The Cabbage Patch Kids First Christmas / The Little Troll Prince
Cinelinx unwraps an 80s TV Christmas special double feature: The Cabbage Patch Kids First Christmas, and The Little Troll Prince on DVD from Warner Archive!
This Warner Archive release is a Manufacture-On-Demand (MOD) DVD. It is made to be played in "play only" DVD devices, and may not play in some DVD recorders or PC drives. This DVD, however, played with no problems in the Toshiba DVD recorder used for this review,as well as on a Gateway PC. This title is available directly from WBShop.com by clicking here.
In this Christmas special compilation, two holiday TV programs are included: “The Cabbage Patch Kids First Christmas,” and “The Little Troll Prince: A Christmas Parable.” The Cabbage Patch Kids leave their country home and head to the big city to celebrate their first Christmas, and the young prince of the trolls discovers God’s love and the true meaning of Christmas, causing a personal change and chaos throughout his kingdom.
THE CABBAGE PATCH KIDS FIRST CHRISTMAS
Once upon a time, Cabbage Patch Kids were the biggest toy line in the world, beloved by kids around the world. In today’s cynical world, they have been equated to the Children of the Corn, sinister emissaries of creepy commercialism. Sure, it may have been a money-grab, but at least the Cabbage Patch kids had a sincere level of innocence that we just don’t see anymore. Kids who would have bought Cabbage Patch Kids back in the 1980s are now buying Bratz dolls. Not exactly the kind of progress we should be proud of.
In 1984, the Cabbage Patch Kids got their own TV Christmas special, courtesy of Joe Ruby and Ken Spears, the duo behind the Mr. T, Chuck Norris, and Rambo cartoons of the 1980s. Thankfully, The Cabbage Patch Kids special doesn’t resort to the violence of those cartoons, but it could have used an explosion or two to keep it interesting. If you’re expecting a train wreck along the lines of the Star Wars Christmas Special, you’re out of luck. It doesn’t feature any of the weird creepiness the soulless-eyed dolls implied. It is, in fact, a sweet, good natured tale of caring for others. It isn’t It’s a Wonderful Life, but it isn’t a total mess either. It does lag in parts, but it has a good moral at its core, which involves finding a home for an orphan.
There are some big minuses. The animation quality isn’t very good, even by 1980s standards: character movements are choppy and awkward. Even at a mere 24 minutes long, it isn’t terribly engaging. Young kids may have trouble keeping an interest, and older kids aren’t exactly going to find the Cabbage Patch Kids all that watchable. The show holds some nostalgic value for 80s kids, but that may be about the only appeal it has.
By the way, keep an ear out for the Kids’ rendition of “Deck the Halls.” Instead of singing “don we now our gay apparel,” they sing “bright apparel.” With the AIDS epidemic and the gay lifestyle going mainstream at the time, it seems even a Christmas cartoon had to change their tune to avoid an awkward laugh from kids.
Fans of The Andy Griffith Show should also take note: Hal Smith, who portrayed Otis the drunk of the classic show, was also a popular voice actor, and provided the voice of Colonel Casey, the stork who delivers the Cabbage Patch Kids to their families. Howard Morris, who gained fame as Andy Griffith’s hillbilly nemesis Ernest T. Bass, served as the show’s recording director, and had an extensive voice over career of his own.
THE LITTLE TROLL PRINCE
Hanna-Barbera, the titans of Saturday morning cartoons, were the creative minds behind The Little Troll Prince: A Christmas Parable, a 1987 TV movie. Produced by the Lutheran Church, the TV special is unique in that it focuses on the true meaning of Christmas, which (save the Peanuts special) is rarely breached on television. I give it credit for that.
The cartoon follows the story of Bu, the prince of the trolls, who doesn’t quite fit in. He is friendly to others, says “thank you,” and is curious about the human world. When he actually leaves the troll kingdom and spends time with humans, he learns about the Christmas story and the love of God. This doesn’t sit well with his father, King Ulvik. a two-headed troll voiced by Vincent Price and Jonathan Winters.
While I must give credit to the producers to tell a story with the true meaning of Christmas, the story itself doesn’t live up to the potential. The flaw is in the execution: the story plods along, and the humor falls flat. It is tedious to watch, and even the attempts to bring the spirit of Christmas to life don’t work. The animation is below average, and the visuals are downright boring.
The only good thing about The Little Troll Prince is the voice acting. In addition to Price and Winters, Don Knotts and Cloris Leachman provide their talents. It is just too bad the rest the cartoon live up to them.
VIDEO AND AUDIO
The Cabbage Patch Kids First Christmas seems to have been taken from a second generation master. Aliasing and jagged edges dominate the soft video image, and it reminds me of the bootlegs of old TV shows you find on YouTube. The screenshots featured in this review are taken from our review copy of the DVD. Audio is a tinny, flat mono soundtrack split into a Dolby Digital 2.0 mix.
The film print used for the Little Troll Prince transfer is full of dirt and dusty specks, but it does have some bright colors. Detail is a small step up from VHS quality, but it is still better than the Cabbage Patch Kids transfer. Audio is also a mono mix split into a Dolby Digital 2.0 mix. It features some distortion, and sounds a bit canned.
Release Date: October 16, 2013
Rating: Not rated
Running time: 24 minutes (The Cabbage Patch Kids First Christmas); 47 minutes (The Little Troll Prince)
Aspect ratio: 1.37:1
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0
Special features: None.
Label: Warner Archive