3. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Production company and Network: Rankin-Bass/NBCUniversal, later CBS, and Freeform.
No Christmas rewatch would be complete without Rudolph, as it would be a crime. The holidays would lose a degree of their magic and symbolism without the little reindeer with the shiny nose. As a youngster, all that Rudolph desired was to be accepted amongst his fellow reindeer, and even his father, who put him down for being different. Harsh. Because of that nose though, Rudolph became the hero for saving Christmas and the “most famous reindeer of all”.
Filled with adorable stop-animation puppetry, musical scores, narration by Burl Ives, and a group of ‘misfit’ toys that just wanted homes, Rudolph has become synonymous with the holiday season and made his traditional onscreen flight for well over 50 years. As a result of being a rating hit for Rankin/Bass, two more specials were created, Rudolph’s Shiny New Year (1976) Rudolph’s and Frosty’s Christmas in July (1980). Though not as popular as their 1964’s predecessor, the specials held the trademark stop animation and warm storytelling.
What is even more iconic is that Rudolph began as an advertising ploy for the now-defunct Chicago department store Montgomery Ward in the late 1930s. The young store advertiser Robert L. May pitched the idea of Rudolph for the store, and as a gift to his young daughter. The response was sensational and in 1949, American songwriter Johnny Marks (he also wrote the songs for the special) composed the Christmas ballad, “Rudolph the Red-Reindeer” and cowboy singer Gene Autry brought the song to life.
The adult observation: Despite being ridiculed and shunned, Rudolph forgave those who did, as one shouldn’t trek through life being angry and hurt. Even more, the topic of acceptance is greatly explored and finding out how you can make the most out of your challenges.
Where to watch: There are plenty of platforms and home media (physical) to watch Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, as the special has boomed in success since its initial debut. Freeform currently airs the unedited telecast version in its 25 Days of Christmas lineup and CBS shows the special annually in their live broadcasting. Amazon Prime has it available for purchase and if you are a Prime member, you’ll get a 50% discount.