Monday, December 23, 2019

Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz: Christmas in Oz

I have pretty much been watching and reviewing these in broadcast/production order, if for no other reason than it makes it easier to keep track of which ones I've done. But When I looked at the calendar and planned what to review this week, I know there was only one choice. and that is the one special double-episode they put out, "Christmas in Oz". It will be interesting to see whether or not they acknowledge The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, as they've already touched on some of Baum's non-Oz stories. Okay, let's jump in!

Dorothy is all excited about Christmas coming, but she's the only one as the rest of the gang have no idea what it is. No, they don't celebrate Christmas in Oz! The Wizard comes in and commiserates, and the two of them go through the whole litany of what makes Christmas special (well, the secular stuff, no mention of Christ). So Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the Cowardly Lion decide to surprise Dorothy and the Wizard with the first Christmas celebration in Oz. Frank and Lyman overhear, and decide if this Sandy Claws guy must be magic, and the Wicked Witch will want in on that action. Of course, their explanation of Christmas to the Wicked Witch and Wilhelmina is even more convoluted and mixed-up than what the boys are planning! On Christmas Eve, Dorothy and the Wizard show up and are surprised by the Christmas festivities, even if they may not be exactly the way they were in Kansas. The Wizard decides to apply a little magic, and calls up the real Santa! He recognizes Dorothy, of course—and then the Wicked Witch shows up, kidnaps Santa Claus, and hijacks the sleigh! Not even the Ruby Slippers can get Dorothy up there! End part one!

Part two opens with the Wizard deducing the Witch's plan, and Dorothy using the Slippers to get everyone to Wilhelmina's castle. The Wicked Witch and Wilhelmina plead their case and ask for Santa to give the Witch magic powers, but he explains that that's not how he works, and he only gives gifts to people who have been good. So Wilhelmina traps him in a cage. Frank and Lyman are antagonizing the reindeer (who they think are moose), but they're having none of that. The monkeys discover Dorothy and the gang hiding, and take them to the Witch. She has the monkeys try to get rid of the reindeer, but they won't fly for anyone but Santa. But they antagonize them into flying after Lyman. The Wizard manages to free Santa, and Dorothy Ruby Slippers them all onto the sleigh. Wilhelmina and the Witch fly after them, and Dorothy and Santa manage to get control of the sleigh. A little snow throws the witches off, and they fly off, defeated. In gratitude, Santa brings Christmas to Oz and gives everyone in Oz a present. (Even the Nome King gets a lump of coal.) Then, finally, the Wizard sends Santa back. Christmas morning, however, finds one more unopened present, for the Wicked Witch of the West. Santa has a little fun with her and gives her a new crystal ball. Having been trapped in the old one for so long, the Witch is not happy, and runs away from it. Back in the Emerald City, Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, and Lion vow to get it right next year, but Dorothy says she wouldn't change a thing, since it's not the stuff that's important about Christmas, but who you spend it with.

This is not going to replace Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer or any other Christmas special you can name, as it's nowhere near that good (or carefully plotted), but it is a fun and harmless little thing. Part of it is how they got things wrong (and how close they are to being right), like one of the talking apple trees becoming a reluctant Christmas tree, or two Munchkins named Carol singing (neither in sync, and both off key). Both Dorothy and Santa give nice, secular explanations of the holiday, and it look like this version of Oz will now celebrate Christmas, in their own way. (And no, this is clearly not the same Santa that L. Frank Baum wrote about.)

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