Stop motion animator Art Clokey died on January 8th. His work included several Christmas-themed programs which I'd like to acknowledge.
There are several holiday Gumby shorts. In "Scrooge Loose," Gumby and Pokey witness Scrooge, the unhappiest man at Christmas time, emerge from a Dickens book. They follow him into a book about Santa Claus and stop him when he tries to sabotage Santa’s delivery with gifts of rocks instead of toys.
In "Santa Witch," Pokey stars in his own Christmas adventure in Santa City where he helps Witch deliver toys on behalf of a sick Santa. She has broomsticks fly his sleigh and uses her own magic to enter people’s homes. She even frightens a few children expecting to surprise Santa! When she frightens the children, one can’t help but recall a similar scene in Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas.
In "Pigeon in a Plum Tree," Gumby and Pokey read a book about Prince Harold’s attempt to please his sweetheart with the gift of a Pigeon in a Plum Tree--instead of the more preferred Partridge in a Pear Tree. Pokey enters the story to help the good-hearted Prince. Though more loosely associated with the holiday, it does refer to other elements within the song "The 12 Days of Christmas."
And, the spiritually-minded TV series, Davey & Goliath includes several holiday installments including "Christmas Lost & Found." Here, Davey doesn’t seem to feel the Christmas spirit one year although he goes through all the motions: shopping, decorating, eating Christmas cookies and participating in a Nativity pageant. Davey doesn’t “feel” the Christmas spirit until he sacrifices his plum role as a king in the pageant to another boy who would also love to participate. Check out Goliath in a camel costume for the Nativity pageant.
In "New Year's Promise," Davey is excited to ring the church bells at midnight to usher in the new year. He resolves to not yell at his little sister Sally in the new year but she misreads his lack of communication as anger and she runs away.
And, the most recent update of the series includes a new episode from 2004 entitled "Snowboard Christmas." It is easily available for viewing on DVD.
Clokey's influence on animators and audiences is widespread. Homage and parodies abound. If you grew up watching TV in the 1960s and '70s, these animated programs surely left a distinct impression. Because he was Art Clokey, dammit!