The Case of Second Chance Sequels

Happy New Year, Cassettes!

We’re so excited to start 2021 with you. Last year, we started the new year off with an episode about sequels. This year, we’re doing it again, but with a twist! Each of us picked a movie that flopped, bombed, and fizzled out into oblivion after their initial releases. Then, we all thought of the sequels that we would make to “save” those movies; a subsequent film that would give the franchise another chance! The trick was to pick movies that we didn’t want complete reboots of, but that could be rescued with a REALLY good follow-up. 

So welcome to 2021, and the Case of the Second Chance Sequel!

VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS (2017)

  • Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is based on the French comic strip Valerian et Laureline, which ran from 1967 to 2010. According to The New York Times, Luc Besson had been reading the comic since he was a child, dreaming of adapting it into a film, but he had to wait until he had the technology and experience to pull off the comics’ unique vision. The comic has been cited as an inspiration for Star Wars and a number of other notable sci-fi properties, and it remains a favorite overseas. However, in the United States, the comic never really found that same audience. On top of that, sci-fi is a tricky venture. While long-established properties like Star Wars and Star Trek have shown that they’re able to pull in both dedicated and casual fans, sci-fi films often struggle to find the mass market appeal necessary to make up their huge budgets. For Valerian’s prospects, this was not a good sign. Non-franchise and non-sequel films without much name recognition can struggle at the box office, especially during peak times like the summer. 
  • Explain what was wrong with it
    • The movie cost $180 million to make and made $41 million in the US and Canada. It also made $184 million worldwide for a total of $225 million. Now that sounds like it made its money back at the very least, however, if we include all other costs outside of production we are looking at a movie that would have needed to make closer to $400 million to just break even. Yikes. 
    • The world was well realized but the characters were not. 
      • In the first few scenes, the soul of the film is captured very well. It opens on a sweeping, centuries-long history of Alpha, a space station that’s grown over time from a modern day base into a chaotic floating city. Then the story jumps to a detailed sequence on a bright paradise planet of human-like beings, about to suffer a cataclysmic fate. In that time we are shown a very interesting mix of natural phenomena and technology that we would consider magic. 
      • But it’s only until all of this is over are we, almost begrudgingly, introduced to our hero and title character, Valerian and his “will they, won’t they” partner Laureline. 
      • So from the beginning the movie’s priorities are clear. The vast sci-fi world is much more important than the main characters. 
    • No one is impressed by super CGI anymore
      • Nowadays, where every big summer blockbuster is full of effects and visuals all on par with what we used to find mind blowing less than a decade before this movie, we are in need more than just that spectacle. We need interesting stories and characters to pull us through, and Valerian just doesn’t have any.
      • James Camerion’s Avatar came out in 2009 and blew audiences away with visuals. Say what you will about the story of that film, but we can all agree it sure was pretty. However, by 2017, it was old news, and the effects used in it were now Hollywood staples. 
      • The Multidimensional marketplace is one of the few set pieces of the movie that really has any “wow factor” because of its uniqueness. However, without the characters and story to back it up, it is impossible to care for any of it, and it amounts to almost nothing.
      • Alpha is a setting that sounds cool in theory but needs a more interesting deep dive into what makes it unique beyond the visual effects. 
    • Show, don’t tell. Except for a few times were we didn’t need you to show absolutely everything
      • There are multiple moments in this movie where, when discussing the station of Alpha, there is so much dialogue and exposition that it begins to run together into sci-fi gibberish. There is even a point where three small aliens are introduced for that purpose. They may as well say “we know everything that you need to know at this exact moment and also know where to find your special space mcguffin.”
      • On the flip side, there is also a moment in Alpha, where there is a stretch of time showing cut after cut of different aliens and technology and whatnot. Normally that would be more interesting, but when almost none of them have an effect on the plot and characters, why are they there? Again relating back to no one being impressed by CGI anymore. 
    • The lead characters, are really unlikable
      • Almost everything down to line delivery is hard to like. Especially Valerian who seems to an unintended asswhole the whole time. 
      • Romance, they tryeth
        • They have been partners for some time, possibly several years. Clearly they have a good working professional relationship but Valerian likes to sleep around, a lot. Laureline, not so much. Valerian has presumably tried to hook up with her multiple times, and while being rejected every time so far, this has not stopped them from having a flirtatious relationship.
        • With that in mind, his marriage proposal, which is apparently out of the blue, comes across as one last ditch “I’ll say anything” attempt to get with her. Which she promptly rejects again, of course.
