Robbie the Reindeer

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Robbie the Reindeer
GenreStop motion
Clay animation
FormatTelevision specials
Written byKevin Cecil and Andy Riley
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Language(s)English
No. of episodes3
Production
Producer(s)BBC One
 
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Robbie the Reindeer
GenreStop motion
Clay animation
FormatTelevision specials
Written byKevin Cecil and Andy Riley
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Language(s)English
No. of episodes3
Production
Producer(s)BBC One

Robbie the Reindeer is a series of three animated comedy television specials shown on BBC One at Christmas, filmed in aid of Comic Relief. Written by Kevin Cecil and Andy Riley, the programmes are based on the story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, with Robbie as Rudolph's son and the tenth of Santa Claus's reindeer. The three episodes produced so far are titled "Hooves of Fire", "The Legend of the Lost Tribe" and "Close Encounters of the Herd Kind". Mark Knopfler composed most of the music for the television specials; along with the accompaniment of Guy Fletcher.

Contents

Relation to original story

Robbie, the son of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, is the eponymous hero of the tales. Like his father, his power is concentrated in his nose; however, unlike his father's Robbie's nose does not glow, instead it can target just about any location in the world and also has other various supernatural powers.

Various parts of the original story have been changed for the purposes of plot or jokes. The gender of Donner has been switched from the traditional role (Donner has been portrayed as a male in previous creations). the most notable result is that Donner, who according to the original Rudolph storyline would be Robbie's grandfather, is instead Robbie's love interest and eventual wife (a possible play on the common female name of Donna). Vixen's role as the attractive female, as well as Prancer's portrayal as a powerful male, however, are retained nearly intact.

A running gag in the program is that none of the characters can ever mention Rudolph by his full name. The reason given is that the villain, Blitzen, is outraged to hear the name of his rival, but the implication for the viewers is that the program's producers were unable to get copyright permission to name Rudolph (while popular and nearly ubiquitous, the character has not yet fallen into the public domain). The excuse allows Blitzen to avoid breaking the fourth wall and acknowledging the copyright.[citation needed]

Episodes

In the original British production, Robbie was voiced by Ardal O'Hanlon and was narrated by Robbie Williams. Other voices were provided by Jane Horrocks, Steve Coogan, Paul Whitehouse, Harry Enfield, Jeff Goldblum, David Attenborough (as himself), Alistair McGowan and Ricky Gervais, among others. The director was Richard Goleszowski of Aardman Animations. Though not technically an Aardman production, several of the company's staff did work on the project, hence its heavily Aardman-esque visual style. The executive producer was Richard Curtis.[1]

The programme was first shown in the United States on Fox Family with the original British voices until 2001. CBS then acquired the rights and began airing the special in 2002. However, the program was redubbed with American accents. Ben Stiller voiced Robbie, while other voices included Hugh Grant (as Blitzen; Blitzen was the only character to retain a British accent), Britney Spears (Donner), Leah Remini (Vixen), James Belushi (Santa Claus), Dick Enberg (Des Yeti), Dan Dierdorf (Allan Snowman), Brad Garrett (Prancer), and Stiller's father Jerry (Old Jingle and a talking garbage bag). Airplay of this version was discontinued by CBS after the 2005 holiday season; it has not been seen since. Nicktoons Network aired the original British version for the next two years, meaning CBS likely either lost or gave up the rights to the special after the breakup of CBS Corporation and Viacom. Neither version currently has a broadcast home in the United States.

Hooves of Fire

The story begins when overweight reindeer Robbie arrives at the North Pole in August to be the navigator for the sleigh team. There, he meets the other deer on Santa's team and falls in love with the beautiful Vixen. However, he has an enemy in Blitzen, his father's jealous arch-rival. Blitzen gets Robbie kicked off the team, and the only way to regain his place is to win the steeple-chase at the Reindeer Games.

Robbie is trained by Old Jingle, a mad old coach. Just before the race is due to start, Old Jingle's house begins to slide down the hill on which it's built, forcing Robbie to abandon the race for a rescue mission. Nevertheless, he manages to join the race late, and catch up thanks to his heavy training. A photo finish is taken between himself and Blitzen - and he sees to his horror that Blitzen has won. He is then stampeded by the other competitors. However, he is given a kiss from Donner (similar to when Clarice tells Rudolph he is cute), and in his happiness promptly beats every single record for every single event.

As Blitzen is arrested for taking drugs, Robbie and Donner take the sleigh to the moon and enjoy a romantic day together. It then shows Blitzen being forced to paint Robbie dolls in prison.

Legend of the Lost Tribe

The second Robbie special originally aired on BBC One in 2002. Robbie and the other reindeer now run a bankrupt holiday resort. While rescuing a tourist, Robbie falls of a cliff and is rescued by a Viking, who then disappears. Meanwhile, Blitzen returns and captures the reindeer, turning them into robots with special remote-controlled hats. Robbie is the only one to escape, and he seeks the aid of the last remaining Viking tribe (whose diminutive members are all named "Magnus"). He brings them out of their shame and they agree to help. He discovers that the reindeer have been put into an exhibit at Blitzen Theme Park. Robbie rescues them and Blitzen is once more jailed. "The Legend of the Lost Tribe" was directed by Peter Peake (also of Aardman), whose credits include the animated short "Captain Sarcastic" and the Oscar nominated short "Humdrum".

Close Encounters of the Herd Kind

A third installment was broadcast on BBC One during the Christmas 2007 period. O'Hanlon and Horrocks returned as their original characters, with additional voice appearances by Keira Knightley, Ozzy Osbourne, Gillian Anderson and Russell Brand. Robbie and Donner's wedding is interrupted when Donner is kidnapped by aliens.[2] Robbie saves the day again though with the help of his friends and an alien crystal.

References

External links