Disney+ is a great place to spend your holiday evenings surrounded by loved ones while enjoying a vast selection of holiday shows and movies. Popular Disney favorites like The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992), Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), and A Christmas Carol (2009) are perfect for tree-lit nights accompanied by warm snuggles on the couch, hot cocoa and maybe a sweet treat. Another newer series that has helped many get into the Christmas spirit is Disney’s The Santa Clauses (2022).
The Disney+ show, which just entered its second season, takes an extended look at Tim Allen (Buzz Lightyear) returning as Scott Calvin, the famous toymaker who accidentally becomes the jolly old elf in 1994’s hit holiday comedy The Santa Clause.
‘The Santa Clause’
In the original film, Scott (Tim Allen), who shares custody of his son Charlie (Eric Lloyd), undergoes a fascinating metamorphosis on Christmas Eve after he startles the real Santa, leading to a hilarious happenstance that sees Father Christmas ultimately deceased. Scott puts on Santa’s signature red coat, unknowingly entering into a legally binding agreement to become Santa Claus the following Christmas.
Scott Calvin learns to embrace his role as Santa Claus, meeting interesting characters like Bernard the Elf (David Krumholtz) along the way. His new gig as the big man allows him to connect with his son and earn the trust of Charlie’s mother, Laura (Wendy Crewson), and her new beau, Neil (Judge Reinhold).
The film, which brilliantly utilizes Tim Allen’s witty quips and one-liners, was a hit with audiences, eventually leading to two sequels, The Santa Clause 2 (2002) and The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause (2006).
Although not as popular, the two sequels did okay with audiences, expanding upon Scott Calvin’s future as Santa and introducing popular characters like Jack Frost (Martin Short) and his new wife, Carol Calvin (Elizabeth Mitchell).
‘The Santa Clauses’
As the holiday season is typically a massive win in terms of viewership, adding an already expansive Christmas collection, Disney brilliantly decided to take the success of Tim Allen even further by shedding even more light on the story of Scott Calvin in the series The Santa Clauses, which premiered to high praise last year on Disney+.
Created by Jack Burditt, The Santa Clauses closely examines Santa’s operation in the North Pole while bringing back fun and reliable characters like Scott, Carol, and Bernard the Elf. Colorful and whimsical, the series resonated deeply with fans, primarily because of its nostalgic value from viewers who watched Tim Allen put on that coat in 1994.
Of course, the series, like most things nowadays, came with a little controversy. Allen, an outspoken conservative who once led the cast of Last Man Standing, which began in 2011 and ran for nine seasons, was arrested a couple of years after filming the first Santa Clause film for drunk driving in Michigan.
Controversy During Season One
Despite the charges (and charges from the 70s for smuggling cocaine), Allen would enter rehab the following year, which would have little impact on his career, including the extremely popular ABC sitcom Home Improvement.
Still, the first season of The Santa Clauses, which highlights Calvin’s life in the North Pole, would catch some grief over a scene that depicted children elves attempting to spell out Santa’s name but accidentally spelling out the words “Love You S-A-T-A-N” instead.
The gag didn’t sit well with some viewers, likely the same ones who feel that Disney, has become too engrained in progressive movements and outcry, leaving behind their traditional audience.
‘The Santa Clauses’ Get Religious
Despite the weird decision to include the joke in a family series devoted to Christmas, fans still enjoyed The Santa Clauses enough that Disney ordered a second season, which is now available for streaming on Disney+.
Moving into the new season, it seems that Disney has made amends with its Christian audience, who took great offense at the season one joke. In the second episode of season two, Santa (Scott Calvin), asks one particular elf to provide a debriefing regarding the origins of Christmas.
The elf, keeping to hoilday traditions of the Christian church, which honor the birth of Jesus of Nazareth on Christmas Day, responds, “What we know as Santa, all began with Saint Nicholas honoring the birth of Jesus.”
Santa promptly asks the little elf to skip forward a couple of centuries, however, the acknowledgment of the central theme of Christmas and how it has been adapted over the centuries is an interesting choice, given the “Satan joke” Disney included in the series during its first season.
Although Santa Claus, elves, and snowmen have little to do with the Christian observance of the holiday, the Bible actually even condemns the decorating of trees (Jeremiah 10), the secular movement of observing the holiday season, which has little to do with celebrating the birth a Jewish savior, and more to do with gift-giving, is the overall theme of Christmas nowadays, with its religious foundation acting more as an undertone. Instead of nativity images, Santa Claus is the norm.
As many of Disney’s latest programming includes materials and ideas that directly assault biblical principalities and traditional thinking, why the change of heart?
Why the Change of Heart?
It could be that Tim Allen, a well-known Christian, is also one of the series’ executive producers. Allen, prior to the first season of the show, insisted that he didn’t want to lose the Christian angle of the holiday, which he noted as distinct, citing the terminology of the holiday, CHRIST-mas.
Although many have moved away from the terminology, favoring a broadened observance of “Happy Holidays,” Allen insisted that the purity of the religious holiday hold its representation in the show, which originally was supposed to feature “a lot of otherworldly characters, and ghosts, and goblins.”
Interestingly enough, Disney as a company, although inclusive, still do a lot to honor the original concept of the Christian holiday. Despite all of the glitz and galm of Hollywood Christmas stories on Disney+, at Walt Disney World, you’ll find The Candlelight Processional as part of EPCOT’s International Festive of the Holidays.
Although EPCOT is a place that celebrates culture, this attraction, held every Christmas season, retells the biblical birth story of Jesus as recorded in the Holy Bible in Luke 2, with the help of an orchestra, choir, and celebrity narrators. Some guests, such as Sir Brayden on Twitter, find it astonishing that “Christ has any presence left in the parks at all.”
It's nothing short of miraculous Christ has any presence left in the parks at all.
— Brayden (@SirBrayden) December 3, 2022
Although the short reference to Jesus is just that, short, it does mean that Disney at least potentially understands that they upset a big portion of their audience with their season one joke. Maybe they are attempting to make amends in season two of The Santa Clauses. The dynamic between keeping Christian observances of the holiday respectful while appreciating audiences who don’t share the same views can’t be an easy position for Disney.
Season two of The Santa Clauses is streaming now on Disney+, and outside of debate over religious themes, there’s a lot of fun instore for the Calvins this year. New characters such as Tracy Morgan as the Easter Bunny, Gabriel Iglesias as Kris Kringle, and others like Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family) as Magnus Anta, Kal Penn (Simon Choski), the return of Mrs. Claus (Elizabeth Morgan), and more make for a perfect holiday-themed bing watching season with friends, family, or even by yourself.
Do you feel like Disney should stick to a secular approach to Christmas?