Top 5 Rankin/Bass Christmas Specials
I don’t give a damn what anyone else thinks, I LOVE the Rankin/Bass Christmas specials!
They were a tradition when I was a kid, they’re a tradition now, I’ll make sure they’re a tradition with my future kids. They’re the essence of nostalgia for me. However, which ones are truly the best at capturing the Christmas spirit? Let’s find out!
Honorable Mention: “Pinocchio’s Christmas”
I’ll admit this is mostly here because this is one of the two we owned on VHS and thus is actually probably the special I’ve seen the most throughout my life. Heck I’ve probably seen this more times than the Disney version if I’m being honest. It was an odd choice to have Pinocchio as the main character. What’s even stranger is how this feels like it’s a mid point in a larger story. As if this is but one episode plucked out of a full series. There are parts that feel more like scenes from the book like when Pinocchio first meets the Talking Cricket, just without the murder. Still for as bizarre as the special is the songs are burned into my brain. It really is the kind of thing I can’t defend on any real level, but like I said it bleeds nostalgia for me.
5.) “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”
This and “Mickey’s Christmas Carol” were probably the two specials I looked forward to the most during the holiday season as a kid. It just didn’t really feel like Christmas without them. Re-watching it, knowing what this all led to… this is a WEIRD story. I love it all, but there’s no doubt it’s so weird! Although I guess it had to be. I mean if you’re charged with coming up with a story based off a Christmas song, you’re going to have to add a bunch to stretch it out. Somehow it works in the end, maybe it’s the nostalgia that does it. As a kid my favorite parts were the prospector and the Abominable Snowman. I always wished they had appeared in more of the specials. Especially when you consider that Rudolph did have sequels in the Rankin/Bass… series I guess you’d call it.
4.) “Santa’s Coming to Town”
The other special we owned on VHS and I watched a ton as a kid. I never really had heard any other take on the origin of Santa before so this is kinda my own head cannon. It’s also a little out there at times, but it really does a good job hitting all the major point you’d expect. This was also a turning point as they hired former Biggest Star in the World, Mickey Rooney as Santa. He continued to voice Santa in most of the specials that came after this. It oddly does give it a little bit of a feeling of continuity, despite all the other changes from special to special. I’ll admit the Winter Warlock legitimately scared me as a kid. Not as bad as other things, but hey this is made by the same people who created the creepiest Gollum. Maybe the fact he turns good and has one of the happiest songs ever afterwards helps. It’s one I often find myself re-watching. No joke, my brother and I still to this day quote Burgermeister Meisterburger to each other.