|FROSTY'S WINTER WONDERLAND (abc, 1976)|
Why was it such a misfit?
I like 1996's Frosty Returns, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. I'll even say it's the best of the Frosty specials. It's not boring, many of the jokes work, and it's written for adults as well as kids. People who don't like Frosty Returns don't know how good they have it...in the 80's it was a literally different story. CBS had Frosty Returns made in the early 90's because they don't own the rights to Rankin-Bass's own Frosty sequel, Frosty's Winter Wonderland. Ever since, Winter Wonderland has had to make do in cable, usually on the Family Channel and whoever owns it that year.
The plot of Frosty's Winter Wonderland is this: Frosty gets a wife. And....that's about it. There are mild complications involving Jack Frost; here as a brat who's jealous of Frosty getting more of the children's attention than him. Yet he doesn't do much about it. The original magician villain was better, and so was Karen. Speaking of her, where'd she go? It's the same setting, but Karen's nowhere! One might assume this is because Frosty returned years later and Karen had grown up...but no. No time has passed, because that stupid kid who wanted to name Frosty "Oatmeal" is back, and this time, he wants to name his wife "Cornflakes"!
At least the animation is the same, but that wasn't much of a loss in Frosty Returns, since that one was done by the Peanuts guys and has the same homey feel.
Jimmy Durante had passed on, so Rankin-Bass cast Andy Griffith to be the next caricatured narrator man. Jackie Vernon reprised his role as Frosty. The children look the same, but none of them stand out this time--they're all generic Frosty groupies who react delightedly to everything he does. Many of the same comedy bits are reused--we know Frosty can't count, so it's no surprise when he makes a Figure-9 in the ice instead of a Figure-8.
Frosty loves playing with
the kids, but they eventually have to leave, and he gets
Actually, that's not the way it happened. Being a snowman, Frosty needs his mate built before his eyes. He describes his dream girl to the kids, who create her from the snow...but one serious problem comes about in the end. How do they bring this woman to life? They can't use Frosty's hat because he needs that to live himself. Enchanted hats are rare, and they can't find another. eBay won't exist for another twenty years. "Oh well, it was a nice thought," Frosty sighs.
Frosty's so desperate for companionship that he'll take what he can get, and he stays with the inanimate snow woman all evening. He even makes her a bouquet of snow flowers. And then...somehow, when he puts the bouquet in her hands, she springs to life. How'd that happen?
Ahh, who cares. Frosty and his new girl, Crystal, take a shine to each other in nanoseconds and happily skip down the hillside. At that moment the cranky Jack Frost shows up, yells "I'LL TEACH YOU FOR BEING MORE POPULAR THAN ME" and blows a strong arctic wind gust that knocks Frosty's hat off, turning him immobile.
Despite the fact that she's only known him for less than a minute, or anyone for that matter, Crystal is devastated at the loss of Frosty. She makes him a flower herself, and puts it where his lapel would go if he were in a tuxedo--and he comes back to life. Without the hat. This throws everything into question now.
Jack Frost has been involved in the plot a total of twice, and this is when he gives up. Crystal offers him the position of best man in their wedding, and he's so touched, he reforms on the spot. There'll be no more plot from here, folks! And we have eight minutes to go!
Frosty and Crystal insist that they're not really married, despite being the only two snow-people on Earth. They have to have a proper ceremony with an ordained minister. Enter the one, the only PARSON BROWN!
Yet another complication: Parson Brown won't marry them, as he can only approve of marriage between a man and a woman, not two snowmen. However, if there were a SNOW-parson, he could do the job when he was in town. So yes, they have to build a snow equivalent of Parson Brown, and find a third way to bring him to life. They do so by attaching a Bible to his arm, remarking "what's a parson without the Good Book?"
The whole mechanic of Frosty's existence was rewritten for this special; apparently the hat wasn't magical in itself, but brought him to life because it was Frosty's perfect accessory, like Crystal's flowers and Snow-Parson's Bible. Now we better hope someone doesn't make a Snow-Osama and give him a nuke.
So they get married and then they hang around for a while, then decide it's time to go a few months later. They march back down the streets of town up to the same traffic cop, who swallowed his whistle the first time he saw Frosty.
But this time he's
unfazed. "Hello, talking snowman! I've come to grips
with your existence, and you don't surprise me anymore!
Shortly after that the cartoon ends, with no eventful or memorable ending.
Why didn't it fit in?
More of the holiday specials of old have been returning to the networks recently; "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" returned to broadcast a couple years ago, and even "Rudolph's Shiny New Year" returned after a 15-year absence (yet heavily chopped up for today's long ads). Frosty's Winter Wonderland still hasn't, though. It's the bottom of the Rankin-Bass barrel.