Does the name “Heat Miser” mean anything to you? Do images of little men dancing with straw hats fill your head? Then you are one of the many devoted fans of the Rankin/ Bass stop-motion Christmas specials that ran (and still run) ad nauseam during the month of December starting back in the mid 60’s. Everyone remembers “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” or “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” and even “Frosty the Snowman” . Those were just too pedestrian for me, I wanted something campy and fun (even though I didn’t know what campy was at the time)… well, I found it with my favorite Christmas special, “The Year Without a Santa Claus”. It didn’t run often, and I think it even took a break for several years… but I never forgot it.
The show opens with Santa dealing with a bad cold. His doctor tells him he needs to make changes this Christmas…. Santa, feeling that people really don’t believe much in him anymore and not feeling well, decides to take a holiday. Two of his elves, Jingle and Jangle, decide to set out to find people who still believe in Santa. They fly off on a very young Vixen, run into some trouble and end up in Southtown USA. There Vixen is mistaken for a dog and sent to the pound, where she get sick from the hot weather (she is a reindeer after all!). The skeptical mayor promises the elves if they can get it to snow this Christmas in Southtown and prove themselves to truly be magical, Vixen will be freed.
The elves have to go ask two very scary people for help… the Miser brothers! What follows is one of the most memorable and outrageous song and dance routines ever done by cartoon characters in a children’s Christmas special.The Snow Miser controls the climate in the North, he’s “Mister White Christmas”, he’s “Mister Icicle”, he’s “Mister 10 Below”, he likes things to turn to snow in his clutch! The Heat Miser controls the climate in the south, he’s “Mister Green Christmas”, he’s “Mister Sun”, he loves it over 100 degrees, he likes to have things melt in his clutch (he’s too much!). Accompanied by mini versions of themselves as a chorus line, each brother gets a chance to sing and dance. The elves try to convince the brothers to, for one day let it snow in the snow and be hot in the north. They won’t stand for it…. and after their respective musical numbers, they fight. So the elves call on their mother, “Mother Nature”, who makes them compromise.
Meanwhile, Santa comes to Southtown to help. The children of the world decide if that if he won’t come to them, they will make him presents. We get the song “Blue Christmas”! Santa is moved…. it snows in Southtown, Vixen is freed and Christmas is saved! Happy ending. And children everywhere, are left singing “I’m Mister Green Christmas….”! And yes, they sell Miser action figures, t-shirts and Halloween costumes.