December 24th 2012, 8pm, Channel 4
For the last thirty years Raymond Briggs’ ‘The Snowman’ has been a stalwart of Christmas TV, its images of an idyllic Christmas snowscape and sweet story of a young boy’s friendship with magical snowman warm the hearts of old and young alike.
Not me though, even as a five year old I found it twee and cheesy. There were no laser guns or explosions and the enforced viewing of it every year drove me bonkers.
Anyway, that’s the past, but in this post-apocalyptic world, the powers that be have decided to give us a sequel. Not actually created by Raymond Briggs, but made with his blessing none the less.
As the original star of the tale, James would now be pushing 40 and so we have a new central character. His name is Billy and soon after moving into James’s old house his dog dies.
Before long he has found the accoutrements of the old snowman (hat, scarf) and a photo of the frosty golem with James and sets out to build another one.
As he misses his old companion and because this is a sequel, he goes one step further than James and knocks up a snow dog as well.
From then on it’s pretty much EXACTLY the same as the previous animation. The snow man pokes around the house, this time (because it’s a sequel) the snow dog starts to melt by the fire and then they all fly off to the north pole or something and have a party with some other snowy characters.
The one part of the original I liked was the flying. A brilliant sequence, as the boy hand in hand with his weird new friend flew across the land, seeing the night time world of 80’s Britain. Its excellence was only heightened by the haunting yet joyous song ‘Walking in the Air’ sung Peter Auty (the more famous version by Alled Jones was a cover version released in 1985, if you must know).
The song they have used for the parallel sequence in this sequel is atrocious. It sounds like an abominable cross between the worst of mid-seventies chart drivel and the forgettable weary warbling of an X-Factor runner up’s stab at the big time. Just dreadful.
I could say nice things about it. The animation is good and there are some nice sequences such as building of the snow man and dog but it’s nothing that wasn’t done in the original.
Like most sequels this is just a flagrant attempt to cash in on the success of its predecessor and it will no doubt get decent viewing figures this year for novelty value. But will it be held in such high regard as the first one in years to come? Not a chance.