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The One-Line Summary: When Santa Claus (voiced by Mickey Rooney) catches a cold just weeks before Christmas, his doctor tells him maybe it’s time to make some changes as nobody really cares about the holiday anymore anyway, prompting St. Nick to send elves Jingle (voiced by Bob McFadden) and Jangle (voiced by Bradley Bolke) out of the North Pole and go learn if people have truly given up on the spirit of Christmas.
The Two-Line Blurb: Directed by Jules Bass, Arthur Rankin Jr., The Year Without a Santa Claus is a 1 hour stop-motion animated television special that first aired in 1974, full of colorful characters and sing-a-long songs that has become a standard for the season. While it’s never gained the popularity of other holiday animated films of the time, the popular feature remains fun to watch and iconic for its clever story and excellent production value, including very charming puppets and great musical numbers.
The Three-Line Set-up: This moment is all about the conflict and begins when Santa is run down with a cold and depressed when he believes that the Christmas spirit is lost in the children of the world. His elves Jingle and Jangle take reindeer Vixen to fly them out and investigate but are shot down over a small city called Southtown, where vixen is mistaken for a dog and impounded by the local dog-catcher. The elves befriend a boy named Ignatius Thistlewhite (voiced by Colin Duffy) who takes them to see the Mayor, a cynical man who doesn’t believe the jolly elves story but is willing to release the now sickly Vixen if the elves can make it snow on Christmas day, something that never happens in this warm Southern town.
The Four-Line Moment: The elves return to the North Pole and enlist the help of Mrs. Claus (Shirley Booth) who claims that the only way to make it snow is to visit the man who makes the snow, Snow Miser (Dick Shawn), but when they implore him for the favor, he claims he can’t as Southtown is under Heat Miser (George S. Irving) control. So, it’s off to see the man who keeps things warm, who, like his counterpart, sings and dances at the chance to talk about himself. The problem is that Heat Miser won’t give up Southtown unless Snow Miser gives up something in return, in this case, the North Pole, something that disheartens Mrs. Claus, though she comes up with a plan just the same. The moment showcases two of the best songs in the show and features two very memorable animated characters that are sure to inspire imaginations in young viewers.
The Five-Word Review: Good old-fashioned animated fun.