        • Laureline calls him out for this and yet is still with him despite being way out of his league. Not to mention a better agent and badass. So now the audience is immediately rooting against the relationship the film just spent the last thirty minutes setting up. 
        • They then have their adventure which is just one adventure of many they’ve had as special ops/secret agents. So for them, this was a mildly more interesting Tuesday. And to the very end, Valerian still does not seem to understand his partner on a romantic level, prompting a convoluted speech to him at the end about how it just isn’t working out. She then inexplicably seems to accept him romantically not an hour later when they’re in the capsule. Why? This feels forced. 
      • Sometimes characters that don’t play by the rules are fun and can be interesting. But damn these too can’t seem to make up their mind about it.
        •  Both of them ignore direct orders from their superiors and are seen speaking out of turn often. Then at the story climax of the freaking movie, Valerian swaps his character, going from impulsive and emotional to stoic soldier. Like, are you kidding me? Why does Valerian not want to give up the magical space rat because of “duty” when not a minute ago he punched his commanding officer in the face?
        • Laureline also comes off as the more professional one early in the movie, but then is the emotional one at the end. Why is Laureline beating the hell out of the Commander instead of helping Valerian shoot the murder bots? Some would say these are the results of character arcs, but umm… there weren’t any.
      • And just as a bonus, Rihanna’s character should have been cut out completely in order to expand the story elsewhere. 
  • Research who made the movie, and decide who should make the sequel
    • Based on a comic written by Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mézières (mez-yair)
    • Directed and screenplay by Luc Besson
      • Also directed movies such as The Fifth Element (1997), The Professional (1994), and Lucy (2014) 
      • He has not made many hit movies especially in this genre. He may have a love for the source material, but based in the first movie, he lacks an understanding of what makes it great beyond the idea of a giant alien city. That’s cool, but it’s not enough. So for my sequel, I would find a new director.
    • I think the director would need to have a great understanding of how to translate the weird and bizarre world of Valerian into a likable story with character. While at the same time remaining unique and riding the coattails of other franchises. I’ve always thought Guillermo del Toro or Peter Jackson could give us an interesting adaptation. 
  • Describe what their imagined sequel would be
    • Take notes from popular sci-fi, but don’t copy it
      • The original comic was a major influence to what we see as modern sci-fi today. Those lasting ideas can be seen everywhere. So an absolutely one to one faithful adaptation would feel very stale to today’s audiences. And it kinda was. So for a sequel you must focus on what makes this particular universe unique. That being the setting that is Alpha station. There are locations like it in other sci-fi stories but they are always outer rim, backwater type locations where no one but the criminal organizations and black marketers go. The heroes are always there out of necessity or a last resort. Make Alpha a beautiful inverse of that, a bustling metropolis floating in space where everyone, who’s anyone, wants to be. I’m thinking a mix of the clean and shiny sci-fi of Star Trek and a hectic, scrambled together environment of the other sci-fi locations previously mentioned. 
      • Go in heavy on the magic-like properties of the natural and technological universe rather than the same of lasers and holograms. 
    • Re re recast!!
      • I think Valerian should have been cast better. The character specifically, not the whole movie. Dane DeHaan is a fine actor but this is not the role for him. The sequel needs a hotshop funny type. Chris Pratt or Liam Hemsworth or even Tom Holland  jump to mind. 
      • I thought Cara Delevingne did a decent enough job as Laureline and I wouldn’t be upset if she was kept on, but I still think she could be better. I’m thinking Summer Glau, Felicity Jones or maybe Daisy Ridley.
      • Clive Owen was criminally underutilized as the commander, mainly just being “The Hostage” the whole movie. We will need a new threat that is worth a damn. We are simply told to care about the alien planet that we saw at the start of the movie but it’s hard to care so much when there is so much other stuff to even get to the point where it matters. 
      • My suggestion is to have the threat be to the city of Alpha itself. It is what makes this universe interesting and to see it at risk would actually get people to care. However it is still not for free, we must spend enough time in the first act to show us why we should find Alpha so interesting and cool. 
    • Fix the relationship for goodness sake
      • It started off decently enough in the original film so the fix in my sequel would be simple. I think it would be better if instead of throwing out things like “Marry me,” out of desperation, Valerian should just try to get Laureline to go on a date with him. Show that they have that great professional partnership and Valerian wants to see if they could be more. Have Laureline over the course of the movie see that maybe he’s willing to change. Have Valerian acknowledge the brilliant things that Laureline can and has done. Make him realize how special she is to him. All I’m looking for is something believable. 
  • I think with all these in mind, and now with movie fans clamoring for sci-fi that isn’t Star Wars or Marvel, Valerian 2: City of a Thousand Boogaloos, might just be able to find a foothold. 

