Nickelodeon have ensured that they won’t be the only ones to air original content of their leading cartoon series SpongeBob SquarePants this year, as their upcoming Christmas TV special will be brought to a wider audience as CBS gain first-run broadcast rights to the ‘episode’.
Taking a drastic change of visual appearance, the special, entitled It’s a SpongeBob Christmas, will see the characters of the long-running cartoon portrayed as Rankin/Bass-style textured stop-motion builds. However, this will not change the voice talent behind the series for the episode, including Tom Kenny reprising his role as the title character, while guest John Goodman will serve as the voice of Santa Claus.
Inspired by a song (‘Don’t be a Jerk, It’s Christmas’) written by Kenny and producer Andy Paley, the segment was initially set to air exclusively on Nickelodeon in December, though CBS’s arrangement will see the episode premiere on a rather unusual time-and-date, hitting screens at primetime (9:30/8:30c) on Friday 23 November.
An initial press release from Nickelodeon in March announcing the special read: “Nickelodeon’s first full-length stop-motion animated special is inspired by the classic Rankin/Bass (Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town) specials, and the popular SpongeBob song released in 2009, ‘Don’t Be a Jerk, It’s Christmas’, written by Tom Kenny (voice of SpongeBob) and Andy Paley. In It’s A SpongeBob Christmas!, Plankton vows to get his Christmas wish – the Krabby Patty formula – by turning everyone in Bikini Bottom bad by feeding them his special jerktonium-laced fruitcake. The special features John Goodman as Santa Claus, and will air in December 2012.”
While it is unknown whether or not the change in animation style will count it towards the series’ total of 332 ‘segments’ aired since 1999, will the one-off episode/movie (which depending on length could be categorised alongside the 2004 feature film and its planned sequel for 2014) be one of the brand’s most successful ventures? If you have seen even one minute or a still frame of the cartoon in your lifetime, then the official trailer for the stop-motion version below is likely to be a strange experience…