Rudolph, 47 Years Later

rudolph christmas special rankin bass hermey dentistWho doesn’t love a good Christmas TV special? I look forward to them each year, and perhaps it’s meaningful that one of my favorites, Rudolph, debuted in 1964, the year of my birth.

The characters are so cute, the songs so cheery, the messages so wholesome – how can you help but love them? I watched again this week, but after viewing the spectacle 40+ times, my mind wandered a little from the script. After all, it’s not like I don’t know how the whole thing is going to end.

First, the dated language and concepts. Rudolph’s dad mentions going out to search for his missing son. Mom and deer-girlfriend Clarice want to tag along, but Dad insists this is “man’s work.” Then later, the narrator tells us that the crew realizes that “they all realized that the best thing to do is to get the women back home.”At this pronouncement, my 10-year-old looked at me and burst out laughing: what the heck? It’s a charming look into an era that doesn’t really exist anymore.

Then I have a few questions about the misfit toys. We tend to accept them, a pitiful group on an island, yet why are they forgotten, year after year? Nobody remembers them; really? What about Santa? Surely, if he can deliver individualized toys to each child on earth, he can remember a whole island full of toys at least once.

island of misfit toys rudolphThen some of them don’t even really seem to be misfits. I grant you that a train with square wheels has a problem. But a stuffed elephant with spots? What’s wrong with that? And what about the adorable little doll – what’s her problem? A bit of googling reveals that her malady is never revealed on the show, but that producer Arthur Rankin says her problem is “psychological.” If kids are rejecting toys because of the toys’ psychological problems, we’ve reached a low point as a culture.

But barring those little things, I can’t deny that Rudolph is one of my favorite Christmas traditions. Have a Holly Jolly Christmas, everyone!

2 thoughts on “Rudolph, 47 Years Later

  1. Rudolph the TV show may have debuted in 1964 but my memories of Rudolph go much farther back. I had my tonsils removed in about second grade. I remember coming home and sleeping on the living room couch. My folks bought me a little surprise and it was a Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer comic book. That would have been around 1948. It made me happy!

  2. The song came out earlier–it was a store promo I believe.

    Susan, I vividly recall hiding behind the big red chair when the abominable came on! I was really scared. Probably about 1966 when I was 4!! My kids still think this is hilarious!

    Great post!

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