Western Animation: The Year Without a Santa Claus
A Rankin/Bass Productions
' Stop Motion
puppet animated (called "Animagic") holiday special
from 1974. This time, Santa Claus
(voiced by Mickey Rooney, reprising the role from 1970's Santa Claus is Comin' to Town
) decides to take a holiday from Christmas when he becomes convinced that nobody really cares anymore. In an effort to get Christmas back on, Mrs. Claus (voiced by Shirley Booth) sends a pair of elves out to find enough Christmas spirit left in the world to make Santa change his mind. Hilarity Ensues
, contributed to in no small part by the memorable obstructiveness of the climate-ruling Miser Brothers, Snow Miser (Dick Shawn) and Heat Miser (George S. Irving).
The script was written by William Keenan (instead of Rankin-Bass stalwart Romeo Muller), with the studio's usual mixture of classic Christmas tunes with original songs by Maury Laws and co-producer Jules Bass.
A Live Action remake aired on NBC in 2006, starring John Goodman as Santa.
Followed in 2008 by the non
-Rankin/Bass A Miser Brothers Christmas
, in which Heat Miser and Snow Miser are forced to work together to save Christmas. Additionally, at least two other Rankin/Bass specials, Rudolph's Shiny New Year
and Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey
, as seen on the poster (left), seem to be set within the same universe, as they have same Santa Claus.
This holiday special contains examples of:
- All Animals Are Dogs: Vixen, while disguised as a dog, barked at and chased a cat. One could argue that she was really in character, but even so.
- All Just a Dream: It's implied in the closing song that the whole story is something Santa dreamed. Though that wouldn't explain the sequel.
- Ass in a Lion Skin: See All Animals Are Dogs, above.
- Awesome Mccool Name: Ignatius Thistlewhite.
- Christmas Special
- Cue the Flying Pigs: Invoked; The mayor of Southtown dares Jingle and Jangle Bells to prove they're Santa's elves by making it snow- and Southtown hasn't had a snow since forever- leading to the visit to the Miser Bros. When it does start to snow, the mayor is suitably stunned and amazed.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Heat Miser. He may look sinister, but he's more grouchy than truly malicious.
- Did Not Think This Through: Mrs. Claus' plan to send Jingle and Jangle Bells on Vixen out into the world to find a reason to get Santa motivated has (As she admits) a few holes in it- the most pressing is that they have to get past the Miser Bros.
- Don't Tell Mama!: The Miser Brothers.
- Deus ex Machina: When Mrs. Claus can't persuade the Miser brothers to cooperate, she goes over their heads and calls on their mother. Their mother happens to be Mother Nature.
- Even Elemental Demi-Gods Love Their Mamas: "See what you did, you old blizzard? She's gonna tell Mother!"
- What I did, you hot dog? This is all your fault!
- Evil Is Hammy: Both the Miser brothers, though they aren't exactly evil. Their hamminess is even lampshaded by Mrs. Claus. (The sharp-eyed will catch Ignatius rolling his eyes at Heat Miser.)
- Fat and Skinny: Snow Miser is thin and Heat Miser is portly.
- Fiery Redhead: Heat Miser is an example in more ways than one. Not only is he ill-tempered with reddish hair, but he literally has fiery powers and his hair is shaped like flames.
- Fire, Ice, Lightning: The Miser Brothers supply the first two, of course, while Mother Nature causes bolts of lightning when she summons and scolds them.
- Flat Earth Atheist: Apparently, most children don't believe in Santa anymore. The question is how do they explain the presents that their parents never bought. Or the fact that Santa gave interviews to several reliable newspapers who also publish photos of him.
- Likely they just assume the adults are tricking them—once Iggy brings the issue up to his parents, they actually convince him pretty easily.
- Foreshadowing: An interesting example is done with the film's opening credits. Dick Shawn's name appears written in snow and George S. Irving's name appears on the sun, foreshadowing both their respective roles as Snow Miser and Heat Miser.
- Hypocritical Humor: The elf doctor tells Santa that nobody cares about Christmas anymore, but wishes him a Merry Christmas anyway before he leaves.
- "I Am" Song: The Miser Brothers.
- The song is so catchy that it was reprised in the sequel.
- An Ice Person: Snow Miser.
- Incredibly Lame Pun: Snow Miser gets one in the original.
Snow Miser: "Well, well, well. If it isn't Mrs. Claus. How's your hubby?"
Mrs. Claus: "Mmm, not good. I'm afraid he's got a bad cold."
Snow Miser: "Aw, what a shame, the poor fellow. He should have come to see me. I'd have given him a good one!"
- Ironic Echo Cut: When Santa learns that Jingle and Jangle are AWOL in the mortal world, he says, "Poor little guys. They must be scared to death," which is followed by a hard cut to Jangle saying "I'm scared to death!"
- Large Ham: The Miser Brothers are, well, too much.
- Leitmotif: The mayor of Southtown and the Miser Brothers all have one, each being an instrumental version of the songs they sing.
- Let There Be Snow
- Live-Action Adaptation: The 2006 TV movie with John Goodman as Santa, Delta Burke as Mrs. Claus, Michal McKean as Snow Miser, Harvey Fierstein as Heat Miser, and Carol Kane as Mother Nature. Among other famous faces. Despite rather dramatic changes from the original story (such as Iggy's father and the mayor of Southtown becoming a Composite Character and Santa Claus negotiating with the Miser Brothers instead of Mrs. Claus), it still retained those SONGS.
