Part 2 of my double feature (I watched both this and The Year Without a Santa Claus last week. I’m way behind.) is a classic in every sense of the word. I probably didn’t actually get a chance to watch it until I was about 10, when The Family Channel started the whole 25 Days of Christmas idea, but now, I always have to catch it when it’s on television.
Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town is a great origin story for Santa Claus. Narrated by Gene Kelly, the story unfolds as he tries to explain exactly how Santa Claus came to be. It’s a clever take on the mythos of one of the most iconic figures in pop culture.
What we all know about Santa Claus is what is depicted in countless movies or when the image is marched out to sling Coca-Cola, but this story goes back to his infancy, back when he was adopted by the family of toymakers named Kringle. Obviously, this story is not concerned with the historically accurate depiction of Saint Nicholas, but it’s a much more satisfying origin story to help explain to children the character that fills their lives with joy and magic. The special also takes time to throw in the lyrics of the song as well and answers a number of other questions children may have.
Another great aspect of Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town is the villain, Burgermeister Meisterburger. He’s truly evil, as the whole town he rules with an iron fist is a depressingly bleak place to be. To banish toys is one of the most supremely evil things anyone has done in a Rankin-Bass show and the fact that Kringle gets the best of him at every turn makes it all worth it.
If you like Rankin-Bass stuff, this one is probably appointment viewing for you, but if you somehow haven’t seen it yet, you should sit down and watch this one. NOW!
Fred Astaire, not Gene Kelly, narrated Santa Claus is Coming to Town