Archie Giant Series Magazine #452
December 10, 2012
A trip into the past features bad lighting and an Archie comic that doesn't have much to do with Christmas!
(Open to Harvey Finevoice singing Frank Sinatra's "Fly Me To The Moon" at one of his singing gigs (which is really just a convention), and the crowd loves it. We then cut to Harvey entering his hotel room)
Harvey: (to a woman in the hallway) I love you too, babe. Call ya.
(He then shuts the door. Now alone, he is revealed to be depressed since he last saw Linkara. He sits down on a chair, sighs, and rubs his temple, when a familiar voice is heard. It's the Nostalgia Critic, who fades in like a ghost)
NC: (ghostly voice) Harvey Finevoice! Harvey Finevoice! Harvey Finevoice! I am the ghost of–
(Harvey gets up and puts NC in a head lock)
NC: (normal voice) AH! JESUS CHRIST!
Harvey: WHO THE HELL ARE YOU AND WHAT DO YOU WANT?!
NC: Fucking hey, man, I'm the Ghost of Christmas Past!
Harvey: That's bull hockey! The kid met the Ghost of Christmas Past once! It was some chick that was glowing white!
NC: (sighs) There's more than one of us, you moron! It's not like fucking Santa Claus! There's not, like, one person that can go around and see every jerk for being a jerk in one night!
(Harvey groans, then lets NC go. He turns to face him and looks more carefully at NC, realizing who he is)
Harvey: Wait a second, I know who you are. You're the Nostalgia Critic. I heard you merged with a giant plot hole in space and turned into a Muppet.
NC: Yeah, the Muppet thing comes and goes.
Harvey: Shouldn't you be busy, like, controlling the universe or something?
NC: Well, I still do that, but it doesn't pay the bills, now does it? I took the Ghost of Christmas Past thing so I can make a living.
Harvey: Look, I appreciate the effort, but I got a million problems right now and Christmas ain't one of them. So, skedaddle! (points to door)
NC: Well, while the Ghost of Christmas Past is the official title, we deal with a wide range of people who need a good kick in the ass, and your name came up, Mr. Finevoice.
Harvey: Thanks, but I don't think you can help me. (turns to leave)
NC: You're worried about Linkara, aren't you?
Harvey: (turns to NC, suspiciously) What do you know about the kid?!
NC: Well, I know he's a high-pitched, nasally comic book nerd who always likes to send in his robotic duplicate when we really need him.
Harvey: Story of my life.
NC: But that's half the point; you have to start trusting him again.
Harvey: "Trusting him again"? Yeah, that's actually pretty easy. I don't trust myself around him anymore, frankly.
NC: How'd you even meet him?
Harvey: Well... that starts a few years back...
(We flash back to Linkara, who is in front of a green screen made to look like his bedroom from his parents' house, where he used to review before he moved (the first time). It is sometime during his few years. Part of the room is in the dark, so only half of his face is visible)
Linkara: (quieter, almost hushed tone) Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. "Archie" has going on for– (becomes frustrated and speaks normally) Okay, I can't keep doing this. Look, I-I don't even know if anyone can like this show if you can't hear me. So, from now on, I'm going to start speaking up. (looks into dark past his room) And you know, you can't see half of my face right now. (claps his hands, lighting up the rest of the room) Hmm, there, see? Now you can see me, the futon, and my glorious wall behind me in crystal clarity*! I hope I never have to leave this wall. Imagine me doing this show without it! (laughs) So, anyway, "Archie".
- NOTE: The background, like when the show started, looks a bid fuzzy and only Linkara looks HD.
(A montage of shots of Archie comics are shown)
Linkara (v/o): "Archie"'s continued existence never ceases to baffle me. I just don't get it. What is it about the continuing adventures of an indecisive redhead and his gluttonous friend [Jughead Jones] that allows it to continue for 70 friggin' years?! Yeah, as you can guess, I'm not a fan of Archie Comics. I don't hate it, it's just... there, and I don't get why it's still there. Admittedly, I could just be biased because I love superheroes, and superheroes really do dominate the medium, but I hope you can understand my confusion.
