Time for another Christmas special but this one is by a different crew so we’re back to traditional animation. It definitely looks pretty good and right away it’s an improvement for me at least. As for the actual story, that part is a little less engaging but I blame the main character on that one. So prepare yourself as we enter the world of the Bears!
The special starts by showing us how the Bears all work at this large honey factory. They work for most of the year and then take a break to hibernate. It’s a system that has been in place for generations and the Bears have learned to love it. After all, who wouldn’t want to sleep for a few months? That’s what they all thought until Ted showed up. He wants to stay awake for Christmas and has tried to do so for years. The problem is that every time he ends up falling asleep which certainly doesn’t play into his plans. This year he is determined to stay up and even ends up travelling to the Human World to do so. (Well, it’s the same world but they may as well be separate)
I don’t think that Ted’s plan is bad or even that selfish. If he wants to stay up then that’s fine. It won’t hurt anybody and at most he’ll just be really tired once the hibernation is over since he’ll have had less sleep. The problem is that he does end up hurting others which is certainly no good. First he forgets to turn the honey off which is pretty bad since they waste a few gallons and that ends up hurting the company’s bottom line very quick. Fortunately for Ted his boss was very understanding and told him that he could overlook this but not to let it happen again. Then Ted runs outside and does an interview where he tells the world his plans. This isn’t a good look and it reflects poorly on the job. When you’re an employee like Ted you can’t just give interviews without going through HR first.
I’m probably being a bit hard on Ted, but it’s for his own good. If he was a little more careful I think he could have been a very good main character. Most of the special is about Ted finally making it to the human world/Christmas. Once he does make it we realize that this was all part of Santa’s plan from the start. It’s all rather genius from that holiday icon’s perspective. Everyone is just another piece on the chessboard for him. The whole situation can be a little odd if you really think about it as Ted got to the human world pretty easily all things considered but when you throw magic into the equation then things start to make sense. It’s also possible that without Santa Ted would have been doomed from the start.
Overall, The Bear Who Slept Through Christmas is a pretty good special. Ted could be annoying at times but at least he had a goal and saw it through. His determination is admirable for sure and he succeeded in his goal. The ending is pretty nice and a best case scenario for all parties involved. I’m sure even his boss is happy about the whole thing since now his operation can be back on target just as he likes it. I recommend checking this special out. It’ll help remind you to look forward to Christmas since it’s always a blast and a half. You just can’t go wrong on this day.
It’s time to look at another classic short. This one deals with the first Christmas snow for the main character Lucas. He definitely had a pretty raw deal but always sees the bright side of things. This is another special that I hadn’t heard of previously so I’m certainly getting introduced to a bunch of new Christmas animations this year. It’s definitely been a fun run of holiday cheer and we are just getting started.
The short starts with a few Nuns taking in a boy named Lucas. He is a shepherd but a close bolt of lightning took away his sight. The nuns, particularly Sister Theresa decide that they must take care of him. Unfortunately the main priest doesn’t like this and wants Lucas to be sent away. As a result Lucas’ stay at the orphanage can be a bit awkward at times. Still, he does his best to fit in and help with the upcoming show that will be put on. When bullies allow his sheep to get lost in the forest Lucas must try to bring them back even if he is blind. Can the kid handle it?
I have to say that the main priest was definitely a lot more antagonistic than I would have expected. Right from the start he is against Lucas. Why is he running an orphanage if he doesn’t want to take kids? He just looks pretty bad the whole time so even at the end when he has a change of heart you have a tough time buying into it. It’s all too late by that point. Then we have the bullies who were about as mean as you’d expect. I guess what’s an orphanage in these films without some of those right? Lucas handles himself pretty well throughout all of this though. Even the wolves in the forest can’t scare him. They surprisingly didn’t get much of a role but that’s good since for a minute there you start to get worried that some animal violence might happen. No need to hurt the score like that when the whole plot can be avoided right?
The animation is the same as the rest of these specials so no need to go into that all that much. I’m still not a fan of the style but it is what it is. At least we get an interesting effect for Lucas’ eyes when he is blinded. I thought that part was handled pretty well. Considering what shape his eyes were to show the blindness, the ending also makes sense with how his eyesight is brought back. Now he can go back to being an expert shepherd and keeping his flock safe.
Overall, This was a fun special. While the orphanage was a little meaner than it needed to be, I’m glad that Lucas didn’t let it get to him. He didn’t go for revenge or fall into sulking. He just stayed the course and kept on helping out wherever he could. He adapted to his blindness as best he could and having a good main character like this is always important. If you haven’t seen this special and like this line of stop-motion shorts then I’d recommend checking it out. If this is your first experience and you want a nice story then you should still enjoy it. It’s also fairly short so you really don’t have anything to lose here.
