The turkey is eaten and the decorations are up. Television programmers throughout broadcast and cable have lined up a month long schedule to celebrate the joyous season. Between Black Friday and Christmas day, animated specials and live action films will provide the right dose of merriment during the month of December. With so many specials and films, there are a select few that need to be seen before the New Year.
“Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town” has remained a cherished classic since its premiere almost 40 years ago. The innovative stop motion animation proved to be a winning concept that perfectly tells the story of how Santa Claus came to be a part of the spirit of Christmas. Voiced by Mickey Rooney, Kris Kringle/Santa Claus was born in gloomy Sombertown and left on the doorstep of the mean-spirited Burgermeister. Later dumped at an orphanage, a blustery wind blows the sled and the baby to the other side of the mountain where a family of elves discovers the abandoned child. Kris Kringle is raised in a family of toymakers and his goal is to share those gifts with children in Sombertown. “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town” addresses the social restraints held under the laws made by the Burgermeister and how Kris Kringle’s gift giving cheered up Sombertown when they needed it the most.
Dr. Seuss is responsible for timeless classics in children’s literature. One of his most famous books, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” was originally published in 1957 and was subsequently turned into a television special in 1966. The half hour animated program was directly adapted from the book, which detailed the accounts of the Grinch, a cranky and wicked grouch, who sits atop Mt. Crumpit. The Grinch notices the festivities in the town below the mountain, Whoville. As the Grinch attempts to spoil Christmas and in the special, the song “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” plays while he completes his dirty deeds. In the end, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” is about togetherness and unity as the town of Whoville show the Grinch the true meaning of Christmas.
Guess who? He is jolly and has a happy soul. He has a corncob pipe and a button nose. Frosty the Snowman is the character behind these whimsical lyrics found in the aptly titled song “Frosty the Snowman,” written by Walter “Jack” Rollins and Steve Nelson. “Frosty the Snowman” was soon adapted into a half hour special in 1969.
Frosty is a snowman that comes alive when a group of school children steal a magician’s hat. When they place the hat on the newly created snowman, Frosty is brought to life. The sweet relationship between Frosty and one of the school children, Karen, makes this special a yearly favorite. Frosty needs to make it to the North Pole to preserve himself, but obstacles present themselves when the magician attempts to take the hat back from Frosty. This bittersweet tale of Frosty the Snowman has given new meaning to the original song and how it is more important to give than receive on Christmas.
Since 1997, TNT (or sister station TBS) has aired a 24- hour marathon of 1983’s “A Christmas Story” between Christmas Eve and Christmas day. “A Christmas Story” is a modern classic that ranks with “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Miracle on 34th Street” as one of the best Christmas films of all time. The film is set in 1940 and all 9-year-old Ralphie wants for Christmas is a Red Ryder carbine-action 200-shot range model BB gun. Ralphie’s hopes are constantly dashed throughout the film when everyone from his mother to his teacher to “Santa Claus” at the department store tells him that he “will shoot [his] eye out.” The Parker family dynamic is traditional in the sense that Ralphie’s parents are strong disciplinarians, who have the best interest of their children in mind.
No matter what you celebrate, these holiday specials are familiar and pleasant viewing during the long month of December.