25 Days of Christmas: ‘The Christmas Raccoons’

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Throughout the month of December, TV Editor Kate Kulzick and Film Editor Ricky D will review classic Christmas adaptions, posting a total of 13 each, one a day, until the 25th of December.

The catch: They will swap roles as Rick will take on reviews of classic television Christmas specials and Kate will take on Christmas movies. Today is day 11.

The Christmas Raccoons (1980)

Directors: Kevin Gillis and Paul Schibli

Writer: Juliet Packer

What’s it about?

The Christmas Raccoons (a Canadian animated television series) is the first of four Raccoons specials, and introduced the characters of Ralph, Melissa, and Bert Raccoon; Schaeffer, Dan, Julie, Tommy, and Cedric and Cyril Sneer. It was the Number One U.S. syndicated animated special in 1980, and was aired not only in Canada and the United States, but also in England via BBC and ITV.

The series revolves around a trio of raccoons and their adventures in the Evergreen Forest (which is depicted to be in Western Canada), where they fight against the industrialist forces of greedy aardvark millionaire Cyril Sneer. In this special, sexy Dan, The Forest Ranger and is two kids Tommy and Julie discover someone is cutting down all the trees in the Evergreen Forest. It turns out that greedy Sneer is chopping them down for a quick buck, only he goes a little too far when he targets the home of The Raccoons. With the help of their new friend Schaeffer (the family dog), they track down Cyril and his nerdy son Cedric and put a stop to his madness.

Review:

It’s easy to see why this was a hit back in the early 80’s. Bert Raccoon has an all too similar look to the already popular Alvin (the Chipmunk), and so his design helped attract the attention of both children and adults. And what better time to kick off your series, than Christmas, knowing full well, it will reach millions of households as everyone is home for the Holidays. The special features main characters learning major life lessons, and although this is the first entry, this series’ characters developed significantly through its run. For instance, Cyril gradually realizes the hazardous ecological repercussions of destroying the forest and slowly evolves from a destructive capitalist to a environmentally responsible, sometimes sympathetic anti-hero. Meanwhile Schaeffer (the gentle sheepdog), the children and the Raccoons learn valuable lessons in teamwork, friendship and respect for the forest, and all humans and animals alike. Created by Kevin Gillis, The Raccoons Christmas features a group of charming characters, wonderful music (by Rupert Holmes and Rita Coolidge), admirable animation and a truly Canadian spirit.

How Christmassy is it?

100 % – Cryril Sneer is our poor man’s Scooge, the episode takes place on Christmas Eve and the plot revolves around Sneer destroying the forest to sell Christmas trees.

You May Like It If…

You are either Canadian, nostalgic for the series or under the age of ten.

Other observations:

Not so much an observation but a interesting piece of trivia: The animation cost an estimated at $450,000 per episode, and two of the animators went on to work on such movies as Pocahontas and Hercules.

Final thoughts:

The series, much less the Christmas special was never released on DVD, but you can watch it below on YouTube.

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