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Friday November 27, 2009 9:15 pm

Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer Returns




Posted by Tom Mason Categories: DVD, Reviews, Television

Santa And RudolphI love the old Rankin-Bass holiday classics, but my favorite is Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer. It used to be appointment TV, but then along came DVD and the ability to watch it anytime.

Now that I have kids, we watch it pretty much year-round. In 2009 so far, I’ve racked up at least 20 viewings. And when you watch something that many times, you start to notice some things that escaped me when I would just see it once a year. Here’s my list:

Mrs. Claus: She’s a chubby chaser and an enabler. Santa finally gets his weight down during the off-season - which no doubt would help his cholesterol and blood pressure and help him live longer - and yet she can’t wait to start stuffing him again, upping the ante by reminding him that everyone loves a fat Santa, including her I’m guessing.

Santa Claus: First off, he’s a jerk. Rudolph is a super-achiever compared to the others in the Reindeer Games, and Santa’s too worried about the red nose thing. Since no one on Santa’s route will ever actually see Rudolph, this is really all about Santa’s issues.

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Secondly, Santa has a weird metabolism: in no time at all, he’s able to go from being in pretty decent shape for an old guy, and then after just a couple of weeks of stuffing himself, he’s back to his jolly fat ho-ho-ho self. It’s either his metabolism or Mrs. Claus is putting something special in her pies. Either way, Santa’s Christmas gift to himself: Holiday Onset Diabetes.

Fireball: He’s a hater who should be unfriended right away. Even though Rudolph has a knack for the does that Fireball merely wishes he could duplicate, Fireball shuns Rudolph the second his red nose is revealed. Fortunately, Fireball doesn’t get another line of dialogue in the whole show.

Donner: He takes after Santa’s jerk-filled personal style, too. Donner’s way too concerned about how his son’s “handicap” is going to reflect on him. He’s got to keep his son’s disability hidden, if only for family pride. Also, Donner’s a sexist. Mrs. Donner is fine to have around, but she’d better stay in the cave when she’s told to. At least he doesn’t blame her side of the family for Rudolph’s nose.

Comet: He may be a sled-pulling pal of Donner’s, but he has no sympathy for Rudolph’s red-nosed plight. In fact, between the attitude of Rudolph’s dad and Comet’s high-school-gym-coach-from-Hell, one can only imagine what the other reindeer must be like. If Comet’s behavior is any indication, who the heck wants to join Santa’s team? They’re worse than the football players on Glee.

King Moonracer: He can fly all around the world looking for misfit toys, but he needs Rudolph to talk to Santa on his behalf? Either he’s too scared of Santa to do it himself - see “Santa is a jerk” above - or he’s too stupid to figure out that the wings that fly him to Cranston, RI to pick up an Ostrich Cowboy could also take him to the North Pole. Also, for a guy who’s so open-minded about misfit toys, he’s a bit of a jerk when it comes to misfit humans. Not only that, even his guest house is a misfit—it’s three sizes too small for anybody to sleep in comfortably. But, being a lion with wings and a crown? Total win.

Hermie: When he’s finally had enough elf-abuse from his boss (who clearly gets his management tips from Santa), Hermie runs away from Santa’s Workshop by climbing out a window. When we next see him, he pops out of a snowbank next to Rudolph who’s just been kicked out of the Reindeer Games. Here’s my question: has he been digging a tunnel all this time or was he just hiding in the snowbank? And if he’s supposed to be running away, why’s he hiding?

Dentistry: Apparently it’s even easier to learn than I thought. Hermie’s been home-schooling himself with a book and knows all about molars and bicuspids. And he’s got a nice set of dental implements as well and he certainly knows his way around a pair of pliers. Of course, he lacks a reclining chair, novacaine, x-ray equipment and a protective mask, but elf-dentists don’t sweat the details of private practice.

Elves: They’re impervious to cold. Rudolph’s a reindeer so he’s got fur, Yukon Cornelius is wearing the latest in 1960s-era winter-wear, but Hermie’s wandering around the North Pole wearing nothing but his little felt elf suit that he also wears indoors. Outside, his elf-nipples should be hard enough to carve a wooden puppet and yet the blistering cold bothers him not.

Misfit Toys: Not only are they the coolest, but when they finally get a chance to go with Santa, they’re all able to leap off the ground and right into Santa’s bag. I don’t care if my train has square wheels as long as it can leap 6 feet in the air like that.

Yukon Cornelius: Quite possibly the best friend anybody at the North Pole could ever ask for. He accepts Rudolph and Hermie immediately (despite their afflictions) saves their lives and can train an Abominable Snowmonster.

Sam The Snowman: A talking snowman who can play the banjo and sing, and he’s spending his days just wandering around the North Pole? Nowadays, he’d be an alcoholic has-been on his third comeback belly-aching about how Taylor Swift is too young for success. He should team-up with Yukon for a sitcom.

Santa Is Still A Jerk: Okay, so Santa rejects Rudolph because of his red nose, even though the reindeer clearly has the mad skills. But then Santa is totally okay with letting the Abominable Snowmonster of the North into his castle based solely on the word of Yukon. Just so I’m clear: Santa can’t accept the son of one of his favored reindeer, but the monster is just swell? I get it - Santa doesn’t see the value in anyone unless they can make his work easier. He likes Rudolph only when he realizes that Rudolph can save his job and he likes the Bumble only when he realizes he can decorate the Christmas tree. See jerk, comma, definition of.

Rudolph: Nobody - not his father, not Santa, not the other reindeer - likes him because of his red nose, but once they realize that he can save Christmas for them, they’re suddenly all about friendship and he loves it. A 21st Century Rudolph would’ve told them to shove their “we finally see the light of friendship now that you can help us” pleas and hit the road with Clarice, the only person who loves him for who he is. Either that, or hold out for some new contractual guarantees from the Claus Entertainment Corporation.

And yet, despite all of this, I love the show. Watching it 20 times in one year doesn’t seem so bad. I’m looking forward to #21. We’ve just started watching and rewatching another Rankin-Bass classic, Santa Claus Is Coming To Town. I’ll let you know what I find out after another 18 viewings.

[CBS will be broadcasting Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer on Wednesday, December 2 at their usual 8pm time. Check your local listings, just in case!]

Happy holidays!

[Artwork: Why it’s that not-very-nice Mr. Claus and his newfound little buddy]

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