When I was an undergrad, The Adventures of Pete and Pete was my favorite children’s show for college students. It was a kids show, yes, but it was undoubtedly aimed at “alternative-nation” suburban college students such as myself. The theme song—which I loved—was by Mark Mulcahy, frontman for one of my favorite 90s bands, Miracle Legion. The guest stars—who I loved—included rockers like Marshall Crenshaw, Iggy Pop, and Syd Straw. And, the show’s sensibility—which I loved—was ironic, wistful for childhood, gently surreal, and filled with familiar suburban adventures. I’m pretty sure it’s the only show featuring a character with a forearm tattoo cool enough to warrant its own place in the opening credits.
The Christmas episode “O’Christmas Pete,” fashions most of these idiosyncrasies into a traditional tale of Christmas Spirit emerging from the stench of a garbage strike. Little Pete wants to avoid the letdown in the level of Christmas goodwill and spirit that he feels the day after Christmas. In order to keep the Christmas joy going he convinces his family (with a concise flip chart) to celebrate Christmas Day every day. Soon the Wrigley’s are exchanging gifts, passing around the fruitcake, and caroling. Again. Their enthusiasm spreads to the other residents on the block. It’s great. Everyone spends something like 12 days celebrating like it’s Christmas Day, until… enter The Garbageman.
The Garbageman is a meaner villain than the show’s regular antagonists (bullies with Dick Tracy names like Endless Mike, Open Face, and Pit Stain). He arrives with his own spaghetti westernesque theme song, performed by David Johansen:
“He grew up tough,
Grew up mean,
He became a Christmas killin’ machine.”
|Garbageman--The Crusher of Dreams|
|What will Big Pete do as the garbage piles higher and the stench grows worse?|