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In this 1979 Rankin Bass winter special, reporters from all over the USA are gathering to see Pardon-Me Pete, the groundhog that does the whole Groundhog Day thing. He sees his shadow and runs back inside, but wait! There's no sun to make any shadows! Cut to inside the burrow, where Pete talks to the camera. He decides to explain all about a little agreement he has with Jack Frost... And then Pete gets into the story of who Jack Frost is, considering that his audience apparently doesn't know.
Jack Frost (voiced by Robert Morse) is the personification of winter, who uses his icy breath to bring ice and snow to the world. One day, as he's swooping invisibly through the town of January Junction, he overhears a conversation in which a young woman named Elisa playfully tells her family that the only person she's in love with is him. Intrigued, he follows her, and is the only witness when she's knocked aside by the villainous Kubla Krauss as he rushes by on his horse. As Elisa tumbles toward the lake and her death, Jack quickly freezes the water so that she slides harmlessly across the surface. She laughs, calling him a hero, and Jack decides that he returns her love.
He returns to his home in the skies, and appeals to Father Winter (Paul Frees) for aid. Father Winter allows him to become human, but warns him that he has until the first day of spring to win his wife and provide her with a house, gold, and a horse, or he must return to sprite form. Jack is sent to January Junction in the human guise of Jack Snip, a tailor. Two other sprites, Snip and Holly, are also turned human in order to help him.
Jack easily befriends Elisa, who is charmed by him, but he learns to his chagrin that she secretly idolizes the golden-armored Sir Raveneau Rightfellow. Not long after, she is abducted by Kubla Krauss, and Jack learns that this individual controls all the land, timber and gold that once belonged to the people of January Junction. He endeavors to rescue Elisa, clumsily, but she is properly saved by Sir Raveneau; Jack and his friends are meanwhile captured by the enraged Kubla Krauss, who vows to destroy the community with his "Ka-Nights." Jack calls out to Father Winter, who returns him to sprite form so that he may trap the castle in a terrible snowstorm. On Groundhog Day, he causes Pardon-Me Pete to see his shadow, in order to buy extra time to keep Kubla Krauss trapped, but the deadline of spring is still approaching.
Finally, with only an hour left before spring arrives, Jack ends the storm and returns to his human form. He battles with Kubla Krauss, who falls out of a castle window, and thus Jack lays claim to his castle, horse, and gold. He rushes to propose to Elisa...only to find that she and Sir Raveneau have fallen in love over the winter and are about to be married. He lets her go, only ducking past the church as they come out and blowing on Elisa's bridal bouquet to turn the flowers white. Elisa stares, realizing who it must have been, and says that "An old friend just kissed the bride."
Not to be confused with either of the movies, especially the horror one.
Tropes present in this work include:
- Added Alliterative Appeal: Kubla Krauss, Raveneau Rightfellow
- Adorkable: Jack as a human. Pardon-Me Pete himself would also qualify.
- Bittersweet Ending: On the one hand, January Junction is saved and Elisa gets to marry her knight. On the other, Jack loses out on love, although he seems to get over it.
- Bishounen: Jack.
- Bling of War: Sir Raveneau's golden armor
- Curse Escape Clause: Not really a curse, but the same sort of thing. To remain as a human, Jack needs a house, horse, bag of gold, and wife before winter ends.
- Did Not Get the Girl
- Friend to All Living Things: Inverted with the villain, Kubla Krauss. No living creature can bear to be around him, so, to quote the narrator, "he had his horse Clangstomper, who ran by steam, and Fetch-Kvetch the butler, who ran by clockwork. Even the mice were mechanical!"
- Florence Nightingale Effect: Elisa and Sir Raveneau fall in love over the winter while she nurses him back to health from the injuries he sustained during her rescue.
- Frictionless Ice: In the real world, falling down a hill and landing on a suddenly frozen lake surface would probably hurt a lot; but when Elisa does it, she just glides across the lake on her bottom, laughing.
- Hair of Gold: Elisa, her knight, and Jack as a human.
- An Ice Person: Jack and the others in charge of ice and snow.
- Interacting with Shadow: Pardon-Me Pete the groundhog is briefly seen interacting with his shadow.
- Knight in Shining Armor: Sir Raveneau Rightfellow, Elisa's rescuer and eventual husband
- Line-of-Sight Name: Jack chooses "Snip" as a surname for himself when he glances at his scissors.
- Literal Ass-Kicking: Jack does this to Pardon-Me Pete, in an attempt to scare him back into his hole.
- Micro Monarchy: The setting.
- Overly Long Name: Snip's alias.
- Race Against the Clock: Jack Frost has until the end of winter to get a house, horse, bag of gold, and wife, for a heroic example. Also to stop the metal man army.
- Winter Royal Lady: Holly's as close as the show gets; she's a snowflake-making sprite, but on earth they disguise her as a "gypsy princess." Father Winter could be considered a male example, as he is the sovereign over all things winter.