Tom Goes to the Mayor and all the images you see in this recap are owned Warner Bros and Adult Swim
Created by Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim
Welcome one and all to A Very Tom and the Mayor Christmas Special which means that this time around we’re taking a look at Tim and Eric’s take on a holiday themed episode! I CAN FEEL YOUR CHRISTMAS CHEER FROM HERE!! The episode begins a bit differently from previous ones by eschewing the opening credit sequence in favor of setting up a storybook framing device; similar to the off and on narration in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The tale we are hearing of today is of Good Tom Peters and the t-shirt that could change everything! He enters The Mayor’s office as per usual with the hopes that his latest business venture, a kiosk selling t-shirts with a design he made (a poorly drwan rat with the caption Rats Off To Ya), will get him enough money to afford Christmas gifts for his family and he needs the Mayor’s approval to set it up in the Jefferton Mall. I’m not sure how the local government is involved in leasing space within private property, but then I can imagine The Mayor has quite an authoritative grip on the citizens of this poor town.
The Mayor is completely on board with Tom’s plan as the t-shirt makes him GUFFAW with laughter every time he sees it; so much so that he cannot even hold a conversation unless Tom covers up first. Tom gets his kiosk with the blessing of The Mayor who even buys some shirts from him (using Mayor Fun Money instead of US Dollars, further indicating that the town of Jefferton is under the thumb of an egotistical dictator) but sadly the The Mayor Bump doesn’t seem to do much for his sales overall. It DOES however get the attention of a local shop owner (Jeff Garlin) who even offers to watch Tom’s kiosk while he takes a bathroom break. I’m sure NOTHING could possibly go wrong!!
Turns out that Capitalism is a mother fucker as the asshole shop owner stole Tom’s idea and is mass producing Rats Off To Ya merchandise which is already becoming a Cabbage Patch doll style fad in Jefferton. The Mayor is sadly of little help though considering his time is better spent playing the Mall Santa which means that his only real recourse (aside from going to an ACTUAL judge) is to plead his case before City Council. Once again Tom gets stonewalled as he’s asked to wait outside with a local named Crazy Pete until they’ve covered everyone else’s Christmas Grievances or at least until Tom gives up and decides to go home. What, just because the dude doesn’t have a fancy briefcase or a tie means that he can’t seek justice!? This seems like a legitimate grievance to me; especially considering there SHOULD be paperwork on file for his kiosk that confirms HE was the first one to sell Rats Off To Ya merchandise! Remember that opening scene where he goes to The Mayor to get a permit or whatever!? Pull THAT file up and the case is closed! Oh who am I kidding? I bet The Mayor put it in a shredder or burnt it to ash just for shits and giggles. With nothing else to sooth his shattered dreams, Tom goes to the local bar to drown his sorrows in cheap alcohol and promptly gets thrown out by the barkeep for sharing his sad tale about his stolen idea. Apparently the guy wasn’t too appreciative of Tom bringing down the Holiday mood and figured he’d be better off with his face in a puddle than a shot glass full of whiskey.
Things get even MORE depressing as it soon becomes clear that whatever money Tom was hoping to make from the T-shirts will have to come from elsewhere, and there’s not many options left for him except to sell his boat which he keeps on bricks in his front yard. While sitting out in the cold waiting for someone to take an interest and buy his boat, he FINALLY gets a visit by The Mayor who comes up with a brilliant plan to keep Tom from selling his prized possession; a new T-shirt design! Make sense to me! It’s not like Tom didn’t ALREADY come up with a brilliant design that exploded with popularity in an absurdly brief amount of time! I’m sure he can do it again, right!? Okay, probably not considering the best idea they can brain storm is Hats Off To Ya.
Sadly, the new design didn’t turn out to be the Christmas MiracleTM Tom needed, and so he not only has to sell his boat to pay for Christmas, he even has to go buy Rats Off To Ya merchandise since that’s all his kids want. Getting screwed out of his idea and THEN having to pay the thieves just to make his kids happy. ARE YOU FEELING THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT YET!? Well Tom certainly is because, despite his awful lot in life and the recent misfortunes that fell upon him, he manages to find at least a moment of solace and cheer by looking at a local Nativity scene. Heck, even if he didn’t profit from the idea, Rats Off To Ya at least made other people happy… right? No, not really. The Nativity blows up not a minute after Tom stops to look at it, and out from the ashes pops a giant rat mascot costume to do an obnoxious dance and the asshole store owner who stole his idea in the first place. Oh, and the guy in the rat suit? It turns out to be The Mayor who as you’d expect is still completely oblivious to Tom’s plight. That’s it. End of the episode. Tom realizes the futility in finding hope in the commercialized hellscape that has become the Holiday Season and sheds a single tear for himself and for the rest of humanity. MERRY CHRISTMAS!!
This is such a downer of a Christmas special and it’s absolutely brilliant! The depressing holiday special is certainly nothing new (just look up what the hell happened in the ALF Christmas Special) and as much as I enjoy that first episode of Moral Orel which is about as depressing as this one, I think I like this episode more because it has a much larger point to it. The story of Moral Orel DOES eventually pay off once we get to season three making it possibly the BEST dramatic series that Cartoon Network ever produced, but this episode right here is really ingenious in its satire of working class despair and how we try to fill the empty void in our life with material possessions and trendy merchandise. Tom is by no means innocent as he’s just as much a part of the machine as everyone else (he’s trying to sell crappy shirts to try and win the affection of his step sons), but Capitalism is indeed a mother fucker and he’s the latest victim of that awful mentality that tells people that success is the highest form of morality and that you can justify almost anything (including theft) to get there. Still, I’m sure Jeff Garlin is gonna have a much better holiday than Tom is considering the latter drowning in debt and had to give up his boat to keep up with the expectations society puts on him, but if Tom would JUST learn to look past the pettiness of the world around him, take charge of his own life, and be a FATHER to his family instead of a weak willed doormat, he might just find that happiness that is always out of arms reach. He never will though, and that’s kind of the point of the show. Do not be like Tom. Learn from his mistakes and recognize that the exaggerated shit hole that is the sad and pathetic town of Jefferton is not as farfetched as you might think. Oh, and uh… HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!
The Recap Recap!!
- Jeff Garlin plays the owner of the mall shop that steals Tom’s shirt design and turns it into a HUGE success.
- Bob Odenkirk shows up THREE times in this! Once as the voice of the homeless man who City Council brushes off along with Tom, again as the barkeep who throws Tom out into the cold, and finally as the voice of the little boy who Tom meets when he’s face down in the puddle.
Tom Who Now?
- Everyone gets Tom’s name right in this one for a change! Sure The Mayor forgets it for a little bit, but even THAT should be considered a Christmas Miracle!
Fun Facts from the Commentary!
(NOTE: Since Tim & Eric are… well Tim & Eric, anything said on the DVD commentaries should PROBABLY be taken with a grain of salt)
- Jeff Garlin’s character is named Pat Croeche which they got from former Sixers owner Pat Croce. Not for any particular reason as they aren’t big sports fans, but they DID give Mr. Croce the finger once.
- Pat Croeche’s store has a sign that says Bongs, Dongs, and Clever Hats which is obscured throughout the entire episode, though you can read it very briefly after Tom’s kiosk is knocked over.
- The Married News team was originally conceived by Bob Odenkirk and they considered getting real life married couple Tom Kenny and Jill Talley for the roles, but they decided to do it themselves when they realized how often they were gonna use these characters.