Well, it’s Christmas Eve. What better way to spend it than by talking about Rankin Bass Christmas specials?
Though Rankin Bass Productions didn’t only produce Christmas specials, these are what they are most known and remembered for and let’s be honest — this is where they excelled. Sure, they put out some other enjoyable movies and specials, but there was a special spark to their Christmas output.
It all started in 1964 with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and ended (?) with Santa, Baby! in 2001 (which I haven’t seen yet). Here’s my personal top five.
5. The Year Without a Santa Claus
One of the greatest television stars of all-time made his debut in this special and yes I’m talking about the Snow Miser! So, this one making the list was a no-brainer. Soundtrack is great took featuring the classic Snow Miser and Heat Mister themes.
4. Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town
The first special of Rankin Bass’ “Big Three” to make my list (Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer complete the “Big Three”). For a long time, I didn’t care for it. I think I was put off by the fact that this was an origin story for Santa Claus but I’ve come to enjoy it a lot over the last few years. I love the Winter Wizard!
3. Jack Frost
No, this isn’t the Michael Keaton movie and it isn’t about a killer snowman either — this is the original Jack Frost! It isn’t as fondly remembered as some of RB’s other specials, but maybe that’s because it was released in 1979 and it somehow falling into the public domain (it’s been featured on tons of low-budget DVDs over the years). Warner Bros. finally gave it a proper restored release, but no matter how you watch it — it’s a great tale. Believe it or not, it’s actually a love story!
2. Frosty the Snowman
I prefer Rankin Bass’ signature “animagic” stop-motion over the traditional hand-drawn animation style, but there’s no disputing Frosty the Snowman‘s place in the pantheon of Christmas specials. How could you not love a Christmas special that made “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!” appropriate for the holidays?
1. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Was there ever any question? It’s the greatest Christmas special of all-time! There’s so many great songs and great quotes and it set the tone for all future Rankin Bass specials. It continues to inspire and delight people of all ages.