Friday, December 12, 2008

Burgermeister Meisterburger

It's time for the Christmas specials!

"Santa Claus is Comin' to Town" was on the other night, and has some surprisingly warm allusions Jesus being born on Christmas rather than just the gift for children stuff. I forgot that the central story is a worn out and rather evil old wizard who, on meeting Kris Kringle, is changed to a good man. He's the one who gives Kris the flying reindeer and all the trimmings of the job. For some reason, Kris has a pet penguin as his accomplice in his early days. These were spent defying the law of the Burgermeister Meisterburger, who leads a paramilitary police force (and the only one sporting a German accent) to snuff out toys.

What is striking is that the goodness of Kris Kringle's motivations is accompanied by a massive behavioural modification programme -- the naughty and nice list, to see who gets toys. I grew up with this in the background, but it's pretty hard hitting in the show -- be good or you won't get loved by Santa! I've heard that in Austria, children really are at risk of getting coal in their stockings if they've misbehaved, while their brother or sister might get gifts. Can anyone confirm?

In any case, the Christmas specials are a blast. These puppet ones are the best, with such characters as Yukon Cornelius ("Bumbles Bounce!"), Herbie the Elf ("I want to be a dentist"), the SnowMiser and HeatMiser ("Whatever I touch, turns to snow in my clutch, I'm too much") and many more.

I like the animated ones too. Charlie Brown is tops. Frosty I could do without. I always wanted him to melt, just like I rather wanted Wilbur the Pig to be made into bacon after a few minutes of his whingeing on "Charlotte's Web". When Linus reads Luke 2 in the Charlie Brown Christmas special, it's a great moment.

What about you? What are your favourite Christmas specials?


seapea said...

my fav is

1. it's a wonderful life
2. anything charlie brown
3. grinch *the original cartoon*
4. miracle on 34th street (esp relevant living in NYC)
5. little princess (with shirley temple)

i love them all. that reminds me - must restock kleenex for christmas season - they all make me cry!

p.s. i met your baby today. she liked my high-pitched voice trying desperately to make her smile - which i succeeded!

Clifford Swartz said...

And the Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow,
Stood puzzling and puzzling: "How could it be so?
It came without ribbons! It came without tags!
"It came without packages, boxes or bags!"
And he puzzled three hours, `till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before!
"Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store.
"Maybe Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!"

And what happened then...? Who-ville they say
That the Grinch's small heart
Grew three sizes that day!
And the minute his heart didn't feel quite so tight,
He whizzed with his load through the bright morning light
And he brought back the toys! And the food for the feast!
And he...

The Grinch carved the roast beast!

SeaPea said...

btw, i failed to mention The Nativity Story as my new Christmas fav this morning. Have you seen it? It's from 2006 and it chronicles what Joseph & Mary might've gone through (emotionally, that is) until the birth (that's when the movie ends). it's very interesting!

Clifford Swartz said...

No, I haven't seen it, but I'll look out for it on the telly!

Ran Barton said...

E.C. - Before you dismiss Wilbur, who has suffered mightily at the hands of some abysmal animators, find a copy of the audiobook of Charlotte's Web, read by E. B. White himself. He does all the parts, and in this form this book has been a family favorite for 30 years. If you cannot find it, I will cheerfully send you the MP3s - this is terrific, and I strongly suspect you, the Authoress, and your kidlets would all love it.

Clifford Swartz said...

Righty-ho, Ran. I refer to the animated version, and in particular, the voice for Wilbur made my skin crawl.

I will look forward to the original read by the author, and did enjoy the book much more than the cartoon.

EB White gave an interview on the animated version, and his triumph was to insist that Charlotte die at the end, which the film company wanted to change to be a simpler happy ending rather than the more complex (and stronger for both children and adults) ending he intended.

seapea said...

oh and ALL versions of A CHRISTMAS CAROL, including SCROOGED. scary! awesome!

Sally Lloyd-Jones said...

I love charlie brown--and only recently learned that it was only because Schulz stood his ground and wouldn't give up that CBS agreed to keep the reading from Luke 2. they wanted to get rid of it. ...

Thanks for stopping by my blog and for your comment Clifford--and so glad to hear your children are enjoying the book. (I"m a big sister so I feel I was duty bound to write it!)

: } A wonder-filled Christmas to you all
It's lovely to meet you--a fellow New Yorker...


Clifford Swartz said...

Thanks, Sally, for your comment. Without realising you wrote both books, I recently purchased the children's story Bible you authored for our kids, as well as our church's book table (sold out now!).

Merry Christmas to you.

Steve in Columbiana, Ohio said...

While it's true that "Charlottes Web" was a clunker, Paul Lynde was perfect as the voice for Templeton the rat. That was by far the best part of the movie.