tek's rating:

Yes, Virginia, on CBS
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Caution: spoilers.

Um... first I should say this looks to be computer animated, but it also kind of looks like claymation. I suppose that's not important. Anyway, it's a fictionalized account of the true story of an 8-year-old girl named Virginia O'Hanlon, who wrote a letter to the New York Sun in 1897, asking if Santa Claus was real. In the animated special, we meet young Virginia, and her friend Ollie, who meet a man working on a street, you know, ringing a bell and dressed as Santa, trying to collect coins for charity. He used to work for the Sun, but he's currently unemployed. (The kids call him "Scraggly Santa.") We also see Virginia and Ollie talking to some of their friends, as well as a girl named Charlotte, who's 9 and a half, and considers believing in Santa Claus to be infantile. (She seems like a snooty brat, but there is a scene later where one can perhaps feel some sympathy for her, and understand how she got to be the way she is.)

Anyway, because of what Charlotte says, Virginia and Ollie try to learn all they can about Santa Claus, hoping to prove he's real. Finally, Virginia writes her letter to the Sun, because her father always says, "If you see it in the Sun, it's so." Now, I don't really worry about any of the fictitious stuff that happened up to this point in the show, but now... Well, the Sun's editor, Frank Church, didn't want anything to do with the letter, because his paper "only prints facts." So he threw it away. And later, the letter was found by Charlotte, who taunted Virginia with it. She does this in front of Scraggly Santa, who takes the letter back to Church, to plead the case of printing a response, to give hope to not only Virginia, but the whole city. Finally, the gruff editor does print a response, so of course Virginia and all the kids and pretty much the whole city are happy. The thing that bothers me is, I have no bloody idea if Church was against printing the editorial at first, or if that was a complete fabrication. It makes for a good story (at least it pads out the run time of the special), but if untrue, it might be unfair to him. Still, it's just a story, I suppose it's not important.

What is important, is that the editorial became famous. I don't know if it, or Santa Claus himself, will actually be remembered ten times ten thousand years from now, but... for the time being, it remains famous. (Of course, the special has the editorial on the front page of the paper, or at least the headline, though people seem to read it inside the paper. Which seems odd. But in real life, it wasn't on the front page, of course.) Oh, and in the end, Santa Claus does seem to show up at Virginia's house. I don't think the editorial was meant to suggest he exists in a literal sense, more a philosophical sense. So it kind of bugs me (I feared this would happen, too) that he seems to be literally real, in the special. But that's a minor quibble. His appearance wasn't even that overt, really. But anyway... all in all, I thought it was a cute and sweet show, nicely animated and acted, a good story.

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