Much like its live-action counterpart, the story is about a human named Buddy who was raised by elves in Santa's workshop after accidentally crawling into Santa's knapsack as a baby. Upon discovering his true heritage, he embarks on a journey to New York City to reunite with his father and subsequently spread Christmas cheer to everyone he meets.
The special premiered on December 14, 2014 on NBC and borrows some of its elements from the Broadway musical, especially the songs.
This special provides examples of:
- Adaptation Distillation / Adaptation Expansion: This version melds elements from the film and the Broadway musical, adding new scenes not present in the original film while removing others. All the songs in the special are taken from the Broadway show (though the special's opening number is a revised version of the musical's opening "Christmastown").
- Jovie is made as a street-corner donation collector instead of a department store employee.
- Mr. Greenway also returns during the climax as the Big Bad.
- Blinding Bangs: Michael has these.
- Composite Character: Miles Finch and Mr. Greenway are combined into one character.
- I'll Tell You When I've Had Enough!: Buddy does this in a bar while drowning his sorrows in syrup, after Walter disowns him.
- Love at First Sight: Buddy is instantly smitten with Jovie the second he sees her, complete with little hearts floating around his head.
- Made of Iron: Buddy gets hit by a car at one point and it doesn't bother him in the slightest.
- Manic Pixie Dream Guy: Buddy.
- Post-Kiss Catatonia: Buddy freezes up and falls over with a happy sigh after getting a kiss from Jovie.
- Role Reprisal: Ed Asner plays Santa, and is the only actor from the original movie to return to the role.