Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (TV special)

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Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer
Rudolph - 1964 ad.JPG
Promotional advertisement for the original NBC airing
Directed byLarry Roemer, Kizo Nagashima
Written byRomeo Muller, Robert May
Narrated byBurl Ives
(as Sam The Snowman)
Music byJohnny Marks
Production companyRankin/Bass
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Original channelNBC (1964–1971)
Release dateDecember 6, 1964
Running time55 minutes
Followed byRudolph's Shiny New Year
Official website
 
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Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer
Rudolph - 1964 ad.JPG
Promotional advertisement for the original NBC airing
Directed byLarry Roemer, Kizo Nagashima
Written byRomeo Muller, Robert May
Narrated byBurl Ives
(as Sam The Snowman)
Music byJohnny Marks
Production companyRankin/Bass
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Original channelNBC (1964–1971)
Release dateDecember 6, 1964
Running time55 minutes
Followed byRudolph's Shiny New Year
Official website

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is a Christmas television special produced in stop motion animation by Rankin/Bass. It first aired Sunday, December 6, 1964, on the NBC television network in the United States, and was sponsored by General Electric under the umbrella title of The General Electric Fantasy Hour. The special was based on the Johnny Marks song "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" which was itself based on the 1939 poem Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer written by Marks' brother-in-law, Robert L. May. Since 1972, the special has aired on CBS affiliate television stations, with the network unveiling a high-definition, digitally remastered version of the program in 2005. As with A Charlie Brown Christmas and How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Rudolph no longer airs just once annually, but several times during the Christmas and holiday season and on several cable channels (including ABC Family). It has been telecast every year since 1964, making it the longest running Christmas TV special in history, and one of only four 1960s Christmas specials still being telecast, the others being A Charlie Brown Christmas, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and Frosty the Snowman.[citation needed]

Plot[edit]

Donner's wife gives birth to a fawn named Rudolph, but the two are shocked to discover that Rudolph's unusually red nose is capable of glowing. When Santa Claus visits their cave to meet the fawn and sees the glowing nose, he warns Mr. & Mrs. Donner that Rudolph won't be able to pull the sleigh if he continues to carry this trait for the rest of his life. Consequently, Donner tries to conceal Rudolph's nose at first with mud and later a small round cap.

A year later, Rudolph's parents take him to participate in the Reindeer Games. Here Rudolph, along with all of the other young bucks, will be trained to fly and pull Santa's sleigh when they get older. There, Rudolph meets a friendly reindeer named Fireball and they quickly become friends. The pair then sees a group of does including one named Clarice, who seems to love Rudolph. Fireball then encourages Rudolph to speak with her. She thinks he's cute which causes Rudolph to perform a dazzling leap into the air and fly. However, when Rudolph and Fireball engage in celebratory play, the cover pops off Rudolph's nose and unveils his "non-conformity" - scaring Fireball and ending their friendship. All of the other yearlings then make fun at Rudolph's nose and he is prohibited by Coach Comet from taking part in any more Reindeer Games. Clarice, who is not the least bit bothered by Rudolph's secret, catches up with a sulking Rudolph to try to comfort him. Soon after, Clarice's father forbids her to hang around with Rudolph, breaking his heart and runs away. Meanwhile an elf named Hermey dreams of becoming a dentist rather than making toys. His supervisor is outraged at his persistent disruption with his dentistry studies. Feeling ridiculed and misunderstood, Hermey also decides to run away. Later, Rudolph meets up with Hermey and the pair decide to set off together.

Along the way, they meet a cheerfully and boisterous prospector named Yukon Cornelius, who dreams of discovering silver and gold, before the trio bumps into the Abominable Snow Monster who is attracted to Rudolph's nose. Escaping on an iceberg, they arrive on the Island of Misfit Toys where unwanted toys live with a winged lion named King Moonracer, until he can find homes for them. The king agrees to let them stay for one night in exchange for a promise from Rudolph that as soon as he, Yukon, and Hermey return, they will ask Santa to deliver the Misfit Toys to children who need them. However, Rudolph decides to leave the island alone knowing that his nose will endanger his friends.

