Yea, yea, yea, we get it, Rankin and Bass created a Christmas staple with RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER, and SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN is probably the best origin story Kris Kringle will ever receive. Even the somewhat lesser YEAR WITHOUT A SANTA CLAUS introduced two original characters in the form of misers Heat and Snow that have become universally loved generational touchstones. But for every appreciated addition to the Christmas lexicon there are a half dozen more that garnered a resounding, “Thanks, but no thanks” from discerning tots. Rankin and Bass, apparently high off earlier successes (or something else) took a “throw every conceivable holiday and childhood icon against the wall and see what sticks” attitude in later productions that left television airwaves riddled with some of the most annoying and unwanted characters in history.We apologize in advance if you are insane enough to feel any love for the following…
10. Tingler, the sound imp from LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF SANTA CLAUS. He brays like a goat and is useless when battling the Orc-like “Awgwas”. ADVENTURES was based on a book by OZ scribe L. FRANK BAUM but does all a disservice by negating everything that transpired in SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN. Being accused by Christian groups as being Satanic is usually enough to keep a program on our good side, but Tingler’s harlequin bells remind us of the dastardly troll in CAT’S EYE, so here he sits!
9. Drunk Leprechaun from LEPRECHAUNS CHRISTMAS GOLD. We admit that rampant alcoholism is as important to the holidays as inappropriate mistletoe behavior and re-gifting, but these greedy magical lushes have their OWN holiday already! Plus the color green is more than adequately represented on X-mas, thank you.
8. Sister Jean from FIRST CHRISTMAS SNOW. A nun’s habit is like the international symbol for brain numbing boredom to any normal child. Throw in lightening inflicted blindness and feral wolves for the perfect holiday feel bad downer.
7. Miss Lilly Loraine (ETHEL MERMAN) from RUDOLPH AND FROSTY’S CHRISTMAS IN JULY. With her inadequately explained ability to fly, inappropriate bust line, and penchant for belting out a song about her dissatisfying love life, this circus person comes off like a familiar sad relative who hides her chronic loneliness behind a mask of bawdy, out of date, self-deprecating humor.
6. Jack Frost from FROSTY’S WINTER WONDERLAND. As far as arch villains go, this bitter jealous old queen is about as threatening as a PROJECT RUNWAY judge. Luckily Frosty’s wife Crystal (SHELLY WINTERS) knows the secret to disarming sociopathic egomaniacs like Miss Frost; a couple empty sycophantic compliments and he’s blue putty in her frozen hands!
5. Celebrating the zero-wattage star power of GEORGE GOBEL, ‘TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS takes place in the always snore-filled olden-timey days. It’s most annoying character is by far the intolerable, bespecled mouse Albert. Like many Christmas nay-sayers, Albert is preoccupied with useless subjects like science and reality, and with one scathing dis of a letter is able to make the usually reliable Saint Nick throw in the towel for good. In the R& B tradition everyone involved in this production has dental problems.
4.RUDOLPH’S HAPPY NEW YEAR concerns our red-nosed pal’s search for missing baby “Happy” whose gargantuan ears cause ridicule wherever he crawls. Characters like caveman O.M. (short for One Million) give him a run for his money, but with his constant stupefied expression, WILLIAM KATT hair-don’t and monstrous overbite, “Happy” takes the prize for least lovable being in this barrel scraper.
3. Like all chronic people-pleasers, Pinnoccio from PINOCCHIO’S CHRISTMAS is a habitual liar. His self obsession and preoccupation with becoming real is about as entertaining as a snow bank melting. The inescapable phallic symbolism of his uncontrollable olfactory organ and dud songs like “Knock on Wood” exasperate what’s already a holiday must-miss.
2. Cribbing desperately from the far superior Rudolph story, Nester of NESTER THE LONG EARED DONKEY is another sad sack that is ripped to shreds by everybody until the fateful day they find some selfish use for him. This depressing nightmare even includes a scene in which Nester’s mother freezes to death on top of him while trying to protect him from a severe snow storm. As far as holiday fun goes, you might as well watch REQUIEM FOR A DREAM.
1. Give it up!, JACK FROST is not a viable Christmas character! He sucked as a bad guy in that Frosty toon (#6), and he stinks as a protagonist in this clunker! From its obnoxious trying too hard opening theme that consists of various shots of Jack, arms akimbo laughing his head off about God knows what, this lump of coal is the most repellent of the R&B specials. Even if we could stomach the SANDY DUNCAN-like shenanigans of its titular star, there’s no excuse for killjoy BUDDY HACKET as a narrating groundhog!