Sunday, December 2, 2012

Who's the Best... Christmas Cartoon?

Doug:  OK, so my grammar's not the best today.  What it should say is, "What's the Best... Christmas Cartoon?"  I'm mainly looking at those shows that repeat year after year, but if you have another suggestion, throw it out to all of us!


david_b said...

Lots of nice entries, but clearly it's the Charlie Brown Christmas and How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

None will ever come close. But the most interesting special I find is 'Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer'.. Just look up the wikipedia page and you'll discover just how subtle the animated special had changed format over the years from the original 1965 version, with the addition of new dialog, some music, additional storyline about Yukon Cornelius. It's quite interesting..

Humanbelly said...

Let's see, the top contenders as far as annual ubiquity goes would have to be:


While there have, of course, been 10 bajillion more made since Rudolph and Charlie Brown sort of started the ball rolling in the very early 60's, I imagine these are the ones that resonate most strongly w/ us Bronze Age-d types, yes? And I pretty much call the first four on my list a tie. YEAR W/OUT is a (pretty good) sequel, but doesn't quite equal the first (COMIN' TO TOWN); FROSTY always devastated me when he did actually die---FAR too traumatic for a little child, I think, and his resurrection never fully erased that awful feeling of loss from a minute or two earlier; and DRUMMER BOY is just plain awful-- clearly produced in a massive hurry so Rankin/Bass could get another money-maker into the holiday broadcast mix.

I would, however, like to make a shout out for the absolutely hilarious and delightful TOY THAT SAVED CHRISTMAS from the VeggieTales folks. If it's not generally ranked with the classic specials from 40+ years ago, it certainly should be.


Inkstained Wretch said...

I'll have to agree with david b & Humanbelly: A Charlie Brown Christmas & How The Grinch Stole Christmas are the two absolute best.

I think the old-school two-dimensional animation of them is highly underrated. Yes, it is simple, even crude, by today's standards but you don't need fancy animation to convey either story. In fact, modern animation would probably be distracting, I think. Plus, the flat animation gives a certain quaintness to them that boosts the nostalgia factor.

That, and they have GREAT music. You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch never fails to put a smile on my face. The mellow jazz cords of Vince Guaraldi's A Charlie Brown Christmas score are perfect no matter what your mood is during the holidays. I listen to it constantly this time of year on my Ipod. It never gets old.

J.A. Morris said...

I love all the ones Humanbelly mentioned, but another favorite is 'Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas'. It's very touching without being maudlin at all and features some great Muppetry from Henson's gang.

Shameless plug time:
I've mentioned before that my wife and have a blog dedicated to holiday specials/episodes/movies:

We haven't posted any Christmas reviews yet this season, hopefully we'll get to that tonight.

But here's a review of a 'Spectacular Spider-Man' Thanksgiving episode that we recently posted:

Anonymous said...

The Grinch was always my favourite, but I remember liking "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" as a kid. I loved how it showed Kris Kringle in his younger days before he became was kind of like Santa Claus: The Origin!

Mike W.

Edo Bosnar said...

My absolute favorite is the Grinch. Great story, great animation and great songs/music - it still holds up after all these years.
A distant second would be The Year w/o a Santa Claus, mainly because of the Heat & Snow Misers and their song & dance numbers.
I like the Charlie Brown feature mainly for the music - good call on that one, Inkstained.
When I was a kid, I also really, really loved Rudolph, mainly because of the little elf who wants to be a dentist and Bumble the Snow Monster - I loved it when he got de-toothed and then later became a good guy (although I admit, when I was really little and saw it the first time, I remember how shocking it was when that old prospector and the monster fell off that cliff and were assumed dead).

Redartz said...

I definitely agree with the choices so far. As for the best, I'd say it's a toss-up between Charlie Brown and Rudolph.

Inkstained is quite right about the impact of the music in these two shows. Some of Guaraldi's tunes find play on my ipod not only during the holidays, but all year long.

Both shows have many great quotes; I love Sally's request for Santa to "just bring 10's and 20's"! Contrasting this with Linus' speech onstage about Christmas, Charles Shultz gave us all a lesson on commercialism while entertaining us thoroughly.

As for Rudolph, the characters really make the show. Besides the obvious leads (Hermie the elf, Rudolph, and my personal favorite Yukon Cornelius), we find the chief elf. He's a rather grumpy fellow for an elf, but makes a great foil for our aspiring dentist. Then there is the coach reindeer, who's attitudes on diversity would probably get him fired today! And of course, Rudolph's father, who attempts to hide Rudy's nose but in the end reveals that he recognized it's value all along! Incidentally, a trivia aside- several of the voice actors in this special also worked together on the 1967 Spiderman series. You may recognize the voices of Peter Parker, Betty Brant and J. Jonah Jameson among them.

Finally, there was a Hanna-Barbera Flintstones Christmas special broadcast several times. I don't believe it was shown every year, but do recall finding it enjoyable...

Dougie said...

I haven't seen the Charlie Browns for years- BBC 1 showed them when I was a kid. However, I have "Linus and Lucy" on the Fatboy Slim Late Night Tales cd.

In the 70s and 80s, we tended to have a Disney movie after the queen's Speech and maybe a Bond or a disaster movie in the evening.

