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George: Now, let's see... A Christmas story... Oh! Did I ever tell you about the town that didn't get Christmas?
Annie: You mean they didn't have Christmas?
George: No, I mean they didn't get Christmas. They had Christmas. They loved the packages and the toys and everything, but they didn't understand what Christmas was really about. Now, let's see... what was the name of that... Dinkletown! That's it. I used to deliver the mail there.

— George talks to Annie about his past career, thus starting the flashback plot.

The Toy that Saved Christmas is the first VeggieTales Christmas special.

Synopsis

SPOILER: Plot details or story follow.

Story: Act I

Grandpa George tells a flashback Christmas story, to his daughter, about Wally P. Nezzer, the owner of a toy company, who is spreading the word via a television commercial for Buzz-Saw Louie that the meaning of Christmas is to get more and more toys. After seeing this, the Dinkletown kids were whining about wanting more toys. He explains to his assistant, Mr. Lunt, that this is a strategy to create demand for his toys in order to boost sales. The toy in question is called "Buzz-Saw Louie," the only toy featuring an actual working buzz saw built into his right arm.

Silly Songs with Larry: Oh, Santa!

The story is interrupted by a Silly Songs with Larry segment entitled "Oh, Santa!" Larry is staying up late awaiting the arrival of Santa Claus, eager to give him some homemade cookies. Instead of Santa, however, he is visited first by a bank robber (Scallion #1), then by a Viking (played by Pa Grape), and finally by an agent of the IRS (played by a Peach). They all take refuge is his home and eat his cookies (except for the IRS agent who Larry evidently considers too loathsome to invite inside). Santa finally shows up, but rather than being jolly he angrily chases after Scallion #1 and Pa Grape for stealing his "Belt" and "Hat." Larry is left without any cookies, and no Santa or friends.

Story: Act II

On Christmas Eve, while most of the Veggie children are filled with a mad desire for the new toy, Larry, Bob and Junior go sledding. They happen upon a lone Buzz-Saw Louie toy that has questioned Mr. Nezzer's values and escaped the factory to find the true meaning of Christmas. Bob suggests that they go see Grandpa George. He reads the following from the Holy Bible, which is as follows:

That night in the fields near Bethlehem, some shepherds were guarding their sheep.
All at once an angel came down to them from the Lord and the brightness of the Lord's glory flashed around them.
The shepherds were frightened, but the angel said:
'Don't be afraid! I have good news for you which will make everyone happy. This very day in King David's hometown, a Savior was born for you. He is Christ the Lord. You will know who he is because you will find him dressed in baby clothes and lying on a bed of hay.'
Suddenly many other angels came down from heaven and joined in praising God.
They said, 'Praise God in heaven! Peace on earth to everyone who pleases God.'

Gospel according to Luke 2;8-14 (Contemporary English Version)


In this, George explains to them that the true meaning of Christmas is not to get, but to give, the way God gave us Jesus, the greatest gift of all. The children are heartened by the news, but puzzle about how to tell the rest of the Veggies before Christmas Day.

The characters' solution is to sneak into Mr. Nezzer's toy factory and use his television studio to broadcast the message to all the surrounding towns. The plan is a huge success, except that Mr. Nezzer finds them out and threatens to get rid of them. He ties them to a sled and is about to send them downhill into a deep ravine when the other Veggie families intervene. Laura Carrot shows him kindness by giving him a gift, and he quickly repents the errors of his ways. However, the sled with Bob, Larry, Junior, and Louie is accidentally sent on its fateful course in the process but the Dinkletown kids were begging for more toys.

A chase scene ensues in which Mr. Nezzer and a half dozen Penguins attempt to save the doomed Veggies. The tables turn, however, when Buzz-Saw Louie is able to divert the sled's course, leaving Mr. Nezzer alone racing toward the ravine. Louie again springs into action, using his buzz-saw to rally the Penguins and save Mr. Nezzer just as he is about to plummet to certain death. Then, Buzz-Saw Louie puts the buzz-saw for good use making furniture and the special ends.

Spoilers end here.

Production

The special was said to be a very special episode of VeggieTales, mainly because it proved to be a big challenge for Big Idea Productions. It was made with the same number of people who worked on the previous episode ("Dave and the Giant Pickle"), but it was very hard to make. The episode was made around September of 1996 and at that time, the air conditioning at Big Idea's then-headquarters had been shut off and was being replaced. Suddenly, a heat wave had just hit Chicago and the employees pushed themselves to get the episode out in time since they couldn't ship out the Christmas special late.

As soon as everything was done, Phil Vischer began to suffer major chest pains from a bacteria eating at his heart. He had to stay in bed for the next month. He felt better afterwards.

Songs

In addition to those songs above, in one shot, in which Junior, Louie, Bob and Larry sneak past a penguin doing dishes, if one listens very closely you can hear a portion of Feliz Navidad from A Very Veggie Christmas album in the background.

