Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Brenda Walsh In Your Stocking: Christmas Caper

Christmas Caper marks the end of a powerful trilogy of films: made-for-TV Christmas fluff starring former Beverly Hills 90210 actresses. We've seen Kelly Taylor fall in love with the help of her talking dog and Donna Martin learn the true meaning of the holiday thanks to William Shatner and Gary Coleman. It's only right that we continue with Brenda Walsh's transformation from bitchy cat burglar to bored family gal.
Quick Plot: Brenda plays Kate, a thief-in-training who sports a dull look and black spandex as she steals a diamond before being betrayed by her partner. Before you can say Happiness Hotel, Kate is on the run with her angry Lindsay Lohan-in-five-years mug plastered on Most Wanted posters.

But where does a moody city gal run to? Conveniently enough, Kate has an older sister who's trapped in the Bahamas with her husband due to bad weather. With Christmas one week away and nobody in town wanting to care for two unruly brats, Kate heads back to her hometown to babysit and lay low until the next big score.

Much like Beverly Hills without Brenda Walsh, Christmas Caper simply has no bite. Kate's history of kleptomania is played for mild laughs, but shouldn't SOMEONE acknowledge the fact that it might be a serious illness? Even if we look past the fact that this woman has been stealing since she was in puffy paint t-shirts, the character is supposed to be a big city bitch who sneers at the suburban way of life, yet all it takes is a few days of car pooling and lame milkshake dates with her high school sweetheart to melt her snobbery like the snow that inevitably falls on Christmas morning.

Say what you want about Shannon Doherty, but she's a capable actress with a little more natural presence than most of her teen bop peers. It makes Christmas Caper a little more watchable to the man-on-the-street, but far more boring to connoisseurs of moldy cheese. It's perfectly average and really, that's a terrible, terrible thing.
Lessons Learned
Life doesn’t work like having life just so (or something)

Small towns are often victim to plot points that involve unread faxes
Pantsing mall Santa never gets old, even when you're well past the years of Donna Martin Graduating

Token Slapstick
Not too horrid, although we do get a few snaps of Brenda, her nephew, and ex-partner having some physical difficulty learning the trade
Montage Mania
The first bucks the trend as we see Kate loiter around a mall to verbally convince townspeople to buy expensively stealable items. An expected "Let's all team up to decorate for the big holiday party!"  follows, but bonus points for ending on a clapper

Sass Factor
How I wish it came from Brenda. How I wish it existed in this flavorless piece of pie

Stocking Stuffer Or Stuffed With Coal?
Christmas Caper is a perfectly competent, perfectly forgettable comedy that's not really funny but unfortunately for people like me, also not so bad it's funny. I guess its appeal is reserved for those who loved the premise of The Ref but could've used less cussing or actual humor. In other words, your grandma if your grandma is lame. And yes, I just insulted your grandma. 

But only the uncool one.


  1. Oh so sad it wasn't hilariously bad... upside you got to watch 1.5 hours of Shannon's perfect perfect hair. - Full disclosure, I have a somewhat creepy obsession with Shannon Doherty's hair... it's just SO PERFECT! Shiny and smooth! I COVET that hair... it's so sad.

  2. I can TOTALLY understand the hair envy. It's positively luscious. Her bangs were a little intimidating on early 90210, but once she lightened them in college (I was a bit of a 90210 junkie) she looked great! Her face looks like it's lived a little hard these last few Spelling-free years, but at least she always has some emergency funds on her head!

  3. Oh hell yeah. I was a 90210 junkie myself, and I really do think it was in some part due to that hair. It's just so good. Ugh. I am CONSTANTLY made fun of about it but I just don't care. She hasn't aged that well, but the hair has. I even watched the new 90210 first season to catch glimpses of it. I've got problems. (That re-boot is baaaaaad btw, but it is hilariously bad if you ever feel like laughing.)

  4. The best was sophomore year when Donna, Kelly, and Claire would sport a different highly intricate hairstyle in every scene. Glad to know that stylist was earning her salary!

    I watched the first season of the reboot and enjoyed it, especially when they awkwardly crammed in references to the original to please the older contingent (oh, Nat!). Then the show conflicted with America's NExt Top Model and it seemed to get more (sigh) teen-centered, and thusly, I've never looked back.

  5. I think these movies are cast from the Island of Misfit Actors. You can almost see the ABC Family or Hallmark Channel sleigh showing up, and Santa telling Shannon Doherty "we need you to save Christmas!", and she piles onto the sleigh along with Melissa Joan Hart, Mario Lopez, Gil Bellows, etc. In the spirit of giving, I think it's good they're at least getting work.

    And you gotta love the irony that Brenda first learned Dylan had the hots for her after she ruined her hair in that tragic bleaching incident. The old 90210 was so nuanced.

  6. The island of misfit actors! Love it! My theory was that family channel movies generally use actors recovering from rehab or actresses trying to lose baby weight, but they all make perfect sense. Good to know there's always a place for everyone!

    And that 90120 episode is all sorts of genius: " blondes, brunettes, girls in running shorts..." good god how do I still remember that exact quote?!