Genre: Holiday Animation
“Love is the answer.”
Ziggy’s Gift is a 1982 TV special about Tom Wilson’s cartoon character Ziggy and his dog Fuzz trying to do the right thing. Ziggy wakes up one morning and while getting ready for the day, first hears a TV reporter doing man-on-the-street interviews with harried shoppers and parents gripping about the pains of the Holiday followed by a Walter Cronkite-esque news anchor bemoaning the fact that crooks, in the guise of false Santas, have been conning people out of Christmas donations meaning that many poor people might not have any Christmas gifts this year.
Determined to help, Ziggy answers a newspaper ad he sees for street Santas not knowing that it’s a crook who placed the ad and who would get all the donations. During the course of the day, Ziggy runs into a policeman who suspects Ziggy of being a fake Santa and a real thief determined to rob Ziggy of all the donations he receives. Oh, and lots of live turkeys. Can Ziggy and Fuzz avoid being arrested while spreading true Christmas cheer to those in need?
Ziggy is his usual sad sack self with a heart of gold for whom things work out in the end. If you’re susceptible to sugar overloads, you might want to have something slightly cynical lined up to watch after this. In fact, keep reading and you’ll see my suggestion of what to watch next.
The TV news reports at the beginning of the film lay out exactly what the plot will be. There are no surprises or plot twists – just sweetness and light as Ziggy bumbles around and Fuzz watches out for him. In the face of malfunctioning, mechanical singing angels, plastic poinsettias, aluminum Christmas trees, vinyl holly and polyester pine cones – Ziggy remains steadfast in his desire to do good and spread Christmas cheer.
This one unashamedly yanks on every heart string with the homeless, abandoned pets and orphans all getting trotted out but – gosh darn it! – it’s so simply presented and honestly meant that I melt into “aaaawww” anyway. I’m not too sure about the live turkeys though.
The theme song – which gets repeated at times and might wear on you – says it all. “Give, give, joy, joy.” B
Genre: Holiday Animation
As I said in my review of “Die Hard” a lot of you mentioned favorite Christmas specials/movies a while back in 2009 when I posted some of my favorites. Angelia Sparrow listed “A Wish for Wings that Work” which I still can’t believe I missed when it was originally released in 1991. I adored the original “Bloom County” comic strip (and own most of the compilation books), have several Opus t-shirts and even a stuffed Opus toy. Honestly, how did I miss this TV special?
Berkley Breathed apparently hates it but I found it (mainly) charming and fairly in keeping with the spirit of the comic strip. It’s from the “Outland” era so most of the Bloom County characters aren’t there. Mainly it’s Opus and Bill the Cat with a little bit of Ronald-Ann.
Opus wants wings – new non-penguin wings. Not “fancy wings, just plain-Jane, low rent, barely bent, home grown, bare-bone, off-the-shelf, two-part, KMart, no frills flappers.” Opus longs to fly but his penguin wings just aren’t made for it and his efforts, up until now, haven’t worked. Ducks mock him and he’s stuck with “best buddy wannabe” cat who he rescued from a University Science lab. A trip to Ronald-Ann’s “Earthbound Birds Anonymous” support group shows Opus he’s not alone but after listening to a Kiwi bemoan being left by his wife for an albatross – “What does she want? Quality or quantity!?” – he’s little better off.
Then he has an idea. He’ll write to Santa Claus (he actually ends up faxing his request due to the late date). Secure in the belief that Santa will come through for him (“I’ll be flying on Christmas Day!”) he falls sleep. His flying obsession leads to one hella bizarre dream sequence straight out of “Lost Horizon” with the plane going down because penguins can’t fly. Banging on his door wakes Opus up just at the plane’s impact. There’s a Christmas crisis outside and it turns out that Opus, with his special swimming skills – ice water is his shtick – is the only one who can save Santa. But will that earn him his wings? Maybe with a little help from his friends.
The message here – we all have something to offer so be true to yourself – isn’t new. Still it’s told in a way that I think both children and adults (more the usual target for Breathed’s comics – listen as Opus takes a few potshots at Congress, Network Executives and Stormin’ Norman Schwarzkopf) can enjoy. They even work the term “nether regions” into it and all us romance fans love that purple prose phrase. I feel Opus might be a little harsh on poor Bill (“Ack! Pbthhh.”) After all, it’s not easy being a cat with tater tot brains who smells like the garbage can he drags around on his leg. Opus does have heart and a belief in Christmas that – along with his friends – gives us a happy but not too sappy ending.
How to watch these? Both are out on DVD though Ziggy’s Gift is OOP and could be a challenge to find BUT both of these have also been loaded at youtube. Each is less than 25 minutes in length and just right for a work/lunch break treat.