ET: Etc? There’s no place like Home for the holidays…

It may be a 'commerical' venture but even now, ET still works some magic...

There’s no place like home?

ET, even  nearly four decades later, is still considered one of the most heart-warming family films ever made. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the time since, you will know that the 1982 Steven Spielberg movie tells  the story of a young boy, Elliot (Henry Thomas) who discovers a small visitor from another world (whom he names ET – as in Extra-Terrestrial) and how they protect each other until ET can find a way to get home.  Much hilarity, empathy, drama and flying bicycles ensue.

The possibility of a sequel to the film has occasionally been mentioned in hushed whispers, but it seems to be one of the very few cases where Hollywood has decided against the obvious profit-potential for the sake of keeping the magic of the original intact. However… there’s now a short follow-up of sorts, with ET returning to Earth to find his long-lost friend and playing catch-up, each expressing in their own way the importance of family.

Whether you consider canonical or not, the ‘short’ film is timed for the message of Thanksgiving (the American holiday of the last Thursday in November  where families give thanks for what they have a day before hitting the Black Friday stores with sharp elbows and wallets to claim what they don’t in the sales) and the run up to Christmas. However rather than a purely altruistic venture, the short is technically a technology promotion, with the internet and several other tech changes highlighted during the story. If you’re in the UK, the sign-off is for SKY and if you’re in the US it’s for Comcast xfinity. The short has already appeared in the US as a commercial during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade coverage and looks also to be featured in cinemas, with a two-minute version and a shorter, more standard-sized commercial on tv screens over the holidays.

Purists will point out that the UK’s then telecom giant BT also used the alien visitor and the familiar soundtrack during their 1990s campaign, claiming ‘BT now has ET‘ and encouraging its customers to ‘stay in touch‘… and that, technically, a group of ET-like species can be glimpsed in the corner of the screen during a Senate scene in the otherwise unconnected Star Wars prequels, but this is the alien’s most prominent return so far.