Rudolph grows older and drifts from place to place making and leaving friends as he is continually rejected for his glowing nose. Eventually deciding to go home, he returns to his cave to find that his parents, along with Clarice, have left to search for him. Rudolph then sets out to find his family and discovers that they have been captured by the Abominable Snow Monster, who plans to eat them. After a brief fight, Rudolph is knocked unconscious. Fortunately, Hermey and Yukon Cornelius arrive and hatch a rescue plan. Luring the monster out of the cave, the pair knock the Snow Monster unconscious and Hermey extracts his teeth. Rudolph awakens, but he and his family are blocked from their escape by the also awakened beast who blocks the entrance to the cave. Yukon chases the now toothless monster to a cliff, driving him off the edge. Mourning Yukon's loss, Rudolph, the Donners, Clarice, and Hermey nonetheless return home. where everyone apologizes for the way they acted while telling them about their adventure. Santa promises Rudolph that he'll find homes for all the Misfit Toys, the Elf Foreman agrees to let Hermey open his own dentist's office, even Donner apologizes to Rudolph for being critical about his nose. Upon celebrating, Yukon returns with a tamed Abominable Snow Monster, now a kinder and gentler monster. However, a huge blizzard blows in which threatens to cancel Santa's flight. While announcing the news to the elves and reindeer, Santa is caught by Rudolph's gleaming nose and decides that its light could cut through the storm. Meanwhile, the Misfit Toys, grieving about being left out and unloved, are cheered up when Santa and Rudolph arrive to pick them up. The special ends with Santa wishing the viewers a merry Christmas as he and Rudolph fly off into the night.

Cast of characters[edit]

The TV special, with story by Romeo Muller, introduced several new characters inspired by the song's lyrics. Muller told an interviewer shortly before his death that he would have preferred to base the teleplay on May's original book, but could not find a copy.[citation needed]

Island of Misfit Toys[edit]

The "Island of Misfit Toys", another addition to the original story, is an island sanctuary where defective and unwanted toys are sent. It is during the initial scene on the Island that Johnny Marks standard, "The Most Wonderful Day of the Year" is performed by the inhabitants. Toy versions of nearly every character from this show were produced in the 1990s. Among its inhabitants are:

Other than the narrator, all characters were portrayed by Canadian actors recorded at RCA studios in Toronto under the supervision of Bernard Cowan.[4]

Different versions[edit]

Original 1964 NBC broadcast edit[edit]

This version has the NBC "living color" peacock at the introduction. It includes the original end credits, where elves are seen delivering boxes which list all the technical credits. It also includes commercials which were exclusively for GE small appliances with some of the same animated elves from the main program introducing each of the products, and closing NBC network bumpers, including promos for the following week's episodes of GE College Bowl and Meet the Press, which were presumably pre-empted that Sunday for the inaugural 5:30 PM (EST) telecast. The College Bowl quiz show was also sponsored by GE.[5] The original does not include Santa traveling to the Island of Misfit Toys, but does include a scene near the end of the special in which Yukon Cornelius discovers a peppermint mine near Santa's workshop. He can be seen throughout the special tossing his pickax into the air, sniffing, then licking the end that contacts the snow or ice. Discarded in 1965 to make room for Santa traveling to the Island of Misfit toys, the audience was left to assume that Cornelius was attempting to find either silver or gold by taste alone.

1965–1997 telecasts[edit]

Viewers were so taken by the forlorn Misfit Toys that many complained Santa was not seen fulfilling his promise to include them in his annual delivery. In reaction, a new scene for subsequent rebroadcasts was produced with Santa making his first stop at the Island to pick up the toys. This is the ending that has been shown on all telecasts and video releases ever since. However, to make room, several sequences were deleted: the instrumental bridge from "We Are Santa's Elves" featuring the elf orchestra, Rudolph & Hermey's duet reprise of "We're a Couple of Misfits," additional dialogue by Burl Ives, and the "Peppermint Mine" scene resolving the fate of Yukon Cornelius. A new duet, "Fame and Fortune," was shot for the revised version and put in place of "We're a Couple of Misfits." The special's 1998 restoration saw "Misfits" returned to its original film context, while the 2004 DVD release showcases "Fame and Fortune" as a separate number.

1998–2008 CBS telecasts[edit]

The above 1965 deletions were returned to the film, but "Fame and Fortune" was not included and was replaced with the original "We're a Couple of Misfits" reprise. This telecast also deleted the "Peppermint Mine" scene (to date, it has never aired on CBS).

Starting sometime in the 2000s, CBS aired the video for "Fame and Fortune" synced with an edited version of "We're a Couple of Misfits." Beyond that, the special has been edited further due to more commercial time by being time-compressed with some musical numbers shortened.

2009-Present CBS telecasts[edit]

"Fame and Fortune" has once again been replaced with "We're a Couple of Misfits," with the special itself undergoing further cuts for more commercial time.