(Cut to a shot of the Archie comic to be reviewed for today: "Archie's Christmas Stocking")
Linkara (v/o): Speaking of confusion, that brings us to this comic. You'll noticed I advertised this episode as "Archie's Christmas Stocking". That's mainly because I thought that's what it was called, but it's a little more confusing than that.
(Another Archie Comics montage is shown, this one of comics entitled "Archie's Christmas Stocking". It wasn't just one issue, but a whole series)
Linkara (v/o): There is a series of Archie's comics called "Archie's Christmas Stocking" that's all on its own. But then there's what we have today: the Archie Giant Series Magazine, which seem to have its own individual titles for almost every issue, many of which were also called "Archie's Christmas Stocking". Now, if that wasn't confusion enough, there's a bit of an issue with the numbering. The Archie Giant Series Magazine began in 1954 and lasted for 35 issues, all well and good, but then, when the series was continued in 1965, suddenly, it began at Issue #136 and was numbered normally until Issue 251. And all of a sudden, it jumps ahead again to where we're at now: Issue #452. They just jump ahead a hundred, and then another 200 issues, and I honestly don't get why. If someone's a fan and knows why, please explain, because I just don't know what the hell's going on here.
Linkara: So let's dig into (holds up today's comic) "Archie Giant Series Magazine #452" and see if it can bring us a little holiday cheer.
(AT4W title sequence plays; title card has "One Night Love Affair" by Bryan Adams playing in the background. Cut to a closeup of the comic's cover)
Linkara (v/o): The cover's okay, featuring Archie hanging a bit of mistletoe over and some other guy... Richie*, I think? How the hell would I know? ...laying the moves on Veronica. Really, the thing that bugs me is that a third of the cover is taken up by the logo and tiny versions of the Archie characters inside of a stocking. It's not the tiny Archie characters bit that gets to me. That's kind of amusing in a way; "Honey, I Shrunk the Archie", I guess. No, it's just the logo and all taking up so much space. It always irritates me. Anyway, though, this is an anthology, so let's dive right in.
- NOTE: Linkara may have been thinking of Reggie, as in "Reggie Mantle".
(The comic opens to the first page of a story called "Family Affair")
Linkara (v/o): We begin with "Family Affair". Archie and Jughead are walking along and wondering what they're gonna get for Christmas.
Archie: The BIG GIFT! Every year the folks go all out for one big-gift!
Linkara (v/o): Why is there a hyphen between "big" and "gift" at the end there?
Archie: Stereo, skis, pool table, CB radio!
Linkara: Wow, a CB radio that has a stereo, skis and a pool table built into it? That is a big gift! (nods)
Linkara (v/o): We cut to the respective fathers of the two, who are having trouble deciding on a present.
Linkara: Perhaps a camera that also doubles as an air hockey table and a massage chair.
Linkara (v/o): They hit upon the idea that since they'll have an extended holiday period off from school, they'll give the two kids an unescorted winter vacation.
Mr. Andrews: They'll love it! --Show 'em we trust them!
Linkara: Two months later, Archie's receiving a check for his very special appearance in Guys Gone Wild.
Linkara (v/o): The two head out to a travel agent to book the flight, so they can leave the day after Christmas and return on January 3rd. Yyyyeah... Won't they want some time to pack and stuff? Or do you expect them to pack their bags and inform their friends they'll be gone on Christmas? Hell, what if they have plans for what they'll doing with the downtime from school? I'm not against the gift idea, but something like this should probably get a little more prep time than "Hey! I just thought of giving them a trip, so let's go buy it now!" However, there's a more immediate problem. Archie and Jughead just happen to walk outside the travel agency and spot the two inside, naturally confused about what they're doing there. Jughead offers this inspiring bit of insight...
Jughead: You don't go to a travel agency to buy groceries!
(Cut to a clip of The Shining)
Jack Torrance (Jack Nicolson): Words of wisdom, Lloyd. Words of wisdom.
