Millions of viewers used to love watching Frosty the Snowman every year when it aired around Christmastime. The beloved 1969 animated special was one of several perennial favorites in my childhood household. We knew the song, we knew most of the lines, we recognized those familiar cartoon voices, and we knew every beat of the story, from the flop magician to the snowman’s parting promise. Frosty was common knowledge among us kids.
See that face up there, full of angst and pathos and magic? That classic hero just turned 45 years old. Isn’t it time for his 21st-century reboot?
I don’t mean as a feature film, because that declining box office is depressing. I also don’t mean another one-time TV Christmas special, because that’s thinking too small. See, I’m thinking live-action regular series. So many facets of this undervalued intellectual property yearn for a modern update with better fashions, extra pizzazz, hipper attitudes, and supernatural warfare. Frosty himself could stay CG, but there’s no reason Karen, her friends, the other townspeople, and most of the town scoundrels couldn’t be played by real actors so we can crank out episodes more quickly and minimize our animation needs. Unless we send this proposal to Fox, animating it will get us nowhere. I say it’s time for Frosty to start over, but this time keep it real.
I’ve taken the liberty of mapping out a hypothetical thirteen-episode first season that would rebuild the Frosty universe from the ground up and make it relevant and “sick” to a whole new generation of impressionable prime-time viewers. This, then, is what my preliminary episode guide looks like for…
SNOWMAN: THE SERIES!
EPISODE 1: “Winter is Coming”. We meet our viewpoint character, a blond tenth-grader named Karen (played by a newcomer so we can pay her less) who’s just moved to a new town to live with her cheery aunt (Kristen Chenoweth), having escaped from a dysfunctional family fractured by the death of her father under mysterious circumstances. Karen is depressed and cynical and snide and sharply dressed and magazine-cover-ready and so on. Her friends are all hot newcomer teens too, because there’s no way this show survives in prime-time with an elementary-school cast. You can sell that kind of product to the Disney Channel or Nickelodeon, but not to ABC and definitely not to CBS.
The first half-hour is standard high-school meet-cutes, meet-uglies, meet-awkwards, and working through the cliques and clichés because viewers thrive on all that stuff, according to our focus group consisting entirely of grandmothers who don’t own TVs and dockworkers who used to play football in high school. The only unusual part in the first half is a scene where Karen is in class one day staring out the window trying to have a flashback to her late father, when a wide-eyed rabbit jumps onto the outside windowsill, uses its cute fuzzy paw to write in the frost on the glass “WAR IS COMING”, winks and hops away.
Then Karen and her new teen friends attend their small town’s annual holiday festival to see a free performance her favorite band, either the Arctic Monkeys or Coldplay, whichever one is still together and cheaper. As they wander the arts-and-crafts booths, they meet a fake-goth street magician named Hinkle who’s just like Criss Angel, with long hair and tattoos and no shirt and leather pants and sculpted abs and raccoon-eye mascara and such, but he’s also wearing a weird old-fashioned hat he refuses to take off, kinda like a top hat but not goofy. It casts an eerie glow but it otherwise looks sleek and modern enough for us to sell hats exactly like it someday at Hot Topic. We’ll maybe talk to Pharrell Williams’ people for design ideas.
They walk away from Hinkle, and they go do more teen festival stuff. He later sneaks after them, stalks Karen, confronts her, and insists she must come away with him as his bride, because spirits from beyond have told him that she’s destined to be his and he’ll need a partner at his side in the coming war that threatens to destroy the planet and all humanity with it. She screams, the friends come running, fight scene ensues with him casting magic and them trying not to get killed by it. During this very one-sided melee Karen knocks the hat off and it falls on a convenient nearby scarecrow, which comes to life with a triumphant shout of “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!” and knocks Hinkle out cold with a single punch.
“I never tire of that bewildered look on their faces,” says the happy, jolly soul now inhabiting the scarecrow-with-a-magic-hat. Pilot ends on a cliffhanger with Our Heroes all having shocked-face.
EPISODE 2: “Ice Capades”. Continued from cliffhanger. After Karen and the other teens stop freaking out, the scarecrow explains he’s the disembodied ghost of an American soldier named Frost who died 200 years ago under mysterious circumstances during the War of 1812. He refuses to have a flashback because we’ll play his backstory vaguely for a while till we finish making it up all the way. He’ll only tell them the hat was a gift from his long-lost wife, something something tragedy, something something magic, now here he is because the hat is on top of a scarecrow.
