tek's rating:

The Year Without a Santa Claus, ABC
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Caution: spoilers.

This stop-motion special is based on a book I haven't read. It originally aired in 1974 (the year before I was born), but I didn't see it until 2017. The story is told in flashback by Mrs. Claus (voiced by Shirley Booth), about a year "before you were born," when Santa Claus (Mickey Rooney) had a bad cold, and also thought that no one believed in him anymore. So he decided not to make his annual trip to deliver presents, that year. Mrs. Claus then briefly toyed with the idea of playing Santa Claus, herself, and I thought that would have made for a good special, but alas, she soon decided against it. Instead, she sent two elves, Jingle and Jangle, to go into the world and try to find an example of someone who still had Christmas spirit. The elves were carried by Vixen the reindeer, who was a baby at the time, and definitely seemed too small to carry them both. But she managed. Unfortunately, when they arrived in Southtown, USA, the weather was too hot for Vixen, so she got sick. Meanwhile, the elves met some kids, including a boy named Ignatius "Iggy" Thistlewhite, who said they didn't believe in Santa Claus. To make matters worse, a dogcatcher took Vixen to the pound, so the elves had to try to get her back, but the dogcatcher refused, and sent them to the mayor, to plead their case. The mayor, of course, didn't believe in Santa, either, and thought the whole thing was a hilarious joke. And he jokingly promised to help them if they could make it snow in Southtown, which it hadn't done in at least 100 years.

Meanwhile, when Santa found out the elves and Vixen had left, he went to Southtown to find them and keep them out of trouble. But before he could catch up with them, he met Iggy, and after a song by Santa as well as Iggy's father (who did still believe in Santa), Iggy changes his mind. (It helped that he later saw Santa flying away on Dasher, to get Vixen out of the pound, himself.) Santa then suspends his search for the elves, in order to take Vixen home to the North Pole before her illness could get any worse. Meanwhile, the elves called Mrs. Claus, who came to help them make it snow... by going to the Snow Miser (who's basically the same as Jack Frost). She asked him to make it snow in Southtown, but he couldn't do so without the consent of his brother, the Heat Miser. So, Mrs. Claus had to try to broker some kind of deal between them.

That's all I want to reveal of the plot, except to say that it does all have a happy ending. However, I didn't particularly care for most of the original songs. (I thought the Snow Miser's song was okay, but then a very subtly altered version was done by the Heat Miser, and by then I was already tired of it.) There were a couple of older songs used in the special, and I liked them better, particularly "Blue Christmas," which I thought worked pretty well in the context of the story. Also I found most of the story too silly, in a boring way. So I was thinking I'd end up rating the special "meh," but later on I thought it got a bit more interesting, enough for me to give it one smiley. Oh, and I did like the inclusion of children of multiple ethnicities, from around the world. Anyway, I hope I'm not forgetting anything I wanted to say. I'm glad to have finally seen the special, though I doubt I'll feel the need to ever watch it again.

There was a live-action remake in 2006, which I haven't seen, and a stop-motion sequel to the original in 2008, which I also haven't seen.

specials index
The Enchanted World of Rankin/Bass; TV Tropes; Wikia; Wikipedia

stop-motion specials: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer * The Year Without a Santa Claus * Rudolph's Shiny New Year * Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey *
Rudolph & Frosty's Christmas in July * Pinocchio's Christmas * The Leprechauns' Christmas Gold * The Life & Adventures of Santa Claus

animated specials: Frosty the Snowman * 'Twas the Night Before Christmas * Frosty's Winter Wonderland * The Hobbit * The Stingiest Man in Town

TV series: The New Adventures of Pinocchio * Tales of the Wizard of Oz * ThunderCats * SilverHawks

Movies: Mad Monster Party? * The Flight of Dragons * The Last Unicorn