Just in time for the Christmas season, Cinedigm is releasing two DVD sets of the international animated television series, The Secret World of Santa Claus: The Secret World of Santa Claus: Elves in Toyland and The Secret World of Santa Claus: A Present for Santa. Each two-disc set features Santa Claus and his helpful elves as they prepare for their annual marathon toy delivery and sleigh ride. The DVDs are designed as a countdown to Christmas, with the first set covering December 1-13 and the second set December 14-25.
The Secret World of Santa Claus, originally broadcast in 1997, is French in origin. It continues to be aired in France and Canada each holiday season, and now American children and their families can join in the fun. Most of the episodes are centered around Santa’s North Pole workshop, where he and his trusty elves make and prepare the toys for all of the children of the world. The elves and other North Pole residents are:
Jordi – He is the inventor and scientist of the three elves. He can also turn into any animal, and the group’s many adventures present this opportunity quite often.
Thoren – She can fly and even become invisible. She can also speak any language, which frequently comes in handy.
Guilfi – He is an apprentice elf and is not sure of his magical power yet, but he is very mechanically-minded.
Balbo – He is a polar bear who guards Santa’s workshop.
Gruzzlebeard – A troll, he is Santa’s neighbor and the bad guy of the series. When he isn’t playing his electric guitar (badly), he is trying to mess with Santa and prevent Christmas from coming.
Dudley – Also a troll, he is Gruzzlebeard’s lackey, but he sometimes switches sides to help Santa.
Rudolph, Donner, and Blitzen – Santa’s reindeer who can talk and fly.
In The Secret World of Santa Claus: Elves in Toyland, besides having to deal with Gruzzlebeard’s frequent wacky schemes, Santa and his elves frequently visit young children around the world to help them if they are in trouble, or to determine what gift they should receive for Christmas. Some of the places Santa and the elves travel to deliver gifts that will make children happy include an archaeological site, and even outer space – Santa’s sleigh can really go anywhere. Santa even tells a story of a Christmas from long ago with some characters that will be familiar to viewers – Arthur, the Lady of the Lake, and Merlin!
Disc 1 (episodes 1-7): “The Magic Pearl,” “The 12 Labours Of Santa Claus,” “Little Geniuses,” “Rudolph Is Missing,” “The Star Child,” “Leon’s Christmas,” “A Present For Two”
Disc 2 (episodes 8-13): “Super Rabbit,” “Lucky Charm,” “The Flying Carpet,” “Santa Claus’ Memoirs,” “Magic Wand,” “The Boy Who Wished To Be Little Again”
In The Secret World of Santa Claus: A Present for Santa, we get a little more background information about Santa’s world, including some troll history, Santa’s friends, and how Santa manages to deliver all of those presents in one night – with a little bit of magic and quite a bit of time travel. But Jordi’s latest invention may change Christmas forever when he inadvertently sends Santa and the gang into the future … But no worries, Santa manages to make it back to the North Pole to contend once again with Gruzzlebeard, who has found a way to make toys come to life – including dinosaurs.
Disc 1 (episodes 1-7): “A Present For Santa,” “The Christmas Conference,” “The Story Of Trolls,” “Christmas For Dudley,” “The Return Of Santa Claus,” “The Tall Little Girl,” “The Teddy Bear”
Disc 2 (episodes 8-14): “Stolen Christmas,” “Havoc In Toyland,” “Message In A Bottle,” “Balthazar Can’t Make Up His Mind,” “The Longest Night,” “Santa Claus’ Secrets”
Both disc sets have an approximate total running time of 321 minutes. The characters and animation are bright and colorful and the episodes are designed to be enjoyed again and again during the Christmas season. The Secret World of Santa Claus is a nice addition to animated holiday fare.