Weekly Muppet Wednesday: Lightning

Lightning

Michael Wermuth Jnr.

LIGHTNING

Character.lightningBest-known Role:
A young reindeer-in-training, who can fly faster than the speed of lightning.

Most Notable Appearance:
Elmo Saves Christmas, 1996

Performer:
Joey Mazzarino

WHO IS LIGHTNING?
Lightning is a young reindeer who resides at the North Pole, featured most prominently in the Sesame Street special Elmo Saves Christmas. He’s too young to pull Santa Claus’ sleigh on Christmas Eve, but in his desire to do so in the future, he hides in Santa’s sack of presents to see what it’s like. Unfortunately, this is what causes Santa Claus, who has been delivering toys since before Elmo was born, to get stuck down a chimney for the first time. After Elmo saves Santa, he finds out that Lightning was the reason he got stuck, and tells Lightning that he’s grounded.

The next day, Elmo uses one of the wishes Santa gave him for saving him to wish that it’d be Christmas every day. Santa finds out and goes to get Elmo to reconsider, but since all the other reindeer are too tired from the previous night, he’s forced to let Lightning take him to Sesame Street. When Santa can’t convince Elmo to take back his wish, Santa has Lightning, who can fly faster than the speed of light, take Elmo to the future, to see Christmas in the Spring, Summer, Fall, and once again in Winter.

Eventually, Elmo learns that it’s better when Christmas is only once a year, but when he makes his wish to return things back to normal, he breaks his magic snow globe before the wish can be completed. Lightning then saves the day when he mentions his ability to go faster than the speed of light, which gives Elmo the idea that if Lightning can take him to the future, he can also take Elmo back in time to the night he saved Santa Claus. This time, after saving Santa and accepting a present that doesn’t grant wishes, instead of grounding Lightning like before, Santa tells Lightning that he’s considering having Lightning pull his sleigh next year. As Santa and Lightning leave, Lightning promises Elmo that he’ll come by every Christmas Eve.

While Elmo Saves Christmas is Lightning’s only major appearance, the puppet has occasionally been used again, such as in Sesame Street Goes to the Doctor, in which his antlers are sore, and was reused as Charles Blitzen in Elmo’s Christmas Countdown.

Charlesblitzen

WHY DOES ELMO SAVES CHRISTMAS NEED LIGHTNING?
If Lightning didn’ stow away in Santa’s bag, Santa wouldn’t have gotten stuck down the chimney, and the plot for Elmo Saves Christmaswouldn’t set in. More importantly, if Lightning wasn’t so fast, Elmo wouldn’t see what Christmas would be like if it were every day (well, he would, but it would take longer). And even more importantly, if Lightning couldn’t travel backwards in time, we’d still be getting Christmas every day, which sounds more like a good thing than it actually is.

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