PETER PAN (2003)

  • What was wrong with it?
    • We all know the story of Peter Pan. He’s a boy that comes to the window of the Darling residence in which there lives three young children; Wendy, John, and Michael. He and his fairy Tinker Bell take them to Neverland where they tackle adventure with Hook, mermaids, and Indians. Well in 2003 the first live action theatrical release came out and it for the first time had a young boy actually playing Peter Pan. 
    • This movie was unfortunately released just before LOTR The Return of the King, which was the much awaited ending to the trilogy. It was also released just before Cheaper by the Dozen which brought in more of the family appeal.
      • This may have been what was partly to be blamed for the following numbers…
        • With an $100M estimated budget it came out with a measly $11M opening weekend and finally only about $48M USA gross.
    • Although this movie was actually really good I still thought that maybe we could bring attention back to it since it seems to still be lesser known. 
    • Some of the other reasons that maybe it did not do so well.
      • Possibly too adult/ dark for audiences?
        • Roger Ebert said in his review where he gave it 3.5 stars, “It’s not that the movie is overtly sexual; it’s just that the sensuality is there, and the other versions have pretended that it was not.” 
        • On the count of being dark you actually see pirates being shot in this film version. You also see a fairy death as Hook whispers that he does not believe in them.
      • The CGI. For the time that this movie came out CGI was really big and they did use a lot. Buuut I will say that they did not use too much. Although they had originally wanted to use CGI a lot more, especially to bring Tink to life, they did not. They only used it when necessary or for scenery. The actress that they had for Tink did so well and had such expressiveness that they did not want to animate it but let her acting show. The parrot on the pirate ship is thankfully also practical (though still pretty creepy.)
  • Who made it and who should make the sequel?
    • The original writer of Peter Pan is of course JM Barrie with the original stage play in 1904 and the later extended novel called Peter and Wendy in 1911. 
    • Written by it’s director, PJ Hogan, with help from Michael Goldenberg this adaptation stays very close to the original. Many seem to say that it is the most faithful movie adaptation. It still does of course take some liberties in story changes, such as adding an Aunt Millicent, the heart of it seems the same.
    • Music by James Newton Howard
  • What wound the imagined sequel be?
    • I am not a writer. I will be the first one to admit this. I thoroughly enjoy a great story but am not the greatest at coming up with my own. That being said I feel that this film would largely benefit from a sequel. Throughout the process of rewatching and looking into the movie I thought of several storylines that could be taken. Since I believe that the original people that worked on this movie did well I think I would keep the director the same. I would definitely keep the composer the same!
      • There was a lot I enjoy about this movie but one of the things that I thought was really cool was that Wendy knew what she wanted in life. She declared in the beginning that she wanted to write a novel in 3 parts. Her Aunt Millicent of course declared that novelists are the most difficult to marry and that she must grow up and move out of the nursery. Wendy also declares several times that she is not girly. For example when a pirate calls her that she promptly says, “Who are you to call me girly?!” as she continues to sword fight him. Her character is strong and I think it would be really cool to follow her somehow like in her 20’s before she is married or maybe even her daughter. (I also would like Emma Thompson to narrate because just yes.)
        • In this adaptation Wendy tells Hook that she had imagined that if she were a pirate she would be Red Handed Jill.
          • In the original book it is John who brings up a similar name. “’Stow this gab,’ roared Hook, and the spokesmen were dragged back. ‘You, boy,’ he said, addressing John, ‘you look as if you had a little pluck in you. Didst never want to be a pirate, my hearty?’ Now John had sometimes experienced this hankering at maths. prep.; and he was struck by Hook’s picking him out. ‘I once thought of calling myself Red-handed Jack,’ he said diffidently.”
          • It might be cool then if in the sequel Wendy’s daughter went to Neverland and since Hook has since perished, she meets a pirate named Red Handed Jill after hearing all of her mothers’ stories.

MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE (1987) 

  • The year is 1987. For the past few years, toy sales have been through the roof for He-Man and Masters of the Universe. The Filmation cartoon based on the Mattel characters is wildly popular, with little kids all over America tuning in during the week and on Saturday mornings. Everyone who’s anyone has a Castle Grayskull, and any number of the hundreds of colorful characters that hail from the land of Eternia. He-Man is the master of the toy universe. 
  • However, sales have started dropping over the past year. No one can really pinpoint the reason, though some blame the creation of She-ra: Princess of Power (highly unlikely). Whatever the reason, Mattel is not worried quite yet. Why? Well, something is coming that could turn all of this around in an instant. Something BIG that will renew interest in the toy franchise and put He-Man back on top: a major motion picture
    • So, my dad took my 6-year-old sister, a She-ra fanatic, to the theater to watch this new cinematic marvel. It’s always been a habit of my dad’s to sit through all the credits of a film, usually to listen to the score. So, the two of them sat alone in an empty theater until the very last moments. Then, something crazy happened; something almost unheard of in the 1980s. The black screen lit back up again, showing a vat of red, steaming liquid. The face of Skeletor popped up and said, “I’ll be back!” with a freeze frame and a fade to black.
    • This end credits scene was a remarkable discovery, since no one else knew to stay behind after the credits. It posed a question that has been met with over 30 years of silence: will there be a sequel? 
  • But what was wrong with the movie? This is actually kind of a difficult question to answer, because some fans actually enjoyed it–while others want to kill it with fire (or laser beams). 
    • Finances
      • The film was a financial and critical failure. It faded from theaters quickly, and it was clear that it would not be the saving grace that Mattel was hoping for. The Masters of the Universe toy line soon stopped production. While there have been many attempts over the years to reboot the franchise (one attempt was set to release this Spring and was pushed back), there will likely never be a sequel to the 1987 film. 
      • According to IMDB the movie cost an estimated $22,000,000 to make, which was a fairly low budget. It only made about 17,000,000 back, meaning that it was the literal definition of a flop. Cannon Films was the production company behind the movie, a studio known for notoriously campy projects. Cannon was known for B action movies, and had recently been overspending on projects that were not doing well at the box office. Because of this, Masters of the Universe ran out of money before the film finished production, and it barely made it to the finish line
    • Setting
      • Because of the budget issues, the film could not be the sci-fi/fantasy epic that the director wanted. Instead, the characters were forced to leave Eternia and travel to Earth. Instead of He-Man being the central focus, audiences are meant to connect with a young Courtney Cox and her boyfriend. This didn’t sit well with a lot of die-hard fans, who came to the theater to see their favorite cartoon characters come to life. Of course, He-man and some other main characters like Skeletor, Teela, Evil-Lynn, and Man-at-arms are present, but many of the elements of the He-Man story are gone
    • The characters
      • One of the biggest complaints from fans was that the characters didn’t look like they did in the cartoon. Putting that aside, the film added a new character, Gwildor, which many viewers didn’t like. In a universe that had hundreds of side characters, why did they feel the need to create a new character? Especially when Orlock, a staple in the cartoon, was noticeably absent. 
      • One thing that fans couldn’t agree on, was Dolf Lundgren as He-Man. Those who found the film delightfully fun and cheesy, didn’t mind his somewhat stoic performance. Afterall, the film completely did away with He-Man’s alter-ego, Prince Adam, who has a much goofier and brighter personality. 
        • Dolf was an up-and-coming star at the time, and he had since counted this performance as the worst moment of his acting career. While I think there could be a better He-Man, I don’t think it was THAT bad, Dolf
        • He-Man isn’t the sole focus of the movie. There seems to be much more screen time dedicated to the human characters, and he kinda just appears to save the day. The movie didn’t flesh out his backstory or character, which is a shame. As a stand-alone cheesy action movie, that isn’t a big deal. But to some fans of series, this was incredibly disappointing
