This came out right after Thanksgiving and I wasn’t ready to watch Christmas specials just yet. This is when I found time to watch it, and no, the above video isn’t from the special. It is however tied to the special’s origin.

There was a time when Hallmark would release a special edition Christmas stuffed animal set, and would have an animated special made for home video, both sold together at Hallmark stores, with the characters saving Christmas for some family. Nowadays they just use the same two or three recycled romance plots, and set it at Christmas, like a romantic Die Hard, something set at Christmas but has nothing to do with the holiday itself. That’s right, I said it! Nobody’s telling you not to watch Die Hard at Christmas; just stop trying to convince us it’s a Christmas movie as if you need a reason for explosions and dead bodies. Sorry, neither of those things are Christmas. Deal with it!

Anyway, Reindeer In Here, co-produced by CBS, isn’t from Hallmark but it follows that dropped tradition. Created by TV producer Adam Reid, the goal was to give his children a Christmas tradition that also celebrated being different. The concept (official brand website) is otherwise similar to “elf on a shelf”. You give the kid the plushie and related storybook, the kid names the reindeer (and decide if it’s a boy or a girl, though now they come in multiple existing characters as well), the reindeer supposedly learns what the child wants, and then at Christmas it “magically flies away to the North Pole” to tell Santa what they want for Christmas. To celebrate uniqueness the various reindeer has certain features. The original reindeer has one antler smaller, another is pink, another has buck teeth and glasses, and so on. At first this was sold through Amazon but I guess Target picked it up as well.

This year CBS Studios released a CG-animated special to promote the book & toy set (and to have a Christmas special all their own I’d wager) airing on CBS and streaming on Paramount Plus. They aired it at an odd time, Tuesday at 9PM ET. I don’t know if that translates to 6PM Pacific Time (usually dinner time) or if they do the thing where it airs at 9 Easter, 8 Central, and then at 9 and 8 respectively for Mountain and Pacific, but to air in on a Tuesday night when the kids will be in bed because they have school the next day seems kind of dumb. At least do it on a Friday or Saturday where the parents may let them stay up. CBS even aired Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer at 8PM ET that same night. I know you don’t like kids, Hollywood mindset people, but at least don’t torture them with a new Christmas special they can’t stay up for just because you have a streaming service! But enough backstory, let’s review the special.

That basically sums up the plot but in case you aren’t interested in video, Reindeer In Here tells the story of Blizzard the reindeer (Blizz to his friends), a would-be inventor who isn’t always so good at inventing. It doesn’t help that one of his antlers is short, which affects his balance while flying. Blizz tries to get a wish into Santa’s magic wish-collecting snow globe, where he hears all the children’s wishes. (Did they stop sending letters? Not even emails?) When the globe is stolen, Blizz and his snowgirl friend who’s a girl and a friend not a girlfriend; we get an interracial romance–my Christmas wish came true!–but not an inter…species? Would that be interspecies? Sorry, where was I? Oh right, Blizz and Candy track it to the regular world and meet Theo, a kid who travels a lot thanks to his mom’s job and is thus the perennial “new kid”. So he stays alone learning ventriloquism until he meets Blizz and Candy and joins them in finding the snowglobe so they can get it back to Santa in time for Christmas. This also requires the help of smart girl Isla, who also is into bugs. Can our quartet save Christmas, not realizing Blizz is accused of the theft?

Let’s do the surface stuff first. The animation is actually pretty good. The characters looks like the plush toys while not looking like plush toys themselves. The people, Christmas Town (or whatever they call it in this world) and Theo’s new town are all well designed. I was worried about all the celebrity names, since that doesn’t always go well, making it more about the big names rather than the story. The story itself is also quite good. Each character is given a unique personality. Isla is the quipy one, Candy is the silly one, Theo is shy but willing to help. Blizz has a crisis of self-faith just before the climax, but otherwise he really loves Christmas and blames himself for the hooded figure who stole the snowglobe. His inventing interest comes into play as part of the message of the story itself as well as the franchise’s overall message that “different is normal”, that it’s okay to be different. That’s a message that totally wouldn’t have worked if each character, including the supporting cast, didn’t have unique personalities along with their various physical differences. That’s a good attention to detail.

The voice acting is also pretty good. I kept thinking Adam Devine sounded a lot like Adam Conover but that distraction aside everybody played good roles, even the celebs not usually known for voice acting. Taking your role seriously is important in animation voice acting and not every Hollywood celebrity doing it for their kids (so basically their egos–“look what mommy and daddy did”) can make that transition even though it should be accelerated ADR for them. So congratulations to the voice director for getting a decent performance out of them.

There are some minor quibbles. How Isla takes down the robots (yes, there are robots–I’ll try not to spoil things) seemed too easy with a solution that comes out of nowhere, though at least they try to connect it to Isla “abnormal” interest in bugs. Blizz’s friends do next to nothing in the story and what little they do in the subplot of trying to clear Blizz’s name goes nowhere as Blizz and Theo do the job themselves. They just seem to be there to show off the other reindeer design options besides the one with part of an antler missing, while Hawk the polar bear with a mohawk, is only interested in eating and if not for exposing a big clue–that they don’t get to use anyway–he contributes less than the pink reindeer Pinky (yes, they named her Pinky) and Bucky the Buck-Toothed Reindeer. And I thought the names I came up with for the Captain Yuletide elves was too on the nose. Even my reindeer got better names. Blizz at least is tied to the season and not his looks. They didn’t call him Antley. Even the snowgirl gets a festive name for Christmas candy instead of being called…well, Blizzard because she’s made of snow. It’s also a bit down on Santa’s traditionalism and it’s only tied to the antagonist’s motives. Points for not making an evil character that turns good. I love a good redemption story but a villain doing a good thing the wrong way is a nice change.

Overall Christmas In Here is a good story but there were no ads for the book and toys this is based on outside of something in the credits and the CBS airtime was a strange choice. It’s certainly worth seeing. If you don’t have Paramount Plus it is available on CBS’s website in the US, at least as of this writing. Watch it with your kids. It isn’t hilarious but it is amusing and I teared up slightly at one point, so that’s a win.

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About ShadowWing Tronix

A would be comic writer looking to organize his living space as well as his thoughts. So I have a blog for each goal. :)

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