This weekend I watched ABC Family's attempt at rekindling the Year Without a Santa Claus magic with their Miser Brothers' Christmas special. Of course the brothers Miser deserve their own show, but unless it's going to be in some worthy hands, I say let the Rankin-Bass classic be.
Cuppa Coffee Animation did a fine enough job bringing the characters back to life for the special, but the new music was forgettable and the dialogue was pretty much what you'd expect from sanitized holiday fare for children these days. The only highlight for me was hearing theater legend George S. Irving back voicing Heat Miser as he did 34 years ago in the original. (Mickey Rooney is also back as Santa). But the returning castmembers only made the absence of Dick Shawn as Snow Miser that much harder to bear. (Shawn, a comedian, died during a stand-up performance in 1987.) Rankin-Bass historian Rick Goldschmidt agrees with my assessment for the most part, based on the five minutes or so that he could stomach watching:
I knew it would be bad BUT could not believe how awful it was! I had to turn it off after about 5 minutes. RANKIN/BASS classic Holiday TV specials have lasted over forty years....things like this last about 5 minutes and then are forgotten about forever.
Let's not forget that this is the second time the brothers have been brought back with lackluster content. NBC's live-action version of The Year without a Santa Claus was just a waste of talent with John Goodman (Santa), Michael McKean (Snow Miser) and Harvey Fierstein (Heat Miser).
There are a handful of Rankin-Bass classics that a generation was raised on, and they deserve their due. I did a top five music moments from the specials last year, and it's worth revisiting. Naturally, the original miser brothers' performance sits atop the list.
Previously: Rankin-Bass Holiday Music Countdown