        • The biggest change is the amount of violence. I mean, He-Man is shooting a gun. A gun! There was a clause in the contract that he couldn’t take a human life, as He-Man is generally a nonviolent character that uses his intelligence to defeat the bad guys, so the script had him killing robots (that look like black storm troopers) instead 
      • There is no doubt that Skeletor looks and seems different in this movie, but that’s not totally a bad thing. Frank Langella, who portrayed the skeleton-faced villain, brought a level of seriousness to the character. But, he still has some campy moments. Overall, his performance is possibly the best one of the film
    • The Star Wars rip-off
      • It’s not controversial to say that this movie wanted to be Star Wars. Bill Conti’s score is great, but definitely close to John Williams’ score. The opening scene immediately feels close to Star Wars, as a hooded Skeletor quickly walks into a throne room, surrounded by robot henchmen that resemble black storm troopers. Gwildor was even meant to be a Yoda-like character, and Cannon called this movie, “The Star Wars of the ‘80s.” Ouch. 
    • Why I think a sequel would help
      • This film serves a happy fanbase, but not necessarily the fanbase that it was meant for. It’s a fun cheesy 80s movie that was part of many childhoods. That’s why I think it deserves a sequel, and not a full-on reboot. This movie will still be part of the franchise for those that love it, and a new movie could take a step back and focus on the things that made He-Man, He-Man!
  • Who made the movie, and who should make the sequel
    • With Cannon Films defunct, and director Gary Goddard a troubling figure that stands accused of numorous sexual assault allegations, using the same team to make the sequel is out of the question
    • The reboot that’s in the works is a Sony property that may be released straight to Netflix. Netflix is hit-or-miss with its movies, but has the ability to make something spectacular if it wants to
    • As a director of the sequel, my first choice as of right now would be Taika Waititi!
      • Taika makes weird movies, and I think that makes him the perfect candidate for a follow-up to this delicious piece of 80s cheese. In Thor: Ragnarok, he was able to pull off a film set entirely on a different world; and for this sequel to work, it would have to take place in Eternia. Taika has mastered the blend of humor and serious action. I think he could make a successful action film, but with the humor of the original cartoon
      • I also think Taika would lose the Star Wars similarities, and bring in some sweet sweet comic book plots or imagery
    • As a screenwriter, I honestly would go with the original writer of the first film, David Odell. Odell is a talented writer that has worked on a lot of great films! There are genuinely funny moments to the original, and I think he could bring some of that magic back for a sequel. But, I also think it would be cool if Taika also co-wrote the screenplay with Odell
    • Since the movie is over 30 years old, I would definitely want to recast. Although Frank Langella did a solid job as Skeletor originally, I just can’t help but feel that Jim Carey could really make this character shine. Carey had a great turn as Dr. Eggman in the recent Sonic The Hedgehog film, and that performance makes me feel that he could easily play a diabolical (yet witty) Skeletor.  
    • As the lead He-Man himself, I have a couple different ideas. For one thing, I would want the sequel to include Prince Adam, He-Man’s alter-ego. For this, I think the character could be played by two different actors even, since no one is supposed to know that Prince Adam and He-Man are the same guy. I am leaning toward a good-spirited actor that would take the role seriously, yet still bring a lot of charm and camp to the role. My first choice would probably be The Rock, but I think it would be HILARIOUS if Prince Adam was played by someone like John Cena, and He-Man was The Rock
  • Describe what their imagined sequel would be
    • At the end of the original, our gang of friends gives a gem to the humans and tells them that Eternia will be close by. I think we could bring this back for the sequel, but this time the humans could be transported to Eternia. Since Skeletor is believed to be dead, he has been biding his time, letting Eternia get comfortable in his absence. Prince Adam has been fighting less battles as He-Man, and is about to ascend to the throne after his father’s death. But Skeletor plans his return for the day of Prince Adam’s coronation, where he will kill Prince Adam and take the throne for himself
    • Meanwhile on Earth, the children of Julie and Kevin (protagonists from the first movie) get the gem and accidentally transport themselves (somehow) to Eternia, and get caught up in the mess

