BoJack Horseman Christmas Special review
Sabrina's Christmas Wish
For the Holiday week, Netflix kindly posted a surprise Christmas special episode for viewers of its late-night, animated comedy “BoJack Horseman.” It certainly satisfies fans who binge-watched all twelve episodes of its first season right off the bat back in August. Everyone else will, unfortunately, see it as the weakest episode of the popular series. While certainly realizing the characters were strong enough to interact in a situation outside the plot of the first season, show runner Raphael Bob-Waksburg botches the opportunity for a concept episode featuring an episode-within-an-episode. “BoJack Horseman Christmas Special: Sabrina’s Christmas Wish” is a Christmas special for “BoJack Horseman” that contains a Christmas special of the titular character’s fictional 90s sitcom within it. Meta, right? The concept comes off a bit too strong as several jokes and characters were sacrificed to make this concept happen. While another episode of everyone’s favorite horse with a heart of copper is welcome, there are many reasons the Christmas special lacks when compared to the quality of the first season.
The concept revolves around horse and former 90s TV dad BoJack (voice of Will Arnett—The Lego Movie, “Arrested Development”) and his slacker, human roommate Todd (Aaron Paul—Exodus: Gods and Kings, “Breaking Bad”) watching a Christmas episode of “Horsin’ Around” in BoJack’s bedroom on Christmas morning in Hollywoo (sic). BoJack feels less than excited to participate in his roomie’s well-meaning idea as Todd celebrates, “Hooray, begrudging acquiescence!” before they begin their viewing. The concept more-or-less takes over from here and the viewer is treated to an often-humorous look into a studio-recording of a sitcom episode. Kristen Schaal (“Bob’s Burgers,” “Flight of the Conchords”) also returns to the series to give BoJack’s TV-daughter, Sabrina, her voice. Recurring cast member Stanley Tucci (The Hunger Games franchise, The Lovely Bones)also voices BoJack’s TV boss. Core cast members Alison Brie, Amy Sedaris, and Paul F. Tompkins are only credited as their respective characters Diane, Princess Carolyn, and Mr. Peanutbutter sadly fail to appear. While it’s impossible to have an episode without BoJack and Todd, the other three characters felt necessary as well and their presence is missed.
The episode revels in its clever concept too much at times with almost nothing happening between BoJack and Todd in BoJack’s room and even less happening on the episode of “Horsin’ Around.” A lot of the humor relies on the studio audience. BoJack’s TV son, the fictional child actor Bradley Hitler-Smith (blink and you won’t laugh for a solid minute), repeatedly attempts a catch-phrase that never goes over well with the audience. Canned laughter would most certainly have been added in post-production had it been real life. Perhaps the funniest jokes lie in BoJack complaining about Christmas specials. The first season often poked fun at 90s sitcoms, but this episode pokes fun at the conceptual twenty-minute, three-act, often-predictable structure.
While losing most of its regular cast in an attempt to create a concept episode with an episode-within-an-episode, “BoJack Horseman Christmas Special: Sabrina’s Christmas Wish” is a welcome gift from Netflix, even if they could have stuffed the stocking a bit fuller. Arnett and Paul return with hilarious voice acting as “BoJack Horseman” explores the sitcom format—pointing out all the flaws and clichés—while having fun with it, as well. With a second season already ordered, it makes one wonder if the series will take another seasonal arc like the first or stand-alone episodes like “Sabrina’s Christmas Wish.”