man and his Snowdog... (03.01.13)
If you're a regular Toonhound visitor, you'll know that the
is a creation that's close to this dawg's heart. The
a revelation for me, in my younger years, and TVC's animated
a chord that's still reverberating around me
today. In fact, I made a crude attempt to convey some
emotional attachment to the character and the film in this
outpouring just before
Christmas. If you can navigate through
its free-flowing construction, it should at least it give
you an insight
into where The Hound is coming from, and how much scrutiny
the new Snowman film has been under, here at Toonhound HQ.
And I'm sure I'm not alone, because the original film clearly
stirred a great many hearts around the country. That is why
persists, three decades after its premiere, a beloved classic
film which we embrace each year on Channel4. That seasonal
broadcast has become something of a national obsession,
rank alongside The Queen's Speech. And just like Her Majesty's
message to the nation, we may not view it every year it's
there is comfort to be had in simply knowing that it is out
And so, in this thirtieth anniversary year, we get "The
and the Snowdog", a whole new story set in the same, shimmering
world as the original. Channel4 have been positively salivating
anticipation in the run-up to its premiere, and presumably, the
licensees must also have spent the last few weeks rubbing their
sweaty palms for there is so much High-Street potential at
here, as well.
Oh, goodness knows, it's been hard for this viewer to divest
himself of some of the emotional baggage involved with the
Snowman's return. The original announcement caused a somewhat
predictable knee-jerk reaction. Like many others, I just couldn't
the need for it at first. But I know now I was wrong. Here, in
of these desperately dark days for the British animation industry,
we need this film. We need to be reminded of what we can
what we have always done so very well. Spectacular animated
half-hours used to be our bread and butter. And TVC led the
with John Coates at the helm. Until
So with all of this swirling in my head, I tuned in to Channel4
Christmas Eve and saw...
Another lovely Snowman film, exactly as I'd hoped and expected.
That is to say, we got a snowy new story, one that brings
character along, into our modern world, with great charm and
precision. The film oozes quality in every frame and it is
a joy to
see this kind of bespoke hand-drawn production back on our
screens. It soars in all the right places, it swoops and it
Of course, "The Snowman and the Snowdog" is not
It was never going to be as unique and as special as
The original was a singular thing. It arrived at a specific time
and made a very specific connection to its audience.
Now you can
replicate it, physically, but you can never repeat the conditions
which it arrived. The best this new film could ever be, is
complimentary. And that it most certainly is. It is the
best companion. It takes a seat alongside its predecessor
does not tarnish or diminish the earlier work in any way,
form. Raymond Briggs has declared himself happy, and
Coates would surely be proud of the film too. Lupus Films
and everyone involved in the film have done good.
In fact, The Hound reckons they've done better than good,
they've surely given birth to a shining new star in the
shape of the
Snowdog. He's cute in all the right places, and destined for licensing
See, I'm a dog owner, coerced into such by my wife, who has been
a lifelong canine devotee. Through her, I have somehow fallen into
the ownership of two barking mad Springer Spaniels. I
love 'em to
pieces, and I can't now imagine our house without the
charging around, demanding my attention and affection all day.
So the concept of losing a beloved pet and having a magical
Snowdog step up to the plate - yep - that cuts deep.
My dogs are called Ollie and Stan, and named so because of
their resemblance to our favourite comedy duo. So it was an
extra thrill indeed to find two bumbling Laurel and Hardy
colliding downhill, during the snow race scenes. The animators
were encouraged to use Oliver Hardy as reference for the jolly
movement of the Snowman, so their inclusion is an in-house
homage. But they were really put there for my benefit,
Frost and bother! - I want a Snowdog for my mantelpiece,
right now. And I don't think that I'm alone because, whatever
the whys and wherefores of this production, viewers voted
with their remote controls on Christmas Eve, and they gave
film a resounding thumbs-up. At its peak "The Snowman
Snowdog" recorded a live audience of 5.8 million, and
4.9 million throughout its half-hour. Those figures make it
highest-rated Christmas Eve broadcast on Channel4 in more
than a decade, and the fourth highest rating programme
the channel in 2012. What's
the film's premiere boost its audience to 7.1 million and
all those time-shifted and repeated screenings across E4,
4Seven, and Channel4 now reveal that the film garnered a
total of 11 million viewers.
11 million people saw this film? - That's fantastic!
Cripes, I'm not normally one for full-on reviews, here at
This site exists to inform and celebrate the UK's great cartoon
creators and I like to leave the critiques to others, most times.
But "The Snowman and the Snowdog" is an exception.
premiere has been an "event". The film has stirred
controversy during its production and in opinions presented
everywhichway after its airing, and all of it has been great to
see and read about. This film has reanimated folks around
town, and in doing so, I reckon it has restored a bit of puff
and pride to the industry this Christmas...