Pinocchio’s Christmas (1980)

pinocchios christmas poster 1980 movie
2.0 Overall Score
Story: 1/10
Acting: 1/10
Visuals: 5/10

Dancin' sequence

Dancin' is usually cut out of current broadcasts

TV Show Info

TV Show Name:  Pinocchio’s Christmas

Studio:  Rankin/Bass

Genre(s):  Animated/Seasonal

Release Date(s):  December 3, 1980

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

pinocchios christmas rankin bass claymation

Are you sickened that someone would remove the limbs from a tree since you are plant based?

Pinocchio is celebrating his first Christmas since being carved by his father Gepetto. When he decides to sell the math book Gepetto bought him, Pinocchio finds himself in trouble again due to the advice of Fox and Cat. Gepetto searches the streets for his puppet son, and Pinocchio sets out to redeem himself and bring life to another puppet friend named Julietta. When Cat and Fox advise Pinocchio to go to the North Pole to find Santa, Pinocchio might be on the wrong track again.

Directed by Jules Bass and Arthur Rankin Jr., Pinocchio’s Christmas followed in the trend of other Rankin/Bass claymation features. The special first aired on ABC on December 3, 1980 with mixed reviewed. The special now often airs as part of ABC Family Christmas programming.

pinocchio christmas puppet show let them laugh

Pinocchio…show some pride

Pinocchio’s Christmas is pretty bad. The story is a Christmas story almost as a weak tie. Yes, there is Santa Claus, and yes, they celebrate Christmas, but it mostly is about Pinocchio screwing up as he does in every Pinocchio story. The one positive aspect of this special is that it is more of the classic Rankin and Bass claymation that made them famous. Pinocchio’s Christmas however is no Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

The special doesn’t have much of a direction. Pinocchio tries a few get rich schemes under the guidance of Cat and Fox, but like the actual 1883 book The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi which mostly is composed of short stories with the overall story of Pinocchio wanting to be a real boy. In the real book (unlike here or in the Disney version), Pinocchio kills “the Talking Cricket” and the cricket returns as a ghost. The dark story is lightened up for kids here, but a bit this still might be a bit odd for those more familiar with the Disney adaptation.


Oh yeah, let’s go dancin’!

Sadly, the best (and weirdest) part of the special is cut out of the regular ABC Family version. When Cat and Fox tell Pinocchio to go to Santa, they tell him that he can teach them to dance. There is this horribly dated “Dancin’” song with a bit of a disco sound and it was probably already out of style when the special first aired. It is weird, but catchy…I think it should be reinserted in the show since it at least makes it a bit fun.

Pinocchio’s Christmas isn’t really worth watching. I think I probably like it more than Nester, The Long-Eared Donkey or The Little Drummer Boy which both kind of irritate me, but since it is an hour special, it also feels long. I almost wish that Rankin/Bass had just made a Pinocchio special that adapted the weird book.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

One Comment on "Pinocchio’s Christmas (1980)"

  1. Pinnocchio December 12, 2016 at 2:40 pm - Reply

    This special rocks hard. Touching story on Julieta coming to life. The toupee is very funny. Songs are quite catchy. No way this is better than Little Drummer boy or Nestor though.

    Here are the rankings for Rankin Bass Christmas Specials

    1)Rudolph- 50 year classic need I say more?

    2)Santa Claus is comin to town- This cartoon is how I explain Santa Claus to my kids.

    3)Little Drummer Boy Book 1- Great adaption of the song. Only reason this episode doesn’t get more love is because of the lack of Christians.

    4)A Year without a Santa Claus- Gotta love the Heat&Snow Miser

    5)Twas the night before Christmas- The songs are so catchy. Love the parallelism between the world of the families of the mouse and humans.

    6)First Christmas snow- This underated gem fully utilizes Angela Lansbury’s talents. Again probably not shown on FreeForm(Not ABC family anymore) due to it having some christian themes.

    7)Nestor the long eared donkey- Similar to the little drummer boy. Has a bambi theme in it that tugs at the heart strings. Suprisingly its still shown despite having christian themes to it. Thank goodness Freeform shows somethings that arent smut.

    8)Jack Frost- Great little story on the titled character. JF has courage, valor, and quite an infinity for a special young lady.

    9)Little Drummer boy book 2- Only R&B special to be nominated for an emmy. Amazing soundtrack for a 30 minute special. Earworm city. Cute little story as well. Freeform doesn’t show this one anymore, because the puppets don’t show their cleavage.

    10) Pinnochio’s Christmas- See this is top 10 material. See above review

    11)Adventures of Santa Claus- Darker adaption of the origins of St. Nick. Still very touching and well written.

    12)Winter Wonderland- Sequel to Frosty. Nice cameo by Jack Frost in it. Andy Griffith can sing boys. Neat to see backstory on Crystal and the kids.

    13)Stingiest man in town- Walter Mattheau did a great job as scrooge. I kept expecting him to throw a beer can like buttermaker in the bad news bears. Best cartoon version of the often rewritten Christmas Carol.

    14)Leprechauns Christmas Gold- This special has some clever puns. Dont have to chew your cabbage twice. Dont come to me to save your soles. Surprised the boat didnt sink at the end as the gold is heavy. Also the main leprechaun reminded me of Nick Saban.

    15)Cricket on the hearth- Has some randomness to it.. AN unnecessary Gun scene. A sultry Abbe Lane cat character that had me purring. Marlo Thomas’s character had back on this and made me want to back that thang up!

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