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The Great Santa Claus Switch (1970) HD online

The Great Santa Claus Switch (1970) HD online
Language: English
Category: Movie / Comedy / Family
Original Title: The Great Santa Claus Switch
Director: John Moffitt
Writers: Jerry Juhl
Released: 1970
Duration: 1h
Video type: Movie
The Great Santa Claus Switch was a Muppet television special that first aired on CBS on December 20, 1970. The show, narrated by Ed Sullivan, begins at the North Pole with Santa Claus and his elves getting ready for another Christmas. However, Cosmo Scam has hatched a plan to kidnap Santa and take his place. As part of the plan, Cosmo plans to abduct Santa's elves (one at a time) and replace them with his evil henchmen.
Cast overview:
Art Carney Art Carney - Santa Claus / Cosmo Scam
Jim Henson Jim Henson - Fred / Lothar (voice)
Frank Oz Frank Oz - Thig / Skippity / Hoppity / Boppity / Snerf (voice)
Jerry Nelson Jerry Nelson - Thog / Zippity / Snivelly (voice)
Danny Seagren Danny Seagren - Gloat / Snarl / Snerf (voice)
John Lovelady John Lovelady - Bong / Snake Frackle / Scoff / Snerf / Alarm Frackle (voice)
Richard Hunt Richard Hunt - Bing / Match Frackle (voice)
Marilyn Sokol Marilyn Sokol - Additional Muppets (voice)
Fran Brill Fran Brill - Snerf (voice)
Byron Whiting Byron Whiting - Additional Muppets (voice)
Greg Antonacci Greg Antonacci - Additional Muppets (voice)
Cary Antebi Cary Antebi - Additional Muppets (voice)
John Byrum John Byrum - Additional Muppets (voice)

This special aired in place of Toast of the Town (1948). Ed Sullivan gave Jim Henson and his company the timeslot as a Christmas present in gratitude for the many appearances the Muppets made on his show.

This special featured the first appearance of Gonzo, though he is named "Snarl" here.

Reviews: [3]

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    I saw this delightful 1970 children's special at the Museum of Television & Radio in Los Angeles. Variety-show host Ed Sullivan was one of the early boosters of Jim Henson, inviting Henson and his wonderful Muppets to appear frequently on Sullivan's popular Sunday-night show. In December 1970, Sullivan's usual time-slot on CBS (not NBC) was pre-empted for this musical special, which Sullivan narrated. For legal purposes, 'The Great Santa Claus Switch' was yet one more episode of 'The Ed Sullivan Show' ... consequently, it's been buried in legal red-tape ever since. I hope that interest in this wonderful special will spur somebody to release it onto home video.

    In a classic episode of 'The Twilight Zone', Art Carney played a broken-down drunk who could just barely hold onto his job as a department-store Santa: at the end of that episode, Carney's character actually became Santa Claus. Now, a few years later, here's Carney again playing Santa Claus: the genuine article, not a department-store knock-off. Except for Sullivan as narrator, Carney is the only human performer in this special: all the other roles are played by Henson's Muppets. (The actor billed as playing 'Fred' is actually a Muppeteer, doing voicework as well as manipulating the Muppet.)

    As the show opens, all is sweetness and light at the North Pole, with Santa and his elves getting ready for another Christmas. ('We're happy little Christmas elves; we never are forlorn...') The elves even recite their roll call: Zippity, Skippity, Hoppity, Bing, Bong and Fred. (There's an amusing doorbell effect when Bing and Bong make their entrances.) Santa genially decides to 'super-vooze' while the elves make the toys.

    However, it appears that Santa has an evil twin, or at least an evil lookalike. This is none other than Cosmo the Wizard, also played by Carney. Cosmo has hatched a plan to kidnap Santa and take his place. As part of the plan, Cosmo plans to abduct Santa's elves (one at a time) and replace them with his evil henchbeings, played by hairy Muppet monsters.

    The elves continue to recite their roll call ... but each time they do so, another Muppet elf is missing and a hairy Muppet monster (in ill-fitting elf disguise) has taken his place. Santa, of course, is oblivious. One of Art Carney's earliest jobs in show business was playing Red Lantern, a talking fish(!) on the children's radio show 'Land of the Lost'. Carney is in fine form here, playing this material at just the right level for kiddies.

    Eventually, Fred is the last elf standing ... and it's up to him to rescue Santa and the other elves. We get plenty of the Muppets' brand of cornball humour here. At one point during his rescue mission, Fred disguises himself as a rock ... prompting him to tell us 'I used to be afraid, but now I'm a little boulder.' Ouch!

    The musical numbers in this special are quite pleasant, with amusing lyrics and catchy tunes. Why haven't the Muppets done more musical material?

    'The Great Santa Claus Switch' is meant for the kiddywinks, but adults who don't take themselves too seriously will enjoy it too. I hope that somebody untangles the legal rights to this thing, and puts it on video or DVD. Absolutely and eagerly, I rate this show a perfect 10 out of 10. Bah, humbug!
  • avatar


    Someday, someway this VERY artistic endeavor by Jim Henson will be available, as Ed Sullivan surely would have wanted this. This wonderful holiday special was seen by my son. Unfortunately, I was in the next room crying my eyes out because I had just lost his brother. It was close to Christmas and gifts had been previously purchased, but not much else. Hearing his laughter brought me back to reality and as I heard his burst of laughs, I knew we must get a tree, trim it, and do the usual things associated with Christmas because I still had him and he deserved a Christmas. I remember seeing parts of it through my tears, and the brightly colored Muppets, and my son sitting there will remain with me forever. However, at that time, I did not know the name of the production. Oh to have a copy, to bring back the laughter I heard from my son...
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    While the muppets did exist before this, in skits, this is the first muppet story that was told. But except some interesting peeks at some early versions of a couple of them, most of the muppets in this movie are original characters. There's no Kermit. But there is Henson, Oz, and other puppeteers, and there is the creativity and love for the craft that you see in their later work.

    It seems like the used the chance to explore the technological limits of puppetry, as there are plenty of whole body shots, muppets flying in/through the air, arms and legs being in use, and so on. There's some scenes with lots of activity going on, and there's full body costumes too. All in all, it's impressive how much you see them doing already in this TV movie, early on in their career.

    The movie itself is alright. The plot is uninspired, but it does not take itself too seriously either. It's mostly an excuse for fun gags and technical experimentation, and for that it works brilliantly. I loved the gag where the elfs are gradually replaced by the bad guys, and how it affects the song they sing.

    All in all it's a highly recommended watch if you like the work done by the Henson studio, and alright if you want a Christmas movie to see with your younger kids.