Video releases[edit]

2007 DVD cover

When Rudolph was first issued on video by previous owner Broadway Video, the 1965 rebroadcast print was used with the changes listed above under 1965-1997 telecasts. All current video prints of Rudolph by Classic Media are a compendium of the two previous telecast versions of the special. All the footage in the current versions follow the original NBC airing (without the original GE commercials) up until the "Peppermint Mine" scene, followed by the final act of the 1965 edit (with the Island of Misfit Toys finale and the 1965 alternate credits in place of the original end credit sequence). In 1998, Rudolph was released by Sony Wonder on VHS. In 2000, it was released on DVD, and on Blu-ray Disc in 2010 (although the Blu-ray does not contain the bonus features from the previous DVD release.) This edit has been made available in original color form by former rights holders Classic Media,[6] which in 2012 became the DreamWorks Classics division of DreamWorks Animation. As previously mentioned, this is also the version currently airing on CBS, albeit in edited form to accommodate more commercial time.

Soundtrack[edit]

1995 CD cover

In 1964, an LP record of the soundtrack was released. It contained all the original songs performed as they are in the special, with the exception of Burl Ives' material, which has been re-recorded. MCA Special Products released the soundtrack on CD in June 1995. It is an exact duplication of the original LP released in 1964. Tracks 1-9 are the original soundtrack selections while tracks 10-19 are the same songs performed by the Decca Concert Orchestra. The song "Fame and Fortune" is not contained on either release. On November 30, 2004 the soundtrack was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America for selling over 500,000 copies.

Fate of the figures[edit]

Since those involved with the production had no idea of the value of the figures used in the production, they were not preserved. Santa and Rudolph were given to a secretary, who gave them to family members. Kevin Kriess bought Santa and Rudolph in 2005 and, because they were in such bad shape, had them restored by Screen Novelties International. The figures have been shown at conventions since then.[7]

Sequels[edit]

The Rankin/Bass special, which currently airs on CBS, inspired numerous television sequels made by the same studio:

Merchandise[edit]

Books and other items related to the show have in some cases misspelled "Hermey" as "Herbie". Rich Goldschmidt, who wrote Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Making of the Rankin/Bass Holiday Classic, says the scripts by Romeo Muller show the spelling to be "Hermey".[8]

Video game[edit]

Based on this special, a Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer video game was released on November 9, 2010. The adaptation was published by Red Wagon Games for the Wii and Nintendo DS systems, and was developed by High Voltage Software and Glyphic Entertainment, respectively. The Wii version was received poorly, and garnered extremely negative reviews from sites such as IGN giving it a 1.5/10.[9]

Parodies of, and homages to Rudolph[edit]

The television special's familiarity to American audiences through its annual rebroadcasts, coupled with its primitive stop-motion animation that is easy to recreate with modern technology, has lent itself to numerous parodies over the years.

Films by Corky Quakenbush[edit]

Animator Corky Quakenbush has produced parodies of Rudolph for several American television shows:

Other parodies of Rudolph[edit]

Uses in advertising[edit]

Notes[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Young, John (September 14, 2010). "Billie Mae Richards, voice of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, dies at 88". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on December 2, 2011. 
  2. ^ Ford, Don (November 19, 2010). "‘Rudolph’ remembered". My View. Halton, Ontario: InsideHalton.com. Archived from the original on December 2, 2011. Retrieved December 2, 2011. 
  3. ^ "The Rundown". Wait Wait… Don't Tell Me! (NPR). 2007-12-08. "Arthur Rankin, Jr." 
  4. ^ Dennis Braithwaite, "Canadian voices", The Globe and Mail, December 8, 1964, p. 31.
  5. ^ YouTube video of original bumpers and commercials from the 1964 NBC telecast of Rudolph
  6. ^ TV Party.com: Rudolph--Behind The Scenes, Part II, by Rick Goldschmidt
  7. ^ Heldenfels, Rich (December 19, 2012). "Mailbag: A Rudolph restoration, departed ‘Partners,’ more". Akron Beacon-Journal. Retrieved December 21, 2012. 
  8. ^ "Ask SAM: 'It's a Wonderful Life' pre-empted by 'Sound of Music Live'". Winston-Salem Journal. 20 December 2013. Retrieved 20 December 2013. 
  9. ^ IGN's Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Review
  10. ^ "Raging Rudolph". Video.
  11. ^ "The Reinfather". Video.
  12. ^ "A Pack of Gifts Now". Video.
  13. ^ "Aflac - Rudolph". Video.
  14. ^ Heldenfels, Rich (19 December 2013). "Mailbag: 'Rudolph' numerals wrong in opening credits". Akron Beacon-Journal. 
  15. ^ "Rudolph & Santa Characters from 'Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer'". Antiques Roadshow. PBS. May 15, 2006. Archived from the original on December 2, 2011. Retrieved December 2, 2011. 
  16. ^ Goodman, Brenda (2006-12-23). "Rudolph and Santa, as Good as New". The New York Times. 

External links[edit]