It’s time to look at the relatively obscure sequel to the original Drummer Boy. At the very least I had not heard of this film before. The first Drummer Boy was certainly a classic so this one had a lot to live up to. It’s a reasonable special. Not a whole lot happens but that’s a given considering the length. The villains were pretty fun and I think the special did a good job with the visual gags. While this is a special that feels like it was made for kicks, I’m still glad we got a sequel.
The short starts out with a bunch of roman guards storming a poor village. Someone had spent months creating a few large bells to signal the birth of Jesus Christ and was preparing to set them up. Unfortunately the villains had other plans and quickly stole the bells. They plan to melt them down into pieces of silver so the villains will all be rich. All hope seems to be lost but that’s when the Drummer Boy steps in. He figures that he can distract the villains with his performance while the animals grab the bells but this task may enact a greater price than he could have ever suspected.
Naturally the guards are as corrupt as they come. You certainly aren’t supposed to root for these villains by any stretch of the imagination. Still, the special at least makes them fairly humorous. I actually enjoyed the song about money. Both because of how unexpected it was and because the lyrics actually made sense. It just had a catchy beat and if anything the villains were able to pull it off better than the actual Drummer Boy. Throwing in some good music is always a good way to make a special even more memorable and I don’t think I’ll be forgetting this one anytime soon.
I’m still not a fan of the claymation style though. It all looks rather clunky and the animations just don’t look as nice to the eye. There’s nothing particularly appealing about the style and since everything looks like clay you won’t be watching this one for the visuals. Still, the actual plot is good. It’s always cool to see something taking place around the birth of Jesus. The Drummer Boy makes for a good main character. He also made quite the sacrifice for his mission which is more than other leads would have been able to do in his shoes. The special has a happy ending though and so everything worked out in the end.
Overall, The Little Drummer Boy Part II is a pretty good sequel. It’s nice to have the old gang return even if his actual drum skills didn’t really look so good this time around. I guess realistically you can’t expect such a tactic to work for very long right? At least he was able to keep it up for a little while and it was a nice homage to the original. If you enjoyed the original Drummer Boy then I certainly think you’ll like this one and vice versa. They’re pretty similar and you could easily watch them both back to back since combined they would be about as long as the average episode if not a little longer.
Leprechauns are usually seen as villainous little guys who want gold at any cost. Typically they will resort to violent means as soon as possible in order to fulfill their ambitions. At the same time then you also have the shoemakers who are always seen as nice in the various stories. Well, this special finally explains that both sides separated a while back. The shoemakers are just a lot nicer.
The short starts with a sailor crash landing on an island from his boat. Then a heavy rain storm appears and the sailor immediately gives up hope that he will ever escape. Fortunately there is a pine cone tree and the hero rips it out of the ground before joining an old Leprechaun for some tea. It turns out that by ripping away the tree the sailor has released an ancient witch who will do everything in her power to steal the gold. Can the sailor make amends or is it all over?
Now that’s the plot on the surface but there is a little nuance here. For starters you have to ask yourself who the true enemy is here. I would argue that the witch isn’t as bad as the Leprechauns. One thing you need to be aware of is that the witch will die if she doesn’t receive a piece of gold before Christmas. Moreover, she can’t steal it, she must convince a leprechaun to give it to her in order for the spell to be broken. The Leprechauns are rich beyond belief so surely they could have given her at least one piece right? The fact that they didn’t shows how petty they are. They kept treating it as an all or nothing issue when that was simply not the case.
The Witch has some reasonable plans to trick the Leprechauns in the meanwhile. Putting a serum into the Leprechaun’s tea was pretty clever and that plan almost worked. Then The witch correctly assumed that the sailor wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed and moved on to manipulating him. It just gave more reason to remind you that the sailor was certainly not on point.
While I was on team witch I suppose the main Leprechaun was a solid character. He was quick on the draw and would have defeated the sailor if he had a better weapon. His disagreement with the wife was certainly not one of his better moments though. Again, he could have given some gold rather than having to live apart for the next few decades. That part of the plot is actually a little tragic if you think about it. The fact that the lead acknowledges the existence of Gold Fever just proves the point even more. On the other side of the spectrum though, the wife shouldn’t even suggest getting rid of all the gold. Cmon, that’s not very practical.
