Frosty the Snowman, on CBS
BCDB; Christmas Specials Wiki; IMDb; Rankin/Bass Wiki; Retro Junk; TV Tango; TV Tropes; Universal; Wikipedia
streaming sites: iTunes; Vudu
This came out in 1969 (six years before I was born). Of course I saw it probably every Christmas, growing up in the 80s. The special is narrated by a cartoon version of Jimmy Durante, who also sings bits and pieces of the song on which it's based. So anyway... the first snow of the year falls on the day before Christmas, which makes it magic, apparently. After school lets out, a group of kids make a snowman. Wait, I forgot to say that before school let out, there was a terrible magician named Professor Hinkle, whom the teacher had hired to entertain the kids. But his tricks didn't work, so he threw out his hat. And he had a rabbit named Hocus Pocus, who ran outside wearing the hat later, after the kids had built their snowman, whom they had named Frosty. The only kid with a name, Karen, puts the hat on Frosty's head, and he comes to life. Then the wind blows the hat off, so Frosty stops being alive, and Hinkle takes the hat back. He figures if it brought the snowman to life, it must really be magic, so he wants to use it to get rich. (I have no idea how he expects to use it, since he never managed to make it do anything magic before, but whatevs.) Of course, the kids protest that he threw it out so it wasn't his anymore, and besides Frosty should have it so that he can live... but Hinkle claimed that was absurd, because snowmen can't come to life.
So, he leaves with the hat, but later Hocus brings it back to the kids, and they bring Frosty back to life. Unfortunately, it starts getting warner, so Frosty could melt. So he decides to go to the North Pole. On the way to the train station, as per the song, they're stopped by a traffic cop. Because Frosty didn't understand what traffic signals were all about. Which is odd, because he seemed to automatically know just about everything else, like about the North Pole and the Marines and stuff. But hey, magic doesn't have to make sense. Anyway, since they can't afford a ticket, Frosty, Hocus, and Karen all hop in a refrigerated box car, which... is technically illegal, but hey- it's a matter of life and death. Hinkle also sneaks onto the train, hoping to get the hat back.
Before reaching the North Pole, Frosty decides they must leave the train, because Karen is freezing, and obviously wandering around in the wintery wilderness is the sensible thing to do. And eventually Frosty decides that they should get Santa Claus to take Karen home, when he shows up. So they wait for him. Beyond that point I don't want to be too specific about anything that happens, but the story gets pretty dark. And then Santa shows up, and makes everything good again. Because of course there has to be a happy ending.
Um, so anyway, it's a decent show, I guess, especially if you're a kid. Or if it's near Christmas and you're in the mood for some nostalgia that makes you feel like a kid (with maybe a bit of snark added). I also wanna say I'm not sure why a hat was necessary if the snow was already magic. But still, it's just a cute and amusing and classic story.
The special spawned several sequels. There was one in 1976 called Frosty's Winter Wonderland. In 1979 there was a crossover with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, called Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July. In 1992 there was a special called Frosty Returns, which I probably saw, but don't remember. And I doubt I'd have any interest in seeing it again.
stop-motion specials: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer *
Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town *
The Year Without a Santa Claus *
Rudolph's Shiny New Year *
Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey * Rudolph & Frosty's Christmas in July * Pinocchio's Christmas * The Leprechauns' Christmas Gold * The Life & Adventures of Santa Claus
animated specials: Frosty the Snowman * 'Twas the Night Before Christmas * Frosty's Winter Wonderland * The Hobbit * The Stingiest Man in Town
TV series: The New Adventures of Pinocchio * Tales of the Wizard of Oz * ThunderCats * SilverHawks
Movies: Mad Monster Party? * The Flight of Dragons * The Last Unicorn