Actor Ed Asner reprises his role as Santa Claus, the only holdover from the 2003 film. Jim Parsons (“The Big Bang Theory”) takes over the title role from Mr. Ferrell and while he’s a suitable substitute, the teleplay by Thomas Meehan, Bob Martin, Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic makes Buddy significantly dumber than the Buddy of the movie, who was mostly just naïve and sheltered.
The story is identical: One Christmas Eve, a baby Buddy climbed into Santa’s sack and returned with Santa to the North Pole where Buddy was raised by elves. When he’s an adult, Santa reveals to Buddy that his father lives in New York and Buddy, filled with delusions about having the “world’s greatest dad” seeks him out, finding disappointment initially but eventually a new, loving family.
“Buddy’s Musical Christmas” changes some of the settings from the film – the department store is out, a coffee shop is in for the big fight when Buddy takes on a “fake” Santa – and animation allows for some fanciful diversions, including a flight on a snowflake, but most of the story beats from the film survive to this new edition.
Unlike “How Murray Saved Christmas,” a more inspired holiday newcomer with more memorable music that debuted on NBC earlier this month, “Elf” offers some slight, warmed over charms, but viewers would be better off catching one of the umpteen TV showings of the original “Elf” movie, including at 8 p.m. Friday on ABC Family.