Rapture’s Delight

This is what the word epic was made for.This will probably be it as far as Christmas special-related posts go for me this year. So I might as well wrap up with a bang.

“Rapture’s Delight:” one of the top five best things ever.

As I’ve already mentioned, American Dad does great Christmas specials. But even they pale before the glory that is “Rapture’s Delight.” I’d love to show it off to you in its full glory, but unfortunately the folks over at Fox are very bad at proper use of the Internet as an advertising tool, so the episode is nowhere to be found on Hulu. American Dad as a whole is, however, available on the Netflix instant queue, so if you have that, go check it out there. Everyone else has to take my word for it that it is just awesome.

Several things make “Rapture’s Delight” truly awesome. For starters, it’s one of the few Christmas specials I’ve seen outside of Christian programming that deals with the holiday as a religious event. True, the religion here is so mutilated in the name of humor that it probably enrages many folks who take their beliefs too seriously, but it does deal specifically with Christ. In fact, it mangles its way through a whole slew of religious dogma, as the Rapture actually happens and Stan and Francine get left behind. And that’s not even the over the top part.

Basically, the first half of “Rapture’s Delight” has some delightful craziness in it, but nothing more than you might expect out of American Dad (except for the whole naked-people-flying-to-Heaven thing). Stan’s faults are on full display as he believes that he and Francine got left behind because they had sex in their church, and he blames Francine for dragging him down. Stan’s belief that he is morally superior to Francine winds up driving a wedge in their marriage, and Francine winds up leaving Stan for Jesus. Then the fun starts.

Flashing forward seven years, we get to see the best damned parody of post-apocalyptic films ever. The war between Christ and the Anti-Christ is in full swing, and Stan is now a grizzled loner with a scar over his eye and a missing hand who fights for anyone who can pay him. Jesus shows up after the anti-Christ (who turns out to be a parody of Frank Gorshin’s Riddler) kidnaps Francine. He and Stan team up, and hilarity ensues.

Like any good parody, the great thing with “Rapture’s Delight” is that they play everything straight. In fact, it’s all played almost super-straight. The audience recognizes all the call-outs and absurdities, but outside of a lot of puns and one-liners, the characters act like they’re in a dire situation the whole time. The visuals are great. The music seems like it comes right out of a cheesy 80s sci-fi film. The whole thing is like Army of Darkness meets The Road Warrior. It is gloriously awesome.

So what makes “Rapture’s Delight” a good Christmas special instead of just a really good post-apocalyptic spoof? Well, there is the theme of forgiveness and equality. In losing Francine, Stan learns that he isn’t the moral pinnacle that he thought he was. And it gives some focus to Jesus, who gets overlooked in a holiday that is supposed to be all about him. (Well, actually, it’s supposed to be about the Winter Solstice and Celtic heroes, with the date being pretty much stolen by Christianity in a ham-handed attempt to spread their religion, but we’ll ignore that for now.) And…um…okay, I’ve got nothing else. It’s not really very Christmas themed despite involving Jesus’ birthday; I can’t even make the arguments I made for Die Hard regarding this one. But seriously, who the fuck cares? Stan Smith and Jesus team up to take on the anti-Christ in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. There’s demons, there’s one-liners, there’s a unicorn that craps cheeseburgers! It’s just over the top and absurdly awesome, and I don’t feel like I need to explain anything more about it. Just once this holiday season, the spirit of Christmas can take a back seat to Jesus shooting a demon to death with a crucifix crossbow. And I will forever celebrate future-Stan’s wonderful last words: “Merry Christmas, Mr. and Mrs. Jesus.”

I don’t need to explain this stuff any further. It’s just awesome. Watch it if you can. It is my newest Christmas tradition. Merry Christmas, happy new year, and make sure you’re ready for the second coming of Jesus.

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