'The Story of Santa Claus'

The Story of Santa Claus
The Story of Santa Claus. Amazon

The Story of Santa Claus, an animated, musical holiday special featuring the voices of Edward Asner, Betty White, and Tim Curry, revolves around a gentle toymaker whose only wish is to deliver a toy to every child on Christmas. It's a Christmas cartoon that has found a spot in ABC Family's rotation of Christmas shows but never became a beloved holiday classic. The Story of Santa Claus was originally broadcast on December 4, 1996.

The Plot

Ed Asner (Up) is the voice of the toymaker, Nicholas "Santa" Claus, and Betty White (The Golden Girls) plays his wife, Gretchen. They are in dire financial straights, with nowhere to go, when their heartless landlord evicts them from their small shop. With only a bag of toys to their names, they decide to deliver the toys to the children of the Angel's Island Orphanage, the place where Nicholas grew up.

On their way to the island, Santa and Gretchen are enveloped in a terrible storm and dragged out to sea, finally washing ashore at the North Pole. Tim Curry (The Grinch) is the voice of Nostros, the leader of a band of tiny elves, whom they meet at the Pole. Nostros orders them to leave and is about to attack them when his son has an accident and Santa gets the chance to save the boy's life. Under these unforeseen circumstances, Nostros is forced by elfin rules to grant Santa his fondest wish—which is to give every child in the world a toy on Christmas.

If the elves fail to grant Santa's wish, all the elves around the world will lose their magic—forever. Under intense pressure, the elves draw on all their magic as they work feverishly to make the presents in time for Christmas. But, when Christmas Eve finally arrives, there is no guarantee that Santa will be able to deliver all the toys. With Nostros along to conjure up all the magic available, Santa takes off on the great holiday adventure with a sleigh full of presents and a heart full of Christmas spirit.

The Bottom Line

The Story of Santa Claus is very different than the historical account of the real Saint Nicholas. By 1996, however, when this special aired, no doubt the writers figured the world needed a new spin on an old tale. The result is rather mediocre, even though the cast is bursting with talent.

Behind the Scenes

Marie Maxwell and John Thomas composed the score, which includes four original songs: "To Give Every Child in the World a Toy," "We're Gonna Pull It Off," "Clement's Song," and "Santa's Ride."

The Story of Santa Claus was produced by Arnold Shapiro Productions and Film Roman Productions, in association with CBS Productions. Arnold Shapiro is the executive producer; Phil Roman, the animation executive producer; Carol Corwin, the producer. Toby Bluth directed the special from a script by Rachel Koretsky and Steve Whitestone.