- Created by Jack Burditt
- November 16, 2022
- Scott Calvin/Santa Claus-Tim Allen
- Carol Calvin/Mrs. Claus-Elizabeth Mitchell
- Buddy “Cal” Calvin-Claus-Austin Kane
- Sandra Calvin-Claus-Elizabeth Allen-Dick
- Betty-Matilda Lawler
- Noel-Devin Bright
- Grace Choksi-Rupali Redd
- Simon Choksi/Santa Claus-Kal Penn
- Edie-Isabella Bennett
- Crouton-Sasha Knight
- Hugo-Izaac Wang
- Riley Drexen-Ruby Jay
- Charlie Calvin-Eric Lloyd
- Peyton Manning as Himself
- Bernard-David Krumholtz
- Saint Nicholas of Myra-Mitch Poulos
- Papa Noel/Santa Claus-Mauricio Mendoza
- Krampus-Dirk Rogers
- La Befana (The Christmas Witch)-Laura San Giacomo
- Santa Claus XVII-Jim O’Heir
- Sara-Casey Wilson
Scott Calvin is getting older and seeks to pass along his Christmas duties which leads to disastrous results.
The Santa Clauses is one of those shows that manages to recapture not only the feel but much of the magic of that which inspired it. The Santa Claus films are nothing deep or complex, but they were enjoyable, funny and fun family friendly feeling. This does just that while not only moving the story forward and bringing it into today.
Tim Allen easily slips back into the role of Scott Calvin/Santa Claus without missing a step. Scott is losing his edge as Santa and decides it is time to move on. Allen makes him cheerful yet weary and looking to unload his burden onto a worthy successor.
What helps this work especially is it that there are plenty of nods to the predecessors as well as the series embracing the visual style of the three films. They did not cut corners in appearance nor did they reach beyond their grasp.
The humor is exactly what you would get from the three films. Nothing offensive but all funny. There is the occasional bit of mild commentary or plain silliness. The weirdness of life at the North Pole and how things are in the real world clash.
The series perfectly re-captures the humor of the films as well as the visual elements. Tim Allen always had a jolly yet sarcastic take on the character and he taps into that again here. And his Scott still understands the absurdity of the situation he finds himself in yet rolls with it as does everyone else. Which is a humorous element in and of itself that adds to the overall environment.
There are a few subplots throughout the series such as Mrs. Claus (Elizabeth Mitchell) needing to have an identity of her own. And when she starts being able to define herself it causes Scott to be unable to find his own. Noel (Devin Bright) is Santa’s closest friend who also has a comically odd obsession with him. And there is this weird hatred of gnomes on the part of the elves. Funny but weird.
My major issue with the series is that the overall plot amounts to a variation on what happened in The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause. In that Jack Frost (Martin Short) usurps the Santa role from Scott Calvin and essentially ruins Christmas. This time Scott must stop Simon Choksi (Kal Penn) from ruining Christmas by depleting Christmas Spirit and killing the magic.
And maybe I’m being a bit nitpicky, but Simon’s efforts that are killing the Christmas Spirit in my opinion are not all too different from what Jack Frost did so how are all these negative magical consequences happening this time that did not happen last time? Elves are poofing away because they start getting upset over what is being done but it did not happen last time. What are the rules governing all this? I know I’m reading a bit much into it but that for me is a very significant question.
And on casting why would you pick Kal Penn as an actor for this? I think of the Harold and Kumar series, and it doesn’t exactly have family friendly branding on him. He does a good job but do you see where I’m coming from?
Simon never rose to the level of threat that I think was needed. He came across as jerky but not a threat like in the way of Jack Frost or even the robot Santa Claus were. The real threat for lack of a better term was Scott working to balance work and family. He enjoyed his time as Santa Claus and needed to figure out how to fit that into the family he was raising and not miss out on the holiday. If there’s any moral to the story it’s that.
The mythology behind how Scott Calvin became Santa Claus gets heavily retconned. Previously it was strongly implied if not outright stated that there was a succession of Santa Clauses all apparently human with Scott Calvin taking up the role after he scared the previous Santa off his roof. Here it is revealed that Santa is an ethereal being, a magical entity shaped for the times in which he functions before apparently passing to some kind of ethereal world where he exists permanently in some version of that time. Honestly that little bit was confusing to me and I am left with the impression they didn’t think it through too much.
Anyway Scott was chosen by the last ethereal being to take his place many years earlier when he was a kid with him not remembering this because of some Santa memory loss dust. Previously they seemed pretty set in the way things worked and this was a huge change. Not on the level of the Resident Evil films but closer to something from Michael Bay Transformers. It completely changes everything as well as being a rough fit for everything else they’ve done.
While I found this overall entertaining that serious retconing of the mythology is a sticking point for me. It’s one thing to twist your established mythology or to build upon it but this undoes most if not all of it. The assorted clauses were written by Bernard the Elf as part of the plan in order to generate a family to live at the North Pole because everybody thought it be better to start handing it off to humans. The changes may be easy for kids to accept but for an adult that thinks about it even a little bit you’ll see a thought exercise will send it into some weird areas.
The narrative of The Santa Clauses covers years as it takes place from Christmas to Christmas to Christmas. There’s the Christmas where Scott makes his decision and the Christmas where Simon takes over and then there’s the Christmas where Scott must save Christmas. We cover the characters adjusting to their new lives with Scott increasingly feeling like he is lost while the others come into their own. When it focuses on long stretches of time it feels rushed and tosses too much at the audience.
Something this universe continues to get right is the inclusion of Christmas lore. Here it was the addition of the La Befana/The Christmas Witch (Laura San Giacomo). It just embraces Christmas mythology and along with La Befana puts its own spin on it such as Krampus (Dirk Rogers). They just have fun with what they have to play with yet don’t take themselves exceedingly serious.
You don’t necessarily need to have watched the movies to enjoy this. While it draws from the mythology of those, enjoyment or understanding of what is going on is not tied to having had to of seen those films. There’s enough in episode explanation of what each thing means or is connected to for one to achieve an understanding. The only exception to that are the wooden soldier drones employed in The Santa Clause 2 that make a brief appearance here. It would be hard to take them as just another weird element of the North Pole that could be there with little to no explanation along the lines of marshmallow pillows or black licorice prison bars.
Each episode feels full even if it is rushed. The only stumbling in that is the finale that doesn’t feel that long. It just feels kind of empty. Not entirely lacking in entertainment value but just not as stuffed as the other episodes. It does however have a nice callback to The Santa Clause 2.
The Santa Clauses is a great continuation of the film trilogy. It perfectly encapsulates everything that made those movies enjoyable while also pushing forward the story. While I do have issues with how they changed the mythology it doesn’t harm things overall. If you are a fan of the original films or just want something that you can watch with your kids this most certainly is something you will enjoy. It is a very enjoyable watch!