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TV REVIEW : New ‘Frosty’ a Lesson on the Environment

TIMES STAFF WRITER

That lovable snowman with the “corncob pipe and a button nose and two eyes made out of coal” said he’d be back. But he may not have bargained for “Frosty Returns,” a new animated special on CBS tonight, most notable for its preachiness and forgettable music, frequently sung off-key.

Jonathan Winters narrates, John Goodman voices the iceman and Andrea Martin, Jan Hooks and Brian Doyle-Murray are on hand too, but they’re all wasted in this unimaginative tale of environmental correctness.

This time around, a wizened old CEO type is wowing the town of Beansborough with his Summer Wheeze de-icing spray, certain that his invention will get him named King of the Winter Carnival. The spray threatens Frosty, but before long, the townspeople have seen the light and are joining him in his big solo, “Let There Be Snow,” because “this kind of weather brings people together.”

A kid named Charlie, meanwhile, has delivered an oral report to his class about snow’s importance to the weather cycle and, wrapping things up, Frosty’s pal, a little girl named Holly, earnestly lectures ultimately repentant bad guy Mr. Twitchell that “what’s convenient for today isn’t always safe for tomorrow.”

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It’s a far cry from the 1969 original, which, though hardly an animation classic, had a genuine, simple sweetness stemming from its inspiration--Gene Autry’s 1951 novelty Christmas hit, “Frosty the Snowman,” by Steve Nelson and Jack Rollins, sung in the show by Jimmy Durante.

* “Frosty the Snowman” airs at 8 tonight, followed at 8:30 by “Frosty Returns,” on CBS (Channel 2).


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