Well, that’s it for our sequels! What do you think? Would you go see these movies? Do you have an idea for a second chance sequel? Email us at blackcasediaries@gmail.com or tweet at us @blackcasediary!

Sources:

  • The Toys that Made Us Season 1 Episode 3

The Case of The Christmas Toy

Happy New Years Eve, Cassettes! We’re ringing in the new year with a special (brief) case about a very special made-for-TV Christmas movie!

Sure, you know about The Muppet Show, The Muppet Movie, The Muppet Christmas Carol, and loads of other Muppet content. But, the Muppets have a whole catalog of TV and home video releases, including a long list of Christmas specials! 

Just for fun, we did a google search for a list of all the Muppet Christmas movies, and still didn’t find a complete list. Every list we found features Emmet Otter’s Jugband Christmas, which aired while The Muppet Show was still going strong. This special is probably the best of them all, and really set the stage for more Muppet movies to come. We also see the delightful, “Muppet Family Christmas,” listed with, “Letters to Santa.” Even the, “Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie,” gets mentioned (which was very meh to be honest.) 

But of course there’s even more! We already mentioned “Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree,” earlier this season, which we love to hate (or hate to love?) So today, we’re talking about the under-appreciated and often forgotten, “The Christmas Toy,” from 1986.  

HISTORY

  • The Christmas Toy was produced by Jim Henson and Martin G. Baker with the executive producer Diana Birkenfield and directed by Eric Till.
  • The story was written by Laura Phillips. She had also been called in around this same year to help rewrite and contribute to Jim Henson’s movie The Labyrinth! Which is also one of our faves.
  • This short 50 minute special aired on ABC on December 6, 1986. A year later it would be made into a storybook written by Joanne Barkan and illustrated by Lawrence Di Fiori. 
  • Music and lyrics were done by Jeff Moss. If you don’t recognize his name you may recognize some of his music and lyrics from Sesame Street like “I Love Trash” and “Rubber Duckie.”
  • In the original release Kermit introduces the story and sets the stage dressed in a Santa outfit on the roof. Unfortunately due to Legal issues with Disney in 2006 many releases around that time cut Kermit out because, as we have discussed before, Disney acquired rights to The Muppets. Fortunately at least for now you can view the original beginning and everything on Amazon Prime (not a sponsor.)
  • Although CGI was becoming popular to use, Jim Henson specifically chose to use puppets. Boy are we sure glad he did!
  • Due to the popularity of Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas and other attempts at seasonal specials, The Christmas Toy was born. In order to make it happen, the main voices for Fraggle Rock were brought in and some new voices as well. According to The Jim Henson Company, he was inspired by The Velveteen Rabbit and The Nutcracker to form the characters that he brought to life. Although Jim Henson produced the special and still contributed, The AV club points out that he had the most hands off approach with it because there were many other projects calling for his attention as well such as The Labyrinth, The Tale of the Bunny Picnic, and The Storyteller.

SUMMARY

  • It’s Christmas Eve in the Jones’ house. The playroom of Jesse and Jamie Jones is a-buzz with excitement, as the toys prepare for the newest arrival to their household: the beloved Christmas Toy. Last year, Rugby the Tiger was the Christmas Toy. The rest of the toys try to explain that he will soon be replaced, but Rugby refuses to listen. Instead he decides to sneak downstairs and place himself under the tree to be the Christmas Toy again. But, if Rugby or any other toy is caught outside of its normal position in the playroom, they will be frozen forever! Other toys, like Mew (an adorable cat toy) and Apple the doll, attempt to save Rugby from this terrible fate. 

Although the concept of toys coming to life was not new (for example pinocchio, Winnie the Pooh, or the island of misfit toys) this story brings a new high stakes obstacle. The threat of being caught and frozen in place forever is an imminent threat, even for a cat toy like Mew. This harkens back to one of Jim Henson’s inspirations for the story, The Velveteen Rabbit. Within the Velveteen Rabbit there is also a heavy sense of doom for the toy character as he is possibly to be burned in order to disinfect the environment that the sick child is in.

