Short: “Toy Story of Terror! (TV Short 2013)”

Shorts. They can be all sorts of things. Fun, entertaining, scary, and silly. Of course they can also be the kind you wear, but that’s clearly not now. Some shorts may seem like they can only be enjoyed by a given audience, say children, but that’s not true at all. If the story is there, and if you like the characters enough, you’ll no doubt enjoy whatever shenanigans they get themselves into.

The Disney-ABC Domestic Television short film “Toy Story of Terror!”, is a silly, slightly spooky (in that fun way), and exciting short that all audiences will no doubt enjoy each and every year.

This animated short features the voice talent of Tom Hanks (upcoming “Inferno”, “Sully”), Tim Allen (upcoming episodes “Last Man Standing”, “Cristela”), Joan Cusack (“The Stinky & Dirty Show”, “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping”), Carl Weathers (“Chicago P.D.”, “Colony”), Stephen Tobolowsky (“Fuller House”, “The Goldbergs”), Timothy Dalton (“Penny Dreadful”, “Toy Story That Time Forgot”), Wallace Shawn (“Regular Show in Space”, “The Stinky & Dirty Show”), Don Rickles (“Toy Story That Time Forgot”, “Toy Story Toons: Partysaurus Rex”), Kristen Schaal (upcoming episodes “Bob’s Burgers”, “The Last Man on Earth”), Kate McKinnon (upcoming film and episodes “Office Christmas Party”, “Saturday Night Live”), Lori Alan (“Son of Zorn”, “Mad”), Peter Sohn (“The Good Dinosaur”, “Party Central (Short 2014)”), and Emily Hahn (“Camp Cool Kids”, “Toy Story That Time Forgot”).

The film was written and directed by Angus MacLane (“Finding Dory”, “Toy Story Toons: Small Fry (Short 2011)”).

The film originally aired on Oct. 16, 2013 on ABC.

It comes but once a year. The holiday special’s are a tried and true tradition, and one that never ceases to amaze me. No really, I’m always amazed. I get so excited for each and every one, even though I end up missing the majority of them, that I always make the ridiculous plan of sitting down and watching them. This year, at least for now, I’m going to approach things differently. I’m going to watch them! If anything, I’ll realize that I missed my opportunity to see them as a kid. That in that time, I could’ve just enjoyed them for what they are. Silly specials timed for a given holiday. Or, if I’m betting correctly, I’ll discover that I’ll always enjoy seeing them, and will want to keep them as part of my holiday traditions. Hell, I may even discover that I love them. That would be something.

In this case, what’s not to love?!

It’s a “Toy Story” film for goodness sake, even if it’s less than 30 minutes. As it’s merely a bridge until a new one comes out, which at the time probably wasn’t even a certainty, it’s a great way to get some kind of fix you didn’t know you wanted or needed. One more adventure with character’s you love! It’s impossible to resist.

And for me, and hopefully many others, that’s exactly what happened this year. I originally saw it three years ago, but I think I missed the last two years, for whatever reason. I’m kind of glad for that because I was able to just enjoy it all over again. Sure I remembered it well, but that didn’t matter. It didn’t even present as a possible issue. Knowing that, I’m hoping next year I’ll be able to enjoy it when I watch it once more.

Now to actually (and briefly), as there isn’t much to say, let’s talk about this short!

It’s fun! It’s exactly what it needs to be, and exactly what you’d expect from Disney and Pixar.

Familiar animation and character’s that are still growing, while showing that their past’s are still crucial to who they each are. I was surprised by how much humanity was infused with each character in such a short time. The fact that there was a full feature film’s amount of drama on display was nothing short of amazing. Perhaps because I’m so used to the feature films. It’s also a plus, because you once again get to witness what makes these character’s iconic and so endearing. The loyalty and friendship that’s ever present and carries each and every one of them. Even the new-ish character’s I just loved all over! That itself just speaks to the work done with “Toy Story 3”.

What makes this short work, on all levels, and makes it fun, even for me, is that it’s got familiar elements you’d expect from both the studio’s and this particular holiday.

It’s funny in all the right places, and just a tad spooky, but in that fun way you’d want as this is a kids program after all. Never the less, it’s still so well done that as an adult, if you’re in the right mindset, mind you, you too can enjoy it. There was one part in this short, I think about half way through, when Jessie’s looking to hide and something’s lurking behind a curtain, and suddenly it just appears and scares her. I must admit, I did jump a slight bit. I guess this being only the second time was a good thing. Still, it shows the level of fun that was trying to be achieved. MacLane wanted to try and sort of scare the littlest of audience member’s, and it probably worked. As I’ve never asked my nephew’s, I can’t say with any kind of certainty.

What also worked was the meta approach, which I’m leaving up to you too figure out, and the mystery. It was funny and perfect. Perhaps this was the best way to give both kid’s and adult’s something to relate to equally. Explaining how horror film situations usually play out, whilst going through their own horror film situation, was just downright funny, and somehow allowed for film’s spooky bits to work well. Then, keeping with tradition, it turned into an adventure film! Can’t have one of these film’s without needing to round up everyone and save at least one of the toys from some terrible fate!

I almost forgot one plus, which I still loved, but not as much as I did the first time. Michael Giacchino (upcoming films “Doctor Strange”, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”), being the brilliant man that he is, scored this film! What?! I didn’t originally know that, and upon reading the credits, it explained a lot. Again, which is also (probably) for the thousandth time, I’m biased when it comes to Giacchino. Nonetheless, he crafted a score that was able to capture all the elements I’ve now mentioned. He’s the reason I was able to fall for the mystery and suspense that was being created. I definitely owe him, as he’s really what sold me that this short film wasn’t just a blast, but one that’s worth your time and love each year.

Short films, even those presented on TV, can be just as fun as any other type of program on TV. Throw in favorite characters and a given holiday, and you’ve got a program that may be quite impossible to resist. Show’s like this, may run each year, which could grow tiresome for some people, but those that are just so well done, even newer ones, have everything you need to make your holiday complete!

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