Before I get into my David S. Pumpkins Animated Halloween Special review, I think a couple caveats are in order.
First off, pop culture often gives us gifts which the internet immediately pounces upon and ruins with endless memes. David S. Pumpkins suffered from this. Saturday Night Live has offered exactly one David S. Pumpkins sketch and one David S. Pumpkins cameo, and yet a lot of folks are already sick of him due to a ubiquity that’s not entirely SNL’s fault.
Second of all, given the automatic stupidity of an animated television special dedicated to a one-note Saturday Night Live character, one might be safe in assuming the people putting it together would be aware of their tight spot and work extra hard to make something special out of a bad idea. The Lord/Miller approach.
Unfortunately, that’s not The Davis S. Pumpkins Animated Halloween Special’s aim. And if Saturday Night Live had any innocence when it came to overdoing it on David S. Pumpkins, it’s totally gone now.
This is basically the worst case scenario of what probably popped into your head upon learning of its existence. I don’t understand who this special’s audience is. David S. Pumpkins isn’t a character with particularly strong appeal to children, and the special isn’t written to satisfy comedy fans, so nobody walks away happy here.
The special essentially acts as a mild parody of past animated holiday specials. A young boy and his little sister come across David Pumpkins and through his weird magic powers, learn to enjoy Halloween again. The whole thing is bookended by very brief appearances by a live-action David S. Pumpkins.
Look, the whole thing with David S. Pumpkins is that his schtick causes confusion that’ll never be explained. That, combined with Tom Hank’s beautiful face, made for a great one-off Saturday Night Live sketch along the lines of the delightful Kevin Roberts bit with Larry David. The jokes here are pretty much the same. Pumpkins never explains anything about himself despite many frustrated questions from the protagonist, but at over twenty minutes this loses its charm early on. And a funny Tom Hanks facial expression just isn’t the same in animated form. Whatever worked about David S. Pumpkins is lost, and nothing worthwhile has replaced it.
It’s a shame because there could have been something good here, were it made with any kind of desire to subvert what an obvious cultural cash-grab this is. Instead, The David S. Pumpkin Halloween Special feels like a procrastinated homework assignment grudgingly put together by folks with way better things to do. If you missed it the other night, the show is on Hulu right now. But be warned, it may zap you of your Halloween spirit.