Santa Clause Is Coming (Back) to Town! Tim Allen & Costars Tease Joyous ‘Santa Clauses’

Tim Allen in 'The Santa Clauses'
Disney/James Clark

What does it take to be Santa in the modern era, with Christmas spirit in low supply and Amazon Prime magically dropping off presents within 24 hours? That’s the question driving Disney+’s new six-episode series, The Santa Clauses, which revisits the world of the Santa Clause feature films. (Two installments debut November 16, followed by weekly drops.)

When we return to the North Pole, the ever-jolly sugar-guzzling Santa/Scott Calvin (Tim Allen, taking on the memorable role he last played in 2006) is questioning his nearly 30-year run delivering gifts to the children of the world — and he’s interviewing replacements. One of the not-so-impressive auditions comes from former NFL quarterback Peyton Manning, who cameos as himself. While the football star brought plenty of magic to his gridiron career, his lackluster “Ho-Ho-Homaha” fails to impress Santa.

THE SANTA CLAUSE, Eric Lloyd, Tim Allen, 1994

Buena Vista Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection

But why is Santa looking to give up the gig in the first place? Besides turning 65, “Santa’s losing his magic, and that’s telling him maybe it’s time to find a successor,” explains executive producer Jack Burditt, also the creator of Allen’s decade-long ABC/Fox sitcom Last Man Standing. He’s facing not only magical misfires but weight loss and crankiness — signs that lead the elves to worry about his future as Santa (after all, who wants a Santa who isn’t jolly or round?). And while Manning clearly isn’t the best fit for the sleigh (sorry, Peyton), Santa is on task to find the ideal candidate to take up the magical reins.

Allen, however, only had to step back into Santa’s big red suit and don the long, frosty white beard to find his festive footing again. “I walked through that first day [on set] in the full regalia and I forgot what an image it is,” he says. “And it’s amazing how little we changed. We’re right back to being Mr. and Mrs. Claus.”

Allen is also right back to ribbing his onscreen wife, Elizabeth Mitchell, when he notes that his transformation is the more taxing of the two. “She puts her hair in a bun and looks gorgeous. I’ve got to gain 138 pounds eating just pork sausage and sitting in a chair, because it’s not magic. I actually gain the weight!” he says, grinning in jest. Adds Mitchell: “It was really nice walking through a room full of kids and seeing the way they respond to [us].”

To craft the story about filling Santa’s boots, the writers went back to 1994’s The Santa Clause, when single dad Scott startles Saint Nick on Christmas Eve, sending the old Santa tumbling off his roof to perish. But there will be small nods to 2002 sequel The Santa Clause 2 and 2006’s The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause as well. “The movies set up these amazing bits of mythology and the idea that Santa isn’t necessarily a person but a mental [state] that might get passed on,” executive producer and director Jason Winer says.

While Santa ponders his list of options (and checks it twice!), watch out for tech guru Simon Choksi (Kal Penn). The widowed father to believer Grace (Rupali Redd) emerges as a potential contender, even if his faith in Santa pales in comparison to his daughter’s. “Simon is very enamored by this job, but his spirit gets hijacked by greed, so he sort of becomes Santa’s nemesis,” says Penn. “His relationship to his daughter really brings him back to what means the most in life.”

Viewers can expect character returns so good they belong on the nice list, like David Krumholtz’s beloved cantankerous elf Bernard. (“Every writer in the room on the first day was like, ‘OK, how do we get Bernard back?’” recalls Burditt.) Scott’s now-grown son from his first marriage, Charlie (Eric Lloyd), also appears. And prepare to meet both Claus children: tech-obsessed 16-year-old Cal (Austin Kane) and curious 12-year-old Sandra (Elizabeth Allen-Dick).

But the icing on the sugar cookies for Allen was that it all comes down to family: Allen-Dick is his real-life daughter with actress wife Jane Hajduk. “It meant the world to me to do an especially emotional scene with Elizabeth where Sandra doesn’t want to leave the North Pole,” Allen recalls. “[This series] was a life-changing affair for me.” Sounds to us like a Christmas wish come true!

The Santa Clauses, Series Premiere Wednesday, November 16, Disney+