Nowadays,we have the perennial hit or miss Dr. Who Special. Once such a novelty,this year's looks like yet another saccharine Dickensian fantasy.

Mike said...

Whenever the materialism of the holidays and news of fights at a mall over a pair of overpriced shoes gets me down, I really like watching Charlie Brown and Grinch mainly because of the stories. It brings the focus back to why these holidays exist in the first place -- faith for some; family, friends, and good will for all. After those two, its Year Without a Santa Clause only because of the Misers dance. Too much!

Lastly, I mentioned it in my comments on the previous post but a mention here seems more appropriate. The Batman:TAS "Christmas with the Joker" episode has become a yearly tradition here at my house. If you haven't seen it, you gotta check it out:

Garett said...

Grinch! Dr Seuss, Chuck Jones, Boris Karloff, the show, watch every year.

I wonder what a Calvin and Hobbes Christmas special would've been like?

William said...

My favorite when I was a kid was always Rudolph, and it remains my sentimental favorite to this day.

However, even as a small child, I couldn't believe how intolerant everyone was toward this poor kid with a birth defect. Including all the adult reindeer and even Santa himself. It always made me just a little sad in that respect.

Karen said...

While I'd throw in my vote for Charlie Brown, the Grinch, and Rudolph, I also liked Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol, which did a nice job adapting the Dickens tale. Sadly it is not shown much any more.

Graham said...

Karen, I remember seeing the Mr. Magoo Christmas special years ago. I wish they would show that one again. It was a great retelling. Do you remember the hour-long animated series that ran on CBS in the afternoons in the early 70's? I think it was called Famous Classic Tales. They had a cool retelling of A Christmas Carol, too.

My favorite, though, is the Charlie Brown special. I love the music so much that I bought the soundtrack a few years ago. Rudolph comes in a close second.

vancouver mark said...

Charlie Brown Christmas is miles ahead of all the others, to me.

I read an interesting article once about how when the network (I think it was ABC but am not sure) saw the finished product, they didn't want it. They demanded that Charles Shultz redo it without all the Biblical pieces, insisting that no advertiser would want to sponsor it. Then, as I recall, Dolly Madison stepped forward and bought the entire advertising for the first broadcast. After that initial broadcast, finding sponsors was never a problem. To me, the show is a "great moment in television history" sort of thing.

To me, second place is quite a ways back, in a very competitive three-way tie of Little Drummer Boy (ripped my heart out the first time I saw that lamb die), Grinch (such incredible brilliance), and Rudolph (probably the first truly great "epic hero journey" this little guy ever agonized through).

I also did like Emmet Otter's Jug Band.

Best Christmas movie? Is there any doubt??

J.A. Morris said...

Sounds like some of you may be glad to know 'Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol' returns to NBC this year on December 22nd.

Rip Jagger said...

Grinch is great! Peanuts is sweet! But the one annual special I always crave to see is Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. The animation was and is clever and charming, and the story as hokey as it is gives me that holiday glow unlike any other.

Rip Off

Edo Bosnar said...

"Best Christmas movie? Is there any doubt??"

No, no doubt at all: Jingle All the Way ... obviously ;)

Anonymous said...

All very American - and I have to admit that my favourite IS 'A Charlie Brown Christmas' - but have any of you ever seen 'The Snowman' by Raymond Briggs?
If not, you're in for a treat when you do!

Fantastic Four Fan 4ever said...

I'd have to say Charlie Brown Christmas. It shows us what the true spirit of Chistmas is. I've seen all the others. The Grinch scared the heck out of me as a child. The rest with Rudolph and Frosty with the others are good. However Charlie Brown tops them all. I have read on line the family of Charles Shultz is planning a new Peanuts film and more specials. It's good to see there is still an audience for Charlie Brown. It's good to know there will be new material with Snoopy and Charlie Brown for us ol' fans to watch.....

Happy Holiday Season to Everyone!

Karen said...

J.A., thanks for the heads-up! I'll have to set my DVR for that!

Has anyone seen the Rudolph parody, Raging Rudolph? It was shown on MAD tv and was essentially a 'what if' Martin Scorsese had made the Rudolph special. Over the top violent and full of Godfather and mob movie references. Weird, sacrilegious even, but at the time I thought it was hilarious. It can be found easily by googling.

Edo Bosnar said...

Karen, thanks for the tip - I always enjoy a good, sacrilegious even, parody.
Anonymous - yes, I've seen Briggs' Snowman, ages ago, and yes, you're right, it's a real treat, beautiful in fact. I wouldn't mind seeing it again...

William said...

I think that Cartoon Network should run BTAS "Christmas With The Joker" and "Holiday Knights" and Justice League "Comfort and Joy" every year just like the networks run Rudolph, Grinch, Frosty and Charlie Brown Christmas.

Jared said...

I have always loved the delicate work that went into the clay-mation of The Little Drummer Boy. I loved it as a kid and still to this day. I haven’t seen many of the Christmas cartoons listed here in a long time, so I’m adding them all to my Blockbuster @Home queue that I have set up through DISH. I can rent an unlimited amount of DVDs and Blu-rays from them plus stream tons of titles, so this will be nice to carry me over the next week and a half until Christmas! The number of specials that come out around this time of year is always surprising, but one of my coworkers at DISH said it best that it’s hard to make anything better than the classics!

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