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The Great Santa Claus Switch

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Title.santaswitch

The Great Santa Claus Switch was a Muppet television special that first aired on CBS on December 20, 1970.

Plot

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The show, narrated by Ed Sullivan, begins at the North Pole with Santa Claus and his elves getting ready for another Christmas. However, Cosmo Scam has hatched a plan to kidnap Santa and take his place. As part of the plan, Cosmo plans to abduct Santa's elves (one at a time) and replace them with his evil henchmen.

Development

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Watercolor illustration by Jim Henson for a 1967 pitch for The Great Santa Claus Switch.

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Jim Henson on set of the special.

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Illustration by Henson for the 1970 company Christmas card.

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TV Guide: December 12, 1970

The idea for this Christmas special had been developed by Jim Henson and Jerry Juhl for several years, and had a long evolution. Notes and sketches date as far back as 1963, when the project was originally titled The Witch Who Stole Santa Claus, and later The Sinister Santa Claus Switch. The story revolved around a failed plot to kidnap and impersonate Santa Claus in order to rob every home in the world. Taminella Grinderfall, the witch from the unsold Tales of The Tinkerdee pilot was to play a starring role.[1][2] Henson and Juhl reworked the script numerous times, and the title changed as well. To help sell the project to television executives, Henson created watercolor illustrations to accompany a written proposal. The concept circulated for several years before Ed Sullivan, based on the response to the Muppets' frequent appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show, agreed to produce the special and air it in his regular Sunday evening time slot.

By 1970, Henson's Muppets had made nearly two dozen successful guest appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show. The Great Santa Claus Switch was a full Henson production – written by Juhl, with music by Joe Raposo and puppets by Don Sahlin. The production marks the first time Henson worked with Richard Hunt and Fran Brill.

Notes

  • This special includes the very first appearance of the puppet that would later become Gonzo. He was then known as Snarl (or the Cigar Box Frackle) and would be remodeled and reused for The Muppet Show.
  • The Great Santa Claus Switch is currently available for viewing at The Paley Center for Media.

Cast

Sources

  1. Jim Henson's Red Book entry - December 1969
  2. Inches, Alison Jim Henson's Designs and Doodles, pp. 70-74

External links

Start a Discussion Discussions about The Great Santa Claus Switch

  • Skippity performer?

    3 messages
    • Sorry for the Caroll Spinney guessing, I thought that was his voice considering early Big Bird does kind of sound like Skippity. But since ...
    • I didn't know this was taped during taping of The Flip Wilson Show and the Emmy's. In fact I don't remember him mentioning this spec...

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