I hope you are enjoying the countdown so far. It is a bit of a reboot, but for those of you who are new here, welcome.
I remember when I was a kid in the days before VCRs and DVDs and the like, we lived by the TV schedule. If you missed the airing of one of these Christmas specials, you were out of luck. In today’s day and age, you get multiple airings and recording is as easy as the touch of a button. If you screw that up, you can always hop over to YouTube or log on to your favorite streaming service. And of course, I hosed up recording this one this year. I have one last shot on December 20, wish me luck.
9. Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town – 1970
Fred Astaire plays your friendly neighborhood mail carrier and he narrates the story of Santa Claus’ origins. Mickey Rooney begins his run as Kris Kringle/St. Nicholas/Santa Claus.
This special gives us Burgermeister Meisterburger, a despotic ruler who hates toys and fun in general. A clan of toy makers raises Kris Kringle, an orphan left on their doorstep in a basket as a baby. Eventually, Kris decides to become the deliverer of toys to the children of Somber Town, which is ruled by Burgermeister.
Kris is branded as an outlaw even as he falls in love with the local schoolmistress. The story also explains how it came to be that reindeer can fly as the Winter Warlock provides the magic feed corn for this central element of the legend.
When he was dropped off with the Kringles, Kris wore a name tag that said “Claus.” It was a short walk to Santa Claus from there.
I enjoy this one for numerous reasons. I look at it as the origin story of Santa Claus (as plausible as anything else), but it also tells the tale of how Jessica, Somber Town’s schoolmarm, became Mrs. Claus. Kris’ outlaw status drives our merry band of toy-distributing fugitives all the way to the North Pole. I believe you need to be something of a rebel to change the world.
I don’t recall noticing any odd overtones or subtext with this other than maybe a shot at Eastern Bloc and Iron Curtain-type governments. Of course, the classic Christmas song Santa Claus is Coming to Town is included, a great tune that has been covered and recorded more times than I can count. The song dates back to 1934, and even Bruce Springsteen has covered it.
Stay tuned kiddies, more Supermarionation is on the way.
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On the 11th Day of Christmas My True Love Gave to Me An Animated Classic
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