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): The two walk inside to find out what's going on and... Wait, where did the parents go? Seriously, we never see their fathers leave the travel agency. That's probably because they'd run right into Archie and Jughead, but where did they go? Did they sneak out the back. Anyway, the two teens claim that their fathers wanted to know how they should dress for the trip, and the travel agent reveals the trip is to Miami. Now, the agent's being a bit of an idiot here. Yeah, just take these two random kids' word that the people you were just talking to were their dads and that they'd be dumb enough to not know how to dress for their own trip. Hell, I'm pretty sure the agent overheard them say that the trip was for their kids and it'd be a surprise. Anyway, the agent reveals that they only bought two tickets for the trip, from December 26 to January 3. The teens thank him and run outside.
Jughead: They're taking themselves a little vacation in Florida!
Linkara: Uh, were you not listening just two seconds ago? It's not really a Christmas vacation if it's after Christmas.
Jughead: I'm ashamed of my pop – neglecting my mom like that!
Archie: Both of them! What a rotten trick! Leaving our moms to do all the cleaning up after the holiday!
Jughead: While they're off enjoying themselves!
Archie: Well, by gosh, my mom deserves a vacation, too! I saved a lot of money last summer!
Jughead: Hey! Me, too!
Linkara: Hey, idiots, you want to actually confront your fathers with this information and see if they didn't get the blessings of their wives before you run in half-cocked with your money?
Linkara (v/o): I also just noticed that Jughead's earmuffs are plaid. That's awesome. Anyway, since there's room on the flight, the two purchase seats for their mothers... though I'm curious how they're paying for this. I doubt they're carrying that much on them and I don't think they have credit cards or checks or anything. Anyway, we cut to Christmas morning, where Archie gets the tickets and... uh-oh, he realizes the gift was for him and Jughead! And then his mother gets the gift from him for a flight, too! Also, how old is Archie's mom? She's completely gray-haired, and I doubt Archie, of all people, causes enough stress in her life for that to happen without age being a factor. The story ends with the two teens embarrassingly lying on the beach beside their mothers, who encourage them to go out and have fun with some girls on the beach.
Mrs. Andrews: We'll just sit here and watch!
Linkara: Well, I'll just save the thought of that for a future nightmare.
Linkara (v/o): The next story is "Planter's Punch". We open with the Riverdale School principal talking to Aunt May here... Er, actually, she's named Miss Grundy. And given how irritated she looks, I don't doubt that she was born on a Monday. Miss Grundy is refusing to leave the school during the Christmas vacation despite the school being locked up during that time.
Miss Grundy: My precious plant needs daily care and I will not desert it!
Linkara: Then why the hell did you bring it to the school to begin with?
Linkara (v/o): I mean, seriously, what the hell did you expect to do? Do you go in during the weekends? During MEA break? During the summer?! Anyway, she can't just take the damn thing home with her because apparently any exposure to cold air will kill it instantly. Archie and Jughead, passing nearby, overhear the issue, and Jughead comes up with an idea.
Jughead: What would be more in keeping with the Christmas spirit than helping out Miss Grundy?
Linkara: Oh, I don't know, donating to a charity instead of vindicating her own boneheadedness?
Linkara (v/o): Since of their friends has a "hot house" that can store the plant, they figure they can move it there over the winter break. You know, if a minor temperature drop will kill it, chances are a more humid environment isn't any better for it. Oh, and by the way, they never ask Miss Grundy if they can do this, so... yeah, once again, a lack of communication will spell doom for these idiots. Of course, they also have to figure out a way to get the plant to the greenhouse, but Jughead has the answer there as well. The father of one of their friends installs phone booths for the phone company.
Friend: You're right! You did see one in my garage! It's a model they phased out!
Linkara: (as this guy) It was a big blue box with a lamp on top. It used to be really popular until this science-fiction series came along and ruined it for everybody. We were really proud of that design, too. (sneers)
(Cut to Linkara walking past a bookshelf and wearing a blue suit)
Linkara: (singing) Game on, get your game on... (stops abruptly as he sees he's on camera) We'll be right back, people.
