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?