Disney does their first original holiday special for ABC, Prep & Landing. It was a week late as the president of the United States pushed it back due to his talk on most major networks, but we are still early in the holiday season and getting something original from Disney is always a treat. Did it seem to anyone else though that this show was too short? It reminded me of one of those Pixar shorts, where you are only given a quick glimpse into a larger overall story, not too much background. It may be that most of the classic shows I have been watching are at least an hour long, or the fact that newer shows have more commercial time. Enough of the lead up, on to the review.
After working tirelessly on Prep & Landing for 227 years, an elf named Wayne is upset when he doesn’t receive an expected promotion to be the Director of Naughty List Intelligence. Instead, Magee, the North Pole Christmas Eve Command Center Coordinator (NPCECCC for short), partners Wayne with Lanny, an idealistic rookie who has an undying enthusiasm for Christmas. During their Christmas Eve mission, Wayne and Lanny encounter unexpected challenges that push them to their limits. Will the elves be able to guide Dasher, Dancer and the rest of the reindeer pulling Santa’s sleigh through a raging snowstorm to ensure a Merry Christmas for all?
The cast of includes Dave Foley (“The Kids in the Hall,” “NewsRadio”) as Wayne, Sarah Chalke (“Maneater,” “Scrubs”) as Magee and Derek Richardson (“MEN IN TREES,” “Hostel,” “Dumb and Dumberer”) as Lanny.
You are thrown right into the story where Wayne is a bit disappointed that he did not get the promotion he was looking for, but work must go on and Christmas is a go. I was impressed by Dave Foley, Sarah Chalke, and Derek Richardson with their voice work with the characters. They really made them feel real and quirky which is important in a whirlwind of a story. Sarah’s character Magee is like the air traffic controller of Santa’s holiday run, while the character of Wayne and Lanny go to each house and prep it for Santa’s arrival, so it is safe and Santa can make the most of his time. I started to feel that there was not enough background to the story though, this was really begging for an hour long special. The characters of Lanny, Wayne, Magee are new, fresh, characters that you do not know from a previous special so they could have been given a bit more background to really bring the viewer into the story. Favorite secondary character? Thrasher the reindeer. What a great character to have for the team reindeer engine.
The story itself was great, who would have thought about a prep team for Santa’s arrival? Disney obviously, and they really pull out all the stops on the little cool gadgets (gingerbread man super PDA, tree cutters, nightvision googles) to help this team do their job. There was a lot of “cool” in this show, because who does not like a elf that has James Bond type gadgets and skills working for the greater good of Christmas and Santa? Also the animation work was top notch as one would expect from Disney. The meat of the story takes place within one house where Santa may not be able to deliver his presents due to Wayne being upset about the fact that he got looked over for a job promotion. They have to deal with a stirring child, and the much needed Lanny speech to get Wayne out of his funk. We do get a message at the end of the show, where Wayne decides his job is important because he is making sure that all the new little kids who believe in Santa get their dreams fulfilled. Sometimes it is not just about the cool new parking space. I though that some of the reindeer were a bit over the top, some of the jokes put in for the amusement of the adults fell a bit flat, and adults could see the ending coming a mile away, but overall still a great addition to the holiday schedule. These shows are about the ride sometimes, and this was an exciting and fun ride even if I nitpicked a bit. What I would love to see next year is a Prep and Landing prequel. Can someone make that happen? Extended edition Prep & Landing? I would take that also.