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   "The Snowman and the Snowdpog" (Snowdog Enterprises and Lupus Films)
  One man and his Snowdog...   (03.01

  If you're a regular Toonhound visitor, you'll know that the Snowman
  is a creation that's close to this dawg's heart. The book was
  a revelation for me, in my younger years, and TVC's animated
  adaptation struck a chord that's still reverberating around me
  today. In fact, I made a crude attempt to convey some of my
  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 it
  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, to
  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 on, but
  there is comfort to be had in simply knowing that it is out
  there again.

  And so, in this thirtieth anniversary year, we get "The Snowman
  and the Snowdog", a whole new story set in the same, shimmering
  world as the original. Channel4 have been positively salivating with
  anticipation in the run-up to its premiere, and presumably, the film's
  licensees must also have spent the last few weeks rubbing their
  sweaty palms for there is so much High-Street potential at stake
  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 see
  the need for it at first. But I know now I was wrong. Here, in the midst
  of these desperately dark days for the British animation industry,
  we need  this film. We need to be reminded of what we can do;
  what we have always done so very well. Spectacular animated
  half-hours used to be our bread and butter. And TVC led the way,
  with John Coates at the helm. Until September.

  So with all of this swirling in my head, I tuned in to Channel4 on
  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 the
  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 stirrs.

  Of course, "The Snowman and the Snowdog" is not "The Snowman".
  It was never going to be as unique and as special as that film.
  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 in
  which it arrived. The best this new film could ever be, is   complimentary. And that it most certainly is. It is the very
  best companion. It takes a seat alongside its predecessor and
  does not tarnish or diminish the earlier work in any way, shape or
  form. Raymond Briggs has declared himself happy, and John
  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, because
  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 buggers
  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 Snowmen
  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, weren't

  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 the
  film a resounding thumbs-up. At its peak "The Snowman and the
  Snowdog" recorded a live audience of 5.8 million, and it averaged
  4.9 million throughout its half-hour. Those figures make it the
  highest-rated Christmas Eve broadcast on Channel4 in more
  than a decade, and the fourth highest rating programme on
  the channel in 2012.
What's more, consolidated figures for
  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 Toonhound.
  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. Its
  premiere has been an "event". The film has stirred debate and
  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...

Channel4 mini-site  Lupus Films


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