Is it really possible for a Christmas special not to be the dumbest in the world when everything happens because a sea captain forgets to pack the ship’s Christmas tree for the long holiday voyage? Or that the captain detours his ship to a small island because he saw a tree he liked and orders the obviously learning disabled cabin boy ashore to dig the thing up? Or that said cabin boy continues to dig up the tree even after he sees that the island is full of leprechauns!
It’s easy to blame the cabin boy for poor judgment what with the questionable reputation leprechauns currently suffer from thanks to such anti-fairy propaganda as Leprechaun 4: In Space and Leprechaun: Back 2 tha Hood. But us progressive types who aren’t fairyphobic know that’s all just a low budget horror stereotype! Surely we haven’t already forgotten the lessons of great leprechaun civil rights leaders such as Darby O’Gill?
But leprechauns don’t exist in a magical vacuum. If there’s supernatural friendly little dudes running amok in the area, you can damn sure bet that there’s also some other powerful creatures nearby. And they’re almost always on the enchanted rag!
My worst fears were then realized when some leprechaun kids starting wondering aloud whether good old Dinty Doyle should really be trying to tear the banshee tree out of the ground. Banshee tree! Instinctively I reached for my bug out bag as I realized Dinty just unleashed a classic WHTF (Witch Hits the Fan) scenario. We’re talking a Category 5 Sea Hag! And not just any fishy-smelling crone, but Old Mag the Hag herself!
Finally freed after years trapped beneath the tree, Old Mag immediately sets about concocting a scheme to ensure she can live in the outside world for at least another year. The rules are simple. Old Mag must get the leprechauns’ gold before sunrise on Christmas morning or she dissolves into the salt water she is made up of. The only hitch is that she can’t steal the gold, but can only get it if it is given to her willingly!
Obviously, this portends some trickery on Old Mag’s part and with her ability to appear as anything she wants, it isn’t too tough to set up a plan where she can fool some fool into giving up the gold. But there’s only more hitch! No matter who she turns into, she’s always crying her trademark salt water tears! And with the head of the leprechaun clan telling Dinty all this, there’s no way in hell Old Mag has any chance to succeed!
But Old Mag goes nuclear on poor old Dinky and plays the sexy shipwrecked babe card! What? These salty tears? I’m sad over all the folks lost in the shipwreck. Why if you gave me all the gold, I’d have the leprechauns build a ship and take us all back to Ireland!
So Dinky says, I’ll just tell the leprechauns myself and you don’t even have to worry your pretty head about it, right? Come on, his name is Dinky. Of course he gave her the gold!
The worst part is that he only had the gold because the leprechaun leader gave it to him in an effort to thwart Old Mag in the first place. This is the sort of dimwitted thinking that has made leprechauns an endangered species in today’s world.
Though all appears lost what with Old Mag on her way to the gold and Dinky in a coma, a Christmas miracle happens when the sun comes up before Old Mag can get her grubby mitts on the gold. She melts, Dinky wakes up, and even Blarney Kilakilarney and his wife who have been separated for a few centuries because of a domestic squabble caused by Old Mag’s trickery make up and reunite! In your nasty face, Mag! Christmas, leprechauns and Dinky just tag teamed your literally washed up ass!
As far as Christmas specials go, The Leprechaun’s Christmas Gold has two glaring deficiencies. The story is a convoluted mess that doesn’t even bother to explain what is so bad if the banshee manages to survive. Is she going to kill the leprechauns? Take over the world? Pawn all their gold for skin conditioner?
Just as annoying is that Christmas barely plays any part in things. You could have swapped out Christmas for St. Patrick’s Day and made minimal changes to the show (just change the reason for digging up the tree) and you’d never know the difference.
This was the penultimate Christmas special from Rankin/Bass and perhaps they realized that continually getting further and further away from regular Christmas fare (remember Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July, Pinocchio’s Christmas or Nestor the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey?) wasn’t really working and finally circled back to the expected subject matter one last yuletide gasp with 1985’s The Life & Adventures of Santa Claus.
Essential for leprechaun (and hag) fans, but for Christmas fans, another viewing of one of the name brand specials (Rudolph, Frosty, Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town) would almost certainly be preferable to keep up the holiday spirit and avoid a flood of your own salt water tears.
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