About Christmas TV History

Friday, July 8, 2022

Christmas in July 2022: Rugrats (1994)


Merry Christmas in July! It is Day #8 in the month-long celebration of Christmas entertainment. As announced before, each day this month I will be sharing brief reminisces about Christmas TV episodes, specials, and movies with a IT'S A WONDERFUL SUMMER attitude. Yes--this month I'm sharing brief essays about TV adaptations of the 1946 movie "It's a Wonderful Life" along with TV programs with significant references to the movie. Just a little something different and a way for me to show off the diversity of holiday stories I've collected in the encyclopedia Tis the Season TV (the updated and expanded 2nd edition being released soon).  

Today's discussion is the third season segment "Chuckie's Wonderful Life" from the animated series Rugrats. This episode made its debut on Feb. 13. 1994. Although it is not set at Christmas time, the story is an adaptation of the 1946 holiday movie It's a Wonderful Life.



In this story, Chuckie has been told not to play with his father’s favorite thing: a Latvian folk dance music CD. But the shiny object is too much to resist, and then Chuckie loses the CD. His father is hurt when his CD is missing and Chuckie blames his friends for his own mistake. 


Chuckie's guardian angel is a more grown-up, mature version of himself!

Chuckie runs away, regretting he’d ever been born, when his guardian angel finds him. Chuckie’s angel shows him the lives of his family and friends if he’d never been born: his father’s only companion would be a sock puppet, babies Phil and Lil would be lacking a moral compass, and Angelica would be an overweight tyrant dictating the lives of Tommy and the other members of the Pickles family.

In another clever parallel to the movie It's a Wonderful Life, it is eventually revealed that Chuckie didn't so much "lose" his father's CD as Angelica stole it--much like Mr. Potter stole Uncle Billy's money although George Bailey feels responsible for its loss. Although this episode is not a Christmas story, it does define Chuckie's character, and his role within his family and the world of his baby friends.

The voice cast in this episode includes Christine Cavanaugh as Chuckie Finster, E.G. Daily as Tommy Pickles, Cheryl Chase as Angelica, Kath Soucie as Phil/Lil, and Michael Bell as Chaz Finster.


Although Mr. Finster gets his CD back from Angelica, Mr. Potter never returns the stolen money in "It's a Wonderful Life."

TV adaptations of It's a Wonderful Life can be found even in children's entertainment. It is also quite common to the find the story structure found within the 1946 holiday movie extracted from a Christmas setting, like in this Rugrats' segment. I'll be sharing more adaptations of Its a Wonderful Life found in children's entertainment this month, as well as adaptations set outside Christmas time. Merry Christmas in July!

Joanna Wilson is a TV researcher and book author specializing in Christmas entertainment. More about the TV programs mentioned on this website can be found in her book "Tis the Season TV: the Encyclopedia of Christmas-themed Episodes, Specials, and Made-for-TV Movies." Her latest book "Triple Dog Dare: Watching--& Surviving--the 24-Hour Marathon of A Christmas Story" was released in 2016. She is currently updating and expanding the encyclopedia for an upcoming release. Her books can be found at the publisher's website: 1701 press.com

*Support this website and its research by purchasing the books at 1701 press.com


1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a fun episode! And glad he got his CD back! Angelica IS better than Mr. Potter. :)