Take a Drink: for each Christmas song
Take a Drink: for increasingly painful puns
Do a Shot: for every reference to wassailing
By: Oberst Von Berauscht (Two Beers) –
Claymation Christmas Celebration is an anthology of short musical segments all based on popular Christmas songs. As a wrap-around, each short is presented by Rex and Herb, two dinosaurs with a catty knack for getting on each other’s nerves.
The musical segments are as follows:
We Three Kings, with Jazzy Camels…
Carol of the Bells
O Christmas Tree
Angels we have Heard on High
Joy To the World
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
All joking aside, this is a special packed with neat visuals, whether it be through cartoony humor or tasteful spiritual imagery. Director and lead Claymation artist Will Vinton was a groundbreaker in stop-motion artistry, pioneering technologies and methods that are still in use today by studios such as Laika. Vinton’s Christmas special is endlessly rewarding for fans of the art style, while also satisfying children with colorful character-design, silly characters, and heart-warming Christmas wistfulness.
The music featured in the special is clearly recorded on a lower budget, but with tight production and creative choices that keep you interested. As an example, here is the “We Three Kings” segment, which combines a traditionalist reading of the classic carol with R&B interludes that pep up the beat.
Most of the songs on the soundtrack take a unique approach to the material; other stand-outs include the “Joy to the World” song, which blends world music and gospel traditions, and the California Raisins’ “Rudolph” rendition. Those too young to remember when the California Raisins were popular are missing out on one of the strangest-silliest times, when a simple commercial promoting the dried grapes somehow managed to bring hit classic R&B covers back to the charts.
After not having watched this special since the early 90s, I can honestly say in revisiting it this year that this experience holds up as one of the most satisfying Holiday specials television ever produced.
Fitting in a generous amount of Christmas spirit into just a half-hour, Claymation Christmas Celebration is a piece of 1980s nostalgia not to be missed.