Christmas Specials Wiki
Christmas Specials Wiki

The cover to the original storybook the special is based on.

Opus and Bill in A Wish For Wings That Work is an animated Christmas television special based on the book A Wish For Wings That Work: An Opus Christmas Story, which itself was based on the newspaper comic strips Bloom County and Outland by Berkeley Breathed. Originally aired on CBS on December 13, 1991, it was directed by Skip Jones and was produced by Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment and Universal Cartoon Studios.


Opus writing his letter to Santa.

The story opens on Christmas Eve as Opus the Penguin is writing a letter to Santa Claus, recounting the events of the day. Earlier in the particular day, Opus is shown attempting to fly like the ducks in the sky, but as he is a penguin, he fails miserably at it, and as a result, he is downhearted about it. To make matters worse, he is mocked by a trio of ducks about his lack of flight.

After attending a meeting with his support group, Earthbound Birds Anonymous, Opus decides "to take the laws of physics into his own hands" and goes to a balloon shop, where he begins his attempt to become an "aeronautic vigilante." He puts on a girdle and, with help from his friend Bill the Cat, attaches balloons to it. But Bill's tongue gets stuck to the girdle Opus is wearing, causing his attempt at flight to go out of control and eventually have a crash landing. Opus is so upset at this that he chastises Bill for it, hurting the cat's feelings.

As the flashback wraps up, Opus finishes up his letter to Santa, asking that the big guy grant him his wish for "some penguin wings that work." He begins stuffing the letter into an envelope, but after checking the calendar and seeing how close it is to Christmas, he faxes the letter instead.

That night, as Opus is sleeping, we see Santa Claus and his reindeer flying over Bloom County. Unfortunately, as Santa circles the area, the coupling pin connecting his sleigh to the reindeer comes loose and falls out, sending Santa himself tumbling to the ground. Opus, meanwhile, wakes up (having just had a dream featuring himself unsuccessfully attempting to pilot the plane in the 1937 film Lost Horizon) and hears a loud knocking at his door. He answers it to find the ducks from earlier, saying they need his help.

Opus meets Santa.

The ducks bring Opus to their pond, where the penguin sees that Santa Claus and his sleigh has landed in the middle of the pond. The ducks explain that they'd go save the big guy themselves, but the water is too cold, and Opus, being a penguin, is much more accustomed to swimming in cold water. Opus manages to swim across the pond and pull Santa's sleigh back to shore, during which a frog leaps away with Opus's pilot helmet. As a token of gratitude, Santa gives his hat to Opus (to replace his lost pilot helmet), much to the amazement of the ducks and Bill, and tells him that it was his courage that made "his [wings] fly beyond all others" before leaving.

The next morning, Opus wakes up, still feeling let down over his lack of flight. But to his amazement, all the ducks in Bloom County (now wearing bow ties just like his) have come to thank Opus for his daring rescue by taking him flying through the air. An overjoyed Opus asks them who suggested the idea, and one of the ducks points downward to Bill, who is waving at them from the ground. Opus thanks Bill for this by giving him Santa's hat. After the credits, we see Truffles yelling up at Opus "Don't get cocky up there!" before Opus' prosthetic buttocks falls on him.


MCA Universall Home Video made the special available on VHS and Laserdisc in 1993. It was later released on DVD by Universal Home Entertainment on November 6, 2007. The DVD was reissued on October 10, 2010, this time packaged with a bonus holiday-themed music CD. It was later featured in a Double Feature DVD with The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus in 2013.


Lisa Horowitz of Variety gave the special a positive review, saying that it "crams a lot of action and intelligence into its half-hour". She also praised the animation and vocal performances.

Breathed, who was credited as the writer and executive producer of the special, was disappointed with the overall results. His displeasure with the special was shown in a 2003 Washington Post interview where someone asked where a copy of the special can be found on VHS or DVD; Breathed's response was, "Hopefully in the rubbish pail. We can do better than that and we will with an eventual Opus film." In a later 2007 interview, Breathed claims that the reason he dislikes the special was simply "unspectacular ratings" and his humor "wasn't meant for television, even if it was done right." Another reason was his "lack of writing experience" and the director was way over his head. Breathed also stated that he wanted Sterling Holloway to provide the voice for Opus.


Voice actor Character
Michael Bell Opus the Penguin
Joe Alaskey Truffles the Pig
The Ducks
John Byner Bill the Cat
Tress MacNeille Alyson the Chicken
Andrew Hill Newman Santa Claus
Robin Williams George the Kiwi
Alexaundria Simmons Ronald-Ann
Dustin Hoffman Milquetoast
Frank Welker Additional Voices


External links

Christmas Specials Based on Comic Strips
Peanuts A Charlie Brown Christmas • "The Play" • It's Christmastime Again, Charlie BrownCharlie Brown's Christmas TalesI Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown • "Christmas is on Its Way" • "Christmas is Coming"
Garfield A Garfield Christmas Special • "Heatwave Holiday" • "Caroling Capers" • "Home for the Holidays"
Popeye Seasin's Greetinks!Mister and Mistletoe • "Spinach Greetings"
Dennis the Menace "The Christmas Story" • "The Christmas Horse" • "The Fifteen-Foot Christmas Tree" • A Dennis the Menace Christmas
Other comic strips PalsThe Captain's Christmas • "Hazel's Christmas Shopping" • "A Christmas Tale" • "Krazy's Krismas" • "It's Better To Give" • "Just 86 Shopping Minutes Till Christmas" • "Christmas with the Addams Family" (1965) • A Family Circus ChristmasZiggy's GiftThe Bestest Present • "North Pole Cat" • A Wish For Wings That WorkA Christmas AngelLittle Orphan Annie's A Very Animated Christmas • "Rupert's Christmas Adventure" • "Christmas with the Addams Family" (1998) • "A Baby Blues Christmas Special" • "A Huey Freeman Christmas"
Universal Studios
Movies Merry Christmas, Mr. LawrenceThe Munsters' Scary Little ChristmasHow the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)Love ActuallyThe HolidayKrampusAlmost ChristmasThe Grinch (2018)Last ChristmasBlack Christmas (2019)
Direct-to-video films The Life and Adventures of Santa ClausBarbie in a Christmas CarolA Very Monkey ChristmasBarbie: A Perfect ChristmasBeethoven's Christmas AdventureAll I Want for Christmas is YouMy Adventures with Santa
Live-action television episodes "The Day They Captured Santa Claus" • "'Twas the Fight Before Christmas…" • "Christmas Presence" • "Home for the Holidays" • "Yule Laff" • "Christmas Brains" • "Seoul Mates" • "A Christmas Secret" • "Christmas Party" • "Mr. Monk and the Secret Santa" • "A Benihana Christmas" • "Mr. Monk Meets His Dad" • "Moroccan Christmas" • "Mr. Monk and the Man Who Shot Santa Claus" • "Ludachristmas" • "Christmas Special" • "Secret Santa (30 Rock) • "Christmas Attack Zone" • "Secret Santa" (The Office) • "Classy Christmas" • "Christmas Wishes" • "Josh and Mindy's Christmas Party" • "Mr. Monk and the Miracle"
Animated specials and episodes "Dickens of a Christmas" • A Wish For Wings That Work • "For Whom the Jingle Bell Tolls" • "A Christmas Peril" • "Ms. Banshee's Holiday Hits" • "Fright Before Christmas" • "A Very Woody Christmas" • "It's a Chilly Christmas After All" • "Yule Get Yours" • "The Twelve Lies of Christmas" • How Murray Saved Christmas • "ChristMess Eve"