A New ‘Prep & Landing’

Hidden after the annual “A Charlie Brown Christmas” this year is the real treat under the tree, a new seven-minute short from Prep & Landing, the two elves in the clever Disney special that premiered last year (and will be reprised later this week, on Thursday).

That special won an Emmy and the new one, titled “Prep & Landing: Operation Secret  Santa,” has the same dash of daunting computer design, winning character creation and smart turns of story. This time, it’s the ubiquitous Betty White, as the voice of Mrs. Claus, enjoining the elfin advance team to make a strike on Santa’s headquarters so she can receive a box she had long been seeking.

They accept the assignment and all but bumble it all at every turn, using their high-tech equipment that tells them, for example “Creatures Stirring: 0” in a readout.

Amusing stuff, and the short was deserving of a better spot than the end of “Charlie Brown Christmas.”

It’s interesting that there needs to be filler for the classic special these days. Because of the increased number of commercials today compared to 1965, when it debuted, it cant possibly fill in the half-hour slot, spilling over at least 10 minutes. How to fill the rest of the time? ABC had been using some of the 2002 special, “It’s Charlie Brown’s Christmas Tales,” but because of Prep & Landing, ended up only showing three of the five segments, highlighting holiday stories of Snoopy, Linus and Charlie Brown.

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