Too Much!

Heatmiser Somehow this got past my radar… tonight NBC is airing a live action remake of the "classic" Rankin/Bass animated Christmas special, The Year Without a Santa Claus. Must all our fond childhood memories be co-opted and repurposed? As a colleague of mine said to me, "Gen X has too much power."

In the 1974 original, Santa has a cold and wants to take the year off. NBC’s version is slightly different:

When his devious head elf, Sparky, tells him that he must "keep up with the times" – no matter how materialistic – Santa Claus resists, fearing that the holiday has become far too commercial. Convinced that no one believes in him anymore and that people have forgotten the real meaning of Christmas, Santa decides to take the year off and not deliver any gifts, much to the dismay of Mrs. Claus, and his two closest elves, Jingle and Jangle. When Santa tells them that he doesn’t think there are any children left who still care about the true spirit of Christmas, the two elves decide to prove him wrong.

In case you were wondering, John Goodman is Santa, Delta Burke is Mrs. Claus, and Ethan Suplee and Eddie Griffin are Jingle and Jangle. Of course, what most of us remember about The Year Without a Santa Claus is Heatmiser and Coldmiser, the feuding sons of Mother Nature. The original Heatmiser, as voiced by legend Paul Frees, seemed like he might be on the, uh, flaming side, but there is little doubt which way he swings in this new version… Harvey Firestien plays him. Michael McKean is Coldmiser.

If you want your memories ruined, check out the new version tonight at 9pm on NBC. If you want to relive the magic, the original is on ABC Family this Friday (12/15) at 7PM EST.

There has always been some weird moments and themes in these Rankin/Bass animated holiday specials. Like Hermey the Elf on Rudolph: Denist = Gay, right? He wore an ascot!

Weirder, creepier still is Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town (also 1970), where we learn the whole mythology of Chris Kringle and how he came to be Santa. It’s actually maybe the best of all of these specials — one of the few to acknowlege that there is a religious element at all to Christmas (not that that is what makes it good) — with some very memorable songs.

However, the first time he brings toys to children he sings the following song to some little kids:

"If you sit on my lap today
A kiss a toy is the price you’ll pay
When you tell what you wish for —
In a whisper
Be prepared to pay.

If you sit on my lap today
A kiss a toy is the price you’ll pay
When you sit on my left knee
Don’t be stingy
Be prepared to pay."

I know it was innocent at the time, but today, Dateline‘s "Catch a Predator" would be all over Santa’s shit if he sang that now. (And yes, I did see last week’s episode of Studio 60.) Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town, complete with that now-disturbing song, will be shown on ABC Family directly following The Year Without a Santa Claus on Friday.

In fact, as this post rambles completely out of controll, ABC Family is showing all of the Rankin/Bass specials as part of their annual 25 Days of Christmas extravaganza. Even the obscure and regularly-animated ones. Remember Jack Frost? Rudolph’s Shiny New Year? Rudolph & Frosty’s Christmas in July? These guys cranked out a new one every year during the ’70s, and I ate them up like so much sugary cereal.

But what I’d really like to see again is Cosmic Christmas, a really good, sci-fi themed animated special produced by the CBC that aired in America in syndication. It’s one of these specials people remember but no one could really prove existed. Until YouTube, that is.


  1. Cosmic Christmas! Holy crap! I never knew the name, but that used to air 500 times/day when I was a kid. If you're into LSD, highly recommended!

  2. Oh, and…
    >>As a colleague of mine said to me, "Gen X has too much power."
    That really should be "Gen X has too few ideas."

  3. >Must all our fond childhood memories
    >be co-opted and repurposed?
    yes. hence new young pony club.

  4. i tried to watch it, but it was terrible and i gave up after 45 mins.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *