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James Field
Cast: Paul Fusco, Rich Schellbach, Bob Fappiano and Lisa Buckley
Writing Credits:
Paul Fusco and Troy Cabral

Christmas is bustling, festive and exciting for Santa, Mrs. Claus and all the Elves at the North Pole... Sherman, an aspiring apprentice Elf, tries his best to fit in but can t seem to do anything right! He s worked in nearly every department at the North Pole and has triggered a series of disasters everywhere he goes. Santa tries to bolster Sherman s self-esteem by entrusting him with the special task of guarding his MAGIC TOY BAG until Christmas Eve. When Sherman accidentally shrinks the bag by washing it, he fears there might not be a Christmas this year ... Unless the accident-prone Elf can finally make things right!

Rated NR

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
English Dolby Digital Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 28 min.
Price: $14.99
Release Date: 10/21/2014

• Blooper Reel
• “Santa’s Sing-a-Long”
• “Sherman’s Design Book”


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Santa's Magic Toy Bag (1983)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 21, 2014)

A few years before he struck pay dirt with 1986’s ALF, Paul Fusco created other TV programs that involved puppets. For one with a Christmas theme, we head to 1983’s Santa’s Magic Toy Bag.

Set at the North Pole, we visit Santa’s workshop and meet the elves who make the toys. Apprentice elf Sherman messes up everything he touches so he bounces from job to job.

Naturally, this makes Sherman feel like a failure. Ready to quit, Santa gives him encouragement and places him in charge of an important task: the elf will guard Santa’s magic toy bag. We follow Sherman’s adventures along the way.

While I’ve not seen ALF since it aired in the 1980s, I know that I liked it. Part of that came from the ever-delightful Max Wright as ALF’s long-suffering guardian, but I remember that the lead character himself could be a hoot. Perhaps I recall incorrectly, but I thought the show had some spark to it and offered clever amusement.

Honestly, those fond decades-old memories of ALF became the only reason I decided to give Bag a whirl. I figured that if Fusco could provide a mildly edgy tone to a show about an alien puppet, he might do the same with a Christmas special.

Alas, Bag lacks any of the barbed wit found in ALF. Instead, it comes across like a Muppets special stripped of any humor, cleverness or spark.

Even at 28 minutes, it can become a chore to watch Bag. The story and characters feel cribbed from elsewhere, with a primary, obvious inspiration from 1964’s classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer; the two share very similar themes, and Sherman comes across like a boring amalgamation of Rudolph and Hermey the elf.

Even if I ignore the show’s relentlessly derivative nature, it’d be a dud. Sherman seems like a dull lead character, and no one else gets any personality either. They limp through the boring story without anything much to sustain our attention.

In addition to the banal tale and lifeless dialogue, Bag comes with terrible songs. One of them blatantly rips off “Frosty the Snowman” – and it’s the best of the bunch! The rest sound like someone knocked them out in 10 minutes; they lack memorable melodies, fun lyrics or anything else that’d make them winning.

That sentiment applies to every aspect of Santa’s Magic Bag. Maybe viewers who saw it as children will look at it with fondness for nostalgic reasons, but I can’t find any other reason to watch it. Bag lacks even the ambition to be genuinely bad; at least if it took some changes, it might be a noble failure. Instead, it simply bores with its utter absence of personality or creativity.

The DVD Grades: Picture C+/ Audio C+/ Bonus D

Santa’s Magic Toy Bag appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.33:1; due to those dimensions, the image has NOT been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Though not impressive, the program held up acceptably well after more than 30 years.

Sharpness looked decent. The show never came across as especially distinctive, but it provided reasonably good clarity. On the negative side, I noticed a fair amount of shimmering and jagged edges, though I didn’t see any edge haloes. Source flaws were absent as well.

Like the rest of the image, colors were fair. While the hues showed a bit of pep, they didn’t pop off the screen despite the show’s lively Christmas palette. Blacks were acceptable, and shadows seemed okay. Again, nothing here looked especially attractive, but it was perfectly fine given its age and origins.

I felt the same about the show’s Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack. Speech demonstrated mild edginess at times but the lines were always intelligible and usually fairly natural. Music gave us acceptable range and clarity, while effects – a minor aspect of the mix – appeared perfectly passable. For an old TV program, the audio worked well.

A few extras fill out the set. A Blooper Reel lasts five minutes, 26 seconds and shows various goofs from the shoot. It’s funnier than the show itself but not especially memorable.

Santa’s Sing-a-long goes for one minute, 33 seconds and shows the song from the show’s finish. It simply displays the scene from the special and adds lyrics at the bottom. This makes it forgettable.

Finally, Sherman’s Design Book gives us a 56-second reel that displays unusual toy ideas created for the show. These aren’t seen in the end product, so they’re interesting to view here.

If you saw Santa’s Magic Toy Bag as a kid, you might be tempted to revisit it. Don’t tamper with fond memories, for as an adult, you’ll likely recognize what a dull, derivative snoozer it actually is. The DVD comes with mostly positive picture and audio as well as some minor bonus materials. I hoped Bag would bring us a “forgotten gem” of a Christmas special, but the show lacks any charm, wit or imagination.

Viewer Film Ratings: 1 Stars Number of Votes: 1
0 3:
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