They’re selling a $30 DVD now that’s a compilation of all the major animated Christmas specials. Rudolph, Grinch, Frosty… even a few oddball Rankin/Bass specials for good measure. “Hah!” says I, “Who would buy that when they’re on TV for FREE?”
Welp, after catching the holiday trilogy that is The Grinch, Rudolph and Charlie Brown, I think I finally see the reason.
Networks have to fit in 18 or so minutes of commercials every hour– that’s just the way it goes. But these specials were made 40 some years ago, back when that number was a lot smaller. I’m sure they’ve been trimming the fat from the cartoons for years; it’s possible I’ve never actually seen the full version of A Charlie Brown Christmas on TV. But some of the phantom edits being made lately struck me like a frozen can of Who Hash to my skull.
You remember the scene in Grinch where the Chefs bring Cindy-Lou Who a strawberry, and they do it all Russian nesting dolls style? Big chef reveals small chef reveals smaller chef, and so on? That was cut. So was the scene with the Grinch kicking snow in his dog’s face while chasing the sled. They even cut a few lines here and there, which in a Dr. Suess script really brings down the whole house of cards. You keep waiting for that fourth rhyming line and it never comes. Rudolph’s soundtrack suffered from the faintest hint of chipmunk-style speeding up, which I will admit leads to a humorous new take on Burl Ives. Even A Charlie Brown Christmas, usually such a somber, slow-paced show, was not spared. There were a few cases where as soon as Charlie Brown stopped talking, Linus immediately spoke his lines, no beat in between to digest what was said.
Traditions in my family are weird. Our annual Christmas dinner is accented with music from the Home Alone 2 soundtrack. We really do fight over who gets Cap’n Crunch or the Energizer Bunny on their side of the tree. So I guess I do take my goofy animated Christmas cartoons seriously. It’s a shame to see them spliced and sped up more and more every year; especially considering kids are watching them for the first time. But hey now, ABC, I understand. You gotta make room somewhere for Shrek the Halls.