Dec. 21 – George and the Christmas Star
A festive Canadian lunatic traverses time and space in order to land the ultimate Christmas decoration…
After acting as the lead director of the cult-classic anthology film, Heavy Metal, Gerald Potterton next project was a bit of a oddball choice: Writing, directing and producing… A Christmas special?
Brought to you by the same director?
There was some precedent, however. Back in 1962, Potterton had co-directed a Holiday-themed cartoon short through The National Film Board of Canada called “Christmas Crackers,” and the film would go on to score an Oscar nomination for best animated short (it lost to the first Pink Panther cartoon.)
A similar scene from the 1960s short, “Christmas Crackers“
Potterton revisited the idea of a man who desires a real star to top his Christmas tree, and George and the Christmas Star was turned into a full blown half hour special. Also produced in Canada, it premiered their first, then on US airwaves several days later. I wish I had more information on the specific channel, but details on this toon are incredibly scarce.
This is a special that was suggested in the comments as far back as last year, but I’m writing it more as an apology to our Canadian readers. Sorry about that, Community Christmas special post. Had no idea Canucks couldn’t watch Hulu. Oh well, looks like you’ll just have to download it illegally!
A VERY different Christmas special
Looking at pictures of George and the Christmas Star, something about it seemed faintly familiar… However, it became pretty clear that if I’d actually seen this before, I damn sure would’ve remembered… something.
And a happy WTF New Year
What do I mean? This is one of the most batshit crazy and visually bizarre Christmas specials I’ve ever had the pleasure to see. There’s simply no way I could’ve taken in even a single viewing without at least one set piece of it permanently burned into my brain.
My favorite pic from the whole goddamned special
You’ve seen nothing quite like this weirdly imaginative animated production, so it’s absolutely impossible you have it confused with something else.
See what I mean?
Even the sound effects carry a creepy, space-age quality, similar to the early digital work you’d find in certain cartoons from the late 70s and early 80s.
Space Docking: No laughing matter
Either way, they’re certainly not stock SFX or Hanna-Barbera variety anyway, and it definitely isn’t of a nature you’re used to hearing a Christmas special.
WARNING: Super dope space lasers!
Quite simply, the uniqueness made it one of the more pleasant experiences I’ve had on A Cartoon Christmas… even if not a whole lot happens.
Safe to assume George knows a thing or two about engineering
I want to call George a meek and mild-mannered fellow. But I’m pretty sure that’s just because he’s voiced with an incredibly polite, slow-paced Canadian drawl, because there’s nothing sheepish about the lengths he’s willing to go for Christmas.
None of these will do!!
George desires the perfect Christmas tree topper, and nothing he tries suit the extravagance he has in mind.
Can you see where this is going?
“It shall be mine!”
The guys wants a real star, a gigantic burning body, because nothing else will do for he and his cat’s special Xmas.
Click to see this panning shot enlarged
Don’t concern yourself with the scientific logistics – Georgey Boy’s already one step ahead of you.
“That only took a couple minutes”
The guy builds a Rocket Ship from crap he finds around the house, so obviously, the feasibility of traversing to the ends of the galaxy just to find a Christmas ornament have been satisfyingly addressed.
All in a hard halfhour’s work
Of course, after a few moments of quickened space travel that would put the minds of NASA to shame, George overshoots the stars themeselves.
Not really sure how or why, but this lands George in the hospitality Ralph the Robot, as the first guest to stay at his hotel in the cosmos.
Need an android to haunt your dreams?
Clearly, Ralph is overjoyed to finally meet someone, and thus tells him so in the first musical number written by Paul Anka.
George cannot stay, but appeals to Ralph, who’s quite desperate for companionship, to just come along with him. And it’s a good thing too, as George has yet to speak outside his own head by this point in the show.
“Get your metal ass in here!”
The two then encounter the first of several obstacles, although this time it’s in the form of bureaucratic red tape, imposed by the Space Rangers!
Canadians will find these guys familiar, everyone else will just giggle
It’s said George needs a permit to remove stars from the goddamned sky, and the only way he can get one is by wrangling some space junk and bringing it back to them for disposal.
Minimum space wage
What the hell is this, a video game? Either way, George and Ralph embark on their side-quest… Only to be captured by Space Pirates!
The Space Pirates’ ship is actually kinda cute
It’s unclear what the the Space Pirates want, but they throw the duo in the brig, and it’s here where they meet up with the enchanting Barbra.
The two humans left in the universe finally meet
They figure they can distract the pirates by crooning “We Three Kings.”
“Y’arg, ’tis like sweet rum in me ears.”
Not only does it not work, it gets them sentenced to death by walking the Space Plank! Which could be more or less scary in space? I’ll let you decide…
Hey, at least they won’t drown
Although just in the nick of time, the Space Mounties return, firing adorable laser beams of relative ineffectualness.
