Tim Allen is returning to his role as Santa years after anchoring the Disney Christmas franchise, The Santa Clause. Disney has announced a new “limited series” of The Santa Clause that will run on Disney+.
You know Disney+. That is where Christmas-that-sucks resides. It is home to the now shamed remake of Home Alone, which was universally torched by critics and viewers alike when recently released.
But let’s just forget for a second that Disney+ is behind this project.
Let’s talk instead about what happened with The Santa Clause. The problem, you see, isn’t just Disney+.
It could be Tim Allen.
~ The Story of The Santa Clause ~
In 1994 The Santa Clause was released in November and went on to gross $189 million at the box office, a huge sum then (and now).
It was an original story, written by Leo Benvenuti and Steve Rudnick, of a man who startles Santa on Christmas Eve while on the roof. Santa came tumbling down and in the ensuing chaos the man – played by Tim Allen – becomes the “new Santa” by reading the card and putting on the suit.
Since it’s successful run in theaters The Santa Clause has achieved cult Christmas status with subsequent home video releases and it remains a seasonal streaming favorite.
Eight years after the original release Disney brought out The Santa Clause 2, also starring Tim Allen.
The new film was written by a different team of writers.
The thin plot showed the necessity of Santa getting married, an addendum to The Santa Clause.
The sequel was predictably panned by critics but viewers flocked to the movie anyway, giving it a nearly-as-good return as the original at $172 million in box office receipts.
Of course, all that was too much money, even for a dead horse. They had to take what was bad by making it worse, just to make a buck.
The Santa Clause 3 came just four years later – again with Tim Allen – with Santa reversing a curse by the most annoying villain ever, Jack Frost.
Where does The Santa Clause go on Disney+?
According to multiple sources Tim Allen will return to play Santa nearing retirement and needing to find a replacement.
And, oh yeah, there’s something about his 2 children, who grew up at the North Pole, adjusting to some new adventure “in a life south of the pole”.
~ Tim Allen is Not The Problem ~
Tim Allen is a winner.
People just love him. And that is likely the big reason Disney+ wants him back as Santa.
Allen has had a prolific career.
He anchored the top-rated series Home Improvement for ABC as Tim-the-Tool-Man Taylor, which won him several awards, including a Golden Globe and 8 straight years as a People’s Choice Award winner.
He followed that up with a nine-year run on the hit series, Last Man Standing.
And all this came after a great film called Galaxy Quest, immortality as Buzz Lightyear, and several stints as a New York Time best selling author.
So, Tim Allen cannot be the problem with a return to the role of Santa.
No, the whole problem here is Scott Calvin.
~ Scott Calvin is a Dork ~
Scott Calvin was never supposed to be Santa Claus.
That little plot device, combined with Tim Allen’s snark, is part of what made the original Santa Clause movie so entertaining.
Scott Calvin adjusting to his new job as Santa was funny. It was also transformative: Scott Calvin would become a better person by becoming Santa, too. (“You made me Santa, Charlie…”)
None of that followed in the subsequent films, however.
Therein lies the problem: Scott Calvin is a dork. That means Santa Claus is a dork.
All of this, of course, is the fault of the writers.
It’s a shame the writers could not embrace the magic, wonder and legend of the traditional Santa story.
No, instead they had to sell-out to Santa being stuck with real-world problems: divorce, shared child custody, rebellious teen children, contract clauses and, oh yeah, competitors.
This is the stuff that appeals to Believers?
Have writers forgotten that movies and stories are what people use to escape the stuff of life?
Of course, I have personally blamed the writers of The Santa Clause from the very beginning.
What you’re about to read is a true story.
~ Bernard the Elf, Born in 1991 ~
Our very beginnings as a website are tied to the Santa legend. I’ve told that story many times, as you read here.
There is a little bit more of that story that I haven’t told you.
By the time my adopted daughter reached third grade she was beginning to doubt the existence of Santa Claus.
This is totally normal.
For several years we had enjoyed the tradition of the Santa updates but by 1994 she began to take on some bullying for her belief in Santa.
We expected it. But we wanted the magic to continue as long as it could for her, figuring we would deal with it when she brought it up as a problem.
Between 1991 and 1994 the story of Santa, the elves, reindeer and life at the North Pole via the faxed Santa Updates had turned into a story line with multiple characters, all of whom had names.
