New Christmas shows aren't destined to be classics
December 11, 2008 5:00 AM
Bob D'Amico/ABC Family
Battling brothers Heat Miser and Snow Miser from "The Year Without a Santa Claus" return in their own holiday special, "A Miser Brothers Christmas."
By Rob Owen Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
As much as the notion of a new Rankin-Bass Christmas special appeals, "A Miser Brothers' Christmas" can't positively compare to the original "Year Without a Santa Claus" that introduced Heat Miser and Snow Miser and their catchy duet in 1974. ("I'm Mister Heat Miser, I'm Mister Sun / I'm Mister Green Christmas, I'm Mister 101!")
Give ABC Family credit for trying, but this new special, premiering at 8 p.m. Saturday, just doesn't have the same kick. Mickey Rooney reprises his role as the voice of Santa Claus and George S. Irving is again Heat Miser. Juan Chioran succeeds the late Dick Shawn in the role of Snow Miser.
In the not-so-grand tradition of many TV shows and comic books, the bad guys, Heat Miser and Snow Miser, are revealed just to be misunderstood in this sequel and the role of the heavy goes to their brother, North Wind, who covets the opportunity to play Santa by causing the jolly old North Pole resident to have an accident that throws out his back.
The look of the show is fantastic and generally evokes the Rankin-Bass ethos (a few minor characters' mouths look more computer-animated than they look like traditional Rankin-Bass mouth movements). Children may enjoy seeing another special done in this retro style, but it's too bad the story isn't stronger to warrant an hour of Heat Miser-Snow Miser arguing.
'The Flight Before Christmas'
When: 9 p.m. Friday, CBS
'A Miser Brothers' Christmas'
When: 8 p.m. Saturday, ABC Family
None of the new songs in "Miser Brothers' Christmas" are memorable, so the reprise of the original duet is welcome. But I also couldn't help but think: Maybe ABC Family, Warner Bros. Animation and Cuppa Coffee Studios should have left well enough alone.
'The Flight Before Christmas'
Too scary for young kids, it's no wonder "Flight" airs later (9 p.m. Friday, CBS) than most holiday specials. Filled with high-quality computer animation, this hour-long program has more action than the comparatively sedate "Miser Bros."
Thematically, "Flight" might take some viewers by surprise. It's the story of a young reindeer, Niko (voice of Emma Roberts), who wants to be a flying reindeer like his absentee father. Yes, one of Santa's reindeer is the deadbeat dad in question. (In fairness, Daddy didn't know he has a son.)
Niko and his flying squirrel friend (voice of Norm McDonald) set out on a journey to find Niko's dad, dodging dangerous wolves along the way. Once they find the reindeer, a singing weasel serenades, "This boy has come a long way today, and one of you shares the same DNA."
It is an odd little Christmas program, and I haven't even mentioned the scene where Santa is thrown from his sleigh, hits a lamp post and bursts into flames without any of his reindeer team batting an eye.
"Flight" zips along with adventures and good humor but comes up short with an abrupt ending that's completely unsatisfying. Other than the ending, Mrs. Lincoln, it's an enjoyably off-kilter show.