A nauseating effort from Rankin & Bass, or as I like to call them, Ache In My As—never mind, you get the picture--Santa Claus is Coming to Town stars Fred Astaire as the narrator. Thanks, Fred, for teaching kids that even the most reputable of actors will prostitute themselves for a buck.
This holiday special starts with a little kid named Claus being discarded on the doorstep of Burgermeister Meisterburger. Meisterburger is portrayed as the villain here, simply because he doesn’t want to raise a baby, has probably spent his whole life actively avoiding having children, and yet some idiot too stupid to use birth control abandons her baby on this guy’s porch and he’s the “bad guy” for sending the kid away to an orphanage. Whatever, Ache In My As—just whatever. The baby never makes it to the orphanage, because he’s kidnapped by a bunch of scary woodland creatures and dumped in a village full of trolls (sure, call them Kringles if you want to cutesy them up, but you’re not fooling anyone). The trolls call the kid Kris and start teaching him how to make toys. Toys, you realize, are illegal in the nearest village, Sombertown. This is the equivalent of setting a child up with his or her own home meth lab. Don’t you stupid trolls understand what illegal means?
Since Kris has now been raised to blatantly ignore and flaunt the law, he volunteers to deliver toys to the kids in Sombertown. No, you didn’t read that wrong—he’s volunteering to hand out illegal contraband to young children. This does not make Meisterburger happy, since he was once viciously attacked by a toy duck, resulting in a sprained ankle that surely required physical therapy and probably still aches every time it snows. Meisterburger demands that Kris Kringle be arrested, but the outlaw gets away, birdnapping a penguin named Topper in the process. Kris also manages to seduce a teacher named Jessica before leaving town. Lessons learned: penguins make adorable pets, breaking the law is okay if you don’t agree with said law, and those schoolteachers sure do go for bad boys.
I really hate this Christmas special.
Kris meets the Winter Warlock, bribes him to be his friend by giving him a cheap toy train, and returns to Sombertown. (I should mention here that he returns to town to bring the kids more toys after Meisterburger was forced to burn all of the old ones for heat to keep warm. ABC no longer shows the toy-burning scene, because it's "too scary," which is the politically correct way to say they are a bunch of corporate wussies.) Kris, Topper, and the Winter Warlock are thrown in jail (and rightly so—you’re breaking the law!) and all seems lost. But wait! Old Man Winter there, a bit of a hippie, has some “magic corn” that can make reindeer “fly.” The reindeer get high and break Kris and company out of jail. Lessons learned: jailbreaks are fun, and when an aging hippie offers you drugs that will make you fly, by golly, take them.
Eventually Kris marries Jessica, they become Santa and Mrs. Claus, and the trolls become “elves.” The old stoned winter hippie makes it snow (har har, I’ll bet he does). Burgermeister Meisterburger, misunderstood his whole sad life, dies toyless and alone. Fred Astaire collects a sizeable paycheck, and they all live happily ever after.