A Shiny New Year and a Santa-less Christmas – Ring out the old with a last hurrah!
And so, for my last seasonal review, I've chosen The Year Without a Santa Claus. Not because I was particularly building toward it as a favorite, but because, if you get the DVD, it comes bundled with two other shows. One of those shows is Rudolph's Shiny New Year, and so there you have it.
The Year Without a Santa Claus is based on the novel written by Phyllis McGinley. Santa (Mickey Rooney once again) isn't feeling too hot so he decides to take a vacation, since it looks like people have stopped believing in him anyway. Mrs. Claus (Shirley Booth) decides that the world shouldn't do without Santa for a year so she decides that maybe she should don the coat and hat and do the job herself. But before taking that step, she decides to send Vixen carrying a pair of elves, Jingle Bells and Jangle Bells (Bob McFadden and Bradley Bolke), to find evidence that the world still believes in Santa to try to cheer him up.
They end up in Southtown where Vixen is caught by the dogcatcher and the elves have no money to spring her. They speak to the mayor who amazingly doesn't believe that they're elves, and jokingly tells them that if they can prove their story by making it snow in Southtown, that he'll have Vixen released.
Santa gets wind of it all and runs down to help and meets a kid who doesn't believe in Santa. Jingle, Jangle and Mrs. Clause pay a visit to Snow Miser (Dick Shawn), Heat Miser (George S. Irving) and Mother Nature (Rhoda Mann) to try to arrange a day of snow.
It's a quite layered story and nicely done. It probably helps that it's based off of a previous work. A work that was adapted again in 2006 as a TV movie with Delta Burke, Harvey Fierstein, Eddie Griffin, Michael McKean, Carol Kane, and John Goodman.
In Rudolph's Shiny New Year, Rudolph (Billie Mae Richards again) is sent on a mission to find Happy, the baby new year. He's run off because people kept laughing at his big ears. Father Time (Red Skelton) needs to pass on his crown and if Happy isn't brought back by the time the current year ends, time will stop and it will be December 31st forever. (How you can have "time will stop" and "forever" in the same sentence is beyond me.)
He meets some friends who come along to help him and they follow the baby new year through the Archipelago of Last Years where old years go to retire. Along the way, the are accosted by a giant mean bird named Aeon (Paul Frees). His time is up the moment the new year starts, so he's highly motivated to prevent them from finding Happy.
It's really quite creative.
And there are some interesting songs along the way. Not my favorite, but they do the job well enough. The song "The Moving Finger Writes", for instance, is oddly haunting at times. I won't be humming it to myself much, but it is an interesting one to listen to.
Also available on the DVD is Nestor the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey. I won't go into that one in detail right now, but it's not bad. (There's also a RiffTrax available for it if you're interested.)
The Year Without a Santa Claus gets a 7 / 10.
Rudolph's Shiny New Year also gets a 7 / 10.
Both The Year Without a Santa Claus and Rudolph's Shiny New Year are unrated and fine for everyone.
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