(Linkara walks off as the AT4W logo appears in the corner. We go to a commercial. Upon return from, Linkara starts walking past the bookshelf, still wearing the blue suit)
Linkara: (singing) Tough times, hard climbs... (sees he's on camera again) We're back. (walks off) We'll take them on together...
(The AT4W logo appears in the corner. Cut back to the comic as the review resumes)
Linkara (v/o): So they ask to borrow the phone booth and by golly, is this a dumb idea! Jughead rides inside of the phone booth with the plant in the back of the roofless car, and somehow this will keep the plant warm. Look, I don't know how phone booths were designed in the 1970s, but I'm pretty sure they weren't known for their insulation. Sure, it'll protect from the wind, but it's still gonna be cold in the thing. Oh, and Miss Grundy is apparently aware of the plan, since she's stands outside the car and just asks them to take care of the plant – despite at no point before this in the comic showing them asking her about this. Then again, she was the idiot who brought the plant there to begin with. Her brain may have died on a Saturday. So of course, without any kind of straps to hold the phone booth down, they start driving. However, the ground is pretty icy and the car starts slipping. Apparently, Riverdale ran out of its budget for salting the roads. And the car begins to slip a bit.
Passerby: Everybody's got CB radio's--but that's class!
Linkara: (pretending to talk on a CB radio) Uh, breaker, breaker, we got a four-wheeler driven by two turkeys that's on a triple-digit ride, thanks to some black ice. No doubt gonna crack 'em up soon. Come on back.
Linkara (v/o): And of course, instead of the phone booth falling out, the car swerves and the phone booth crashes into a tree, shattering the glass and exposing it to the outside air. Despite Jughead no doubt suffering from a concussion and bleeding from all the broken glass embedded in his body, the only thing they can think about is how the plant dies before their eyes. As such, they quickly head to a plant store and replace it with a larger version of the plant. After the winter break, the two show her the plant and she thinks they must be really good with plants, and our story ends with us learning they have been made permanent guardians of the thing. 'Course, they could've just refused to do it, since it's not like it's a school plant or anything. It's her friggin' plant and she's the dumbass who brought it there to begin with, but why would we have things start making sense now?
(The comic turns to the next story)
Linkara (v/o): Next in line is "Up For Grabs", and good Lord, the artwork here! Look at Archie and Veronica's legs! They're so spindly and thin compared to the rest of their bodies! Hell, Archie's arms in particular look friggin' muscle-bound by comparison! Dude must do a lot of bowling. Veronica informs Archie that for the class Christmas party, they're going to have a "grab bag". Behind them, the much-better drawn Reggie and... uh... Betty, I think...? I don't know, half these people look exactly the same, but with different haircuts. Anyway, Reggie grabs Betty and says that "he's got his!"
Betty: I don't find that a bit funny!
Reggie: Well, you win some, you lose some! They can't all be gems!
Linkara: (as Reggie, laughs) I find it amusing that I referred to you as a "bag", Betty, meaning that I pretty much insulted you! I'm laughing off the fact that you rejected me despite my clever insult! (laughs again, then becomes confused) Why am I amused by this?
Linkara (v/o): Archie asks for clarification on the grab bag thing.
Veronica: Girls buy a boy's gift and boys buy girls gifts! We put them in separate bags!
Linkara: So... aside from specific hygiene products and sex toys, what exactly qualifies for "boy gifts" and "girl gifts" in this scenario?
Betty: No gift must be worth more than two dollars!
Linkara: Well, enjoy the $2 gift certificate then.
Linkara (v/o): While Archie, Reggie and Jughead walk out of school, they ponder what gifts they should get for the grab bag. Reggie suggests Mexican jumping beans.
Reggie: Some gal will grab the package--mmmph--it'll move in her hand--hyok!
Linkara: Uh, Reggie, do you need a lozenge? It sounds like you got something in your throat there.
