|RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER (cbs, 1964)|
|Why was it such a
Yeah, okay, it's....not. In fact, it's the most famous Christmas special of all time and should be the last thing to ever be reviewed here. So what the heck am I doing?
You'll find out pretty soon. The truth is, I have a list of specials that I don't consider misfits and will never review here (unless I completely break that promise like I just did right now). Do not ask for the following:
Rudolph the Red-Nosed
This year the original "Rudolph" film negatives have been remastered in high-definition, and it's only a matter of time before they go in with computers and create extra scenery to make it widescreen. But I'm going as low-tech as possible. For this year, I have acquired a taping of the "Rudolph" special....FROM 1979. Great bouncing icebergs!
THAT'S how you make "Rudolph" a misfit....by travelling back in time to the dawn of the VCR, before probably any of you (or even me) were even born. Yes, it's uncut. It's got all the ads in it.
In fact, it starts out with a trailer for Star Trek: The Motion Picture. If geeks had been paying attention, they would have found a revealing clue here to what they were in for. "Look how pretty this is," says Paramount. "Look how dreamlike all the light effects and glowing necks look! Who needs anything like a plot?"
"If I live to be a
hundred, I'll never forget that big snowstorm...."
I don't mean to make you feel old, thirtysomething readers -- and besides, I'll be joining you soon enough.
WHOA! Hello, bumpers....what happened to YOU guys? I never knew this special even had them.
Red-Nosed Reindeer....is brought to you by
The second ad opens upon a familiar scene: an empty living room, a fireplace, a twinkling Christmas tree, a time vaguely around 2 AM....and who should come visiting but our old pal---------------***
"SEASON'S GREETINGS," screeches a booming sinister voice. "I'M THE INVISIBLE MAN."
What is the Invisible Man doing in a Christmas commercial? Selling Scotch Tape, that's what. Because it's invisible, get it? Kids are fine with the idea of Santa coming into their homes, mainly because he leaves them stuff. But to tell them an invisible boogeyman will also enter through a secret bookcase door is rather demented, even if he only intends to use their tape.
And....that's it. Two ads. The show is back on.
There's no difference in
Act II. It's all the same:
Rudolph cries in the snow, the bumpers return, and now it's time for Hershey's Products again....
Kit Kat hadn't invented its catchy song yet, so Generation X got....this thing. A barber ends up shaving half the hair off some poor guy, but everything's okay, because "I may have lost the touch, but at least I GOT TASTE!" He holds up a Kit Kat bar and grins. It's only logical.
Next comes a spot for Kellogg's cereals -- all of them at once, or at least most of them. A girl pours milk on her Corn Flakes, then suddenly there's a tuba, then another bowl of cereal, then somebody that looks like Dick van Dyke (he's not van Dyke) pounds a giant drum, then we learn Kelloggs is "Double-O-gee-good" even though it's spelled with only one O. Pillsbury's turn came after that, but it's what you'd expect as normal from Poppin' Fresh. I'll have a better Pillsbury ad to mock later.
That is once again it, aside from two short promos for other specials. There weren't as many ads per hour on television in the 70's as there are now, meaning there should be some material on this airing that we don't get to see today. That would stand to reason, but I was shocked to find the entire "We are Santa's Elves" musical number had been cut out of this one. Also, "Fame and Fortune" is there instead of "We're A Couple of Misfits," but that was true until 2001. What's truly annoying is that a couple years after CBS stuck the original song back in, they sloppily respliced it to fit the "Fame and Fortune" footage.
Hey, why are these kids claiming Apple Jacks has an "apple taste" if they don't taste like apples? And why are they assembling a giant replica of an Apple Jacks box instead of playing outside? And why are they doing it blindfolded? Why? They just do.
Another Pillsbury ad
involves the Flaky Crust Cherry Pie Kit that claims it's
"even flakier than from scratch."
If anything tells how old this recording is, it's this promo for another special called "All-Star Tribute to Ingrid Bergman" that aired after "Rudolph" did, starring Peter Falk, Frank Sinatra, Jimmy Stewart... Half the stars in it are now dead. Maybe over half.
There's no difference in the next portion of the special except for...again...something being cut. This time, it's to remove the bit where Rudolph's mom wants to join Rudolph's dad in the search, but Dad tells her "No, this is MAN'S work." I can see why that could be offensive, but I've never watched this special and not heard that line. When was it put back in?
Here's George the Milkman, here to sell a new product, sure to stick around for the next couple of months...."Graham Crackos."
Graham crackers? No, crack-Os, George explains, because they have holes in them! Now you can eat graham crackers and milk at the same time! For breakfast!
It's not a bad notion. Graham crackers and milk DO go together, so this cereal might have been good eatin's. I can't just try a box and tell you why it failed, though.
Speaking of two great tastes that taste great together, here's Reese's classic campaign that's well-known even by people who never saw it. Two pith-helmeted explorers are deep inside an ancient Egyptian tomb when, all of a sudden, a mummy rises and comes after them! In the process, said mummy gets chocolate in the explorer's peanut butter! How dare he...wait, this stuff is great! You go ahead and do unspeakable things to my partner, dead guy, I've got chocolate butter now!
I'm kidding, this one didn't air during "Rudolph." I wish it did, though.
The last two acts have been combined into one act; as Santa flies away, the scene fades to black but the snow still falls in front of it, and you can hear the wind blowing until they fade back in on the Misfit Toys.
Why didn't it fit in?