The other night I watched the Christmas classic Frosty the Snowman on television. I hope any reader is familiar with the Rankin-Bass animated production of the snowman who came to life via a magic hat. It is a silly story, but it is silly in a rather charming way and it is still entertaining.
Following Frosty the Snowman, they aired Frosty Returns, a more recent production made in 1992. Rankin-Bass, producer of many Christmas shows, including Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer dissolved in 1987, so Frosty Returns was made by Broadway Video, and was not exactly a sequel to the original Frosty. It featured a snowman named Frosty,voiced by John Goodman, but all of the other characters were different, and Frosty’s personality was somewhat different.
I had never seen Frosty Returns before, but it didn’t take long for me to realize that it entirely lacked the charm of the original. It was simply silly. I actually couldn’t watch it all the way through so I will have to rely on Wikipedia to provide a summary of the plot.
The special begins with a musical number showing that Beansboro Elementary School is canceled for the day due to a seven-inch snowfall. While the adults incessantly complain about the problems snow and ice cause, the children enjoy the opportunity to play in it.
We then see Holly DeCarlo (Moss), a relatively lonely young girl and aspiring magician with only one friend, a tone-deaf, somewhat geeky character named Charles (Carter) who has a knack for climatology. While practicing a magic act with Charles, Holly’s hat blows off her head, out the window, and onto a snowman who comes to life as Frosty (Goodman), thus revealing that Holly’s hat was “that old silk hat” featured in the original song and previous adaptations.
Meanwhile, evil Mr. Twitchell (Doyle-Murray) is the inventor of “Summer Wheeze”, an aerosol spray that makes snow instantly disappear He hopes to use the product to win over the people of Beansboro so that he will be crowned King of the Beansboro Winter Carnival, apparently believing that the title will give him actual dominion over the townspeople. When one of the members of the town council voices concern about the environmental impact of the untested product, Mr. Twitchell has her dropped through a trapdoor.
To Twitchell’s delight, and Frosty’s dismay, the town of Beansboro falls head over heels for “Summer Wheeze” which makes Frosty concerned about his safety. Although many of their classmates rally for the elimination of snow, only a day after singing about its virtues, Holly and Charles take on the duties of protecting Frosty, including hiding him in a freezer and securing refuge for him in an ice castle built for the Carnival. Later, Holly gets Frosty to appear at the Winter Carnival in an attempt to persuade the townspeople to rethink their hatred of snow. Singing about the joy of winter, Frosty is unanimously declared king of the carnival. In the end, Frosty and Holly make amends with Mr. Twitchell (now realizes that he’s no match for Mother’s Nature) and let him wear the crown and cape and ride in the sled of the carnival king. Frosty must leave Beansboro, but assures Holly that he will be back someday.
Notice that the villain is an inventor who has created a product that many might consider very useful. Snow may be fun to play in but it is dangerous to drive in. Imagine how much labor could be saved by a product like Summer Wheeze, or how many lives could be saved if roads could be instantaneously cleared. Is this an example of Hollywood’s anti-capitalist bias, or promoting an environmentalist agenda? The Wikipedia article adds that, unlike the original, there is no mention of Christmas or Santa Claus in Frosty Returns. The people are celebrating a “Winter Carnival”. The Frosty song is altered to eliminate references to Frosty’s corncob pipe, and, needless to say, the new Frosty didn’t have one.
The article describes the plot as being “more political and/or socially conscious” than the original and that really is the problem. Back in 1969, Rankin-Bass wanted to make animated Christmas specials and perhaps a profit. The makers of Frosty Returns felt a need to insert socially conscious messaging. Political correct indoctrination has infected our Holiday Specials and we are all the worse for it. Imagine a Christmas show that can’t mention Christmas!
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