The Rankin/Bass reviews continue for another week, and this time, we’re focusing on some specials starring Frosty the Snowman, the animated Frosty’s Winter Wonderland (1976) and the stop motion Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July (1979). I grew up watching Frosty the Snowman (1969) on VHS as a duckling, so it was interesting to see the sentient snowman in action once again. For today’s review, we’ll be discussing Frosty’s Winter Wonderland.
The story is simple. The children realize Frosty is lonely and decide to build him a wife. They decide upon the name Crystal, and though she is not sentient at first, Frosty manages to bring her to life through an act of love, by giving her flowers. They want to get married, but Parson Brown (you know, from the song “Winter Wonderland”) can’t marry snow-people, only humans, so they build their own snow-parson. (You have to admit that the implications of this are a bit…questionable. Should these children really be creating life willy-nilly like this? This seems like a violation against nature, if you ask me.)
As you can no doubt tell, it’s a pretty straightforward story, only complicated by the antagonist, Jack Frost, who is voiced by none other than Paul Frees. (Wouldn’t it be fitting in this case if his name was spelled Paul Freeze…?) Jack Frost is jealous of all the attention Frosty is getting, though try as he might to cause trouble, including stealing Frosty’s magical hat, nothing really works, and he ends up having a change of heart when Crystal shows him kindness.
There’s really not much to say about this special because it is so short and simple, but I was admittedly surprised that it was pretty good considering there’s so little to work with. Plus, it’s rarely a good sign when they try to cash in on the popularity of an earlier work (I’m looking at you, A Miser Brothers’ Christmas…). What results is, more often than not, a product that is lazy and cheap. But no, this short was actually really cute and far better than it had any right to be. Plus, Crystal seems really sweet and is a nice addition to the story.
The special was narrated by Andy Griffith, which is pretty cool (I still love watching The Andy Griffith Show from time to time), though I have to admit that the animated version of him is a little off-putting, probably because he sports a more detailed art style than the other characters in their efforts to make him look similar to his real self. I’m also not sure why they didn’t bring back Karen, the girl from the original, but alas, what can you do?
If you liked the original Frosty the Snowman, I would certainly recommend this one, which everyone says is much better than Frosty Returns (1992), a sequel I have not seen. Next time, we’ll be discussing Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July, which is best viewed after Frosty’s Winter Wonderland, since it introduced several important characters…. Until next time, folks, happy birthday!
Previous Rankin/Bass Reviews (and other similar holiday specials)
- Cricket on the Hearth (1967)
- Here Comes Peter Cottontail (1971)
- The Year Without a Santa Claus (1974)
- The First Easter Rabbit (1976)
- Rudolph’s Shiny New Year (1976)
- The Easter Bunny is Comin’ to Town (1977)
- Nestor the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey (1977)
- The Stingiest Man in Town (1978)
- A Miser Brothers’ Christmas (2008)