Like a playful snowball to the face, The Saturday Supercast is back again with episode 25! In honor of the very merriest of seasons Jerzy, Kevin, and I decided is was the perfect time to tackle another Rankin/Bass special from the 80s as well as revisiting the G.I. Joe cartoon series. This episode is the second of a two part exploration taking a look at the magic and wonder of some amazing Christmas themed stop motion animagic.
Beginning with The New Adventures of Pinocchio in 1960 Rankin/Bass established themselves as one of the foremost pop culture animation houses in America. Arthur Rankin Jr. & Jules Bass (along with a bevy of puppeteers, seamstresses, artisans, animators, musicians and talented actors & voice actors) spent the better part of thirty years bringing exceptional all-ages entertainment into our homes and theaters. In fact, from the debut of Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer in 1964 Rankin/Bass became synonymous with the Christmas season. Between 1964 and 1985 the studio produced 18 beloved Christmas specials and feature films including Frosty the Snowman, Santa Claus is Comin’ To Town, The Little Drummer Boy, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, and Jack Frost.
For this special holiday episode of the Supercast we decided to kick of the discussion with a look at the obscure 1981 Rankin/Bass special, The Leprechaun’s Christmas Gold…
…and we follow that up with a special guest to the round-table, Mark Rudolph of CV Comics, the Art & Story podcast, and the creator behind the Curse of the Pharaohs, to talk about a very merry episode of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, Cobra Claws are Coming to Town…
In the episode we also talk about Christmas episodes of other 80s/90s era cartoons like Batman the Animated Series (Christmas with the Joker), Justice League (Comfort and Joy), Batman: Brave and the Bold (Invasion of the Secret Santas, Part 1 & Part 2), the He-Man & She-Ra Christmas Special, the Flintstones Christmas special, the insane Star Wars Holiday Special (Find all 15 parts of the special here), and the one G1 Transformers Christmas story we can recall. We also mention the new online video service called Jaroo.com which features free viewing of such great cartoon series as Paddington Bear, Pole Position, the Littles, Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors, Ulysses in the 31st Century, StarCom, Inspector Gadget, and Captain N the Gamemaster.
As for the Leprechaun’s Christmas Gold we also get into some more great Rankin/Bass voice acting from Robert McFadden and a surprisingly well-done Irish brogue from Art Carney, Bing Crosby’s rendition of Christmas in Killarney, 80s era political correctness keeping the Leprechaun’s Christmas Gold a little more obscure, banshees and the folklore and superstitions that arise in different regions of the world (including banshee combs and the concept of not directly passing the salt to another person), folklore hero and villain archetypes, battling the Devil, the lack of traditional Christmas lore in the LCG special, Czech shadow puppetry, the chroma key effect, the Last Unicorn and Rankin/Bass’ tradition of great animated water/waves, and Rankin/Bass’ clever use of common household items in their stop motion work.
While discussing the Cobra Claws are Coming to Town we also mention our previous round-table episodes on the G.I. Joe series in episodes 19 & 20 of the Saturday Supercast as well as getting into the very tenuous Christmas message in this episode, Toys for Tots, some more of the excellent voice-work by Frank Welker (who plays Polly in this episode), Neil Ross (Shipwreck), Arthur Burghardt (Destro), Morgan Lofting (the Baroness), & Liz Aubrey (Covergirl), the impending Shout Factory DVD re-release of G.I. Joe the Movie, Covergirl’s make-over as the cartoon series progressed, the writing chops of Gerry & Carla Conway and Roy & Dan Thomas, Trojan horses, the awesome costume changes of characters in 80s cartoons that feature very obvious seasonal and location changes, Joes out of costume in The Viper is Coming, revealing the real names of the G.I. Joe characters (or the hilarious lack-there-of) in episodes such as Cobra Claws are Coming to Town, The Trader, Flint’s Vacation, and Captives of Cobra.
If you’re interested in watching The Leprechaun’s Christmas Gold, it’s available as part of the newly repackaged Classic Christmas Favorites set from Warner Brothers as a special feature on the How the Grinch Stole Christmas DVD. As for the Cobra Claws episode of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, you can also view it for free via Veoh, or you can find the episode on the Complete G.I. Joe series footlocker set, or on the individual season 1.3 release scheduled to hit store shelves on February 2nd, 2010.
…and I am a blogger and irregular podcaster whose stuff you can find, uh, here.
If you have any questions, comments, or heck, even complaints, you can drop us a line at Saturday Supercast!
Direct download of the episode is available here.