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PATCH'S DOWNFALL

As Book Two of Santa Claus: The Movie opens, Christmas Day dawns cold over New York and all the world. And back at North Pole Headquarters, Santa snoozes peacefully, more satisfied with his journey this year than he'd been previously. But as we will soon perceive, it is perhaps a satisfaction he will most certainly regret.

We see a boy wheeling a wooden bicycle out of the front yard of his house, and along the sidewalk. For the moment, he seems to be enjoying himself as he takes his little ride across the pavement. The operative words, folks, are for the moment. Already the front wheel wobbles unobtrusively as a poorly tightened screw which has been holding the bike to its frame begin to work itself loose. Seconds later, the bolt separates. The bike crashes to the sidewalk. It's a scene repeated in every house across the planet: all those wonderful toys, developed using that infernal Patch-o-Matic Supertoy Constructor, were in truth frauds, ready to fall apart in the hands of those who use them!

Weeks later, back at NPH, Dooley sits in his study, reading peacefully ....in a truly rare quiet moment. Suddenly, without warning, a clatter and crash sends the old elf leaping up from his chair! An entire plethora of broken toys hurtle down Dooley's fireplace! Santa's Senior Second-in-Command can't believe his eyes. He must get word to the Boss!

"Returns are coming back from everywhere!"

"Returns? We've never had returns!" Santa gasps in dismay. But the evidence is there before their eyes. And Dooley knows whom he must send for. There is, as you've probably guessed, only one explanation for all this: Patch has been put in charge of the toymaking.

Patch now reluctantly enters; Anya sees that the elf is doing his best to pretend that there's nothing wrong. But the haunted gleam in his eyes tells another story. He's just caused potential damage to Santa Claus's very reputation. There is no way he can change or even attempt to deny that. "Hi there," he says feebly, knowing he's about to confront Santa in a way even he cannot truly comprehend.

Santa and Patch say nothing for a beat, then.....

"Being tied to a desk suits some elves," Patch muses, "but other of us are more free spirits."

"I'm sure you had no idea, I know that," Santa says. "Patch, how can I say this?"

But Patch, fearing the words he knows he is doomed to hear, decides to beat Santa to the punch, in a sense. As he speaks now, he unties his bright red Assistant's apron, and begins taking it off. "I just feel that red really isn't my color, y'know?" says he.

Moments later, Patch watches from a distance as Santa presents the Assistant's apron to Puffy, who takes it from Santa's somewhat trembling hands. Then, upon returning to the stables, the impulsive Patch lets his feelings out full force.

"He'll never have an assistant as good as me! Let's face it, he just doesn't like me!" All of the reindeer stare at their beloved keeper with an impressive degree of sorrow in their eyes. None of them, however, feel that sorrow more strongly than Donner, who had first been taken under Patch's wing, so to speak. Fittingly, it is the vertigo-laden deer to whom Patch turns to say his very last goodbye. "Oh, boys, I'm gonna miss you, you know that, don't you?" He embraces Donner tenderly, and a single tear trickles down Donner's furry cheek.

Now, we see Patch wielding a single bundle on a stick slung against his shoulder. He has stepped out into the snow, and he looks ahead in resolution. He doesn't want to look back, but look back he does. The magical aurora underneath which North Pole Headquarters flourishes is slowly beginning to disappear. And Patch knows, achingly, that from this point forward, he is on his own.

WASHINGTON, D.C.: ENTER B.Z.

Now, we find ourselves gazing at the familiar sight of the Capitol. It is now just shortly after the New Year. As we look in on the inside of the Rayburn Building, a Senate Subcommittee Hearing is in progress. The topic: the controversy over the safety of toys and the companies who manufacture them. The investigation's leading figure is now about to begin his testimony.

"Now, sir," growls the Chairman of this Subcommittee (Jerry Harte), "I'm asking you if this item is manufactured by your organisation, the BZ Toy Manufacturing Corporation."

The slickly dressed gentleman wearing the standard business suit (John Lithgow) whispers something to the man next to him, presumably his attorney, before responding. ".....Uh, yes, Senator, this doll appears to be one of our own Betty Beauties."

At that point an aide is instructed to step up to the table where a sweet-faced doll and a stuffed panda have been placed. Now the aide sets an already-lit cigarette next to the doll. Within seconds, the doll's obviously flammable dress smokes and bursts into flames! The assembled audience gasps in horror.

"Well, what do you say to that, sir?" growls the Chairman.

"Well, Senator, I.....(heh-heh!....)....always did say that smoking could be hazardous to one's health," B.Z. comments matter-of-factly. Alas, the humor of the situation is lost all too soon.

"This is not a laughing matter, sir! This is a tragedy waiting to happen!" rants the Chairman angrily. "You, sir, are a disgrace to your profession!"

"Senator, with all due respect ---"

"And I believe THIS toy was advertised as being 'suitable for 3-year-olds'?!" The aide returns to the display table, and yanks off the head of the stuffed panda. He then turns the body upside down. The stuffing then comes out --- along with sawdust, lint, shards of broken glass and extra-sharp nails!

B.Z. wipes his brow. The sweat is dripping off this guy like ice water! "Senator," he stutters, "I'm more astonished than you are to see this --- and I can assure you that, if these items are not isolated examples, I can guarantee you that this will never happen again."

"Well, you better do more than that, sir," fumes the Chairman. "You better recall every single B.Z. Toy on the market --- or I'll personally see to it that your license to manufacture and distribute in the United States is revoked!" B.Z.'s face is a jar of putty, for obviously this man does not know the basics of being an excellent toy manufacturer, let alone a proper Chief Executive Officer.

