If there was a duo besides Santa and Jesus that virtually made Christmas what it is today, it’s the television producing team of Arthur Rankin Jr. and Jules Bass. I’ve already discussed some of their work, and today I will be talking about two of their more famous projects.
The Year Without a Santa Claus spent a few decades in virtual obscurity. While more popular specials were still getting their play on television, it took a while for this one to get its fair shake. Now, you can’t go a Christmas season without stumbling across it on television.
Stricken by a cold on Christmas, and under the impression that no one cares about the holiday anymore, Santa decides that he’s going to take the year off. This doesn’t sit to well with Mrs. Claus, probably because her husband is trying to call in sick the one day a year he actually has to work. Her plan is to send two elves out on an adventure to find people that still believe in Santa. When the boys get into trouble in Southtown, USA it’s up to Mrs. Claus to talk to both the Heat Miser and Snow Miser in order to get it to snow in Southtown.
Anyone who has seen the special knows exactly what the appeal of it is. The Heat Miser and Snow Miser are compelling characters and their introductions are the most interesting parts of the story. They’re complete opposites of each other and it’s fun to see them bicker like two brothers would. There’s also the nice storyline of Santa Claus going incognito in Southtown and finds a family that is still keeping the Christmas spirit alive and well.
The songs are nice and the production values are about what you would expect from any Rankin-Bass production. These specials usually don’t carry over, but it’s a nice touch to recognize Mickey Rooney reprising his role from Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town.