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Friday, December 20, 2013

Merry Christmas, Mr. Bean!

It's just five days to go until Christmas arrives, and with that, “THE POP CULTURE ADDICT'S ADVENT CALENDAR” is already in full swing!

With this being Day #20, I thought that I would give today's entry a little bit of British flavour, by doing a festive look at one holiday favourite! Or, at least, it happens to be a holiday favourite in my house.

Seriously, I have to watch this television special at least once during the holiday season.

Now, I have to admit that I do love British television. From “Are You Being Served?” to “Doctor Who”, some of the best television that I have ever seen has come from the United Kingdom. “EastEnders” and “Coronation Street” have entertained fans of soap operas for years, “Grange Hill” was certainly a hit with the kids, and my sister just happens to be a huge fan of the television series “Keeping Up Appearances”.

(That's that show that has that character named Hyacinthe Bucket, though she likes to pronounce it like Bouquet.)

On a personal level though, one of my all-time British made television programs happens to have been a show that ran for six years, but only produced fifteen episodes. I know, it seems almost unheard of, right?

Well, there's a reason for that. The show was entirely made up of prime time and holiday specials that when compiled together made up practically a whole season of episodes.

A season that stretched six years, mind you.

As it so happens, I can watch all the episodes of this particular show whenever I want because I own the DVD compilation of the series that was brought out by A&E a decade ago. I grew up watching the series when it aired on both PBS and CBC. How could I resist?

From the very first episode in which he takes an exam to the final episode where he reminisces about the time he watched a baby at the amusement park, had his car squashed by a tank, and ended up naked in the middle of a hotel, this man has done it all...and had the most absolute worst luck doing it!

Though that is to the genius of comedic genius Rowan Atkinson for creating a character who is a bit of a simple-minded oaf, yet is innocent enough that you can't help but love him.

Yes, between 1989 and 1995, Mr. Bean entertained audiences all over the world with his successful television program. Two Mr. Bean feature films would later follow.

And, I have to say that I absolutely love every single episode of Mr. Bean. I literally could watch them over and over again. And, given that we're experiencing ice rain conditions, I think that might be a great way to spend today!

Now, because we're at the tail end of the advent calendar, I think you know what episode of Mr. Bean we'll be watching this time around. We're going to be viewing the classic “Merry Christmas, Mr. Bean”. It is the seventh episode of the series, and appropriately enough it aired for the first time on December 24, 1992.

And, before we discuss it, you might as well watch it! So, sit down, grab a drink and a portion of figgy pudding, and click HERE for the full 23-minute episode. Don't worry. I'm not going anywhere. Enjoy!

Did you like it? I hope you did! Now, let's talk about it!

Now, every single city in the world has that one special department store in which most people love to do their shopping. New York City has Macy's, Toronto has the Eaton Centre, my hometown has...well...Walmart.

In London though, the real hot spot is the famous Harrods Department Store. And, for Mr. Bean's Christmas special, it happens to be the setting for Act 1. And, well...let's just say that Mr. Bean's maturity levels clearly rival that of a four year old on the naughty chair. He yanks the beard off of Santa and ends up plunging the entire exterior of the store into darkness! But you know, I do have to admit that I like his idea of testing Christmas ornaments by dropping them from a significant height! Why would anybody buy Christmas ornaments that smash on the ground so easily?

And, I think that I was one of the ones who was laughing out loud when Mr. Bean came face to face with a nativity scene! I'm not exactly sure how the Jurassic Park/Doctor Who references tied into the birth of Baby Jesus, but it was such a hoot to watch! Let's watch that scene again!

Though I will say this. Christmas may be a time of sharing, joy, and giving. Well, Mr. Bean doesn't exactly do any of this. He's pretty much celebrating the spirit of Christmas by being a complete Scrooge...and he isn't even aware of the fact that he is coming across this way! I guess in some manner, that sort of makes it funnier to watch because right around this time of year, you very rarely see anybody who has so little self-awareness that even they can't see why people are so annoyed by them.

Well, unless you work retail and you see someone pitching a fit on Christmas Eve because they are surprised to learn that the items they want on their lists are not there. Trust me, this time of year, I see that sort of thing a lot!

Now, that's not to say that Mr. Bean does not completely ignore the spirit of Christmas. He does stop a pickpocket and donates the items that he stole to charity, and he gets into the Christmas spirit by leading an orchestra in a rousing chorus of carols.

But then he steals the town square Christmas tree and cheats in order to win a fourteen kilogram turkey. I suppose even the people who lack self-awareness knows exactly what goes into what makes a traditional Christmas.

TRIVIA: The scene where Mr. Bean calculates the turkey's weight by using a household scale and a calculator is left off the A&E DVD version...but is curiously shown in the repeat airings of the broadcast on television. Weird.

Once he gets home, he sets up three stockings – one for himself, one for his beloved teddy bear, and one for a mouse that lives in the corner (which seems like a lovely gesture, I must admit). He also comes up with the idea to create a Christmas cracker with twelve times the fuses that make that popping sound when they are pulled. Hope he doesn't regret that decision! But then the old Bean comes out when a group of Christmas carolers come singing at the door and he slams the door in their faces without giving them a single piece of delicious chocolate.

Hell, if I were one of the carollers, I probably would have beaned him one.

Alas, Christmas morning finally arrives, and Mr. Bean is excited to open up his gifts. Mr. Bean gets a pair of socks, Teddy gets brand new button eyes, and the mouse even gets a piece of cheese...

...attached to a mousetrap.

And, for Christmas lunch, Mr. Bean is setting up the table for two as his girlfriend, Irma Gobb (Matilda Ziegler) is planning on spending the holiday with him.

Now, how Mr. Bean even ended up having a girlfriend is beyond me. He certainly never treated her with much respect...or even much love for that matter. But silly Irma Gobb never gives up. After all, Mr. Bean did promise her that when she was looking in a store window, he would buy her exactly what she wanted in the window. And, well, since the window display was for a jewelry store, she has made it clear that if he likes her then he should put a ring on it.

Of course, Irma seems to have the absolute worst timing. She arrives as Mr. Bean is preparing the Christmas turkey, and...oh dear.

Let it be known that they did the same gag on an episode of “Friends” as well, but Mr. Bean did it first...and did it better, as far as I'm concerned.

So, anyway, after the turkey is pried off of his head (which causes a nasty knock on Irma's head), the duo sit down to a dinner of...cranberry sandwiches...which sounds nasty, but might not be as bad as it sounds. Irma tries to trick Bean into kissing her under the mistletoe, but Mr. Bean seems more interested in the present she gave him and snatches it without kissing Irma at all.

Now, I will say that Irma is a master of gift giving. She gave him a model kit – the perfect gift for a five year old trapped in the body of a 37-year-old. But Irma feels that it is worth it if it means that she gets her ring.

Unfortunately...Mr. Bean completely misunderstood. Horribly.

And as a dejected, hurt, and angry Irma storms off in a huff (which really should have happened earlier in the episode), the episode ends in a rather explosive manner.

So, that's what happens when Mr. Bean celebrates Christmas. Now, I ask this question...would you want to celebrate Christmas with Bean? Absolutely not. But does Mr. Bean's Christmas make you feel a lot better about how you celebrate Christmas? I know it does for me! My Christmas celebrations could NEVER be as much of a train wreck as Mr. Bean's clearly was!

So, that ends day #20. Coming up on Day #21, a holiday cartoon special starring a cat, a dog, a guy named Doc Boy, and the world's coolest grandmother!

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