Sunday, December 23, 2012

Danny & Marlo Thomas & Roddy McDowall in Cricket on the Hearth (1967)

When we think of Dickens and Christmas, we naturally think of A Christmas Carol. In truth, Dickens wrote five Christmas stories, including the one that this holiday special was based on. Though this animated story produced by holiday heavyweights Rankin & Bass bears little resemblance to the original novela, it has some charming musical numbers and a sweet story to warm your heart. Bertha (Marlo Thomas), the daughter of toy maker Caleb (Danny Thomas) is in love with handsome Edward. When Edward is lost at sea, Bertha suffers a case of hysterical blindness and the family falls on hard times. Will the luck of their cricket, Crocket (Roddy McDowall) see them through? Also in the cast is veteran character actor Hans Conried, Abby Lane and the Norman Luboff Choir.

This special is available on DVD, and can also be seen on YouTube. Part one is above, uploaded by starwarsmarveldc.

Obscurity factor: 8 (available on DVD & YouTube, largely forgotten)

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Ziggy in Ziggy's Gift (1982)

Christmas specials fall into one of two different categories - classics or obscurities. This one, though of a classic quality is definitely in the second camp. Our intrepid little hero, so familiar to us from the comic pages, has a devil of a time finding his way through the holiday season, though he never loses his faith and good humor. The special was written by Ziggy's creater, Tom Wilson, and features the voice of Perry Botkin Jr., who created the theme music for another Obscurity Factor series - Quark. The charm and warmth of this special make it a joy to watch. Perhaps it didn't catch on because it's set in a rather bleak urban environment. One way or the other, it's definitely worth seeing.

Ziggy's Gift is available on DVD and can be found relatively easily. It's also been uploaded to YouTube in two parts by jiggerfool. Part 1 is above.

Obscurity factor: 8 (available on DVD & YouTube, known and loved by a cult following of fans)