The Miser Brothers reunite with their siblings around the parental table of Mother Nature. Heat Miser and Snow Miser are still battling brothers, but we also meet their previously unseen brother, North Wind, who has designs on Santa’s spot as gift-giver. North Wind proceeds to sabotage the new sleigh Santa takes for a snowy spin, causing Santa to be confined to his bed through the festive season. Due to a fraternal feud between the Misers at the time of Santa’s accident, everyone believes Snow Miser and Heat Miser, rather than their brother, to have caused the Claus collision. Thus Mother Nature, much to the displeasure of North Wind, forces her miser sons to take over Santa’s responsibilities, in the hope that the misers will have to put aside their differences in order to save Christmas.
This is a sequel to the Rankin/Bass Christmas Classic The Year Without A Santa Claus. In the original, the Miser Brothers act as supporting characters to the story. Audiences are rightfully dubious of spin-off shows based around smaller characters, who standout as spotlights but who may be unable to sustain storyline. In this spin-off sequel, which falls apart somewhat at the end, the forty-five minute show was more entertaining than expected, but it does not have the re-watch value of its predecessor.
The New Songs
The original Misers each performed a show-stopping song, entitled “The Snow Miser Song” and “The Heat Miser Song,” each of which reworked similar lyrics to assert each Miser’s traits and importance. These songs are reprised and rolled into one song in this sequel. It is entertainingly done, but it is a poor comparison to the original’s presentation of each song.
The added songs seem to be either poorly composed or unconvincingly delivered. The songs are more spoken than sung, and the tunes do not seem to get off the ground. Some of the “staging” is enjoyable, but nothing special.
The sequel benefits from the voice-talents of Mickey Rooney and George S. Irving, who again act as the voices of Santa Claus and Heat Miser respectively.
While Juan Chioran did an admirable job as the voice of Snow Miser, the distinctive voice of the deceased Dick Shawn is greatly missed. The animated figure of Snow Miser has also been altered. Snow Miser used to have a popsicle-like appearance. The sequel figure appears swollen and somewhat grotesque.
While Chioran fits the frosty shoes of Snow Miser, Catherine Disher is much less successful in taking over from Shirley Booth as Mrs. Claus.
The sequel premiered on December 13, 2008 as part of ABC Family’s annual 25 Days of Christmas marathon of seasonal shows.
Logically showing the original special prior to the premiere made the sequel both more and less enjoyable. On the one hand, the original put the viewer in the mood for more, but, on the other hand, again seeing the original caused the viewer to watch the sequel while making constant quality comparisons.
Arthur Rankin, Jr. and Jules Bass created some of America’s most beloved Christmas classic animated specials, including Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman. Even some of their lesser known specials still contain the same spirit and soul of these specials which are still enjoyed by children and adults alike, and it was always going to be difficult to live-up to the legacy of these gifted creators.
This special is not without merit. The sweet-messaged story is simple and somewhat worth watching, but it seems more suited to older fans of the original story than children seeking a new festive treat.