Surprise interruption: the magic hat begins emanating so much heat that his straw head catches fire. It doesn’t harm the hat, but his face is engulfed in frightening flames. Karen hatches a quick, desperate plan: she knocks the hat off with a stick or shovel or something, runs to an open arena that was hosting the holiday festival’s Annual Snowman-Making Contest, and tosses it on top of the largest, smoothest, most old-fashioned snowman she can find. The snow is more than cold enough to counteract the hat’s heat energy, making him a cooling tower that walks like a man. Physics may be an issue here, but physics should go shut up. Whichever of Karen’s friends is the snarkiest nicknames him “Frosty”. The name sticks despite his vociferous protests.
The other ¾ of the episode is Karen trying to sneak him home without her aunt noticing. Hilarity ensues mostly of the 1800s-be-different-from-today variety, and somewhere in all of this Our Heroes tangle with robbers plotting a diamond heist. Second episodes are almost always terrible, so why bother wasting a good antagonist here. The gist is that Frosty, Karen, and her new buds basically become another Scooby Gang, except they’re ours and they’ll be different and better in ways that haven’t occurred to me yet. I’m sure the marketing department will have some great ideas.
EPISODE 3: “Cold Mountain”. Action-packed belly-whopping race with high prize-money stakes, starting at the top of the highest mountain in town because of course their town will have a mountain or two in it. Hopefully one of the Fast/Furious guys like Justin Lin or one of his assistants will direct this episode for us and make it all look really spectacular, like if Cool Runnings had been made by a Hong Kong studio instead of by Disney. It goes without saying that Karen wins by using Frosty as her toboggan, and the prize money is enough to save the town orphanage and let Karen throw a big party.
EPISODE 4: “Icy Breath, Warm Heart”. Our ripped-from-the-headlines special episode about racial politics and police brutality. This may be especially tricky since Frosty is all-white, but his two centuries of cumulative wisdom will help him teach a crucial lesson to a racist classmate anyway. Somehow. We’ll reach out to our growing Tumblr fan base for suggestions. I assume we’ll have one, of course.
EPISODE 5: “The Abominable Snowmen”. Our Heroes go on a field trip into nearby Canada, which will be a cinch since we’ll be filming the series in Vancouver, and Frosty comes along for the ride by clinging onto the underside of their bus. They meet and fight a Sasquatch in a CG-heavy wrestling match. Meanwhile in the nearby forest, the bunny from the pilot watches ominously but doesn’t say a word.
EPISODE 6: “Running Hot and Cold”. It’s school election time! One of Karen’s friends is a senior who runs for class president, but her vicious competition is a pair of twin brothers named Heathrow and Leocold Miserton. Their parents were rich and totally empowered to name them anything they felt like. They’ll lose, but rest assured this won’t be the last we see of them. WINK WINK. And there’s a running gag where one friend keeps saying over and over again, “Leocold? LEOCOLD?” so viewers will know we’re aware how lame his name is. But it had to be done.
EPISODE 7: “Cool As Ice”. Special crossover event with Rudolph, star of The CW hit series Red-Nosed. Together they team up against a winter-themed serial killer who calls himself the Ice Man (two words, not one, so Marvel and Fox can’t sue), played by guest star Thomas Kretschmann as a Mr. Freeze homage in the manner of Schwarzenegger and Preminger, sharing their Germanic accent but not their painful ice puns. If Kretschmann won’t do it, maybe we give Vanilla Ice a call. If we have to.
EPISODE 8: “Cold Reboot”. Thanks to a freak accident involving the hat, a solar eclipse, and a mysterious prism in the nearest natural history museum, Frosty and Karen switch bodies for a day. Karen-as-Frosty is weirded out by the idea of life without blood or nerve endings or human brain activity. Frosty-as-Karen tries to blend in at school, but his illiteracy makes things comically awkward. The bunny from the pilot hops up to Frosty-as-Karen, but doesn’t know it’s really Frosty, who recognizes the bunny because they have a secret shared history. Before the bunny can say anything, Frosty-as-Karen shouts with a furious expression, “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!” The bunny recoils and sprints away, totally confused.