Comparison between the 1996 and the 1998 versions

The 1998 version has a lot changes from the original 1996 version prior to the premiere broadcast of The VeggieTales Christmas Spectacular on the PAX network:

  • The camera pans straight to George's house without any music. In the 1998 version, the new music is added and the camera now pans down a little longer.
  • "Can't Believe It's Christmas" was redone in the 1998 version and features re-recorded voices (especially George's "Oy, my spinely!" line).
  • George's pickup truck is light blue and appears to slide down into Dinkletown, which is a further distance away. In the 1998 version, George's truck was redesigned with a brown color and given a moving animation when heading into Dinkletown, which is also more detailed and less distance away.
  • The window Laura looks out has no reflection. It is given a reflection in the 1998 version.
  • The scene where the head falls off of the snowman was reanimated.
  • The package lands straight on the roof of the house without a bounce. In the 1998 version, it bounces before it settles.
  • The scene where Laura and Lenny are seen begging for Buzz-Saw Louies takes place in a bare room with almost nothing in it. In the 1998 version, the room was given a carpet, some toys, and a coat hanger as accessories as well as the window on the door being redesigned. Also, the camera pans down to show their full bodies.
    • The glass in the windows also does not show the outside of the house until the 1998 version.
  • The music for "Grumpy Kids" starts just as George finishes saying "...he was doing some thinking." In the 1998 version, the music starts just as Louie begins to sing.
    • On a similar note, the song was also reorchestrated as well as the scene reanimated.
  • The scene in which Louie attempts to make out to the penguin guard that he's not alive was reanimated.
  • As Louie rolls down the hill in a snowball after tripping on the stairs, no particles form as the snowball gets bigger. In the 1998 version, the snowball forms particles. Phil states this was due to them not having enough money to make particles at the time of the episode's initial release.
  • As Bob, Larry and Junior are sledding, still shots of the trees are shown before the scene shifts to them sledding. In the 1998 version, the camera slowly pans as they brush trees and sled past the camera before this scene is shown.
  • The scene where Larry asks Louie "Well, then what is it about?" was reanimated.
  • The scene in which George invites the group into his house was reanimated.
  • Like the scene with Laura and Lenny, the group stands in a bare room with almost nothing except a table and a bookshelf as George is reading the Nativity of Jesus to them. In the 1998 version, the room was given a fireplace as well as other accessories, and the group even gets hot chocolate (though there's no steam as it's stated in the commentary it was too expensive). Also, Bob and Larry have taken off their winter garb, except Junior.
  • The shot where Junior tells the group the factory is the only way to solve the problem was reanimated in that the group was featured in the shot as well and looking at Junior.
  • The scene where the group run past the TV studio and then Junior turns around and says "That's it!" was reanimated.
  • The scene where the group enters the TV studio is simply still shots as everything turns on. In the 1998 version, the camera moves around (supposedly from the group's point of view) to look at the studio.
  • The group is only heard yelling as they are captured upon being discovered in Mr. Nezzer's TV studio due to the shot only focusing on Laura's family. In the 1998 version, a camera pan was added which shows the television during the group's capturing.
  • As Mr. Nezzer threatens to send the group away in the sled and is interrupted by the families of Dinkletown, the score for the scene is different between versions.
  • When Laura says "Merry Christmas!" to Mr. Nezzer, she's standing next to the present. In the 1998 version, she gives the present to Mr. Nezzer in a close-up shot.
  • The shot in which Louie responds "That'd be me!" when no one else has hands was given the sled motion of the other shots compared to the original static in the 1998 version.
  • The shot in which Louie yells "Whoaaaaaaaa!" while riding on the penguin's sled features his eyes open in the original version, whereas they're closed in the 1998 version.
  • The scene where Grandpa George pulls up with Bob, Larry, and Junior to see Mr. Nezzer hanging from the bridge was reanimated, likely due to the redesign of George's pickup truck.
  • Louie and everything else inside the house can be seen in the 1998 version, whereas in the original version they cannot be seen. There is also more furniture outside in the 1998 version.
    • Sawdust also flies outside the house in the 1998 version.
    • This is also true for the house the Veggies are depicted as having their party in. In the 1998 version, Lisa is seen inviting other guests (the parent Peas, who had just left their house next door) inside for the party as Mr. Nezzer and Bob are seen chatting with Dad Carrot inside as well.
  • The episode ends with the Peas singing "He Is Born, The Holy Child" from the A Very Veggie Christmas album. The 1998 version, however, instead ends with "Away in a Manger," sung by Junior, from the same album.

VeggieTales on TV Episode Version

As the Christmas episode of the show, the special has been edited from it's original length. More details TBA.


Home video releases

US releases

International releases

Cast

  • Grandpa George (himself) as the narrator and mailman
  • Annie, George's granddaughter, as herself
  • Bob the Tomato as himself
  • Larry the Cucumber as himself
  • Junior Asparagus as himself
  • Wally P. Nezzer, Nebby K's brother, as the owner of the Nezzer Toy Factory
  • Mr. Lunt as his "little elf helper"
  • Buzz-Saw Louie as himself
  • Laura Carrot as herself
  • Lenny Carrot as himself
  • Various other Peas, Carrots, and Asparaguses as townsfolk
  • Delivery Penguins
  • Archibald Asparagus
  • Pa Grape
  • Jimmy Gourd


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