure enough as soon as the little fuckers get close enough to examine them the flowers grab and imprison them in their frigid petals.

In a just world these would slowly digest them alive like a pitcher plant or venus flytrap.

In the original broadcast there would have been a commercial break, but I'm watching on video so it just fades out and right back in on the Moose and company appearing and releasing all of the trapped GLO Fucks with minimal effort and zero narrative tension.

Dragonflyer GLO Fuck introduces the Moose to the rest of the gang, explaining that he knows where Santa is imprisoned and they should all totally trust him because he sounds just like Garfield. Jesus! Is everyone a goddamn Garfield fan except for me?

As they run off through the forest to rescue the jelly-bellied old bigot and his racist Reindeer enablers, we see GLO Turtle GLO Fuck and GLO Hopper GLO Fuck riding on his back, ever-so-slowly heading in the same direction but quite a long way behind the others.

GLO Turtle GLO Fuck says "I think we're getting closer," GLO Hopper GLO Fuck quips "We may even make it by New Year's Eve," and I can see no other reason for having included this exchange than that these two will somehow be integral to the resolution of the plot.

Sit tight. We'll know for sure sometime in the next six minutes.

Back at the river Santa is imploring his "dear Deers" not to give up hope, and just as he does so the spiked ceiling moves down another six inches. One of the reindeer says that help had better arrive soon or they'll be "dear departed Deers," which I'm sure some focus group thought was hilarious, but since the plural of "deer" is "deer," not "deers," they're also fucking ignorant.

Suddenly Moose flies in with the GLO Fucks on his back. He leaps onto the ice floe, but the part he lands on breaks away and they all end up in the churning waters. As they're buffeted by the water Bashfulbug GLO Fuck falls off Moose's back and is swept away downstream.

Can't we please kill off just this one?

Dragonflyer GLO Fuck swoops down and Shuttlebug GLO Fuck manages to grab and pull her to safety.

I was beginning to get a bit suspicious around this time because Dragonflyer GLO Fuck was getting more screen time than the rest of the GLO Fucks combined. Since this special was a toy commercial first and an entertainment program a distant second I thought I should do a little digging to see if I could satisfy my curiosity.

As it turns out the Dragonflyer GLO Fuck was a brand new and not-yet-available toy that was about to be announced in an effort to prop up the faltering line. Because this special tanked and the GLO Fucks were discontinued it was never put into full production, and today only approximately thirteen of the original fifteen prototypes survive, making it the most sought-after GLO Fuck item for 1980's toy collectors.

Anyway despite the strong current in the river, Moose is able to swim back up to the cage and deposit all the GLO Fucks on the floe.

If you guessed almost immediately when Santa first became trapped that the GLO Fucks would eventually use their special GLO Power to melt the ice you're absolutely right. If you also guessed they'd have to sing a goddamn song while they do it...sadly you're right about that, too.

They ripped off part of the melody from an Anthony Newly song, the shameless cretins. If you want to stay on my good side you really shouldn't fuck with Anthony Newley.

So they're trying to build up enough GLO Power to melt the ice and to do so they have to form an unbroken circle. They make an awfully big deal here about stretching to link hands, trying to build some bogus tension by showing Bashfulbug GLO Fuck and GLO Worm GLO Fuck struggling to reach each other at the one open point in the loop. None of them think to just take one fucking step towards the cage to make the circle smaller.

You'd think a much bigger problem would be that GLO Worm GLO Fuck has no hands.

Blanche shows up again now to lay a final bit of ice-based pain on them so she can claim her victory. As she begins her incantation, however the ice floe she's standing on begins to glow from underneath!

The ice floe melts, dumping her into the river before she can complete the spell, and for some reason her ice wand goes flying through the air as she falls like a hail Mary pass in the last few seconds of a football game. GLO Turtle GLO Fuck and GLO Hopper GLO Fuck climb up out of the water from where they've just dunked the Witch.

Gee whiz, I didn't see that coming.

Blanche's ice wand conveniently then lands right in GLO Hopper GLO Fuck's hand, and he uses his individual GLO Power to melt it away to a harmless puddle.

Speaking of puddles, with the additional biomass GLO Turtle and GLO Hopper GLO F fucks provide the whole happy community of GLO Fucks melt the cage, leaving Santa and the Reindeer free to lead a life of gift distribution and religious fulfillment. I'm not sure how they didn't just melt themselves right down into the rapids again, or how the sleigh and the toys ended up safe and dry on the river bank instead of getting swept away by the rapids, but you know what? I'm through trying to make sense of this shit.

Everybody drowning would have been a much more satisfying ending for me.

Santa thanks Moose and the GLO Fucks for saving him. GLO Worm GLO Fuck adds that they saved Christmas, too, but Santa downplays the accomplishment, saying "No! As long as the spirit of Christmas glows in our hearts it can never be stopped!" As if every damned thing would have just worked itself right the hell out on its own without any of this having happened at all.

So why did I even have to watch it then, you fat, sadistic fuck?

Santa magnanimously asks the Moose to lead the team out of the forest, and has the GLO Fucks cling to the Reindeer's antlers to light their way through the dark night.

Rudolph was involved in a doping scandal during last year's Reindeer Games and is no longer employed by Santa Claus, LTD, its subsidiaries or affiliate corporations.

Okay, I get it. This was made to sell toys to little kids, not so that an arrogant, snarky old bastard like me could nitpick and complain about how syrupy, loud and predictable it is, but it is undoubtedly all of those bad things and it made me want to go out and break a bunch of beautiful things just to be able to feel something authentic and immediate again.

On the plus side it did have some cute characters, I suppose, and the guest stars gave admirably not-phoned-in performances, and it packed quite a lot into its 22 minute runtime, but you know what? They fucked with Anthony Newley, so fuck the fucking GLO Fucks. They can fuck the fuck off in a fucking fuck train to fuck land, the fuckers.

The Fucking End.

Merry Fucking Christmas, folkses.

Next Installment: December 25th.

As always, Cheers and thanks for reading!

Written by Bradley Lyndon in December 2019.

Questions? Comments? Expressions of disgust? Why not skip the middleman and complain to me directly?

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