EPISODE 9: “Your Breakfast is Getting Cold”. The secret origin of Karen’s weird friend who likes naming things after breakfast foods. His dog is named Oatmeal, he has two exotic fish named Cornflakes and Pop-Tart, and his MMORPG character is called Eggbert Toastelton. He locks up and becomes hard to talk to while the team is investigating a ring of organized grocery shoplifters, but he eventually reveals that his mom used to make breakfast for dinner six nights a week from when he was a toddler until he was eight, when she died under mysterious circumstances. So now he names everything after breakfast so he can always remember her in everything that he does. This one would be our For Your Emmy Consideration submission if the voting body ever gave genre shows any respect and if the system weren’t rigged against quality productions like ours.
EPISODE 10: “Snow Bunnies”. Our Heroes versus an evil Snow Queen, which our lawyers say needs to look seriously different from the one on Once Upon a Time. The male characters think she’s too pretty to hit, so this ends up a ladies-night-out episode. Also, that bunny from the pilot shows up again and tells Karen “WAR IS COMING” in a deep movie-trailer voice before hopping away once more. Foreshadowing: your key to quality TV!
EPISODE 11: “An Early Frost”. A strange traveler comes to town wearing 18th-century soldier’s gear and possessed of freezing powers. He’s revealed as Jack Frost, Frosty’s long-lost brother who fought by his side in the War of 1812 until he disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Now he’s the king of wintery weather and has a grudge against him because dark family secrets TBD. This is also the episode where we learn Frosty’s real first name is something archaic and embarrassing like Aloysius or Hezekiah.
EPISODE 12: “Ice Pirates”. Wacky episode before the grim finale. I have no plot here, but I’m dying to see what the writers’ room can do with that title.
EPISODE 13: “Freezer Burn”. In the season finale, Frosty and Karen have a Final Battle with a returning, powered-up Hinkle and escape all the mandatory climactic explosions in a meat-freezer boxcar traveling north to Alaska. En route, they discover they’re locked inside with no way out, and no phone reception in the remote Canadian wilderness to call for help. In a touching scene, Karen dies from fight injuries and/or hypothermia while making a poignant speech about how Frosty is her best friend. He refuses to let this stand. In a moment of heroic sacrifice, he takes off the magic hat, places it on her head, and brings her back to life. Karen awakens to find the hat on her head and Frosty’s body looming silently over her, the life drained from his two eyes made out of coal.
To Be Continued!
* * * * *
And that’s my master plan! I have rough ideas for future events that’ll be approved once the ratings skyrocket:
SEASON 2: Karen realizes if she takes off the hat, she’ll die again. Much of this season is Frosty and Karen putting the hat on each other, taking turns living while trying to discover a means for both of them to live again at the same time. The bunny returns in at least four episodes to remind us “WAR IS COMING” but still says nothing useful. The season-2 Big Bad will be…well, did you ever see that old animated special ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas? A tiny portion of it recited the old Clement Moore poem, but the main story was about a town that built a giant musical Christmas clock to appease an enraged Santa. The plan goes awry when a bespectacled teen mouse peers into it too deeply and accidentally causes a massive breakdown. Here, that young mouse grows up bitter and self-hating and wanting illogical revenge on Santa for that whole Christmas-clock kerfuffle, so the now-adult mouse has become a diabolical mad scientist and he is our season-two Big Bad. Also, the team finally meets Santa himself, but he’s killed in the mid-season finale because that’s how TV works now.
SEASON 3: War is here! And so is an assemblage of guest-stars from seasons two and three — including Rudolph, a now-widowed Mrs. Claus who carries on her husband’s legacy, a reformed and forgiven Jack Frost, the Little Drummer Boy, and Nestor the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey — who become a full-fledged supergroup calling themselves the Christmas Crusaders. The tentative Big Bad for this season is Ebenezer Scrooge, who’s gained access to the spirit realm via a captured Jacob Marley and is using Spirit of Christmas power to manipulate his own timeline, acquiring more wealth and erasing the lives of his opponents and any underperforming employees.
SEASON 4: Some kind of adaptation of that wretched Frosty Returns, one of the worst animated Christmas specials I’ve ever seen. Someone else will be showrunner and this’ll be their problem to solve, because by this time I’ll have already left the series under mysterious circumstances.