This week’s podcast: why Rudolph still rules

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, so this week on CHML, Scott Thompson asks about the big sell out involving our favourite animated Christmas specials.
Specifically, we talk about those Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer ads that are playing this month during other holiday specials.  Scott says the campaign features the Aflec health insurance duck (usually voiced by Gilbert Gottfried). Check it out below:

 The 48-year-old holiday special has been used to pitch products before. Here`s a campaign that ran last holiday season:

The ads first appeared in 2011 to promote the Microsoft search engine Bing. (I had to look that up on Google).The ad shows “Bumble” a.k.a. the Abominable Snow Monster, without his mighty roar. He downloads a new one on Bing and he’s back in the scare business. Other Bing/Rudolph ads featured that dentist wannabe Hermy and a search for a vacation spot, which turns out to be the island of misfit toys.
The Rankin-Bass original debuted in 1964 and airs Sunday at 7 p.m. and next Thursday at 8 p.m. on CBC.
Scott asks why there hasn’t been any new Christmas specials in the past 40 years to take the place of Rudolph, A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) or Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch Who Stole Christmas (1966). I speculate that there’s something about the hand-made quality of these shows that keeps us coming back, like the lure of cherished old ornaments on a Christmas tree. My other stock answer is all three happen to be based on timeless classics–the popular Rudolph song, the Peanuts comic strips and Seuss’ imaginative childrens’ books. Then there was the happy convergence of talent on these films, especially the Grinch, with Chuck Jones, Boris Karloff, Seuss and others all coming together to create something magical.
They also speak to a yearning at Christmas to be brought back to a simpler time, before iPhones and iPads shoved all those board games and things out of the sleigh. There’s a reason It’s a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street sprang out of that post-war era. People needed to embrace the light after years of darkness and despair. A Christmas Story, made in the mid-’80s, is set in the Wonderful Life world of the ’40s, so we were hearkening back even then.
The point I failed to make with Scott is that the reason new specials haven’t replaced the Big Three is that television is more cynical now. The Simpsons or Family Guy are more apt to mock or deconstruct Christmas than to embrace it. Simpsons‘ creator Matt Groening came close with the delightful 1999 animated special Olive, the Other Reindeer, which boasted a charming soundtrack and Drew Barrymore’s pure-hearted vocal. That didn’t quite crack the oldies lineup, so it seems the age of irony may have to fully end if there’s to be another Charlie Brown or Rudolph under the TV tree.
There’s more blather about the seasonal specials with Scott. You can listen in here.

One Response to “This week’s podcast: why Rudolph still rules”

  1. How Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol got an 8 p.m Thursday airing on Global Toronto late last month – I don’t know.
    That 1962 full-hour animated special was its own lump of coal. It didn’t help matters that commercial breaks were cutting directly into mid-song moments either.

    (Dear Santa, please bring back the toy store teddy bear special. The one where an unsold bear (Wellington?) walks around town, alone, looking for a home on Christmas Eve.)

    Reply

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