Monday, December 11, 2006


We watched the Rudolph/Frosty doubleheader as planned on Friday night, and the quality of the classics showed through as always, but CBS made a major goof in selecting the awful "Frosty Returns" for the last half hour. Apparently this piece of dreck has been around since 1992, but somebody needs to put it out of its misery before we are subjected to a 20th Anniversary Celebration.

The original Frosty and its eponymous Christmas carol survive and thrive because of the simple story that appeals to children and adults. The small touches, like Frosty wishing himself a happy birthday when he comes to life, the miming talents of Hocus Pocus the rabbit, and of course the unforgettable dialogue of Professor Hinkle the evil magician ("Busy, busy, busy ...), and other touches of wry humor allow you to enjoy yourself while watching your kids fight a tear the first time they see Frosty melted into a puddle inside the greenhouse. The writers wisely choose to have Santa Claus - rather than the army or the President, as Hocus first suggests - save the day. In doing so, Santa explains to Karen, and all of us, that every year the magic of Christmas returns and can make miracles happen. Yes, it's simplistic, and no, it's not subtle, but only minutes after the show reached its satisfying conclusion, I learned how easy it is to mangle such a great premise.

"Frosty Returns" takes us to Beansboro, a small American burg where Frosty comes to life to help a little girl save her town from an evil industrialist who seeks to enrich himself by ridding the world of snow. So, right away, we have a lefty political agenda, featuring those Hollywood favorites, environmentalists against corporate overlords. Frosty, no longer just a happy jolly soul content to run and play before he melts away, is now some sort of superhero, "SnowMan," ready to defend the rights of skiers and snowboarders. The vocal talents of Jonathan Winters, John Goodman, Brian Doyle Murray and Andrea Martin cannot save this excruciatingly bad script compounded by animation from the "Charlie Brown" team that becomes utterly charmless without the writing and music that made those shows great. Worst of all, the "Let There Be Snow" anthem sung by Frosty is still reverbrating in my head. Ugh.

So, a note to the CBS programming department. Bury this garbage in whatever pit you dug it up from and maybe, just maybe, Santa will leave a quality CSI spinoff in your stocking instead of lumps of coal like the already-cancelled "3 lbs."

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