As far as the animation goes, stop motion still isn’t the best style out there. It’s around LEGO level with that style bring a little more polished at this point. Still, the animation could be worse (Water colors) and as this special is quite short I wouldn’t call it a real issue. The constant crying effect for the Witch was certainly something. If anything the style makes you feel bad for the characters whenever they are sad as they tend to shake a lot.
Overall, This was a fun little special. I do think the movie could have done more to show us why the witch was the antagonist if we were really supposed to root for the Leprechauns. Perhaps it was intentional though in which case the film did a good job. If you haven’t seen this film yet and don’t mind the art style then I would recommend it. It’s not every day that you get to watch a film about Leprechauns after all.
It’s time to look at another Disney short! This time Mickey is back in the lead but he’ll have to deal with some pretty powerful opponents. You’ll probably feel bad for Mickey here because it seems to happen quite a lot that he has to go up against beings which aren’t quite human and have a lot of supernatural abilities. How is Mickey supposed to handle these beings? Well, he’ll certainly give his 100% into stopping such a threat.
The short starts off with Mickey finishing up a hard day of work and heading home. That’s when he notices that Minnie is baking a pie and asks if he can have some. She explains that he can only have some if he does all of the yard work for her. Mickey agrees and begins the task. Unfortunately just as he is finishing up a tornado appears and begins to try and sabotage all of his efforts. Mickey doesn’t know what it wants, but he’s got a pie to eat so the mouse tries to end this fight.
As you can probably imagine the majority of the special is about Mickey trying to capture the tornado. Mickey tries everything from tying it up to beating it into submission. Unfortunately nothing appears to work and the tornado even calls in a few of his buddies. At that point Mickey can’t even afford to worry about the pie as his life is in jeopardy. Unfortunately Minnie doesn’t notice any of this so you can probably guess who will get the blame once the town is leveled into the ground. I mean, Mickey doesn’t look like he’s quite that strong, but if it’s believable to Minnie then who am I to argue? Yeah…Minnie definitely had a pretty rough time of it in these last two specials.
The special can be a little tragic, but on the other hand Mickey does get his pie in a way. I suppose that beats not getting it at all right? The animation is on point here and the battle between Mickey and the tornado is on point. You can feel the emotions at play here as the fight gets brutal. I’d say that Mickey may have even had the edge by the end since the tornado had to call for backup. If Mickey had backup of his own like Donald then the whole situation may have turned out a little differently. Still, he didn’t back down.
Overall, This special was pretty fun. As all of these specials are all just a few minutes long it’s all about trying to squeeze in as much content as possible. You want to keep the audience engaged as much as possible and have a memorable ending. While the ending isn’t a happy one for Mickey it certainly could have been considerably worse. All in all he did all right for himself and I did think that this special was more interesting than the last one. I’d recommend checking it out. As long as you don’t mind seeing the heroes on the losing end here it makes for a pretty fun special.
It’s time to look at an old Disney special about Pluto. Pluto typically can’t hold his own special as well as Donald or Mickey but the character always has potential. After all, Snoopy ended up becoming quite the hit in Peanuts even if their circumstances may be a little different. This special is also a lot less tragic than Pluto’s last one which helps quite a bit.
The general premise is that Minnie has made a new sweater for Pluto. The problem is that she’s not the smartest character on the block and made Pluto a pink sweater despite knowing that he wouldn’t want to wear such a thing. She forces it on him and Pluto spends the remainder of the special trying to get it off. It’s tough because the sweater is sentient and wants a host so that it can continue to survive and thrive. Honestly it really isn’t a bad strategy when you think about it. The sweater just wants to live so you may be rooting for it.
Naturally as with most of the Disney special this one is only a few minutes long so it goes by real quick. The pacing is on point and it stays interesting throughout. As I mentioned this special isn’t tragic which is definitely important. There is a cat that mocks Pluto for a while, but eventually the tables are turned and it learns that embracing the sweater ultimately isn’t a choice. You just have to roll with the punches, better now than later. Pluto is now safe once more, until next Christmas.
As far as the animation goes it is just as solid as the rest of the Disney specials. The colors are all pretty vibrant and the characters are on point. Consistency is the key to success and it’s an area where Disney has excelled for years and years. There is always something happening on screen whether it is in the forefront or in the background. Part of what makes the specials a lot of fun is how chaotic and energetic the animation is. It’s something that you simply can’t duplicate with traditional CGI or some of the more low budget hand drawn stuff that you see nowadays.
I do have to say one last time that Minnie wasn’t a great character here though. She is brought to tears way too quickly and basically starts to guilt trip Pluto. Naturally the fact that she didn’t notice how much Pluto didn’t want to wear the sweater is used for comedy, but it doesn’t make you any more likely to take her side. If she had noticed that Pluto didn’t want to wear the sweater then she probably wouldn’t have felt quite as bad about it being shrunk down to size.