THE CHRISTMAS TOY (1986) AND TOY STORY(1995, AND THE SEQUELS)

  • You may be thinking, I’ve heard this story, and this isn’t new! Toy Story has brought characters like these to life before! Well yes, Toy Story has a very similar plot and many characters from the collection are almost too similar. But The Christmas Toy came almost a decade beforehand. The similarities have brought some, like cracked.com, to go so far as to say that Toy Story shamelessly ripped off the obscure movie of The Christmas Toy. We cannot tell you that Toy Story for sure ripped the characters and story from this Jim Henson classic. We also cannot go over all the similarities we found between them because it would take forever so we will just discuss a few things that really stood out to us.
  • Plotline
    • The similarities in plot are basic, but glaring. The toys come to life when humans are not looking at them.
  • Characters
    • Rugby the Tiger/ Woody
      • The main characters, although their appearances are very different, the attitudes they gain when learning that a new toy may be replacing them is pretty similar.
    • Meteora Queen of the Asteroids/ Buzz Lightyear
      • Both come from outer space, believe they are real, and are the newest toys that cause quite a commotion without meaning to for the main character.
    • Balthazar/ Lotso the Bear
      • The physical similarities such as being a bear, the thick eyebrows, and the cane. Seen as the wise older leader in both.
    • Barbie Doll/ Bo Peep
      • The Barbie Doll is literally dressed as Bo-Peep with a staff and frilly dress.

CAST

  • Dave Goelz as Rugby Tiger and Ditz (the toy clown)
    • You may remember we have talked about Dave Goelz many times now as Gonzo and a few other muppets. He was also Boober in Fraggle Rock.
  • Steve Whitmire as Mew and the Dauntless Dragon
    • Known mostly for taking over Kermit after Henson’s death, he was also Wembley Fraggle.
  • Kathryn Mullen as Apple (the doll)
    • She was Mokey Fraggle and Cotterpin Doozer. She also puppeteered for Kira in The Dark Crystal.
  • Jerry Nelson as Balthazar (the teddy bear)
    • He was Gobo Fraggle and The Count from Sesame Street.
  • Richard Hunt as Belmont (the rocking horse)
    • He was Junior Gorg in Fraggle Rock and  Scooter and many others in The Muppets. 
    • The name Belmont is a reference to the famous Belmont Race Track located in New York.
  • Camille Bonora as Meteora and Molly (voice)
    • She is known for her many voices in many different Jim Henson projects including Little Red and Meryl Sheep in Sesame Street. 
    • She is also the character, Twitch in another little known special called The Tale of the Bunny Picnic. 
  • Brian Henson as Cruiser (the taxi driver)
    • A producer on many Muppet movies and shows, as well as Hoggle from The Labyrinth. 
  • Rob Mills as Bleep (the robot)
    • He was also Ludo from The Labyrinth but he also did special effects for movies including Secret of the Ooze.
  • Nikki Tilroe as Ding-a-ling (the rotary dial phone)
    • She was also in Fraggle Rock as a Muppet performer and played the Board of Birds from Follow That Bird.
  • Marsha Moreau as Jamie
    • Known for many children’s voice acting roles from Little Bear to Madeline to Babar. 
  • Zachary Bennett as Jesse
    • He is an actor who has done plenty of voice work but is known now for his roles in Maudie and the recent Umbrella Academy. 
  • Jim Henson as Kermit the Frog and Jack-in-the-Box (uncredited)
    • What else can we say 🙂

THE SECRET LIFE OF TOYS (1994)

  • In 1994 Jim’s son Brian Henson brought back some of these adorable characters for a show based on the movie. Although Apple the doll is replaced by a doll named Raisin many of the others are present; such as Rugby, Mew, Balthazar, and Cruiser. The two children have also been changed to be Penny and Simon instead of Jesse and Jaime.
  • We also see that Ditz the clown is alive! 
  • The show lasted for only 13 episodes and was aired on the Disney Channel. In each episode the group of toys gets into some kind of trouble while also trying to follow a set of rules to abide by that they call “no-no’s”. These are meant to keep them safe.

The Christmas Toy is a sweet, interesting story with enough holiday cheer to get the whole family into the spirit of Christmas. With characters like Mew, a toy often looked down on for being a cat toy instead of a “real” toy, finally finding his place among the other toys, and Rugby Tiger finally understanding that he needs to let someone else take the spotlight, we learn lessons of acceptance and humility. 

Sure, there are some scenes where things may seem a little dark or sad, but it all has a happy ending! 

So we happily end this year by saying Happy New Year, Cassettes! We will see you again in 2021!


BCD PRESENTS: NO SMALL PARTS

Don’t forget to check out our NEW show No Small Parts. You can find all the links you need to listen HERE.

No Small Parts is a short-form audio drama that explores the backstory of minor characters in major films. Each episode is written by Miles Murphy and performed by a member of the Black Case Diaries Podcast. Episodes to be released monthly!


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