Holiday knee-jerk review: "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town"

1. We remember well the snowmobile delivery man voiced by Fred Astaire...
2. ...but we don't remember much else. All in all, it's a pretty weird holiday special.
3. This was made by Rankin-Bass several years before "Year Without a Santa Claus" and the stop-motion animation is indeed much cruder and clunkier. The figures jerk and move with such little fluidity that it feels like you're having a mild seizure just watching it.
4. The special is pretty clever, however, in creating a detailed backstory to Santa Claus that explains the details of the Santa myth, much of it involving Santa's status as a fugitive wanted by the head of Sombertown (i.e. to escape detection he starts entering children's home via the chimney).
5. For some reason the Sombertown bad guys all have German accents, but "funny" ones that call to mind "Hogan's Heroes."
6. That odd German slant plus the fugitive subplot lends the story a strange World War II vibe with Santa acting as some kind of underground resistance leader to the anti-toy Nazi rule.
7. Mrs. Claus is a hot dish until she married Santa, then she really lets herself go. He must be a poor influence on healthy living.
8. If you ever face death by a Winter Warlock, just offer him a toy train.

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