Tag Archives: rudolf

#13 – Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

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Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)

The Rankin/Bass produced Christmas special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is often referred to as the original Christmas special. It’s not, but of the most popular Christmas specials it is the oldest. It was originally produced in conjunction with General Electric. During its original broadcast the characters would appear in GE ads during the commercial breaks because everyone wants a new vacuum or refrigerator for Christmas. Now it’s obviously broadcast without those inserts, which have mostly been lost to time because who could predict this special would be so popular over fifty years later? Also lost, most of the original puppets used to make the show and some of the stock footage because, again, who would have known there would be a market for any of this stuff?

Rudolph is obviously a Christmas classic. It’s shown multiple times every year on CBS and for many families it’s appointment viewing. The characters are not above appearing in modern commercials either (this year they want you to switch cell phone providers) and there’s more toys, ornaments, and decorations with their likeness than you can count. What I’m getting at is that this one is so popular that it’s probably considered an upset that I’m ranking it outside my top ten. Had I ordered my favorite specials as an eight year old, sure this would have ranked a lot higher, but it’s not really one of my favorites today.

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Is there any doubt Rudolf would end up in this position by the end of the show?

By now everyone is familiar with the story of Rudolph, so it makes little sense to summarize it, but I will because that’s who I am. Rudolph is a reindeer born to Donner (spelled¬†as Donder and Dunder in other sources) and his unnamed wife (often referred to as Mrs. Donner). He has a peculiar nose that’s essentially a red light bulb and everyone thinks it sucks and makes fun of him. So he runs off with an elf who doesn’t want to make toys and they join-up with an eccentric prospector and wind up on the Island of Misfit Toys. Rudolph sees he doesn’t have it so bad once he meets the depressing toys and decides to head back to Christmas Town. There he has to save his family from the Abominable Snowman and save Christmas with his wonderful nose.

The animation is stop-motion and the puppets, particularly the reindeer, look great. When they’re not moving. The animation itself is rather primitive and awkward, but it’s been over fifty years so we should be used to it by now. I think the story is solid, though it feels a little dragged out. The music is what drives me nuts. Sure the main theme is fine and I can get down with “Holly, Jolly Christmas” but nothing else does it for me. I always feel song fatigue by the time the Island of Misfit Toys rolls around and the rejected toys start singing.

So yeah, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is fine, I just don’t think it’s great. I rank it as highly as I do out of obligation as much as personal enjoyment. I’ll watch it this year, and probably start fiddling with my phone fifteen minutes into it.


The 25 Greatest Christmas Specials

christmas-tvNo holiday spawns more television specials than Christmas. Really, no holiday spawns more of anything than Christmas (Halloween probably creates the most cavities in children). Christmas is a pervasive presence in our society. It’s everywhere, which makes the imaginary “War on Christmas” all the more ludicrous. Christmas is so inescapable this time of year that it’s hard to not feel cynical over the whole thing. Somehow I’ve managed to retain a fondness for the holiday despite having no religious givings in my bones. I enjoy the splendor, for the most part (Christmas songs are mostly terrible and annoying), and the warm fuzzies the holiday stirs inside me. Mostly though, I just like how I’m able to recall how excited I was as a child knowing Christmas was coming. It’s my ability to tap into that part of me that likely keeps the fire alive.

Each year since I started this blog I’ve taken the time to make Christmas-centered posts every December. This year I’m taking it one step forward and posting what I consider to be the 25 best Christmas specials created for television advent calendar style. What do I mean by that? Well I plan to post a short blog entry on each special on each day of December leading up to the holiday. You may be thinking this sounds like a rip-off of Chris Antista’s A Cartoon Christmas blog and you would be right. In defense of my own ranking I’ll say I’m not limiting myself to just cartoons (though expect the list to be dominated by them) and A Cartoon Christmas never attempted to rank the specials in such a fashion. Also, that site hasn’t been updated since 2013 and the last time the advent calendar format was utilized was 2012 so I think enough time has passed that someone else can do something similar.

My only criteria for selecting the best Christmas specials is that the special must have been featured on television at some point. This excludes Christmas movies, because they’re just a different animal, but not cartoon shorts that originally debuted on the big screen but have since become television staples around the holidays. This also means I’ll be doubling up on some specials that I’ve written about in the past. Many I covered in the first year of this blog as part of my Essential Christmas Viewing posts, but there they were covered in brief. A few have had full write-ups, and where that has occurred I’ll link to the original post but also offer up some fresh takes.

Now, my typical blog posts tend to stretch on for thousands of words, which is why I only end up making 2 or 3 a month. As a result, expect these blog entries to be much shorter than my typical ones. Hopefully by doing so I’ll be able to keep myself from falling behind. Obviously I’ll be writing and working on this list in advance of any being posted so expect this feature to pretty much dominate The Nostalgia Spot for the remainder of 2015, though I may find time to slip in a post or two on other subjects.

#25. Moral Orel – The Best Christmas Ever

#24. Winnie the Pooh and Christmas Too

#23 . Robot Chicken’s Half-Assed Christmas Special

#22. Invader Zim:  Most Horrible X-Mas Ever

#21. Married…With Children – You Better Watch Out

#20. The Snowman

#19. It’s a SpongeBob Christmas

#18. Beavis and Butt-Head Do Christmas

#17. A Muppet Family Christmas

#16. Yes, Virginia

#15. Frosty the Snowman

#14. A Very Special Family Guy Freakin’ Christmas

#13. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

#12. Futurama – Xmas Story

#11. Prep & Landing

#10. A Garfield Christmas

#9. A Flintstone Christmas

#8. Mr. Hanky, The Christmas Poo

#7. Toy Tinkers

#6. Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire

#5. Pluto’s Christmas Tree

#4. A Charlie Brown Christmas

#3. A Chipmunk Christmas

#2. Mickey’s Christmas Carol

#1. Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!


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