Two Guys, a Girl and a TV Set

Three college friends out in the world, filling the void with television…and loving it.

Prep and Landing lands a hit

Posted by CJ Cregg on December 16, 2009

Holding down the Control Room

Thank goodness for the fact that they replay holiday specials ad nauseum before Christmas.  I finally got a chance to watch Disney’s Prep and Landing on ABC.  Is it the new RudolphFrostyCharlie Brown?  Here’s what I think.

(This plot summary contains spoilers.)

The special follows an elite group of elves that help Santa get it all done on Christmas Eve.  The main character, Wayne wants a promotion, but he doesn’t get it.  Instead, he gets a new partner, energetic and eager Lanny.  On Christmas Eve, Wayne is jaded so doesn’t want to help prep for Santa.  Creatures start stirring, a snow storm hits, and the control room decides to call off the trip to Timmy’s house.  Lanny and Wayne pull together and get Santa into the house.  Wayne gets his promotion, but remembers the TRUE meaning of Prep and Landing and decides to stick with his old job with Lanny.

Disney has completely created a world of Christmas.  In a way, the special is almost too high tech and well done to fit

Wayne meets his new partner, Lanny

in with the rest of the genre.  (Remember how “homemade” Rudolph looks?)  Of course, times change, and this is classic Disney/Pixar.  Nonetheless, the special doesn’t feel too ambitious.  Focusing on one child’s house makes it all fit into a half hour.  But I would totally watch this as a movie.  These characters could definitely sustain two hours.

Now, when it comes to Christmas, I say the more the merrier.  And in Prep and Landing, Christmas is all over the place.  The elves have scanners to determine the number of  creatures stirring (hopefully zero), and use Christmas tree lights to guide the sleigh on to the roof, much like air traffic controllers.

Won't you guide my sleigh tonight?

One of my favorite things about Prep and Landing is all of the references to other Christmas poems and songs.  The Prep and Landing elves have their own language, and like any top secret program, they speak in code and all have call signs.  Lanny’s call sign is “Tree Skirt” (heh) and when Santa is good and ready to leave the North Pole, the control room elves say “The Patridge is in the Pear Tree.”  The reindeer all have bluetooth headsets to communicate with control.  Their call sign is “Eight Maids a Milking,” which they don’t like.  The language and codes create a complete, believable world.  Also, this language makes the special very quotable, so I can see families (and me) looking forward to seeing this every year.

Like all other members of this genre, Prep and Landing has a message about the true meaning of Christmas.  Here, we’re told it’s about making memories to pass on.  When Wayne re-realizes this, he of course decides to stick with his old job.  In this way, the ending is predictable, but it’s ok.

So what do I think?  Prep and Landing is “so tinsel.”  (Translation: really awesome.)

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