Picks and Pans Review: The Year Without a Santa Claus

updated 12/15/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/15/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

Even a holiday-weary adult can enjoy this just-cynical-enough tape, which uses posable figures animated by a rickety stop-action technique called Animagic. Convinced people just don't care about him or Christmas anymore, and fighting a bad cold, Santa decides to take a year off. Mrs. Claus, independent go-getter that she is, takes matters into her own hands and sends two elves and Vixen the reindeer to bring back proof that people still care. They find a boy who doesn't believe, a dogcatcher who mistakes Vixen for a stray and a mayor who makes a promise to declare a national holiday in Santa's name if it can be made to snow in his Southern city. Then there are the Miser Brothers, Snow and Heat, whose sibling quarrels are a highlight. It finally takes the Misers' mother (Nature, that is) to settle their disputes. Rest assured, Santa does fly as scheduled, and the lessons about the importance of believing in him are painlessly administered. Shirley Booth is the voice of Mrs. Claus in this 1979 program by Rankin-Bass Productions, originally a TV special. Mickey Rooney is Santa. (Lightning Video, $29.95)

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