STUDIO: Universal Studios
MSRP: $14.98
RATED: Not Rated
RUNNING TIME: 24 minutes
• Nothing


The Pitch

“Bloom County goes Christmas.”

The Humans

Michael Bell, Tress MacNeille, John Byner, Alexandria Simmons, Dustin Hoffman and Robin Williams

That’s when Gonzo said it was time to get things started. That’s when I lost my innocence

The Nutshell

Berkeley Breathed created the cult-hit comic strip Bloom County in 1980. It was a hit that somehow ended up attracting the attention of Steven Spielberg and Amblin Entertainment. Together they crafted a Christmas Special that played to the masses during the Christmas Holidays of 1991. Never before have so many seen such a watered down translation of genius material.

The Lowdown

A Wish for Wings That Work was a Christmas Special adapted by Berkeley Breathed from his classic Bloom County Christmas tale. Originally envisioned as a book for children, it came onto television screens with very little fanfare. Most Bloom County fans remember the show as being an odd hodgepodge that didn’t quite live up to what they heard in their hand. Milquetoast the Cockroach seemed off, while Bill the Cat felt a little too cartoonish. Then, there was the bizarre voice acting for Opus the Penguin. Michael Bell has been doing the voice-acting for years, but a whiny pipsqueak voice from the guy who was Duke on G.I. Joe doesn’t really serve as Breathed’s mouthpiece for the bizarre culture of the time.

Bill the Cat had a special relationship with The Eggplant Wizard. Don’t ask.

Opus and Bill had spent years existing on the Sunday comic strip page and we became way too used to that. I watched this disc with a few friends, as I seemed to be the only one who even remembered when it first aired. A couple of folks wanted to know where the Pop Culture references were or even the commentary from Steve Dallas. Nobody seemed to get what they wanted out of the Special and obviously kids didn’t watch it. If they did, Universal would not have waited so long to release it on DVD. You might love the characters, but the Special didn’t reflect that special place where you first discovered them. It’s a bizarre bastardization that you don’t whether to coddle or toss it with the endless piles of other useless Christmas programs.

Surprised to see me here? Imagine how hard Frank Capra must be spinning in his grave?

Then, there was the whole production tampering from Steven Spielberg. Spielberg apparently felt during production that the show didn’t have that star power to get viewers interested in watching. So, he pulled Dustin Hoffman and Robin Williams to one side during the production of Hook and got them to voice characters. It’s a rush job and the obvious lesser audio stands out. It especially stands out when you hear Williams’ Kiwi character during Ronald-Ann’s group therapy session. As my understanding goes, the two actors recorded their dialogue over the course of three to four hours and then that hard copy was sent to Amblin to mix into the master. Even in the new Dolby 2.0 surround mix, the audio differences are staggering. Those of you with hearing problems will only be able to hear Williams when he screams about an Albatross. I honestly can’t believe that they let such problems go to air, but that’s what happened and you can’t change the past.

This is just like Dumbo, but minus that Disney racism that Michael Eisner tried to Lacuna out of the company.

Breathed’s material obviously has a hard time being translated off of the printed page. There’s the Opus movie that has been in development for ages with the Weinsteins. Breathed told Salon about a year or so ago that nothing’s going to happen with that unless he gets to write it. So, we can honestly say that it’ll never happen. After watching this DVD, maybe that’s not a bad thing.

The Package

The DVD features no special features, not even a trailer. Sure, it’s an obscure Christmas special, but I’ve seen lesser bits of pop culture get more on their respective DVDs. Still, what could they have done? Breathed never struck me as the type to wax poetically about past works. Universal never bothered to throw much on the laserdisc or VHS releases for the title. The only thing they could’ve done was tag on a few TV spots for the special. But, that’s something that a YouTube user with too much time could do.

The main feature shows its age in both soundtrack and transfer. Watching it on the computer and HD-DVD player, I noticed a lot of film based faults that popped. A lot of noise and damage in the background that I didn’t notice on my basic DVD player I keep in my office. I brought up the audio problems before, as they stand to be a vast contrast between television broadcast audio and material that sounded like it was recorded in a broom closet. It’s a disappointing affair all around, but I can’t be that hard on Opus.

6.5 out of 10