Overall, Pluto’s a fun character but I still do think he can’t hold his own specials quite as well as Mickey of Donald. That’s not to say that the special is bad or anything, but the other two just add an extra element through their dialogue that Pluto can’t match. He has to rely on pure animation as a visual medium which is fine, but it just won’t have the same impact as the others. How could it? Dialogue (With good writing) is just too powerful to be matched in most situations. If you haven’t seen this special yet then I would recommend checking it out. You’ll get to see the sweater in action and what could be a greater honor than that?
It’s time to look at a very quick Disney short. Now, most of these old shorts were quite…short, but this one really takes the cake. It’s listed as 8 minutes online, but it seemed to only be about 2-3 minutes while watching it. Maybe the special was just that good, but it does seem like the shortest of all the Disney shorts and that is actually pretty impressive. There are really only 2 main characters here, Donald and Mickey. Naturally they are on opposing sides here as you might expect.
The film starts off with Mickey performing some tricks on stage. He is a magician and not simply one who uses parlor tricks to get by. Mickey knows real magic so I assume this is in the same continuity as that other special where Mickey was learning spells under the tutelage of that random magician. Unfortunately Donald isn’t a fan of Mickey’s act and decides to sabotage the mouse. Mickey doesn’t really like confrontation so he avoids Donald for a little while, but eventually he decides to put the duck in his place. Sparks fly and both characters really get into it. There is a winner here though as the special doesn’t end on a cop out.
It’s a fun enough short. I like seeing this more confident version of Mickey. He isn’t about to let Donald just get his way without a fight. Still, Mickey is a professional so he tries to end the situation in a way that is still entertaining to his captive audience. I have to admit that this is one of his best appearances in the various Disney shorts. Then we have Donald who is pretty fun as always. He is definitely the antagonist here, I don’t think there can be any doubt on that fact. Still, while Donald is unreasonable he is still entertaining as you would expect. He’ll definitely give you flashbacks to any hecklers you may have faced in showbiz. They can’t be pleased and they won’t be silenced. All you can do is listen to them and wait for an opening to use your next act. Of course once the heckler gets violent as Donald did then you can be all set to use your skills to wow the crowd and stop this disruption.
The animation looks pretty smooth as always. I like the character designs here and the stage looks pretty nice. There was definitely a lot of care that went into this. There isn’t much of a soundtrack, but I suppose you wouldn’t reasonably expect one here. On a technical level this special delivered just as well as it did with the writing and the characters. It’s a solid short from whatever angle you decide to look at it from.
Overall, Magician Mickey is a nice short to watch while you polishing off an afternoon snack. It’s the perfect amount of time for that and it’ll feel pretty nostalgic. There’s nothing wrong with the special and it only takes a few minutes to watch so why wouldn’t you take the plunge? Because it is so short I don’t think it will wind up being one of your favorites or anything like that, but I’ll still give the short some props for doing a good amount in its limited time frame. We’ll see if any upcoming short can hope to match this one.
It’s time to look at a classic Disney special. Moose Hunters is a team up adventure and those are usually pretty solid but Goofy ends up getting most of the screen time which was definitely not a great move. It ends up being one of the weaker specials I’m afraid but as always Donald is here to try and save it.
The adventure begins with the trio deciding to get some Moose. Goofy and Donald will act as the bait while Mickey loads the shotgun. Unfortunately for the mouse he gets pushed by the big moose on campus and ends up losing his shotgun. At this point it is all over for him. Mickey delays the inevitable by grabbing some grass big that’s basically it for him in the special. His subplot wasn’t bad though.
Goofy and Donald’s plot is the one that drags on. They decide to dress up as a female moose and do their best to distract the other one but since Mickey is out of the picture they are stuck in the role for a considerable amount of time. The same joke just keeps on going and going long after it has ceased to be amusing. While it is a parody of this kind of plot, I also never like the idea of using romance to trick the opponent into lowering his guard. For starters if should never work unless a character is extremely weak willed. It would have been nice if the Moose had just kicked these guys away. It would have sent a good message that he was not to be trifled with.
As always the animation is pretty solid. It’s all very fast paced and uses a lot of movement without getting sloppy. The character designs are on point and you do feel a certain level of tension throughout as you wonder if the heroes have what it takes to win this fight. There isn’t really anything in the way of music here but seeing as how the special is only a few minutes long there wasn’t much time to throw it in.