Elf Ernest remained our daughter’s lead North Pole contact and her favorite elf. He was the writer and the storyteller of the North Pole.
He introduced other important elves, including Elf Bernard, head of Santa’s workshop, who made his debut in 1991.
Bernard was a gruff, straight-talking elf but he was a hero who always came through for Santa. Our daughter really wanted to meet him.
On a November Saturday in 1994 I took our daughter to see The Santa Clause.
On the way, she popped the Santa question to me.
While I knew it was coming in that moment of truth I admittedly failed.
Instead of being just straight-up honest with my daughter I side stepped her question. My biggest reason for doing so was that I wanted to have this conversation to include her Mom.
So as we settled in with popcorn and sodas she became engrossed in the movie. At 8 years of age she was entirely entertained until the introduction of Elf Bernard in the film.
All of a sudden when his name was said our daughter sat straight up on the edge of her seat, pointed at the screen and said in a loud voice, “That’s him? That’s Bernard, Dad?”
She knew Bernard. His name was as familiar to her as Santa.
What was I to say?
Sometimes I guess it’s better to be lucky than good.
Our daughter was thoroughly back on the Santa train. The Elf Bernard on the screen had validated the Elf Bernard in her Santa updates.
The reality of the two Bernards was not lost on our loyal readers either.
That Christmas I received dozens and dozens of messages from followers who had read the Santa updates in those early years to say, “Wow, what a coincidence!”
But as the sequels came out, and more duplication of names magically appeared between elves and reindeer, astute observers began to comment, “Hey, I think Disney is plagiarizing the Santa Updates!”
Well, of course, there’s no way I can prove that.
And I had no interest, then or now, of pursuing it.
But, in my small mind, it underscores one inescapable fact: all those writers at Disney have never had an original thought of their own.
That shows abundantly in what they turned the Santa Clause franchise in to and why, at the end of the day, the next chapter in the Santa Clause saga is destined to die in the Disney+ Christmas graveyard.
~ The Santa and Christmas Movie They Will Never Make ~
For more than 30 years now we have told the story of Santa, the North Pole and the Elves every Christmas at SantaUpdate.com.
The site is non-commercial and gets millions of visits. We have done it long enough that some original followers are now tracking Santa with their children at Santa Update.
The sites take in a lot of mail for Santa and from believers, kids and adults. We read every bit of mail that comes in.
Kids tell us their Christmas fantasies – “Santasies”, we call them. Their feedback fuels the creative storylines that Santa Update churns out every year.
They want that sleigh ride with Santa. They want to see the North Pole. They want to see how Santa does it, where he comes from and how he keeps going.
But that is a story Hollywood will never tell.
First, they don’t have the imagination.
As The Santa Clause – and other hit Santa franchises such as The Christmas Chronicles – Hollywood cannot keep Santa (or any other superhero anymore) a character with principles. They have to water down their strengths and play up their vulnerabilities to “make them more relatable”.
They have to keep Santa firmly mired in “the real world”, with flaws and insecurities and “personality quirks”.
Instead of elevating the audience and inspiring with character strengths they destroy their greatness, magic and wonder.
Second, the traditional story of Santa would involve themes Hollywood not only knows nothing about but surely would never embrace.
Themes of faith, service to others and anonymous giving are apparently too much to embrace when telling a story of Santa and Christmas.
Stories where Christ is the root inspiration – as is true of the traditional story of St. Nicholas – would never get studio approval.
Third, there is something more to every Christmas-related movie that comes out: the drive to turn it all into a money machine.
Look what they have done with other beloved Christmas stories at Disney.
The Polar Express set up a video game, much like 2009’s Disney take on A Christmas Carol.
(Can you hear Alfred in Miracle on 34th Street? “Make a buck, make a buck…”)
This is what writers are supposed to do.
But Disney writers are either distracted by other priorities such as angling in some new way to make money or they simply don’t understand the heart of Christmas to begin with.
This is why 170+ years Dickens continues to resonate.
And it is why 170+ years from now people will look at The Santa Clause on Disney+ not at all.
~ Does this Mean I Hate The Santa Clause? ~
I know there will be pushback to what I’m sharing here. A lot of people love the three Santa Clause movies.
That’s fine. Go ahead and flame me. I’ve got no skin in the game here. I just have no faith in what The Santa Clause writers will do next.
I hope they prove me wrong. We need a solid Santa hero and nothing would make me happier than to be wrong about this.