A large number of the rules surrounding Santa and his elves are, at this point, very well understood. From the naughty and nice lists to the beauty of tinsel to the number of creatures allowed to be stirring on any given Christmas eve, many of the big questions have been covered. Any movie or television show that is successfully able to acknowledge those conventions, honoring and (potentially) subverting them at the same time, and wrapping it all around a fun story, stands a pretty good chance of success. Such is the case with one of Disney's newer holiday classics, Prep & Landing. Less successful is its sequel, Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice. Both are now available on Blu-ray in a "Totally Tinsel Collection."
Originally airing on ABC during the 2009 holiday season, Prep & Landing introduces us to Lanny and Wayne, two Christmas elves on the "prep & landing team." It is their job, as the name indicates, to prepare homes for the arrival (and landing) of Santa Claus. Wayne, voiced by Dave Foley, is a little irked to be in the job, feeling as though he's been passed over for promotion. Lanny (Derek Richardson) is Wayne's new recruit. He is the exact sort of overeager person anyone with a number of years under their belt hates to have to train (picture Kenneth from an early episode of 30 Rock).
The original Prep & Landing is, in a word, hysterical. It beautifully takes any number of conventional Santa-related notions and winks and nods at them. The elves of the Prep and Landing team have little computerized gingerbread men which not only scan to take the temperature of the milk but can also determine the number of "creatures stirring." The cartoon deftly illustrates just how it is that Santa can get around the world in one night and from where all the various phrases arise.
Beyond that, the story it tells is heart-warming too. Wayne, upon being passed over for promotion, is more than a little miffed and is close to winding up on the Naughty List himself. It takes Lanny to open his eyes to what's important. By the end of the half-hour (or what would be a half-hour were there commercials), order is restored and Wayne is happy with his lot in life.