Continuing the series of Holiday animated treats is Life With Louie: A Christmas Surprise for Mrs. Stillman, yet another underrated gem of an animated Christmas special from the Fox Kids series of the same name.
This was also the series’ premiere (original airdate: December 18, 1994) from this animated kids show based loosely on the childhood of comedian Louie Anderson.
I have some closing thoughts on this episode (including the voice credits) following the video links below.
And without further ado, I present A Christmas Surprise for Mrs. Stillman:
This is another special and animated series I would love to own on DVD, and Louie Anderson said in a letter to a fan (re-posted on TVShowsonDVD.com) in October 2006 that he had run into “legalities with Disney,” and added that they seemed to be “working themselves out” and that the series “should be out soon.”
Over three years later and the hopes for “soon” are looking rather bleak.
Looking back on the show now, it seemed ahead of its time. I don’t think it quite qualified as a kids show because it felt “grown-up” and familiar — based in reality but with comedic elements, much like King of the Hill would be when it debuted on FOX a few years later.
There are little moments throughout the episode that remind me a lot of my childhood. Louie’s dad, Andy, is like of a composite of my own dad mixed with personality traits of my grandfathers on both sides of my family. And a couple scenes in particular are like seeing flashbacks lifted directly from my own life and animated, like Andy and sons watching the 1947 version of Miracle on 34th Street on TV (I kid you not — that very same scene happened in my own home some 30 years ago).
And Andy’s line at the close of the episode is very much like something my own dad would’ve said at that moment. That one line effectively sets this episode apart from being like so many other schmaltzy and sadly predictable Holiday specials. It’s realistic, and very funny. Louie even says in the opening narration, “We never had a Christmas like the families on TV did.” I couldn’t agree more — those always seemed contrived and cheesy to me too.
And that’s what I appreciate most about this particular special — it captures the essense of the holiday season without being pithy and formulaic, and it’s genuinely “special” because it feels real and familiar…and a lot like home.
I also love how the ending fades from animation into reality, and you see Anderson appearing on-camera performing the voice of his dad and wishing the audience a “Merry Christmas,” which is how many TV holiday specials and radio shows before that used to end the broadcast. The nostalgia factor is high in this special in so many ways that makes it an annual viewing for me (which makes it all the more frustrating that it hasn’t yet been released on DVD — darn you, Disney!).
The voice talents featured in this special include:
Louie Anderson as Himself, Narrator, “Little Louie,” “Dad” (Andy Anderson)
Edie McClurg as “Mom” (Ora Anderson)
Justin Shenkarow as Michael Grunewald
Debi Derryberry as Jeannie Harper
Troy Evans as Tree Salesman, Police Officer Joe
Wallace Langham as Police Officer #2
Laura Leighton as Laura Anderson
Liz Sheridan as Mrs. Stillman
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