- carrie: we need to hurry. deacon and kelly are going to be here for dinner, any minute.
- doug: good, i'm starving. what're we having? christmas goose?
- carrie: i got chicken.
- doug: damn. i could've really gone for goose...... or a tray of brownies.
The story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (speaking of which, defining Rudolph exclusively by his physical appearance seems pretty racist) has no lasting legacy.
The song was written in 1939, when electric light had been around for over 50 years. The Model T had headlights! And that had been around for 30 years! Why didn’t Santa, in his infinite magical power and economic/manufacturing prowess, GET SOME HEADLIGHTS?! There’s no explanation.
How can anyone listen to it for the first time and be inspired when a main character of the story — Santa: a magical, benevolent, immortal elf with copious amounts of power and influence (who can do the impossible with regards to time and space) — clearly is capable of acquiring some lights or magic fairy lanterns? A kid’s mind instantly asks “why”.
I have no choice but to question whether Rudolph was real, at all. He very well may have simply been a creation of Santa’s marketing firm because he needed another Christmas song/story to fund that new electronics wing. Plus: it doesn’t make any bit of sense that a reindeer would be born with a lightbulb for a nose.
Speaking of which, remember the OTHER two Rudolph Rankin/Bass specials? Probably not. Because Santa’s PR guy had the masters destroyed.
RUDOLPH’S SHINY NEW YEAR is pretty unbelievably awful in its story: Father Time — a real person — requests Rudolph deliver Baby New Year — a real person — back to where ever he should be or else the world will be stuck on December 31 forever (although time is a man-made creation and the calendar year is determined by humans so this threat is hollow… whatever).
Now, disregarding the fact that Rudolph just got back from leading the reindeer team on Christmas (which, really, is like asking Michael Phelps to swim the English Channel the day after he wins his eighth gold medal) and seems absolutely unqualified to handle this task… Rudolph agrees. He tracks Baby New Year to an island chain of “Last Years” wherein each island represents a year gone by (seriously), complete with a “ruler” from that year and a simulated environment linked to the year with which it is associated (i.e., the island of 1776 looks colonial and is run by a Benjamin Franklin-looking fellow). Anyway, there’s a constantly reappearing, villainous vulture or something named Eon who will turn to ice and snow once the year ends, so he’s got a lot of stock in making sure Baby New Year doesn’t get back to where ever he’s supposed to be. It’s pretty bad. Oh, also: the “caveman” island has dinosaurs on it. Christianity, everybody!
But even that bizarre journey seems reasonable when you discover RUDOLPH AND FROSTY’S CHRISTMAS IN JULY. First of all, the title. “Christmas in July”. I’m already checking to see what else is on. Next: Frosty the Snowman is such a difficult character to build an entire story around. He’s like the Incredible Hulk of Christmas legend. Fun? Sure. Famous? Absolutely. But it’s pretty straightforward as to what you can do with him, as a character (by the way: not much). Anyway, that’s just the tip of the incredulous/surreal/confusing/stupidity iceberg. Read the plot summary from Wikipedia. I did not change one word of this:
Long time ago, the evil wizard king Winterbolt has caused havoc upon the people who have entered his domain. He is then punished by Lady Boreal when she places a spell that puts him in a deep sleep.
Years later, Winterbolt is awake. In her final act of magic, Boreal transfers the last of her power into Rudolph’s red nose, which will stop glowing if it is ever used for evil. Winterbolt learns of this and plans not only to dispose of Rudolph, the only power capable of stopping him, but also to reclaim his territory from Santa Claus. To achieve this, Winterbolt plans to take advantage of Frosty and his family. At the same time, Rudolph’s ice cream man friend Milton arrives and tells Rudolph and Frosty that he plans to attract the heart of high-wire act Laine Loraine.
Winterbolt offers Frosty magic amulets that will keep his family from melting and enable them to attend a Fourth of July Circus in which Rudolph is to star, but they will only be protected until the end of the event. Santa agrees to pick up Frosty and his wife Crystal before the magic wears off, but Winterbolt has his ice dragons blow up a blizzard to prevent Santa from arriving on time. Winterbolt also recruits an evil, unintelligent reindeer named Scratcher (voiced by Alan Sues) to try to get Rudolph to turn, or at least appear evil in the eyes of his friends. With the blizzard keeping Santa from getting to them, time was not on the side of Frosty and family. When Scratcher arrives, he forms an alliance with Sam Spangles during the parade.
Scratcher, taking advantage of Rudolph’s kindness, steals money from the circus and sets up Rudolph to take the blame. Rudolph agrees to appear guilty after making a deal with Winterbolt, to extend the powers of the amulets Frosty’s family wears for an infinite time in exchange. Frosty’s family, friends, and the circus’ owner Lilly Loraine are outraged at Rudolph and his nose stops glowing. Only Frosty knows the truth and wants to restore Rudolph’s glowing nose. Winterbolt takes advantage of Frosty as well by lying and agreeing to do it in exchange for Frosty’s hat, with intention to use the magic powers of Frosty’s hat to create an army of snowmen. Rudolph manages to steal back the hat, and his nose regains its glow.
After Rudolph returns to the circus with Frosty’s hat, Winterbolt attacks which ends with him turning into a tree when Lilly throws her iron guns onto his scepter destroying it. Once Winterbolt is vanquished and Scratcher and Sam are arrested, all the spells he has cast are negated and Frosty and his family are in danger of melting once again. However, Jack Frost, the villain from the previous Frosty’s Winter Wonderland (but in the “animagic” form from another Rankin-Bass special called Jack Frost), arrives on Big Ben to rescue his former enemy and family as they are whisked back to the North Pole by Santa, but Rudolph stays behind to help the circus out of debt. The special ends with a rendition of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”, sung by the entire cast.
What is this?! It’s like a fantasy epic mixed with a noir thriller, only featuring reindeers, snowmen, ice wizards, and Santa Claus rather than like Jack Nicholson and Viggo Mortensen. Alliances? An army of snowmen?! Rudolph is set up?! Jack Frost returns out of nowhere to save his former foe? Rudolph feels obligated to help some circus out of debt? “Only Frosty knows the truth”. Amazing.
In conclusion: Santa… you lied. You could’ve had headlights. You just wanted to make a buck (evidenced by your willingness to pimp out Rudolph again and again with television specials whose quality drastically decreased with each installment).
You’re dead to me, Papa Noel. You are dead.