"The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus" is a very engaging Christmas tale... A host of interesting characters, a different twist on the accepted notions of Mr. Claus. It was only a matter of time before it was adapted for TV. Not to worry though, this is no slap-dash half-hour animated special meant to teach young and old alike the True Meaning of Christmas; it's a Rankin/Bass production. Yes, the very same Rankin/Bass who brought us the classic "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer". This 1985 TV special uses the same stop motion animation technique used on Rudolph, and sticks pretty close to the original L. Frank Baum story (which has been kindly noded by gnarl). There are, of course, a few differences. The TV special is told as a flashback, while the story is not. Also, the TV special adds a character, Tingler, who is a language expert. Tingler got on my nerves after a while, but he does make the whole thing a little more kid-friendly.
"Santa Claus was raised in a forest? By immortals? Wha...?"
The teleplay opens at a council of immortals in the Forest of Burzee. The Great Ak (a large fellow with antlers) has called together the leaders of all the immortal races so that they can vote on whether or not to make Santa Claus an immortal. The other immortals want proof that Claus has earned such an honor, and we flash back...
A human infant is found near the Forest of Burzee. He is named Claus, and is raised by the nymph Necile. As Claus grows up, the Ryls (the keepers of all plants) teach him about plants and the Knooks (caretakers of the beasts) teach him about animals. The Great Ak, the Woodsman of the Forest, then decides that Claus should learn about man, and he takes the child to visit the world where mortals live. Claus learns of poverty and death, and is deeply moved by the plight of man. He leaves the forest, dedicating himself to making children happy.
But wait, the Santa I know brings TOYS!
Claus, having settled in the Laughing Valley of Hohaho, finds that his immortal friends will take care of his food and shelter. This leaves Claus free to tend to the children of the world, which he does after inventing toys. Claus goes about creating toys, which greatly displeases the Awgwas, a race of creatures that enjoys making children misbehave. The Awgwas kidnap Claus a couple of times, but Claus escapes, thanks to the immortals. Then the Awgwas start stealing his toys.
Claus goes to the Great Ak for help, and when the Awgwas refuse to stop tormenting Claus, the immortals and the Awgwas go to war. The immortals (being immortal and all) are victorious, and Claus goes back to delivering toys to the world's children. However, as winter approaches, he realizes that he'll need a way to get through the snow. This problem is solved by some helpful reindeer. However, Claus gets the deer back to the forest a minute after daybreak, which angers the Knooks. The Knooks declare that Claus can only take the deer once a year, on Christmas Eve; thus begins his yearly tradition of delivering toys on Christmas Eve.
That's just a summary - for the real deal, start here.
Hey, that guy sounds familiar:Claus... Earl Hammond (Mumm-ra from Thundercats)
The King of the Awgwas ... Earle Hyman (Cliff's father from The Cosby Show, Panthro from Thundercats)
Tingler... Bob McFadden (Snarf/Slythe from Thundercats)
Peter Knook... Peter Newman (Tygra from Thundercats)
Young Claus... J.D. Roth (Red-haired host of mid-80's Double Dare ripoff show Fun House; No work on Thundercats that I know of)
Thanks given to imdb.com - while I remembered that just about the whole cast was recruited from Thundercats, I had no idea who voiced which character.