Classic Claymation Christmas Specials – Dave’s Top 5
Christmas traditions take on many forms. Decorations, gifts, food, songs, and more are what let us know that we are immersed in the season to be jolly. But one of my favorite Christmas traditions is the return of claymation movies to television. It seems, growing up, that these movies were on T.V. every night of the holiday season, and I watched every one of them each year. In honor of one of my favorite holiday traditions, I bring you my top 5 Classic Claymation Christmas Specials.
Nestor The Long-Eared Christmas Donkey
In 1977, the geniuses who brought us the timeless claymation classic 'Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer' tried to replicate the success - and the entire storyline - of the original. Honestly, if you had a little too much egg nog, you could easily mistake the two. But 'Nestor' is so darn cute, he squeaks into the top 5. This special is narrated by Santa's donkey, Spieltote, voiced by country legend Roger Miller.
The Year Without a Santa Claus
This 1974 classic starred Mickey Rooney and Shirley Booth as Santa and Mrs. Claus, and tells the story of the year Santa wakes up with a cold and is told by his doctor that he should make some changes to his routine on Christmas. Santa decides to take a holiday, and it is up to the elves, Jingle and Jangle, to find people who still believe in Santa Claus. The elves run into trouble along the way flying between Heat and Snow Miser who are fighting, when they get shot down and are lost. Scary stuff, right? Well, not to spoil it for you, but there's a happy ending.
Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas
The 1993 story of Jack Skellington, from "Halloween Town" who opens a portal to "Christmas Town" and decides to celebrate the holiday. The story was originally going to be made into a 30-minute television special in the early 80's, but the idea was dropped. Burton (who worked for Disney at the time) picked up the idea, and a decade later, came up with this feature film that is absolutely brilliant.
Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town
Narrator Mickey Rooney plays Santa Claus in this 1970 claymation gem, which also stars Fred Astaire as the mailman whose truck breaks down. 'Santa Claus is Comin' to Town' takes its name from the famous Christmas song, but I will never, ever, ever forget the song 'One Foot in Front of the Other', which I catch myself singing from time to time for no reason whatsoever. So, before you watch the video below, you've been warned that you'll probably be singing the song for weeks - or the next 30 years. Enjoy.
Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer
America fell in love with claymation Christmas specials in 1964. Based on the 1939 song of the same name, 'Rudolph' has been telecast every year since 1964, making it the longest running Christmas TV special in history. Narrated by Burl Ives, the voice of Sam the Snowman, this rivals all T.V. Christmas specials, claymation or otherwise. The style has been copied, parodied, poked fun at and adored for nearly 50 years, and will likely be remembered for generations to come.