OPINION: Yeah, nah, a bloody shocker and an "awesome as" beacon of light... and with that classic ambiguity, a new wee classic for the rather variable canon that is Christmas family entertainment TV is born, in the form of Missing Christmas, Christmas Eve on TV2.
A witty blend of simple Christmas capers for children, and sidelong satire to keep the adults grinning, this half-hour cartoon packed in the treats.
It's the story of Tane, a little boy who lives on the small island community of Ngaro, who is determined to attract Santa to the island this Christmas.
Ngaro always gets missed out on the sleigh's path, so Tane rushes about festooning the place with decorations and fake snow. At first he gets no help from the town, which is full of characters, including an irascible granny, a sly hobo, and a sinister hood - presided over by a smarmy mayor, Mr Gobb, voiced in inimitable dodgy style by Rhys Darby.
However, he finds an unlikely ally in the town's creepy-drawers, Mr Slab - whom legend has it is the serial torturer known as "the Bloody Shocker!" But the frightening thug turns out to be a softie who adores Christmas, despite having been shunned since giving Queen a static electricity shock during a long ago royal visit to Ngaro.
Slab and Tane rig up Tane's tree house, and the guest of honour arrives, putting Ngaro on the map, and averting a move to depopulate the island and cut it off the national grid.
Though simple, the cartoon, written and drawn by Ryan Cooper and Tim Evans, has an edge of blackness, recognisable to any adult who binged on South Park, and a nice line in observational humour gently digging contemporary New Zealand foibles like competitive cycling, cooking, bludging and parenting.
It's zanily drawn and gorgeously colourful, absolutely hitting the spot for Christmas entertainment by providing something fresh and funny in what is generally an unavoidably hackneyed lineup.
ONE TO WATCH
The Princess and the Frog, 5.01pm, TV2. More charming animation, in this retelling of the classic fairytale, set in New Orleans, with the voices of Oprah Winfrey and John Goodman.
- The Dominion Post