These specials are a great escape and a way to feel somewhat normal during yet another tumultuous holiday season. I’m not going to go into all of the post-COVID and global economic malaise we seem to find ourselves in. Turn this on and forget about all that stuff for even just a little while.
8. The Year Without a Santa Claus – 1974
Mickey Rooney reprises his role as Santa after his turn in Santa Claus is Comin’ 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 knee-jerk reaction is to cancel Christmas.
Santa goes back to bed and Mrs. Claus cooks up a scheme to send two hapless elves down the populace to find some Christmas belief and spirit. Jingle and Jangle fly down with Vixen and get themselves in a spot of trouble. Vixen ends up in the dog pound and Santa zips down to find out what’s going on. He meets a little boy who no longer believes in Christmas. He realizes that his new friend is indeed Santa Claus.
Eventually, the mayor of Southtown, USA, strikes a deal – make it snow in Southtown and he’ll declare a holiday for Santa Claus.
We meet and are entertained by Snow Miser and Heat Miser, as Mrs. Claus has to negotiate a little snow in Southtown. Eventually, Mrs. Claus has to get the Miser brother’s mother, Mother Nature, involved. And as well know, you don’t mess with Mother Nature.
I enjoy this one for its innocence and message of the 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 Comin’ 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.”
So far my favorites have been “animated” in one form or another. I have one or two more of those on the list; you’ll just have to log on to find out which ones.
12 Days of Knaak Christmas
On the 12th Day of Christmas My True Love Gave to Me A Twilight Zone Episode
On the 11th Day of Christmas My True Love Gave to Me An Animated Classic
On the 10th Day of Christmas My True Love Gave to Me An Incandescent Nose
On the 9th Day of Christmas My True Love Gave to Me A Sweet Backstory