Picture the Christmas elves: cheery, squeaky-voiced workers wearing green pointed clothes and singing Christmas carols to themselves as they toil building toys in the days leading up to Christmas Eve. Once the big night arrives, however, their job is done and they fade into the background as Santa Claus takes the reins for the main event.
“Prep & Landing” tells a different story. The new Disney animated Christmas special, airing on ABC tonight at 8:30 EST, reveals the existence of an elite task force of elves. This group, dubbed Prep and Landing, travels to each house on Christmas Eve just ahead of Santa in order to prepare it for his arrival. Once finished, they assist Santa with his landing on the rooftop.
The special stars new recruit Lanny on his first mission with Wayne, a veteran of the Prep and Landing squad. Wayne is disgruntled that he didn’t get a coveted promotion, so the pair both have something to prove this Christmas Eve. “Prep & Landing” also features characters like Magee, the over-caffeinated North Pole Christmas Eve Command Center Coordinator, and Dasher the reindeer’s menacing cousin Thrasher.
I watched several behind-the-scenes and other videos on the “Prep & Landing” official website, including a fun training video screened to new members of Prep and Landing. The glimpses I saw of the cartoon look funny, action-packed, and heart-warming.
I know I sound like I just copied off of a press release, but I can’t help but be excited for “Prep & Landing” to air tonight. And I’m not surprised at my immediate positive reaction; the special shows all the hallmarks of a classic Disney cartoon, wrapped up in the inventiveness of a Pixar production.
The much-lauded animation studio isn’t responsible for “Prep & Landing,” but similarities are likely present due to the presence of John Lasseter, formerly of Pixar and now head of all Disney animation. He produced the special and it shows.
I didn’t think anyone could wring another unique story out of the Christmas holiday, but Disney’s done it. I’m looking forward to watching the adventures of a special-ops group of elves carry out their mission on Christmas Eve.
My only wish is that the short was airing closer to Christmas. I’m still emerging from my turkey-induced stupor and I’m not quite ready to get into the Christmas spirit. First Disney releases “A Christmas Carol” on November 6, and now they air a new holiday special on December 1? I don’t know what the rush is. I’m no Scrooge, but when I’m forced into the spirit this early, my enthusiasm nearly dies out by the time Christmas actually rolls around.
But perhaps a timelier viewing of “Prep & Landing,” along with my other favorite holiday short “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas,” will put me back in the mood. As far as I can tell “Prep and Landing” will certainly deserve its spot beside my all-time favorite Seussian Christmas special.
The story’s got plenty of hooks for the kids—fancy gadgetry, colorful characters, cartoon action—while still containing many jokes adults will also enjoy, including references to quintessential Christmas specials. Tonight will tell for sure, but “Prep & Landing” might just earn a place as the latest holiday classic.
Update: due to the Presidential address airing tonight, the screening of “Prep & Landing” has been pushed to next Tuesday, December 8, at 8:30.