This show really creeped me out as a kid. But I also LOVED it. I think it was my first encounter of something so interesting and freaky that I couldn’t look away from it. But honesty, it’s an awesome show and it is not creepy at all. In fact, the things that “creeped” me out as a kid are things I appreciate about this show more as an adult.
But I was probably a little on the younger side of the Pete & Pete demographic. I didn’t really get it. I didn’t get the band playing the theme song on the lawn, or the plate in their mom’s head, or the fact that an arm tat got a its own dedicated credit in the opening. But I did like the quirky characters and the plots were always engaging. I think I was actually okay with the fact that these two brothers have the same exact name. As an adult looking back on these shows, I can say with certainty that The Adventures of Pete & Pete holds up pretty damn well.
In the Christmas of 1996, Little Pete successfully kept Christmas alive for many days post-December 26th. Eventually, reality starts setting in and his dad has to go back to work. But more importantly, the garbage man comes to pick up the tree. And they absolutely cannot upset the garbage man.
The garbage man is a really scary looking dude, who loves to throw dried-up Christmas trees into the truck as a metaphorical destruction of Christmas. Yeah, this guy’s a real winner. In an attempt to teach his kid about the “real world,” his dad invites the garbage man to come back to the house and take the tree out in the middle of the night. But Little Pete is ready. He’s rigged an alarm on the tree and has a nutcracker setup to shoot a tranquilizer dart at the garbage man.
When the garbage man starts “trash talking” (did the show intend this pun? I hope!) Little Pete during a physical struggle over the Christmas tree, Little Pete’s dad sees the error of his ways and throws his full support behind his son. That’s when the garbage man sets an ultimatum: The tree goes or the rest of the garbage stays.
Things get pretty smelly on the Petes’ street. But everyone is okay at first. They’re still playing Christmas Carols and mamboing with Santa around the cul-de-sac. But then again, maybe there are some creepy elements to all of this. After 12 days, the garbage man ups the ante. He hacks into their TV and tells them that he’s extended the garbage strike to the whole block until they give up their Christmas tree.
This pisses off all of the neighbors, who threaten Little Pete’s life if he doesn’t give up the Christmas tree. So Pete does the only reasonable thing anyone could do in this situation: He organizes a wrestling match between Santa Claus and any takers. Pete nominates Pit Stain (the school bully) from the crowd to be Santa’s first challenger. But Santa can melt even Pit Stain’s heart. He refuses to fight. As Pete says, “The Christmas Spirit lives!”
But the garbage man isn’t afraid to fight Santa. He even gets the crowd cheering for him (those lemmings…who want their trash picked up). He knocks Santa out cold as the onlookers turn into an angry, jeering, Shirley Jackson-esque mob. So the family agrees to part with the tree.
Little Pete is devastated. But there’s still time for one more Christmas miracle. Big Pete and their parents have rigged up the piles of garbage around the block with lights to look like lovely Christmas trees. It’s enough Christmas cheer to make even the garbage man feel a little Christmas spirit. He wins the tree, but the Christmas spirit wins the battle. (Yeah, that makes sense right?)
Very Special Holiday Lesson: Why aren’t the people on this block recycling more? It’s been like 2 weeks and everyone has 12 foot piles of trash on their lawn. If you’re reading this and you’re thinking of NOT recycling then FU man, you’re killing our planet. Happy Holidays.