“Big City Greens” Celebrates Christmas In The Virtual World

It’s the holidays and the Greens are ready to celebrate their Christmas traditions in a very special, and very beautiful episode of Big City Greens.

First and foremost, “Virtually Christmas” seems to be a one-off, taking the family back to the city from the country, where the Greens currently live at this point in the series, though it does confirm my belief that they will be back in the city at some point. Perhaps sooner than we think.

Cricket is ready to bail on Christmas Eve traditions with his family so he can go play Outpost Infinity, a highly immersive VR Game, with Remy. After debating with his dad, Bill, about whether or not he should stay home on Christmas Eve, an arrangement is finally made that Cricket can go over to Remy’s for a little while as long as he is back in time for the traditions, especially the topping of the Christmas tree, which Cricket has done since his very first Christmas.

When Cricket is at Remy’s, it’s time to enter the virtual world of the game. Together, they strap on their goggles and launch the episode with a new variant on the theme song, but also take the episode into a fully 3D animated world  that looks like it's right out of a video game, and to get into some technical bits, it’s even animated using video game engines and software. The opening montage serves as way of showing how much fun Cricket and Remy are having together, but when they take their goggles off, the blizzard has hit and Cricket is now stuck at the Remington household and can’t get home! They even show us the Remington Family chopper freezing over so Cricket has no real viable option to get home to spend Christmas Eve with his family.

Bill, of course, does not react well to this news…but wait! Remy suggests that they can go into the virtual world again and spend time together in Outpost Infinity! How? Cricket doesn’t have the expensive VR system. Fortunately, Remy got the Green family one for Christmas and Vasquez had previously (broken into?) entered their home and placed a full set under the tree. The entire Green family can now get online and be together in the video game. Outpost Infinity is a building game, and the family rebuilds Gramma’s house (remember, we’re back in the city for this episode), in the game and for some reason, are heavily armed with battle weapons. Strange, if this game is solely for building and crafting objects to play with in a virtual world.

Together, the gang duplicates Gramma’s house in the game and they can recreate the traditions. While they are partaking in the first one though, they can hear Remy screaming in the distance. Keep in mind, at this point he and Cricket are keeping the true nature of this game under wraps so that the family will celebrate Christmas Cricket’s way without protest. What’s really happening is a wave of monsters are on approach in the game to destroy everything the Greens have virtually built and eat the human survivors. Hence the weapons, and also hence the box of downloadable-add-ons, Mr. Extras (voiced by guest star Alfonso Ribeiro) who befriends Tilly trying to get her to upgrade her experience for most of the episode.

It’s during the traditional Fruitcake hunt, where Bill camouflages the fruitcake making it near impossible to find, that Cricket realizes they’re running out of time. Remy echoes the sentiment and they try and speed up the traditions before the family gets upset that their Christmas is about to be ruined by a hoard of monsters. So, Cricket replicates the hidden fruitcake out of an options menu and runs to show his dad so they can move on to the final tradition of decorating the Christmas Tree with Cricket topping it with the star, all while the family sings a lovely Christmas song.

Cricket, even though his grandmother advises him not to, tries rushing his Dad. Finally, they get to the star on the top of the tree when it’s too late, and Remy blasts into the house and tells them a wave of monsters is coming. The jig is up, and Bill is furious. We’ve seen Bill mad before in the series, but this MIGHT be a new level. Or, it's the beautiful animation of the special episode adding to that. Together, the family must now fight off all the monsters to protect the house and the tree and there is a magilla of a monster outside lurking that the family will need extra power to contend with. More power than even a hidden fruitcake that Gramma found can offer. Good thing Tilly has become friends with Mr. Extras, and calls upon him and a special Christmas Cannon.

Remy buys the festive weapon using all his XP (and he plays this game A LOT), and Cricket, eager to save his family’s traditions jumps in and fires it, missing the monster, all while Remy is explaining it only has one shot in it. Now they have to wait for it to recharge and keep it safe from the destructive monsters. The family works together to protect it, which ironically has landed in a cascade of events under the tree. Bill is the one who saves the day, and fires a christmas cannon orb through the torso of the giant monster who collapses down into the house and destroys the virtual residence.

Turns out, the family had fun, and they’re ready to rebuild. Remy explains that this game is about building things with waves of monsters coming at them, but Bill says maybe it's time to add a new tradition to the Christmas list: Fighting Monsters! You’d think that this would excite Cricket, but he seems passive. Turns out, when he wasn’t able to put the star on the tree, he got sad, and has now taken his goggles off to figure out a way home in the snow. That means that now we’re back in the 2D world of Big City, as he takes some of the Remington’s Christmas decor on a runaway trip through town to get back home in the snow. He makes it, surprising his family and explaining what the traditions mean to him. The Remingtons aren’t far behind, and they join the Greens for the Christmas Eve traditions. When the end credits roll, once again, they are the Big City version of the roll.

I love when Big City Greens ventures into these kinds of special episodes, and this Christmas one has enough charm to make it a staple of holiday viewing in households everywhere, including my own. The animation in this episode is absolutely gorgeous and it has made me want a Big City Greens video game even more than I already do. A G-Rated Grand Theft Auto-esque open world game would be great. Come on, Houghtons. Oh and also, we’re back in Big City, at Gramma’s house, with the whole family… Where is Gloria?!

This episode of Big City Greens is now available on Disney Channel and the DisneyNOW app. You can also catch up with earlier episodes and seasons on Disney+.

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