TV Review: Little Spirit: Christmas in New York



Airdate: 8-9 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 10 (NBC)

Although NBC hopes we remember its new animated "Little Spirit" holiday special for its contemporary video game-style look and family-friendly story of a boy in search of his lost dog, other things coming to mind:

-- This might be the first full-length cartoon written with product placement in mind. The story by Andy Rheingold gets so distorted to accommodate the Macy's tie-in that it lacks any sense of logic or purpose. Really, NBC, the Thanksgiving Day parade was more than enough.

-- The dog runs away because Leo, the boy who owns him, forgets about holding on to the leash. Not once does anyone mention this, even as an aside. It might have made a good lesson in personal responsibility.

-- Leo named his dog Ramona, which is practically asking for trouble.

-- The Little Spirit that helps Leo, a cross between Gumby and a green Teletubby with powers of flight, is useless when it comes to finding Ramona. Truth be told, the Spirit has about as much to do with Christmas as Papa Smurf has to do with Passover.

-- The main gimmick in this urban fairy tale is that, if you know how, you can enter a Christmas tree and exit from any other. Depending on how you look at it, this is either a magical power or breaking and entering.

Danny DeVito provides the voice of the city cabbie who narrates the story. Other voices are supplied by Lucy Liu, Freddy Rodriguez, Brenda Song and even NBC anchor Brian Williams. That's a lot of talent and so little to show for it.