But at least they give George the permit he needs to bring down the sky for his Holiday festivities.
Oh, now you feel like being weightless?
Of course, things can’t be that easy with a few minutes remaining in the special. And again, I’m not talking about the difficult task of towing a massive object of gas and fire back to earth. I’m talking about something far more frightening: A gang of motorcycle thugs.
Nice bike bell, tough guy
The Bell’s Angels greet George, Ralph and Barbra with more bouncy laser fire for no other reason than they’re born to be bad.
You wish this was a Led Zeppelin song
With no guns on his ship, George looks to his built-in last resort: The Star Shuttle!
Nothing phallic about it
It’s the smaller vessel attached to the ship, built specifically for ensnaring the sought after star. In this situation, however, it just so happens to make for a damned fine escape pod.
Could also stand in for an early sci-fi time machine
They head every closer to their goal with accompanied with the soothing sounds of Paul Anka.
An affectionate helmet removal in the vacuum of space
Finally, after many after surmounting numerous earthbound problems that persist in space, the gang has nabbed the coveted Tree Topper to end all Tree toppers.
The star is much smaller than your schoolbooks taught you
There’s only one problem: No fuel.
“Yes, I know. I should’ve brought gas before the robot”
Before you get upset with George, remember that The Star Shuttle wasn’t meant for long distance travel and was deployed earlier than expected to make hasty retreat from a Space Motorcycle Gang. Now that we’ve gotten you to recognize the very real gravity of the situation: Santa Claus!
So awesome… (Click to enlarge)
Hell yeah, Santa passes by on his way to Earth, and offers them a lift in one of the most kickass sleighs I’ve ever seen the old fat man pilot.
Looks like something I would’ve built out of Legos!
Claus gives them a lift home, but this also got me thinking… What was Santa doing out there exactly? Then it hit me: While it may look like Kringle only works one night a year to we feeble-minded Earthlings, odds are he probably spends the rest of his year servicing the rest of the Universe!
“Sorry about the reindeer poop!”
Think about it, there’s probably a billion solstices and Tickle Me Elmo scarcities occurring throughout the cosmos at any given time that you’re not even aware of. I’d go on, but you’ll need the rest of your blown mind to get to the end of this article.
George looks a little like Brendan from Home Movies here
Santa provides the safe passage back the George’s home, and he runs off to the house, completely ignoring his friends and the fact that a mythical figure seen by few has just brought him hurtled him through the galaxy at lightspeed travel once thought impossible. It finally occurs to me: George is a bit of a madman.
“NO! I’M the cat, so I hold the ladder, lady!”
The Captain Ahab of Xmas steps over his trusty cat and vault up the ladder to complete his Christmas tree. He opens the box, and…
Brought to you by ENCOM
“Peace out, suckas!”
Apparently, stars don’t like being ripped out of space and the heavenly body returns to the sky where it can continue to help seamen navigate their ships and be misinterpreted as symbolic omens by primitive-minded people.
That whole Christmas special… for nothing
George is distraught, until it occurs to him: He’s brought several cooler things back with him as well. Now he’s got his own robot, and potentially even someone to have sex with!
Please, no soliciting or wise men
In his own words, “The Star was back where it belonged, and I had found something that meant a whole lot more.”
Take us out, Anka!
None. The Bible is very clear about this: Jesus can walk on water, but he cannot breathe in space.
Oh, hell yeah! Not only do we get a great depiction of his Yuletide whip, the implications of him servicing aliens has made me happier than a stocking full of He-Man figures!
Loved it! It’s oddly paced, with plenty of scenes feel useless in hindsight, but if you’re like me and love a change of Christmas special scenery on occasion, you can’t go wrong with George and the Christmas Star. If anybody has a line on the original cartoon short that inspired it, please drop me a line.
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Not sure what fate has befallen George and the Christmas Star, but it’s somewhere between public domain and possibly a lack of interest. Which is a shame, because I picked this up recently for $1 recently, but in a case that look more than a little bootlegged. Amazon has it available, but only through private sellers, so I dunno… I can’t really recommend you pick it up on VHS, even though it’s strangely still in stock and costs more than the DVD?! And since we do these in threes… um, if you’d like to see more Potterton space action, only with more nudity and Sammy Hagar music, look no further than Heavy Metal!
Posted: December 21st, 2010 under Uncategorized.
Tags: 80s animated christmas special, 80s cartoon, Canada animation, Canadian animation, Canadian Christmas Special, christmas animation, George and the Christmas Star, George and the Star, Gerald Potterton, Heavy Metal movie, National Film Board of Canada, xmas cartoon