Debuted in 1973
Plot in 3 Sentences: Ted E. Bear wants to stay awake and experience Christmas but all other bears laugh at him. He gets fired from his job and travels to the city, where he meets Santa Claus, who sends him to an address where he can find Christmas. He goes to the address but falls asleep under a tree and when he wakes up, it’s Christmas morning and he is a gift for a happy little girl, so he finally understands what it all means.
Fun Fact: A sequel called The Great Bear Scare was released for Halloween in 1983.
My thoughts: I remember seeing this one when it aired for the first time and I loved it then. I enjoyed re-watching it this year, although I have to admit it feels a little dated, as the fashions and design styles are 100% 1970’s. The character voices are even representative of the era, with Tom Smothers, Barbara Feldon, Arte Johnson and even Casey Kasem as the narrator. Pattie Bear, Ted’s girlfriend (I think) and co-worker, is obsessed with horoscopes, which is a 70’s staple for sure. But the basic premise is a good one and the notion that Christmas is found in the joy of giving and making others happy is still a valuable message. The animation is on the simple side, but to me, that just contributes to the real charm of this special. Especially after having just recently watched some high-tech animated specials that have felt cold and humorless, this one was a comforting cup of Christmas cocoa.
Individual Superlative: Disenfranchised Franchise – When the sequel was released, it was accompanied by a line of merchandise surrounding the town of Bearbank, including records, books and plush toys, hoping it would catch on and create a new franchise. Obviously that didn’t happen as planned.
Want to Watch it? The Bear Who Slept Through Christmas is available on VHS, iTunes and YouTube.