December 8, 2009 – The Animated Christmas Special Prep & Landing Premieres on ABC
“The operation has its challenges, but we’re always prepared.”
On December 8, 2009, the animated Christmas special Prep & Landing premiered on ABC. It was based on a story idea by director Chris Williams, who would go on to direct Bolt. The short met positive reviews, and ended up winning an Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program. The short was written and directed by Kevin Deters and Stevie Wermers-Skelton. It starred Dave Foley as Wayne, Derek Richardson as Lanny, Sarah Chalke as Magee, and W. Morgan Sheppard as Santa.
The story begins on Christmas Eve, where two elves are preparing a living room for Christmas day festivities, using special night-vision googles and other technical devices to ensure everything is perfect for when Santa arrives. The elves, named Wayne and Peterson, are part of the Prep and Landing team. Wayne has been doing this for a long, long time, and he’s ready for a change: a promotion to Director of Naughty List Intelligence, to be exact. Unfortunately, he didn’t get the promotion, but his old partner got it. He tries to put on a brave face when told the news, but he is actually rather hurt that his partner got noticed over him. Wayne then gets a new partner named Lanny, whose cheerful disposition is not exactly comforting to Wayne. As the pair head out to start Prep and Landing work, they meet Thrasher, cousin to reindeer Dasher, and Thrasher threatens Lanny, as he prefers to be thought of as a myth.
The elves are let out over their first stop, and as Wayne doesn’t wish to do his job anymore, he convinces Lanny to do the job himself while he lounges in the living room. Poor Lanny continues to make one mistake after another, and Wayne doesn’t notice that the kid in the house has woken up. The kid takes Wayne’s picture, and all Wayne can do is stare. Meanwhile, back at the North Pole, Santa has just left the building, ready to deliver presents all over the world. In the house, the boy named Timmy, grabs Wayne and asks questions until Lanny is able to stun Timmy and put him to sleep. Wayne decides they should just head out, but Lanny points out that protocol says that all children need to be “snug in their beds.” As they carry Timmy back to his room, Lanny asks Wayne if something’s wrong. Wayne answers that he’s been working Prep and Landing for 227 years, and he can’t find the joy in it anymore. When Wayne continues to act sour, Lanny sadly admits that he thought Wayne was the Prep and Landing guy, but Wayne is just a lump of coal. Things get worse when Magee, the North Pole Christmas Eve Command Center Coordinator, finds out that the pair aren’t ready for Santa’s arrival, and initiates plan “Figgy Pudding,” eliciting a gasp from others in the NPCECC. This means that Timmy’s house is skipped for Christmas.
When Wayne finds out that Timmy is being skipped, he realizes that it’s all his fault, and is even more upset when Timmy thanks Wayne in his sleep. Wishing to make it right, Wayne is patched through to Santa, and convinces Santa to turn back around. He and Lanny then head to the roof to set up the roof, but they lose their landing lights. They head to a nearby neighbor’s light display, and rig it to mark the way for Santa. The two manage to work together to create a safe landing for Santa, saving Christmas. The next day, Wayne goes to visit Santa to apologize for what had happened. Santa then gives Wayne a present to see how well Timmy is doing on Christmas. As he leaves Santa’s office, he tells Lanny that he was granted a promotion to Director of the Nice List, but turned it down to stay in Prep and Landing with Lanny.