Reggie: Oh, man! She'll go through the roof!!
Linkara: (laughs, then regains his composure) Yeah, it's... really not all that funny, dude. In fact, the prank will last all of five seconds and... then it'll be over. Kind of pointless actually.
Linkara (v/o): And we cut to the Christmas party, where Veronica reaches in and pulls out a box with a jumping bean in it. It bounces inside the case, and in her shock, she shoves Archie... who falls into the nearby table and knocks off the punch bowl, which was no doubt spiked anyway to liven up the party if the Mexican jumping bean prank was the extent of the excitement in their lives. Jughead, in a surprising display of speed and dexterity, leaps over to the table and catches the punch bowl before it falls. However, thanks to physics, the liquid continues to travel and pours all over Reggie... who's dressed like Waldo. And looks very bored by the punch splashing on him. Then again, maybe it's not Reggie, since we saw him in a different sweater earlier, but again, it's the same damn haircut. Plus, for narrative purposes, why the hell would it be anybody else? The punch falling on him somehow causes him to wrap his arms around a girl, whose jealous boyfriend socks him so hard, he goes flying out a window onto a conveniently-placed sled and then into a tree. Somewhere, Rube Goldberg is sighing and shaking his head in irritation. People gather around him as he comes to.
Person 1: What's he saying?
Person 2: He's says, all he wants for Christmas are his two front teeth!
Archie: Sounds like a song!
Jughead: Well, I know I feel like singing!
Linkara: (rubbing his chin in thought) All he wants for Christmas are his two front teeth, huh? Yeah, I know the feeling, Jughead. I think I'll start singing now, too. (sings loudly) ONE NIGHT LOVE AFFAIR!
Linkara (v/o): And this brings us to our final story: "A Bird in the Hand". We open with Archie and Jughead walking down a sidewalk.
Archie: Oh! Oh! Omigosh! Wow! Eeyahoo! Oh man!
Linkara: (as Archie, imitating his movements) Holy crap, are the drugs working today!
Archie: It boggles the mind!!
Linkara: (as Archie) Why are you always wearing that stupid Burger King crown?
Jughead: Something excites you, friend?
Linkara: (as Jughead) I'm the sophisticated Jughead: well-spoken and educated! (puts a pipe in his mouth)
Linkara (v/o): Archie has a decided on a romantic gift for Veronica: a partridge in a pear tree.
Jughead: I think it's dumb!
Archie: What are you talking about? Everybody love that song!
Linkara: (looking uncomfortable) Not really. In fact, of all the traditional Christmas carols, most people I ask seem to really hate it, mostly due to the repetitive and never-ending nature of the tune.
Linkara (v/o): Archie decides to get Veronica just the partridge in a pear tree and heads off to a guy who has a collection of trees, but no pear tree! As such, he decides to worry about that later and instead go after a partridge first. And of course, the first person he goes to for this mission is... uh, Betty, the other romantic interest. What...? Hell, even ignoring the love interest angle, why does he go to her for a partridge? I don't know, maybe I'm just not familiar enough with the character, but does she have a menagerie of various bird species she can call upon? Anyway, she misinterprets Archie and gets him partridge meat from a supermarket. I was gonna complain about the fact that the partridge looks too damn big, but apparently some partridge species do grow that large, so you win this round, Archie comic. Anyway, he tries to go to a pet store next.
Pet store proprietor: How about a grouse? Pheasant? Dove? Goose? Swan? Duck? Chicken? Sparrow? Cuckoo? A nice hawk? A vulture?
Linkara: (as pet store proprietor) Yes, we sell vultures, but not partridges. We're a very strange pet store.
Linkara (v/o): With the failure of acquiring a partridge, Archie must resign himself to an alternate plan. And so, our comic ends with him revealing his present to Veronica: a parrot in a palm tree. Naturally, he could just explain what he had meant, or get, like, a canary in a Christmas tree; I doubt Veronica would know the difference. But instead, we must close with him looking ashamed while Veronica is just as confused.
