Why the Bears Dance on Christmas Eve (found made-for-television animated Christmas film; 1977)

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Title card for the film.

Status: Found

Date found: 18 Jun 2012

Found by: Julio Villarreal

Why the Bears Dance on Christmas Eve is an animated made-for-television Christmas film produced by Tele-tactics that was broadcast on ABC in December of 1977. This would ultimately prove to be the only time the film was ever broadcast on television, and it would remain lost as a result for many decades afterwards.


The film opens by showing two young bear cubs dancing inside a cave, a tradition carried out by the bears every Christmas Eve. After getting tired out, the bear cubs ask their grandfather where this tradition originated from, which he is happy to explain.

The film flashes back to Christmas Eve many years ago and shows the various forest animals decorating their homes for Christmas. The only animal not taking part is Bashful, a young bear cub whose overwhelming shyness prevents him from getting involved. After being chastised for his shyness by a nearby skunk, Bashful makes his excuses and leaves for home, taking a shortcut that eventually leads to him falling down a giant pit.

After falling a great distance, Bashful lands on a giant pile of snow, and goes to investigate voices that can be heard deep inside the cave. Upon going further into the cave, Bashful finds himself in the lair of the villainous Snurfs, a group of evil creatures who seek to damage the environment by causing wildfires, polluting water sources, littering, and wasting energy.

Unaware of Bashful's presence, the Snurfs discuss their plans to ruin Christmas by destroying Santa's sleigh. One Snurf will cover it in trash, another will smother it in toxic waste, a third will set it on fire, and a fourth will use up all the energy so Santa has no light with which to find his way.

Bashful tries to escape to warn the other bears, but trips over and is spotted on his way out. The Snurfs quickly surround him but demand that he dances for them. Bashful obliges, and the Snurfs find his dance moves so funny that they begin to laugh uproariously, allowing Bashful to make his escape.

Bashful tells the other woodland creatures about what he saw, with the animals revealing that they are fully aware of the Snurfs, but don't know how to defeat them. Bashful explains that dancing is the Snurfs' one weakness, and the other animals (albeit skeptically) go along with his idea and make their way to the Snurfs' cave.

Upon seeing the Snurfs, the other animals run in terror, leaving Bashful to face them all alone. Bashful performs his dance moves again, and the Snurfs are unable to stop laughing as a result, leaving them immobilized. The other animals notice this and quickly set about defeating the Snurfs; throwing snow on one so it evaporates, stuffing another one in a trash bag, and filling a third so full of energy that it explodes.

The film returns to the present day, with the grandfather bear explaining that the bears dance on Christmas Eve so that Bashful's efforts won't be forgotten. But he also warns that the Snurfs are constantly trying to come back and that we all must take efforts to protect the environment (such as not littering and turning the lights off when we leave a room) to make sure that they never do.[1]

Production and availability

The film was produced by Tele-tactics, a non-union animation studio based out of New York that is best known for producing the "The World Looks Mighty Good to Me" Tootsie Roll commercial. The studio was also responsible for giving notable animators such as Tom Sito and Dan Haskett some of their first jobs in the animation industry and produced various other pieces of animated content throughout its history (such as an Independence Day animated film entitled Days of Liberty, and an educational short film directed by Dan Haskett entitled Journey Through Nutritionland).

The film was broadcast on ABC a single time on December 12th, 1977, and would never air again. The following month, Tele-tactics' founder Barry Drucker suffered a fatal heart attack and passed away at age 40.[2] The studio went with him, and the majority of its productions would subsequently fall into obscurity, as other companies were uninterested in acquiring the rights to them.[3]

Why the Bears Dance on Christmas Eve also suffered this fate, and for many decades afterwards, the film remained lost and forgotten. However, in 2012, a digital copy of the film was acquired by YouTube user Julio Villarreal, who had remembered seeing the film's sole airing as a child and had contacted a character designer for it in order to get a copy. Julio subsequently uploaded this copy online on June 18th, 2012 in six parts, rendering the film found.


The full film.