The Holiday Torments of Disney PlusThe Dark Herald
If you are paying nothing for Disney’s Premier streaming service, it’s still worth it. Otherwise not so much.
We are rapidly coming up on the holiday season. The time we will celebrate the greatest gift of all. The end of 2020. But before we get to that joyous moment, we’re going to have to wade through a bunch of godawful holiday specials.
The following is a quick overview of three holiday specials, currently on Disney Plus. Or to be exact two holiday specials and shockingly enough one Christmas special.
The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special:
Get ready for some self-referential humor!
“Hey, I had to hit every gift shop on Battu for that one!” You get it? Battu? Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge? It’s nothing but gift shops? Yeah, hilarious.
The jokes are all about that good.
Introduction: 1978 George Lucas agreed to a quick cash grab lending Star Wars’ characters, setting, and dignity to network TV. The result was the legendary Star Wars Holiday Special. Emphasis on legendary because Lucas did his level best to sweep that one under the carpet for decades. Until YouTube came along the only place to see it was in the backrooms of conventions. To tell you the truth… Well, I was about to say it wasn’t that bad, but it actually was. The thing is, it was really no worse than any of the other Star Wars skits that were being done on TV at that time. It’s just that this one actually had the brand name on it.
Regardless, the original Holiday Special does enjoy a certain degree of noncanonical infamy. So, it made a certain degree of sense for Disney to try and squeeze a little blood out of that stone.
The show opens with Finn undergoing Jedi training?!?!? WTF? Is Disney going to finally try and fix Finn?
And the answer is, no. Finn is still the Stepin Fetchit of the Star Wars universe. You’ll be shocked to learn that Finn is as completely incompetent as a padawan as he is in every other aspect of his existence. Mostly, Finn’s antics with the lightsaber provides him a new venue for humiliating failure.
After getting his butt kicked by the training remote. Rey hands him a wooden lightsaber. And then Rey goes off in what is for her unaccustomed confusion. She isn’t the greatest Jedi master of all time without ever having tried to be one before? Rey has failed at something? How is this possible?
At that point, one of the Sacred Jedi Texts pops out of the bookshelf (yeah that is precisely what happened) and opened itself to a relevant passage. Turns out there is a Jedi temple with a magic crystal in it that will open time portals, but it only works on life day. Since this is a Lego show I cut this ridiculous contrivance some slack.
Rey resolves to travel to the temple and use the time portal to see how other Jedi Masters had trained their apprentices.
If you’ve watched any of the other Lego Star Wars shows you know how the rest of this goes. Basically, it’s a Star Wars clip show she travels to various iconic scenes of better movies that she wasn’t in and inserts herself into them.
As these things go it’s OK. I guess. Honestly Lego has done better work with Star Wars in the past.
They did bring in the voice actor from robot chicken to play Palpatine and he always does great work with the part and seems to have a lot of fun with it.
We did get to see Itchy, Mala, and Lumpy for the first time in forty years and tragically, Lumpy doesn’t seem to have grown an inch in all that time.
There was a creepy vibe to Rey constantly calling Luke Skywalker, Master Luke. It felt like a stalker ex-girlfriend who keeps hunting you down and keeps insisting that you are still together despite the fact that you’ve screamed, “it’s over!” In her face, moved to another country and changed your name.
They had no relationship. He did nothing for her. Maybe she was imagining something that happened in a better movie that never got made. And honestly who could blame her. In her madness, I hope Rey finds contentment.
That’s what Life Day is all about isn’t it?
I’m really asking here because I have no idea what it’s supposed to be about.
Once Upon a Snowman:
This too is a clip show. That’s it really. You get to see Olaf’s minimal adventures between the time that he is demonically willed into unnatural existence by Elsa and when he runs into her sister and her lunkhead boyfriend. I just watched it last night and I can’t remember what happened.
It was that good!
If you have a little girl who’s begging to see it just spool up Olaf’s Frozen Adventure. Both you and she will be better off.
The Small One:
This is the actual Christmas special I was talking about. And it was flying completely beneath my radar. I’d never even heard of this thing.
My kids were watching it, when I walked into the room and they and asked me a question about it. The only thing I could do was make a few educated guesses before giving up and consulting the internet.
It had cinematic quality animation; money had been spent on it. Don Bluth’s artwork was pretty distinctive, it was clearly one of his, so it was probably made in the late 70s. And it involved Christian themes which confirmed that it predated Michael Eisner.
Turns out my guesses were accurate. It was a 1978 short made to accompany the re-release of Pinocchio around the holiday season.
Here’s the plot:
In the Galilean countryside near the city of Nazareth, a young boy and his father own four donkeys. Three of these donkeys are young and strong. The fourth donkey, Small One, is old and weak, but the boy loves him anyway. Every day, the boy and the donkey play together before they go to work, helping the boy’s father to collect wood.
The boy and his father take the donkeys to work one morning, as they always do. Many times, the boy loads Small One with small sticks, since Small One can’t carry heavy loads anymore. Small One even has trouble carrying stacks of small sticks and the boy helps to carry them for him.
That evening, the boy’s father tells the boy that he has to sell Small One because he can no longer do enough work to cover the cost of his care. Devastated, but understanding, the boy asks if he can be the one to sell his best friend. The father agrees and tells him that he has to sell him for one piece of silver. That night, the boy comforts Small One and promises to find him a gentle and loving master.
The next morning, the boy takes Small One to the market. Their task begins by being tricked into a haunting visit to the local tanner by a guard at the city gates. Terrified, they quickly run out of the shop once they realize he only wants the donkey’s hide. As they wander the streets looking for a buyer, they encounter several townspeople, shop owners, and merchants, none of whom want to buy.
No one is interested in buying such a scrawny donkey.
As dusk falls on the city, the pair have run out of options, and sit on a street corner weeping, without hope. In this bleak moment, a kind man comes up to the boy and asks if Small One is for sale. The man needs a gentle donkey to carry his wife to Bethlehem, he insists he will take good care of him, and offers one piece of silver. The boy accepts, says goodbye to Small One, and watches as the couple and Small One leave on their journey as a bright star appears in the sky.
It was both touching and incredibly depressing. Because I knew there was no way in hell Disney could produce anything like this now. The character of the boy is the product of another world. One where little boys were supposed to learn to shoulder difficult responsibilities if they were going to grow up to be men. You know damn good and well this thing couldn’t possibly be made today.
The was easily the cruelest of the Disney Plus holiday torments.
Okay, I’m done here.