Debuted in 1997
Plot in 3 Sentences: Cruella DeVil fires Anita on Christmas Eve and is then the victim of an accident, when a Christmas tree falls on her. When she wakes up, she is visited by three spirits who show her scenes from her past, present and future. Realizing she can be a better person, she gives Anita her job back and spends holidays with their family and all the puppies.
Fun Fact: This is the only episode of the TV series to be released on DVD.
My thoughts: I am a professed Disney fan, but my enthusiasm is geared more towards the movies and theme parks and less toward their television offerings. This is the only episode of the show that I have ever seen, but it doesn’t leave me wanting to watch more. The glimpse that we get into Cruella DeVil’s past here shows that she grew up with parents who were absent most of the time, leaving her in the care of nannies. We see that the one gift she always wanted and never got was a Dalmatian puppy, which is meant to give some meaning to her cruel nature where the puppies are concerned. Overall, though, it feels like a mighty big stretch. The problem with doing a Christmas Carol themed episode of a regular show is that, unless you’re drastically changing the show, the ‘Scrooge’ character has to go back to being bad after the episode is over. So the change for that one episode doesn’t mean much. There were a couple of funny moments in this one, though, including the fact that Cruella can’t find an open store to buy presents for everyone when she goes to spend Christmas with them, so she brings home office supplies from her office and hands them out instead. Overall, though, this one’s probably only for those who are already fans of the show.
Individual Superlative: When All Else Fails, End on a Pee Joke – At the end of the special, Cruella picks up a puppy to hug, only to be told she’s chosen Whizzer, who promptly pees on her. I have to think that Roger and Anita doomed him to this behavior by giving him the name Whizzer.
Want to Watch it? 101 Dalmatians: A Christmas Cruella is available on VHS, DVD and YouTube.