- Lyrical Dissonance: Surely you're expecting a dark, gloomy song to fit in with a show about a holiday getting cancelled, right? No, this is Rankin Bass. None of the songs aside from "Blue Christmas" give off any sadness.
- Mother Nature: Don't mess with her.
- Mrs. Claus: Never Mess with Granny.
- No Antagonist: While the Miser Brothers' bickering does bring up some conflict, they are not really villains. The only real conflict is that Santa has become bored of his endless job of giving presents to children and that Mrs. Claus and the elves are trying to get it to snow in Southtown.
- Our Elves Are Better: The elves here are rather Keebleresque, and a bit shorter than the children.
- Painting the Frost on Windows: Snow Miser, Heat Miser and Mother Nature.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: The elves disguise Vixen as a dog by putting a pair of brown socks over her ears.
- Physical God: Mother Nature and the Miser Brothers are each powerful enough to destroy the whole planet with ease.
- Playing with Fire: Heat Miser.
- Polar Opposite Twins: The Miser Brothers, of course. Aside from the obvious, Snow Miser seems to be more of a joker who likes the Clauses while Heat Miser is, well, hot-headed.
- Santa Claus
- Saving Christmas: From Santa's ennui, no less.
- '70s Hair: One of Santa's elves has a bowl cut similar to Luke Skywalker's.
- Shout-Out: A character is dressed exactly like Charlie Chaplin during the mayor's song.
- Sweet Home Alabama: Part of the plot depends on bringing a snowy day to "Southtown, U.S.A." (partially averted in that only the mayor and the policeman sound as if they came from anywhere south of Staten Island).
- Triumphant Reprise: "There'll be no year without a Santa Claus".
- The Unfavourite: Heat Miser thinks that Mother Nature always liked Snow Miser best.
- Villain Song: The Miser Brothers' songs (mentioned under "Ear Worm" on YMMV).
NBC's The Year Without A Santa Claus (2006):
A Miser Brothers Christmas contains examples of:
- An Aesop: Siblings shouldn't fight, but get along instead.
- Argument of Contradictions: Snow Miser and Heat Miser. "White Christmas!" "Green Christmas!" "White Christmas!" "Green Christmas!" ....
- Big Bad: Heat Miser and Snow Miser's big brother North Wind.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: The North Wind again.
- Chekhov's Gun: Early in the film, the North Wind drops one of his cards of himself as Santa. Later, Mrs. Claus finds it and figures out it is evidence that North Wind was the one who broke Santa's back.
- Cool and Unusual Punishment: North Wind's punishment for trying to take over Christmas is to spend the next thousand years doing chores for Mother Nature.
- Even Evil Has Standards: While the Miser brothers are more unwilling to get along than evil, they choose to stop their quarrel when they see Santa because they do not wish for Santa to get harmed in the crossfire, but more importantly that it would get them in trouble with Mother Nature.
- Freudian Excuse: A flashback where the Miser Brothers are seen as babies implies that they hate one another because of exposure to the opposite elements. To elaborate, we see baby Snow Miser react in discomfort to getting hit by a warm spark from the fireplace and we see baby Heat Miser react negatively to having a snowflake enter his clothes. Immediately afterward, the Misers start their endless quarrel.
- Earlier in the film, the Miser Brothers are indifferent about Santa Claus breaking his back and explain that it is because they never got any presents from him before. When they were shown flashbacks of their childhood years, they understand that Santa never gave them presents because they were on the naughty list for their endless bickering and quarreling.
- "I Want" Song: See Villain Song.
- It's All About Me: The North Wind's personality in a nutshell.
- Jerkass: The North Wind is a narcissistic jerk who only cares about himself, to the point that he wishes to take Santa's place as the one who gives children presents on Christmas Eve and having no problem with framing his two brothers for the accident and getting them to fight after they finally learned to get along.
- Large Ham: The Miser Brothers, natch, but their older brother the North Wind chews a lot of scenery as well.
- Mythology Gag: Flashbacks during the Miser Brothers' childhood years depicts them wearing the clothes they wore in the original 1974 special.
- Never Say "Die": Played with when Mother Nature informs the North Wind that Santa Claus survived the accident that broke his back. His statement of "He is? I mean, he is", along with his repressed holler of anger, implies that the accident he caused was intended to kill Santa rather than just injure him.
- Parental Bonus:
Heat Miser: My dear brother has been running a campaign of pure propaganda to try to give global warming a bad name.
Snow Miser: Oh-ho, puh-leeze. How long have you been trying to scare people with reports of another ice age coming?
- Role Reprisal: George S. Irving and Mickey Rooney reprised their respective roles as Heat Miser and Santa Claus.
- Saving Christmas: Again, only this time the problem is that North Wind has injured Santa in an attempt to take his place.
- Subbing for Santa: What the Miser Brothers end up doing after North Wind injures Santa.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: Both of the Miser Brothers to a very small extent. They're not really that mean, but they are shown to be indifferent to Santa Claus's condition early in the film. This is justified by the fact that the Miser Brothers never got any presents from Santa because of their sibling rivalry, and they get better when they are tasked with taking Santa's place in supervising the gift manufacturing and delivering the presents on Christmas Eve.
- Villain Song: "My Kind of Christmas", where North Wind sings about his plans to take over Christmas and become the new Santa Claus.
- Younger and Hipper/Absurdly Youthful Mother: Mother Nature looks considerably younger and prettier than she did in the original special.