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Western Animation: Twas The Night Before Christmas
Not even a mouse...
A 1974 animated Christmas Special from Rankin/Bass Productions starts when the town of Junctionville has all of its letters returned from Santa Claus — because a letter proclaiming Santa and his reindeer are fakes has appeared in the local paper and offended the jolly old elf. Father Mouse (George Gobel) investigates, and realizes his know-it-all son Albert (Tammy Grimes) has written the letter. Meanwhile, clockmaker Joshua Trundle (Joel Gray) tries to makes a singing clock in hopes of bringing Santa back. Things go from bad to worse when the clock publicly malfunctions — but in the end, with the help of a Heel-Face Turn on Albert's part, a happy Christmas ensues. Unlike most R/B productions, this featured 2D animation, rather than the usual Stop Motion puppet animation (called "Animagic").

The special contains the following tropes:

  • Authority in Name Only: The Mayor has shades of this.
  • Christmas Special
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe: The driving problem behind the plot is that Albert doesn't believe in Santa. His father tries to musically persuade him to believe in pretty much every legendary character affiliated with a holiday.
  • Clock Tower: Where Trundle wishes to install his singing clock.
  • Don't Touch It, You Idiot!: Really, Albert's fascination with the model should have been a warning to Father Mouse to keep him away from the real clock.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Character example — Father Mouse's name seems to be... Father Mouse. Even Trundle calls him that. He's a mouse who fathered children.
  • Flat Earth Atheist: Santa's existence is a demonstrable fact in this special. He makes no effort to hide himself when making deliveries, can receive and return mail, and even has official operators representing him at the North Pole that you can call up at any time. Doesn't stop Albert from disbelieving.
    • Might also count as Arbitrary Skepticism. You live in a world of sentient talking mice, but think Santa Claus is ridiculous?
    • Albert also claims that "grown-ups never believe in Santa". Hard to see where he got that idea, since literally every grown-up in the special professes belief - even the mayor who authorizes a massive public works project just to please the jolly old elf.
  • From Bad to Worse: After the clock malfunctions, no one wants to give Trundle any work. Not only is Santa not bringing gifts for his family, but he can't pay his bills or put food on the table.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: ABC Family removed the "Give Your Heart a Try" number for having the word "gay" in it when it re-aired the special.
  • Heel-Face Turn: Albert
  • Heel Realization: Albert doesn't seem to regret his actions until he sees the family he wronged singing a song about the need to keep faith, do what they can, and trust Santa to do the rest.
  • How We Got Here: The bulk of the story is told in flashback by Father Mouse in the three minutes before midnight.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Somewhat similar to the famous "War Room" example.
    The Mayor: A citizen? They're not allowed in here, this is public property!
  • Ill Girl: Several, and boys too. Father Mouse takes Albert to a hospital full of depressed children to show him the consequences of his letter about Santa.
  • Justin Time: Subverted in that Albert doesn't get the clock working until about a minute after the Midnight deadline, but Santa still hears the music and is convinced to visit the town.
  • MacGuffin: The clock.
  • Manly Tears: Father Mouse sheds a few during the finale.
  • Measuring the Marigolds: In "Give Your Heart a Try," Albert is admonished to stop "asking why" so much and just enjoy life.
  • The Merch: A record album featuring all the music and some dialogue was released at the time of the special's original airing.
  • Mouse World: Which, unusually for the trope, freely interacts with the human one.
  • Narrator: Father Mouse
  • No Name Given: Most of the cast, including Trundle's two children and Father Mouse's non-Albert children.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: The implication seems to be that most of the humans have a rodent equivalent who does the same job right alongside them. Trundle has Father Mouse helping in the clock shop; the postman has a mail mouse who rides on his shoulder to deliver mail to the other mice.
  • Santa Claus: Convincing him to come is the object of the story.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: The Mayor strives for this, but usually ends up stumbling over his words. Conversely, Albert's penchant for long words is what makes Father Mouse realize who wrote the letter that so offended Santa.
  • Sublime Rhyme: Trundle recites the Clement Clark Moore poem, thus also resulting in a Title Drop.
  • Straw Vulcan: Albert, who repeatedly rejects the concept of thinking with his heart.
  • Techno Babble: Albert spouts off several clock-related scientific terms, which his father doesn't begin to understand and refers to as "algebry."
  • Token Minority: In this case, an entire Token Minority family. Among all of the white families, there is one black family.
  • Uncanny Family Resemblance: Each human family appears to have one son and one daughter, who look like little clones of their parents. The parents in each family also bear uncomfortable resemblance to their spouses.
  • Where The Hell Is Springfield?: All the mail is addressed to the residents of "Junctionville, U.S.A."
  • Yes Virginia: There is a Santa Claus — and he apparently believes strongly in Disproportionate Retribution.
    • Well, the special says that the offending letter was written by Albert and his friends, who then signed the letter "All of Us." The implication is that Santa interpreted "All of Us" as not meaning "Albert and his Know-It-All Friends" but "The entire population of Junctionville, U.S.A."
      • If only Santa had some means of distinguishing who was naughty and who was nice, he could probably have cleared that up.

Toy Story of TerrorWestern AnimationThe Ultimate Enemy
The Year Without a Santa ClausChristmas SpecialA Cosmic Christmas

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