Overall, Moose Hunting is definitely not going to be remembered in the same way as most of the other shorts. It’s just not nearly as captivating or intense, but I will give it some points for effort. If you just really want to see the old gang in a new adventure then by all means check it out but I would sooner advise just about any of the other specials for a better time. This one’s plot just wasn’t good from the start which hurt it. After all, how can we root for the main characters when they’re hunters? It’s a very morally dubious career choice and one that can be a debate all on its own. Long story short though, I was rooting for the moose here so when the main characters got wrecked I was pretty satisfied. They had to beat a hasty retreat so the right side won.
It’s time for the next Disney short which is another Pluto special. Unfortunately it wasn’t very good like the last one. It’s a shame because this special was going reasonably well until the very mean spirited ending. Definitely not the way you want to end any special.
The story begins with Mickey sending Pluto to the deli in order to grab his lunch. Mickey has been growing old over the years so of course he wouldn’t go grab it himself. Pluto has no problems with the plan since securing his own lunch will make it taste even better. Unfortunately, one of the alley dogs decides to try and steal the meat. Pluto is in for quite a fight!
It’s a classic story of two dogs fighting it out for the same lunch. Obviously Pluto is in the right here as it’s his lunch which he paid for fair and square. The other dog is just another in a long line of villains who would like to stop Pluto but he shall fall like the rest. At least that’s what you would think. Unfortunately the special actually ends with the dog winning and in one of the worst ways possible.
Pluto had made it home but then Mickey snatches the lunch away and gives it to the other dog. That was one of the biggest betrayals that I’ve seen in quite a while and Pluto doesn’t get a happy ending of any kind. Being forced to share it would be one thing, but losing it altogether? Yeah that’s not really a good idea.
The whole thing also makes Mickey look very bad and out of character. He seems completely oblivious to everything when I like to think that he is more on the cunning side and always ready for what is to come. He would have realized that having Pluto go grab his usual lunch would lead to the assumption that it was his. He should have told Pluto straight up what was going on instead of all this zigzag. At least tell him to buy 2 since then the implication would also be clear. Not saying it until the end just isn’t a nice or fair approach.
The animation is smooth as always. Disney is still consistent in that area and that won’t change for quite a while. It’s easy to forget just how old the specials are since they look so bright and vibrant. You would be forgiven for thinking that the special is a lot newer than it actually is.
Overall, this special is one that you will probably want to skip. Dread it, Run from it, but the Pluto specials will always find a way to break the mold of Disney successes and make some kind of mistake. At least if these two specials are a good indication of the group. There’s just no reason to watch a Pluto special when you can watch one about any other character. He’s simply not ready for the big time.
It’s time for what is the weakest Disney short so far. I don’t really think it would be right to blame it on Pluto here, but at the same time I have always suspected that he isn’t quite ready for the big time. He’s better as a supporting character than in the lead role. This special just isn’t all that fun and reminds me why dog shows like this one are more sketchy than anything.
Mickey brings Pluto to a dog show to show that high society aren’t the only ones with fashionable dogs around here. It’s a noble sentiment but seeing as how the judge is one of them I suspect there is already some bias in the equation. There’s no time to think about that though as a big fire starts and Pluto has to quickly turn into the hero that he always knew he could be. It’s a pretty emotional climax there and the special would have been better if it had started with the fire and abandoned the intro.
The scene that is the most drawn out is when the appraiser is messing with Pluto. Pluto tries to grin and bear with it, but the whole thing is pretty unreasonable so I wouldn’t have blamed him if he had tackled the guy right from the get go. Mickey shouldn’t have brought him here in the first place either. Pluto wasn’t having any fun and so it wasn’t fun to see him have to put up with all of this either. The special isn’t very long so it’s not as if any scene goes on for too long either, but the slapstick and comedy just wasn’t all that fun this time around. If a comedy special isn’t too fun…then what hope does it have of being all that solid?
As always the animation is pretty smooth and fluid though. The fire scene is impressive because of how fast everything is going and you just know that the artists must have had to draw a considerable amount to bring all of these scenes to life. Disney really got big through their animation and inventing such colorful and memorable characters really sealed the deal. It’s a visual masterpiece even if the actual special isn’t really the best one that they’ve put out.
Overall, I don’t think Society is ready for a dog show. Stick to the Puppy Bowl if anything since there they all follow the rules and don’t have to worry about bias judges. The second half of the special at least brings in a sense of danger and a lot of tension, but it isn’t enough to totally eliminate the first half. I’d say that if you are in the mood to check out a Disney special, watch one for one of the other characters. If you want to see Pluto then choose a Mickey Mouse special instead of a Pluto one. That is the optimal strategy here.