A Claymation Christmas Celebration
Will Vinton's Claymation Christmas Celebration is a Christmas television special originally broadcast on the American CBS TV network on December 21, 1987. The special featured stop motion clay animation and was produced and directed by Will Vinton. The special debuted alongside A Garfield Christmas and the two continued to be aired back to back in subsequent years.
Claymation Christmas Celebration
|Directed by||Will Vinton|
|Produced by||David Altschul|
|Written by||Ralph Liddle|
|Music by||Patric Miller|
|December 21, 1987|
The special is co-hosted by Rex (Johnny Counterfit), an erudite Tyrannosaurus rex, and Herb (Tim Conner), a dimwitted and bespectacled Styracosaurus with a gluttonous appetite. The two appeared in previous Will Vinton videos dating back to 1980 including Dinosaurs! - A Fun-Filled Trip Back in Time!, but this Christmas special is the first in which they have dialogue and contemporary personalities, vaguely parodying Siskel and Ebert respectively.
Situated in a facsimile of London's Christmas Square, Rex and Herb introduce several stand-alone videos of Christmas carols and holiday standards and discuss the origins of each song relating to different holiday traditions around the world.
Among the musical performances:
- The Biblical magi sing the verses of "We Three Kings" traditionally, while their camels sing the chorus in the style of doo-wop.
- At Notre Dame Cathedral, The Paris Bell-Harmonic, a group of anthropomorphic church bells who strike their own heads with chime hammers to achieve their respective notes, performs "Carol of the Bells." The low C bell (the tonic) constantly dawdles and chimes out of tune, enraging the maestro, Quasimodo, who uses a slingshot on the bell to get the proper tone at the end.
- A children's choir sings "O Christmas Tree", with the video depicting various scenes taking place inside of Christmas ornaments
- "Angels We Have Heard On High" is set to a walrus couple doing an interpretive ice ballet while several luckless penguins watch.
- At a black church in the countryside, a soul/jazz hybrid rendition of "Joy to the World" plays out in colorful scenes. (This segment, using stylized, flat animation resembling paintings and stained glass windows, is the only segment not rendered in Vinton's trademark Claymation.)
- The California Raisins perform a cover of the Temptations' version of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,".
Throughout the program, Rex futilely attempts to clarify the true pronunciation and meaning of the term "wassail', featured in the Christmas carol "Here We Come A-Wassailing". As the show progresses, Rex is accosted by different groups, all singing lyrically incorrect versions of the song.
- "Here We Come A-Waffling", by a kennel of dogs selling waffles from a vendor's wagon.
- "Here We Come A-Waddling", by a gaggle of straggling geese carrying baskets of goodies.
- "Here We Come A-Wallowing", by a herd of slovenly pigs on a John Deere-style field wagon gorging themselves on an abundance of assorted fruits.
Rex is convinced that his own pronunciation is correct, but he is continually questioned by the others including Herb when he is not busy excessively partaking of the various Christmas treats offered by each group; consulting the dictionary provides no meaningful help. Finally, near the program's end, a large truck loaded with cider-swilling Irish elves arrives in Christmas Square singing the correct version of the carol, validating Rex's theory much to his delight. When asked, one of the townies explains the real meaning of wassailing: going around the neighborhood singing Christmas carols, and getting treats and cordials.
At the end, the entire cast performs "Here We Come A-Wassailing", and then "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" as the end credits roll.
1988—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program given to Will Vinton (executive producer/director), David Altschul (producer) and Ralph Liddle (writer)
The Prunes sing "O Pruney Night" (a parody of "O Holy Night"), which includes the lines:
- "O Pruney Night, the stars are slightly wrinkled
- We are the fruit that your grandmother loves".
(Lisa remarks that the song is "offensive to Christians and prunes!")
Soundtrack & VideoEdit
A companion soundtrack album was released by Atlantic Records in 1988 and was originally available on LP, cassette, and compact disc. The album contains six songs not featured on the special, including an alternate version of "Angels We Have Heard On High". The song "O Christmas Tree", as featured in the special, was excluded from the soundtrack.
The special was released on the Hen's Tooth Video DVD Will Vinton's Claymation Christmas Plus Halloween & Easter Celebrations in 2003.
- Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
- Good King Swing
- We Three Kings Bop
- God Rest Ye
- Carol of the Bells
- Silent Night Jazzy Night
- Up on the Housetop
- Waffle, Waddle, Wallow, Wassail
- Angels We Have Heard On High
- Crump, William D. (2019). Happy Holidays--Animated!: A Worldwide Encyclopedia of Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and New Year's Cartoons on Television and Film. McFarland & Co. p. 72. ISBN 978-1476672939.
- "Filmed in Oregon 1908-2015" (PDF). Oregon Film Council. Oregon State Library. Retrieved December 27, 2015.