Later, as B.Z. dodges a plethora of journalists (which we barely see), the ferocious windbag of a mogul rejoins his head of Research & Development, Dr. Eric Towzer (Jeffrey Kramer), for some .... well, guidance. It's not very good guidance, unfortunately. "The retail outlets are pulling our toys off the shelves so fast you'd think they were disease carriers," Towzer comments. "An article in the Post says that anyone who gives their child a B.Z. Toy should have his head examined. We've gotta meet a payroll by the end of the month for 2000 factory workers --- and our cash flow is flowing the wrong way --- right down the toilet!"

"You sure know how to cheer a guy up, Towzer," grumbles B.Z.

"What'll we do, B.Z.?"

But as B.Z. ponders the answer to that burning question......

"Patch --- gone?" bellows Santa. Back at the Pole, he, Anya and Dooley, along with Boog, Honka and Vout, are contemplating the ramafications of this earth-shattering development. Never before has an elf dared to willingly leave the North Pole; that would clearly open up doors which might prove potentially dangerous! "Where will he go? What will he do?" Santa wonders yet again. "The world is no place for an elf!"

"The world's a nice enough place, isn't it?" reasons Boog. Like his fellow Vendequm, he's had no knowledge of how the 20th Century works (keep in mind that they have spent virtually their entire lives here at the Top of the World).

"They send such nice letters from there," adds Vout. "It must be!" But is it really?

As we return to the New York scene, we follow Patch as he materializes before the unsuspecting eyes of a drunk guy (John Cassady). They stand together, gazing at a toy store's window. A display extolling the virtues of B.Z. Toys is being dismantled. Patch, unfortunately, knows this not. "They must be very popular," he muses. "Look how fast they're going..." Determined to investigate these "B.Z. Toys for Happy Girls and Boys," according to the display's main motif, the elf vanishes in the blink of an eye. The drunk, thinking he's seen some sort of ghost, just shrugs his shoulders.

PATCH MEETS B.Z.

In his slickly-designed office at his Corporate Headquarters, a frustrated B.Z. angrily ponders the next move his company will very likely make. He seems to be momentarily alone, but..... "Keeping banker's hours, eh? I thought you'd never get here!" chuckles a voice. It is, of course, Patch.

B.Z. tries to summon Ms. Abruzzi, his secretary, but Patch calmly reassures the unbelieving human that if anyone enters, the elf will merely vanish. After that silly introduction, our young hero begins his pitch: "You make toys, right?"

"Are you from the Federal Trade Commission?"

"No," replies the elf. "I'm from the North Pole."

"Look, junior, I've got enough on my mind without having to deal with an escaped lunatic!" bellows B.Z.

"How do you know I've escaped?"

"What are you?"

"I'm an elf." Patch goes on. "I gather you're a great toy-giver. Well, I'm a great toy-maker. We ought to get together."

"Why would I do that?" asks B.Z.

"Well, you know the old saying: Heaven helps those who help their elf," comments Patch.

"But why me?"

"I wanna help you."

"WHY?"

"So Santa Claus will appreciate me," Patch explains, somewhat sadly.

"I was right!" grunts B.Z. "You are a lunatic."

"Don't you believe in Santa Claus?"

"Why should I? He never brought me anything."

"That's because you probably were a naughty boy," Patch reasons.

"Yes," B.Z. muses with a brief, subdued chuckle. "I guess I was no angel. What did you have in mind, elf?"

"Just let me use your toy factory," Patch explains, "to make something special. Now, first things first, you stop making all your regular toys ---" B.Z. gulps at the strangeness of Patch's suggestion. "Well, I'm sure they're all fine and dandy, dandy and fine, but we won't be needing them anymore," the elf continues. Wellllll...... this might go a long, long way towards cleaning up B.Z.'s otherwise non-respectable public image, the mogul thinks to himself. "So how do we go about telling people about my 'something special'?"

"Advertise," B.Z. says simply.

"How do we do that?"

"In my line, television works best," the mogul replies.

"Oh, you mean those little picture-box thingies? Can we get on those?"

Oh, can they ever! Before long, Patch has B.Z.'s imagination fired up to the point where he, the elf, is proposing a worldwide live broadcast to push this 'something special'. "But that would cost a fortune!" B.Z. bellows.

" 'If you give extra kisses, you get bigger hugs.' That's what Santa's wife always used to tell me," Patch explains.

"You really are an elf, aren't you?"

"Well, anyway," Patch concludes his pitch, "that's all the 'advertising' you'll ever need."

"It better be! How many workers does this..... er, product require?" asks B.Z.

"Just me," responds the elf.

"No payroll?"

"Well, my needs are small: A bowl of stew, heavy on the dill, a cold place to sleep...." Somehow, to B.Z., this all sounds promising. "How much will all this cost?" he finally asks.

"Cost who?"

"Well, the people.... the people who will buy the toy."

"Oh, nothing. We're gonna give it away for free."

At that point, B.Z.'s hackles start turning red. This in turn, oddly enough, turns Patch on --- so to speak. "How do you turn your face so red so fast?" wonders the elf.

"For free?!?" bellows the human.

"Well, that's how we do it at the North Pole."

"Well, that's not how we do it here, in a free enterprise system where ----" Suddenly, B.Z. stops himself in midphrase. He seems to have gotten a brainstorm. "On the other hand," he muses, "this would go a long way towards cleaning up my public image.... hmmmm..... not a bad investment --- all that good PR ---" Finally, B.Z. turns to Patch again, declaring himself intrigued by the elf's proposal. "This product of yours," he finally asks. "What exactly.....is it?"

"Well, it's something that's easy to make.....," Patch explains. "It's cheap.... it's fairly tasteful..... you can turn them out by the thousands.... and...."

"Yes?"

"It's got a secret ingredient!" As he says this, Patch produces from the palm of his hand several precious grains of the reindeer fodder ingredient, twinkling like silver stars!

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