Wednesday, December 21, 2011
The Year Without a Santa Claus isn't the best of the Rankin/Bass Christmas specials. Sure, it's cute as heck, but the plot is a little draggy at times, the songs are a mix of covers and rather undistinguished originals, and the animation lacks the boundless charm of efforts like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. But it's become a classic thanks to Heat Miser and Snow Miser, two of the most unforgettable characters in all of Christmas TV special-dom. Here, I'll let the boys introduce themselves:
They have yet to invent a scale capable of measuring the awesomeness of Heat Miser and Snow Miser.
The characters have been popular for decades, so it was perhaps inevitable that eventually Hollywood would decide that a remake was required. And so, in 2006, we got a live-action TV movie remake of The Year Without a Santa Claus, starring Harvey Fierstein as Heat Miser and Michael McKean as Cold Miser. How bad was it? Well, watch this clip:
Friends, that clip was the best part. It actually gets worse from there, with a lot of awful pop-cultural gags. And Chris Kattan. Sweet Jesus, this show makes the Star Wars holiday special look good.
The remake was swiftly and justly forgotten, but two years later somebody decided to try again with A Miser Brothers' Christmas, a direct sequel to the original show. This special would feature stop-motion animation and would try to be more faithful to the spirit of the original. Here's the big show-stopping number:
Yeah. It's somehow missing something, huh?
The animation is very good and the character re-designs work well enough, you can tell that the people making this special really wanted to honor the original. But there's something inert about the finished special, it never comes alive and it's just not very... well, special. If the original show is a little slow in spots, the sequel is downright sluggy, and it lacks the crude vitality that has made the original endure. The 2006 remake failed by trying too hard revamp and parody the original, while the 2008 sequel failed by arguably being just a tad too reverent toward its source material.
Of course, if we're looking at the various renditions of Heat Miser and Cold Miser, I have to include this one:
Sorry about that. But those 37 seconds of exquisite agony, courtesy of Joel Schumacher, were still better than anything in the 2006 remake.
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