A Wish For Wings That Work (1991)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 12/15/08
Written And Produced By: Berkeley Breathed
Cast: Michael Bell, Tress MacNeille, Robin Williams

Wow. It only took me seventeen years to discover that this existed, and that was only because I received it as a gift. Unbelievable. My geek license may get suspended at this rate. Anyway, this is the animated version of Berkeley Breathed's "Bloom County" spin-off Christmas book of the same name. Forever moping about his tragic fate as a flightless bird, Opus finally turns to Santa Claus to make a wish for wings that will allow him to fly. During the course of the show, his increasingly pathetic attempts at flight bring him only scorn and humiliation, and he even kicks his dear friend Bill The Cat out of his house out of anger and frustration. Naturally, Bill turns out to be his salvation when Opus is called upon for a daring rescue mission involving jolly ol' Saint Nick himself. The moral here, of course, is to value yourself and the gifts you've been granted, and much like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Opus realizes - if only briefly - his own special worth in the world.

The most notable thing about this TV special is how incredibly well it captures the look and feel of Breathed's work and the "Bloom County" universe in general. The character models are dead-on and seeing them in motion looks very natural. The other thing that worried me going into it was the voice acting. Would they be able to pull off convincing voices for the characters who had been without speech for so many years? Surprisingly, Michael Bell's portrayal of Opus works extremely well and the whole thing comes together beautifully. It only falters occasionally with forcefully unfunny dialog and visual gags that fall completely flat. Opus's classic butt-flossing moment just simply doesn't work in this context. Additionally, faxing a letter to Santa Claus may have been cute and clever twenty years ago, but now seems almost quaint. Definitely a fun holiday time distraction, but it doesn't seem timeless enough to gain classic status.