Linkara: (holding up comic) This comic sucks! It's admittedly pretty harmless and goofy, but for a Christmas comic, it's decidedly un-Christmasy. (looks disappointed)
Linkara (v/o): "Family Affair" and "A Bird in the Hand" are the closest this thing comes to feeling like a Christmas special, since they revolve around getting gifts for people, but the stories themselves are really damn weak because of the characters acting like morons. Hell, on the bird story, Archie could've just decided to get Veronica something else, instead of expecting a parrot in a palm tree to satisfy the matter. It's amazing, though, how not-Christmas this comic feels. "Planter's Punch" and "Up For Grabs" mention winter and a Christmas party, but there's nothing Christmasy about them. Hell, "Planter's Punch" revolves taking care of a friggin' plant, and plants just happen to be my issue here. In several shots of the stories, there's a considerable lack of winter present! We see them dressed up in winter clothing, but that only gets ya so far! Hell, the winter clothes are the only indication that it's cold outside, since we don't see their breath or anything. I mean, we see several shots of bright green grass! What Christmas story features nice weather without snow?!
(Cut to an answer to that question: a clip of Silent Night, Deadly Night 2, showing a man lifting up a trash can to put by the curb in front of his house, when Ricky Chapman (Eric Freeman) spots him)
Ricky: Garbage day!
Man: Huh? (Ricky aims his gun at him) No!
(As Ricky fires his gun at the man, the man lifts up his trash can to shield himself, but it's too late; he gets shot and falls over dead)
Linkara (v/o): THAT DOESN'T COUNT!
Linkara: I don't know, there's something about this comic that feel disconnected from Christmas.
(He throws the comic on the futon and gets up. We then cut to a cemetery as we hear the Nostalgia Critic and Harvey talking. We see past Harvey by the edge of the cemetery)
NC (v/o): So, yeah, where the hell were you during all of that?
Harvey (v/o): I was doing what I had been doing for half a year by that point: looking at a cemetery and not going in closer to see my son.
NC (v/o): Oh. (realizes) Ohhhhh!
Harvey (v/o): Yeah.
NC (v/o): How old was he?
Harvey (v/o): It doesn't really matter. It's always too young. My wife left me after he died and frankly, I don't blame her.
(Feeling depressed, Past Harvey starts to leave the cemetery)
Harvey (v/o): Our son was gone and I was a wreck. I hadn't done a concert in months, and I had barely spoken to her in all that time.
(Cut to Past Harvey walking on the side of the road as Past Linkara (really a body double since we don't see his face) jogs towards his general direction. Harvey falls to someone's front yard. Linkara stops jogging and goes to help him)
Harvey (v/o): The kid found me lying on the sidewalk when he was filming himself getting pumped up for his "Amazons Attack" review and got me some help. Talked to a head shrinker, stopped drinking, went back on the lounge circuit; the kid saved me, really. I made sure to always to have Charlie's back.
NC (v/o): Charlie?
Harvey (v/o): My– (corrects himself) Linkara.
NC (v/o): Harvey, where do you think you are right now?
Harvey (v/o): I'm talking to the fashion-challenged critic who stopped getting dressed halfway into it!
NC (v/o): (annoyed) No, that's not it at all! (calmer) But, I do think my time is over now. Good luck, Harvey.
Harvey (v/o): Wait, what? Wha–What are you–
(The scene the fades to white. End credits roll)
Yes, I am fully aware that from a continuity standpoint, this episode makes absolutely no sense and cannot be easily placed within the show's timeline. In cases like this, it's probably best to follow the MST3K mantra.
Is Archie in college now? Or does he age at all?
(After the end credits, we return to Linkara's bedroom as he leans into view from the side of the screen)
Linkara: Oh, and tell me what you guys think about the themes song and the title card. I don't know If I want to keep those or not. (exits frame)
(Stinger: Harvey is seen talking to the Nostalgia Critic)
Harvey: Well... that starts a few years back...
(After an awkward pause, Harvey makes the "dissolve effect" noise and motion from Wayne's World and NC joins in)