Plot: After Santa injures himself in a freak accident, Tom and the monsters head off to deliver presents in his place.
Breakdown: ……Where did this special come from?
When I first stumbled upon this special, I thought “Neat! A little known one-off holiday special.” However, as I watched it, I wondered if there was a series attached to this special since it didn’t explain anything about how or why these monsters live in this small boy’s house with his parents none the wiser.
Finding information on this show is very difficult. Having such a generic title like Friendly Monsters already makes Googling a challenge, but there’s flatout not a lot of information available on this show. In fact, while this Christmas special has an IMDB page, it seems like the main show does not. To make matters worse, there’s a 2012 animated Christmas movie (Starring Emilio Estevez and Drake Bell…..okay?) with the same name (also under the name Abominable Christmas) that also doesn’t seem to have that much information available on it, though definitely more than this special, so you wind up getting confused and lost while looking for info on this feature.
The only reason I even know this special came from a series, besides the fact that several listings had “Friendly Monsters” marked as a part of the title when the title screen on the actual special didn’t, is because I happened to find the ‘full’ series, of which there are only three episodes, available for streaming on Peacock. Someone also uploaded all of the episodes to Youtube, but they don’t provide much information either, outside of, for some reason, reciting the entire story from start to finish in the description. I can’t even get information from people in the comments section of the Youtube uploads because all of the videos have been flagged as being for kids, meaning the comments section is locked.
Even with Peacock listing this as a series, I’m having trouble finding evidence that it is one. Each episode has its own independent IMDB, but still no page for a short-lived TV series. None of these specials are at a movie length, each about 28 minutes long, so I feel like it had to have been made for TV. Maybe they were a series of short TV specials?
The three episodes contain the pilot, which is a vacation episode and origin story, this Christmas special and an Easter special. The series debuted in 1994 in the UK. I think it MIGHT have been made for the BBC, because they credit Michael Carrington, who, at the time was the executive producer for the BBC, and they note him as such. Other than that, this show is a complete mystery to me. Who created it? For what reason? What station aired the specials? Is it based off of something? Why did it have such a short life span?
Let’s hop down a small rabbit hole.
The production studio that was listed in the credits, Fat City Flims, doesn’t have this series listed on their website.
Carrington Productions International, a company that may or may not be related to Michael Carrington (Absolutely nothing I find online about the company lists his name, but it seems like a big coincidence that the executive producer from the BBC who helped work on this project has the same name) acted as executive producers. They don’t have their own website, and any third-party information I can find on them is scarce. What I do know is they’re now defunct (likely not even having lasted the 90s) and were bought out by a company called Entertainment Rights (Then known as ‘Sleepy Kids’…good call on the name change.), which basically made a name for themselves in buying up a bunch of dying animation companies. Entertainment Rights eventually became defunct itself in 2009, having merged with Boomerang Media to create Classic Media, which would eventually be bought out by, of all, people, Dreamworks Animation, who were bought by NBCUniversal, which explains why the series is available on Peacock.
I dunno. I found it interesting.
Anyway, as for the special at hand, it’s actually pretty good. The production quality’s fairly cheap, and the art is extremely simplistic, which is fine, for the most part, but the songs, of which there are three – darn good number for a half-hour special – are catchy, the dialogue is pretty witty and I found myself laughing a couple of times. Kept a smile on my face here and there.
This is, however, one of those shows where the adults are complete idiots. Tom, this four or five year old kid, has monsters stored all over the house and his parents don’t suspect a thing. In the middle of the night, he calls them all out, and then he leaves the house for hours trying to find a monster named Colin (Have you tried Ryan Stiles’ house?) He asks some nearby cops for help, and instead of escorting this little kid who is in the middle of the street in the dead of night back to his house, the two of them just argue about directions and don’t care at all when they realize he left while they were arguing.
These two police officers were the most consistently funny parts of this special. They have a pretty good back and forth.
Tom later just gives up because he’s hungry, so screw Colin, I guess. They go home to cook up some Christmas pudding or “Christmas Pud” as they call it. I’ve never heard it called that, and I couldn’t help but feel like that word sounded gross.
In addition to this kid and the monsters singing at incredibly high volumes without his parents ever waking up, he also uses the oven unsupervised.
Oh and then the pudding explodes, to the point where the entire house jumps and the pudding starts leaking everywhere – from the edges of the roof to the windows to the chimney – ….and his parents still don’t wake up.
Colin is found after he accidentally knocks Santa out of the sky and hurts his leg. There’s a sweet song break when Tom and the monsters have to take over for Santa. I like how they were giving a bunch of presents to animals too. Not just pets, but also animals in the zoo and strays.
The one thing that kinda got on my nerves during this whole special was this literal cat burglar who might as well have been a more annoying Swiper.
In the end, Santa recovers so quickly you’d think he faked it, he goes off to deliver the rest of the presents, Tom and the monsters head back to bed, but Colin is missing again. Uhp, there he is. He sneaked onboard Santa’s sleigh to help him deliver more presents.
I don’t have a clever ending, so here’s the Colin Mochrie reference coming full circle. Good night, everybody!
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