Among the plethora of holiday movies there is a vast collection of animated specials. These, like the movies, range in quality from most festive (i.e. A Charlie Brown Christmas) to most horrible. I think I’ve found the worst of the bunch to date. May I please warn you against 1996’s animated special, The Story of Santa Claus.
Featuring the voices of Ed Asner, Betty White, and Tim Curry, this feature tells the origin story of how a poor but generous toymaker became everyone’s favorite gift-giver. I’m sure the writers had an innocent and sweet story all planned out. I’m totally positive that was their intention! But as I was made myself watch this program, I couldn’t help but use my Grinchy skills to remove all the joy and pick everything apart. Allow me to explain:
When Santa and the Mrs. accidentally arrive at the North Pole (there was a storm) they save the life of a precocious elf boy. In doing so Santa is granted his fondest wish. He wishes to be able to deliver a toy to each child on Earth every Christmas. Because the elves are magically bound to granting this wish, they put themselves into a position of indentured servitude to the Clauses. This results in the following:
- The adult elves don’t help out. So Santa enlists help from the children to gather materials and actually build the workshop and later the toys. This introduces unpaid child labor and deforestation (oh and animal labor) to the North Pole.
- The elf children (aside from the 2 main kids) might be on something. They all have big, beady black eyes.
- Does Santa ever build any toys or pitch in on his workshop? He um…designs it. Might as well give the man a Hardees cup so he can stand around and supervise. Because that’s all I see him do. The elves do the rest of the work.
- Santa spent his youth growing up in an orphanage. It’s one of his stops on Christmas Eve which is really quite sweet. I don’t think this is an orphanage you’d want any children to stay in. Who puts an orphanage out on a lonely island? It looks more like a prison. Kind of bleak for a children’s special.
And maybe I’m just being over picky, but I could not stop finding problems with the special. There’s a little kid in Santa’s town (pre-North Pole) who has a head wound. He looks like he could use a meal and some medical attention. He looks this way the whole special. This is never addressed.
I just didn’t like it. If I’m watching a holiday special (especially an animated one) I want to watch something fun. It’s for the kids! Let’s just watch Rudolph or better yet, The Snowman.