Friday, November 25, 2005

kids holiday shows

I thought I'd list some of my favorite and not so favorite kids specials for the holidays, but first, I'll tell you about the movie we saw this weekend:
Zathura
Zathura is really fun and visually spectacular space game adventure. Just like Jumanji, the story revolves around a board game where what the kids are playing actually comes true, and they have to safely finish the game (without cheating) so they can go back home again.

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving
This is my favorite of the Peanuts holiday specials - it's absolutely wonderful, and funny, and amazing. Snoopy takes the center stage in preparing a feast for Charlie Brown's uninvited guests. If you didn't get a chance to see this on Thursday, rent it, or better yet, buy it - you can watch it any time of the year. And if you're old enough, you'll remember the days when you could ride in the back of the stationwagon without seatbelts or car seats, just like they do at the end of the video.

A Charlie Brown Christmas
Poor Charlie Brown! Christmas is too commercial, his dog Snoopy won the decorating contest, and he's the director of the Christmas play (but nobody listens to him or likes the poor little Christmas tree that he got). Linus tells about the true meaning of Christmas, The Red Baron has an adventure, and the kids all help to make the little tree into a great Christmas tree. It's a great Christmas special!

The Muppet Christmas Carol
This is the first movie they did after Jim Henson died. Brian Henson isn't quite ready to do Kermit's voice yet, but he does a good job, and it's a really great (and wacky) version of the Christmas classic. Kermit plays the role of Bob Cratchit, and Miss Piggy is his wife. Also some good music by Paul Williams - especially "One More Sleep Till Christmas"

The Year Without A Santa Claus
Santa cancels Christmas, and it's up to the elves and Mrs. Claus to save it. There's big trouble when the Heat Miser and the Snow Miser get involved, but don't worry, their mother (Mother Nature) sets the misers straight. This is DH's favorite Christmas cartoon, and I like it too - even if the Heat Miser and the Snow Miser are a little scary.

Santa Claus is Coming to Town
This show has, IMO, the best song of any kids holiday TV special (rivaled only by the Heat Miser and Snow Miser songs in The Year Without A Santa Claus). "Put One Foot in Front of the Other" is a song worth taping the show for (I think they sing it twice too), but unfortunately the rest of the show is not all that great. The animation is done in the same way as many of the other specials, including Rudolph.

Nestor The Long-Eared Christmas Donkey
Another Paul Williams classic, except this one is not very good. Although it's nice to have a Christmas special that involves Bethlehem and the real story of Christmas (plus Nestor), this show is didactic and heavy handed. They should have taken a clue from Charlie Brown and the Grinch about how to balance entertainment with a message. Worth watching if you don't know why publishers cringe at the thought of receiving didactic manuscripts - how many times would you want to be hit over the head with a message?

Other Classics
The Grinch - Dr. Seuss meets Christmas - how can you go wrong? You can't!
Rudolph - the island of the misfit toys and the abominable snowman are great!
Frosty - I liked this better when I was a kid, but there's still some magic in Frosty's hat!

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