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Christmas Comes to PacLand - The Weirdest Holiday Special Starring Pac-Man

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Christmas Comes to PacLand - The Weirdest Holiday Special Starring Pac-Man

During the holiday season, Christmas is celebrated all around the world, but what about alternate cartoon/video game universes that have never heard, nor seen a reindeer, gotten a present from Santa Claus, and the closest thing they've come to a Christmas Tree is covered in Power Pellets?

To help answer this question our guest guide, Joanna Wilson, author of the Christmas TV Companion and Tis the Season TV explores one of the weirdest Christmas specials of all time.

Basic Facts:

  • Title: Christmas Comes to PacLand aka Pac-Man's Christmas.
  • Type: TV Animated Special from the Pac-Man Cartoon Series
  • Studio: Hanna-Barbera
  • Year: Original Airdate 12/21/1982

The Special:

This half-hour animated TV special first aired on the ABC network in 1982. This was a primetime special of the Saturday morning childrens' cartoon series Pac-Man. Of course, the characters from the animated TV series are based on the popular video game by Namco.

Christmas Comes to PacLand was produced by Hanna-Barbera, the animation studio that reigned over the landscape of television's cartoons for decades. Still a perennial favorite, it is currently rebroadcast repeatedly on the cable channel Boomerang each holiday season. However in the past, it has has also aired on Cartoon Network as well as TNT often retitled as Pac-Man's Christmas. Ultimately, Christmas Comes to PacLand serves as a unique time capsule of 1980s cartoon culture.

How Pac-Man Converts and Saves Christmas:

In the story, Santa Claus crash lands his sleigh in PacLand on Christmas Eve after the reindeer are spooked by the floating eyes of the ghost monsters. Pac-Man, Pepper (aka Ms. Pac-Man) and Pac-Baby rescue Santa from the deep snow, though they aren't familiar with this mysterious person and his mission. No matter because his sleigh has been damaged and he can't continue on his way.
Those in PacLand agree to save Christmas by repairing Santa's sleigh for him while Pepper helps nurse Santa and the reindeer back to health; but the ghosts have found Santa's magical sack full of toys. Pac-Man distracts the ghosts and allows them to chase him while his pac-dog, Chomp-Chomp gathers the toys and puts them back in the sack. But Pac-Man is caught and chomped, draining him of his energy. Even if he can get back home, it may be too late for Santa to deliver his toys.
Pac-Man has one final idea to save Christmas but the Pac family runs into the ghosts, ready to chomp them all. Pac-Man appeals to the ghosts' compassion in the spirit of Christmas to spare them on behalf of Santa Claus and the world's children waiting for their Christmas presents.
Persuaded by Pac-Man's plea, the ghosts agree to refrain from chomping Pac-Man until after Christmas. Finally, Santa and the Pac family reach the Power Pellet Forest full of energy boosting power pellets to help the reindeer through the Christmas Eve delivery. Later, when the Ghost Monsters arrive at the Pac family home ready to chomp them, the ghosts are touched by the spirit of generosity when Pac-Man reveals that Santa has left them gifts as well.

The special is filled with catch-phrases and its own PacLand vernacular, including one comic moment in which Pepper is nursing the reindeer back to health but notices that Rudolph's nose is blinking on and off. She remarks that he's not fully recovered yet because his warning light is still flickering.

At the end of the show, Santa proclaims as he flies across the night sky, “Merry Christmas to all and to all a good Chomp!”

The characters are voiced by a recognizable stable of veteran voice actors, including Marty Ingels as Pac-Man, Barbara Minkus as Ms. Pac-Man (Pepper), Russi Taylor as Pac-Baby, Frank Welker as Chomp-Chomp, Peter Cullen as Sour Puss, Chuck McCann as Blinky/Pinky, Barry Gordon as Inky, Neilson Ross as Clyde and Susan Silo as Sue.

A Cast of Pac-Characters:

The cast of characters includes Pac-Man, his wife Pepper, Baby-Pac, their dog Chomp-Chomp, the cat Sour Puss, the police officer O'Pac, the taxi driver Morris, and the five Ghost Monsters: Pinky, Inky, Blinky, Clyde, and Sue. This TV holiday special does not include the regular TV series villain, Mezmaron. Police Officer O'Pac and the Morris the taxi driver appear to be references to the characters Bert and Ernie, also a police officer and a taxi driver from the iconic Christmas movie, It's A Wonderful Life, directed by Frank Capra.

So Where the Heck is PacLand Anyway?

An interesting detail of this Christmas story is that the characters of PacLand are unaware of Santa Claus' identity and ask the mysterious stranger about himself and the holiday of Christmas. Santa remarks as well that he is unaware of PacLand and its residents and has never delivered his gifts there before.

This story element conveniently allows Santa Claus to provide exposition about the spirit of Christmas which Pac-Man will later repeat to the Ghost Monsters trying to persuade them to allow him access to the Power Pellet Forest. However, it opens up even more questions about this alternate universe where PacLand must exist. For instance, why do these electronic video game characters occupy a physical space that includes a landscape that is covered in snow which requires them to wear hats, scarves and boots? They are also familiar with tobogganing and snowball fighting. It forces viewers to reflect too deeply on why a fictitious world such as PacLand which resembles our world in so many ways yet doesn't include a winter holiday of any sort.

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