Thursday, December 13, 2012


Old Navy has a great Christmas campaign running which brings the Griswold Family of the "Vacation" series of films fully into the TV Universe. (There was a spin-off TV movie centering on Cousin Eddie, but only Audrey Griswold showed up from the famiy.  And acceptance of online video material is conditional, so I'm not sure whether the promotional short for HomeAway - "Hotel Hell Vacation" - should count as part of Earth Prime-Time. What do you think?)

There are several blipverts in the series, but this is the one that's the best:

There are plenty of Zonks to go around for everybody!

Just to keep things straight, here is a rundown of the cast (in order of appearance):

  • CLARK GRISWOLD - Chevy Chase
  • ELLEN GRISWOLD - Beverly D'Angelo
  • AUDREY GRISWOLD - Juliette Lewis (from "Christmas Vacation")
  • RUSTY GRISWOLD - Anthony Michael Hall (original, from "National Lampoon's Vacation")
  • AUDREY GRISWOLD - Dana Barron (original, from "National Lampoon's Vacation")
  • "EURO" RUSTY GRISWOLD - Jason Lively (from "European Vacation")
  • "NEW" AUDREY & RUSTY - not a clue
(There's also a little girl sitting on the couch next to Juliette Lewis. I'm going to assume that she's Christmas Audrey's daughter.)

If this was expanded to present the full story, I think this would play out like an episode of 'Amazing Stories'. The Griswolds of the TV Universe somehow find themselves hosts to the counterparts of their children from various dimensions in the Cineverse. As it is the holidays, they try to make the best of it.....

I'm assuming, of course, that the Cineverse has multiple dimensions just as the TV Universe does. After all, you can't have so many world-ending movies like "I Am Legend" and "When Worlds Collide" sharing the same dimension, right?

The Cineverse is not my stomping grounds, so I wouldn't impose the same rules that apply in the Toobworld Dynamic to the movie world. But I would think that unless there was some reasonable splainin as to why there were genetic manipulations involved with the Griswold kids, than each movie should be in its own dimension because of the Rusty and Audrey recastaways.

If we accept "Hotel Hell Vacation" as part of the TV Universe, then it makes it easier to claim that most of these recastaways are strictly from their respective movies. That's because Travis Greer played Rusty in that (with a wife and kids of his own).

Even though Audrey didn't appear in that promo video, Dana Barron is definitely the Audrey of Earth Prime-Time. That's because she reprised her original role as Audrey in the TV spin-off movie "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie's Island Adventure", the only member of the Griswold famiy to do so.

That means Dana Barron as Audrey is the only one present in "Sweater Sequels" to be from the Griswold Family of Toobworld.  That way we have only one each from the movies - Original Rusty, Christmas Audrey, and Euro Rusty.  Oh, wait - those little urchins "New Audrey" and "New Rusty" must have arrived together from their world......

And yet, it's Juliette Lewis who is featured prominently in all three Old Navy blipverts (probably because A) she's a bigger name, and B) she was the Audrey of the Christmas movie.)

Just a few other O'Bservations:
  • Clark Griswold never addresses Dana Barron and Anthony Michael Hall as "Original Audrey" and "Original Rusty". And Juliette Lewis is never tagged as "Christmas Audrey". Only "Euro Rusty" gets the name-check.
  • Since she is so prominent in all of the commercials, maybe younger viewers might think Ms. Lewis was the original Audrey.
  • The Rusty and Audrey of the movie "Vegas Vacation" aren't even considered.
"New Audrey" and "New Rusty" could be from a movie dimension in which the entire series was rebooted and recast. If Clark knew that he had a new face in that world, it could be why these kids unsettle him. That would be why he ships them off to bed so quickly. (I doubt they're his grandkids - Ellen would have chastised him for not remembering who they were.)

All of the other extras in these blipverts would be pan-dimensional in-laws. There are the two wives of Original and Extra-Crispy -# er, I mean Euro Rusty flanking Christmas Audrey, and the good-looking guy is either the husband of Original Audrey or Christmas Audrey.

  • Old Navy spent a lot on these ads, what with Martin Short as the narrator for all three and Johnny Mathis appearing as himself in one of them. But I think it would have put a huge strain on the budget if they pushed to get one more addition to the cast - Johnny Galecki, now of 'The Big Bang Theory', played "Christmas Rusty".
  • Sadly, the Audrey of "European Vacation" couldn't be involved as Dana Hill had passed away from diabetes complications in the mid-1990's.
  • Since Ms. Hill's death, I've always been under the impression that it was Dana Barron who passed away, even with seeing her in an episode of 'Babylon 5'. So working on this piece at least rectified that mistake.
  • I'm glad to see Ms. Barron has current credits on her resume; I always liked her in the movie "Heaven Help Us".


Mattkind said...

Hotel Hell Vacation aired during Super Bowl XLV

Toby O'B said...

In the articles I saw about it, it aired online during the Super Bowl. I want to accept it though.

Thanks for checking in, Mattkind!

Robert Wronski said...

Matt's correct. It aired during the superbowl. And oddly, the Clark Griswold Facebook page for weeks prior had Clark posting about his upcoming visit to see Rusty's family, tying maybe for the first time social media posts into canon with a TV special.

It's funny that I was going to go with space-time anomaly as the rationale for this, but decided I might abuse that theory enough already, but then I see you went that route, and it seems perfectly legit in the TWD.

I totally missed original Audrey in the previous viewings.

Next year, Ed Helms will be playing Rusty in New Vacation, where he takes his family across country to visit Wally World once last time before it closes permanently.

Also, you might be interested that when Joyce Summers (mother of a Slayer and a Key) was in the hospital (which didn't end well), she told the doctor she was taking her kids to Wally World when she got better. Considering that both Sunnydale and WallyWorld are in southern California, it's not too far fetched to believe that a version of the Vacation films didn't happen on Earth-Prime Time, given the evidence of TV appearances of the Griswold family.

Toby O'B said...

I like that Buffy connection. But I hate the idea of Ed Helms as Rusty. He doesn't even look like all the others to play the role.....

Toby O'B said...

Okay, what aired during the Super Bowl was not the 14 minute movie short - it would have been impossible to fit that in during the game! What aired during the Super Bowl was the 30 second commercial version.
Everything I find says it was aired online first, not on TV.

Here's from the IMDb:
Release dates for
Hotel Hell Vacation (2010) (V)
USA 7 February 2010 (internet)

And from Wikipedia:
Hotel Hell Vacation is an American online comedy short film. It was released on February 7, 2010 on HomeAway's website. Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo reprise their roles as Clark and Ellen Griswold. The fourteen-minute short premiered on television during the Super Bowl to help promote HomeAway, Inc.

That last - as sometimes can be expected from Wikipedia - has to be wrong. If the full movie did air during the Super Bowl on TV, it had to be on some other network, perhaps during the halftime show.

But this is a reliable source - Advertising Age:
Buy: This Austin, Texas, based online vacation-rentals listings services is a Super Bowl newcomer and will run one 30-second ad.
Creative: Ad will feature Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo reprising their roles as Mr. and Mrs. Clark Griswold from the popular "National Lampoon's Vacation" movies.
Agency: Publicis Groupe's Publicis in the West

But I'm good with that - the 30 second commercial can serve as the gateway needed to accept the 14 minute movie into Toobworld. So it's a win all around.

Mattkind said...

It ran during the Super Bowl on Tv I know this because I saw it lol