The Year Without a Santa Claus

The last of the supermarionation specials on my countdown, and I am actually watching it I as write this, the last Rankin and Bass Christmas special that really mattered, is featured as I continue my Top 10 Favorite Christmas Movies/Specials.

  1. The Year Without a Santa Claus – 1974

Mickey Rooney reprises his role as Santa after his turn in Santa Claus is Coming to Town, and Shirley Booth jumps in as Mrs. Claus and our narrator. Santa wakes up and isn’t quite feeling right. Mrs. Claus summons a curmudgeon of a doctor who convinces St. Nick that no one cares, nobody believes in Santa and that Christmas doesn’t matter anymore. Santa’s kneejerk reaction is to cancel Christmas.

Santa goes back to bed and Mrs. Claus cooks up a scheme to send two elves down the populace to find some Christmas belief. Jingle and Jangle fly down with Vixen and get themselves in a spot of trouble. Vixen ends up in the pound and Santa zips down to find out what’s going on.

Eventually the mayor of Southtown, USA, makes the little boy a deal – make it snow in Southtown and he’ll declare a holiday for Santa Claus. Santa meets a young boy whose father very much believes in Christmas and eventually teaches his son to believe.

We meet and are entertained by Snow Miser and Heat Miser, as Mrs. Claus has to negotiate a little snow in Southtown. I am disturbed by the fact that many of the 20-somethings I know have never heard of Snow or Heat Miser. Eventually, Mrs. Claus has to get the Miser brother’s mother, Mother Nature, involved. You don’t mess with Mother Nature.

I enjoy this one for its innocence and message of Christmas spirit. I won’t get into my religious beliefs, or lack thereof, but I do believe in Santa Claus. These Rankin and Bass supermarionation specials conveyed the message of keeping Christmas and learning how to feel the spirit. I may have mentioned it before, but there is a sweetness to these Rankin and Bass specials.

Mickey Rooney is phenomenal as Santa Claus. And Snow and Heat Miser are highly entertaining.

Jack Frost is okay, Rudolph’s Shiny New Year is crap, and Frosty the Snowman is the first Rankin and Bass special done in traditional 2D animation. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Santa Claus is Coming to Town and The Year Without a Santa Claus are the only three that matter, and as I am fond of saying, they are “filmed in Supermarionation.”

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