Monday, December 20, 2010

The Network That Slept Through Christmas...

Please enjoy this rerun from Christmas 2008. When I think of the classic Christmas TV specials of my youth, I usually associate most of the classics with CBS. RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER (1964), FROSTY THE SNOWMAN (1969), HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS (1966) and A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS (1965) all aired on CBS for most of the 1970s and 80s, even though ABC now airs THE GRINCH and CHARLIE BROWN. (How could the suits at CBS let those go???). ABC had it's own stable of regulars back then including the RUDOLPH'S SHINY NEW YEAR and FROSTY'S WINTER WONDERLAND (both 1976) sequels, the SANTA CLAUS double-header (1970's ...IS COMING TO TOWN and 1974's THE YEAR WITHOUT A...) and other cool stuff like Chuck Jones' A VERY MERRY CRICKET (1973).NBC, on the other hand had THE LITTLE DRUMMER BOY (Books 1 and 2-1968 and 1976, respectively) and, um...
THE BEAR WHO SLEPT THROUGH CHRISTMAS (1973)! I remember watching this - and loving it, after all I was 9 years old.
But why did it fade away like so many other NBC holiday specials? I know that RUDOLPH actually premiered on NBC, but found a home on CBS. My all-time favorite MISTER MAGOO'S CHRISTMAS CAROL (1962) also first aired on NBC, but it found a lasting legacy as a syndicated special. This is one of my favorite scenes:

Some of the other NBC "lost classics" include THE TINY TREE (premiered on NBC in 1975 - then rerun on ABC and CBS!), B.C.: A SPECIAL CHRISTMAS (1971), THE FAMILY CIRCUS CHRISTMAS (1979) and THE LITTLE RASCALS CHRISTMAS (1979). Most of these aired once or twice and then disappeared forever.Some others like JACK FROST (1979), THE STINGIEST MAN IN TOWN (1978), A FLINTSTONES CHRISTMAS (1977) eventually made it to cable and home video. So where is the vault that holds all these great animated shows - and how do we get it to open??? Yes - aside from the few that are now avialable on dvd (Notably the Rankin-Bass productions) - where have all the others gone? And so, now you know the sad tale of The Network That Slept Through Christmas.

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