“Hello, there. I bet you’re already saying to yourself, ‘Oh, I’ve already seen this one. Another holiday special narrated by some new teen star between takes on their oh-so-popular new sitcom series. Well, I’m here to tell you, not this time, because I’m not a star. Well, not yet at least. And, this ain’t about how so and so saved Christmas for all the good boys and girls…”
I would have loved to have been in this meeting. Someone walks into a studio executive’s office to pitch his idea. After describing his new Christmas special concept, he pauses, just for a second, just for the right amount of anticipation. “Here’s the clincher”, he says manically. “William Shatner will be the voice of Santa Claus.”
“…It’s more about Santa Claus settling some unfinished business with a very old acquaintance, and some kids who accidentally destroy Christmas. That’s right, nothing under the trees. A catastrophe caused by a kid — me, that was too smart for his own good. A kid who messed up his hometown. Messed with Santa Claus. Messed with Christmas and the entire complete known universe. Or at least it almost worked that way.”
Trevor finds he is one of the last people his age who still believes in Santa Claus. He wants very much to impress Veronica, and to prove to her once and for all that there really is a Santa Claus, in spite of all the contradictions and seeming impossibilities. He decides that the only way to get “proof that he’s up on the roof” is to capture St. Nick and hold a press conference. Together with his inventive twin friends, Trevor builds a trap for Santa on Christmas Eve. Meanwhile, on a comet that visits the Earth every 100 years on Christmas Eve lives the abominable ice creature, LaFreeze. He’s got his own bone to pick with Santa, and with the help of his own snowman minions, he’s going to blast Santa right out of the sky, except Trevor beats him to it. When LaFreeze decides to track Santa to Earth, Trevor and his friends might have to fight the evil frozen creatures to save Santa, and Christmas itself.
The filmmakers certainly made the most out of using Shatner as Santa. You’ll encounter plenty of Trek sound effects and a Scottish head elf engineer. The sleigh even has nacelles. He actually does fine voicing the character. There’s not much boom to his Ho Ho Ho’s, but I can live with Captain Santa T. Claus. Unfortunately, there’s not much that is special about this Christmas special. The plot might be clever, as Trevor points out, “I’ll bet you there’s never been a Christmas special where someone shoots Santa down with an industrial laser before”. Probably not. Still, the show has more padding than a mall Santa on Christmas Eve. There’s a nearly 5 minute prologue segment. Then there’s a nearly 10 minute recap wrap-up at the end of the picture. In between the premise set up and executed with one of the swiftest and most predictable conclusions. I won’t spoil it for you here, but I figured out why LaFreeze hated Santa Claus very early in the game. I’m sure you will just as quickly. The computer animation here is strictly low budget. There’s nothing wrong with it; however, just don’t expect Pixar here. The two songs are catchy enough but appear too repetitive after a short while. This one works as a novelty only. Skip it, or rent it.
Gotta Catch Santa Claus is presented in its originally intended 1.78:1 broadcast aspect ratio. The film is fine for what it is. The colors are a bit soft. There aren’t any real compression problems. Black levels are pretty much average. In fact, average describes everything about this release.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track does dialog and little else. There’s nothing dynamic or expansive about this presentation. It’s good television quality sound.
Deleted Scenes: (7:31) Director Jamie Waese provides an intro and commentary for these storyboards. They show us that there was a slightly different plot at first. The original concept had a local radio station offering up a $25,000 prize to anyone who could capture and deliver Santa Claus to their studios.
Santa Behind The Scenes Footage: (3:27) This is like those fake bloopers other animated features often make. Here Santa is in the recording studio flubbing his lines.
Sing Alongs: You can find karaoke versions of the two numbers here.
I do have a soft spot in my heart for Christmas shows. I’m also enough of a Trek fan to appreciate Shatner. Still, I couldn’t get past the tediousness of this one. It ends up on my naughty list and not likely to join my annual traditions here. I could blast pretty much everyone involved in this one, but “there’s no need to make this thing personal”.