In 1964, Christmas cartoons were all the rage. Or maybe they weren’t, I don’t know. I wasn’t born yet. I grew up in the ‘80s, when we didn’t have cool Christmas cartoons. I’m pretty sure all of the great Christmas cartoons were made in the 1960s. “Frosty the Snowman,” “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” … and my favorite, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”
Rudolph’s is a tale of prejudice, perseverance and, ultimately, triumph. Like “Roots” but with talking reindeer. Rudolph is born in the winter of 1964, to a slick-talking buck named Donner and his wife/life partner/bae, who may or may not be given a name. The Donner party’s joy comes to a screeching halt when Rudolph’s nose is glowing bright red like a boozy uncle’s after a few Christmas morning mimosas and a pint of Old Style. Donner, being an insecure prick who can’t love his son for who he is, puts mud on Rudolph’s nose to hide the glow. Donner teaches young Rudolph the reindeer basics, including how to hide from the dreaded Abominable Snowman of the North.
We then meet Hermey, the other victim in our story. Hermey is an elf, tasked with making toys for Santa to bring to all the good boys and girls of the world. Only problem is Hermey doesn’t like to make toys. Hermey wants to be … a dentist! Which makes sense. The Santa Clan, the other elves, the reindeer, and Sam the Snowman all need dental care. Cavities in the North Pole can be a bitch. Well, as you can imagine, Hermey’s boss is a big old dickhead with a big old drunken red nose (there’s a theme here), and he gives Hermey serious workplace harassment. Hermey then quits his job with a song and sets out to fulfill his dreams of performing Invisalign on anthropomorphic reindeer. Or working at Elf McDonald’s or collecting Elf unemployment or whatever.
Meanwhile, Rudolph is participating in the 74th annual Reindeer Games, growing up and discovering girls, er, does. He meets a lovely young doe/lady/whatever named Clarice, who’s ready for Rudolph to “walk her home” after about five minutes of conversation. She’s all class, though. Rudolph, feeling those buck hormones a little too much, starts showing off, flying around and roughhousing with his buddy, Fireball. Next thing you know, the mud comes off Rudolph’s nose in front of all the reindeer and the band of bigots, led by Coach Comet, send him packing because they fear what they don’t understand. Clarice tries to comfort Rudolph and sings him a song, but her dad’s a shallow asshole too and makes her go home. Hermey, who may or may not have been creeping in the snow the whole time, pops up out of nowhere and the boys burst into song before introducing themselves. Being in-de-pen-dent, as Rudolph says, they set out to find love and acceptance in a cold, barren, unforgiving world.
Before too long, the duo stumble across Yukon Cornelius, prospector and pistolero, who’s on a search for silver and gold. We then get a song from Sam the Snowman, who reminds us silver and gold are for shallow people. Ok, whatever. Save that shit for the slicky boy reindeer. After the song, we rejoin our three heroes, who find themselves being pursued by the dreaded Abominable, also known as the Bumble … I assume because Yukon couldn’t pronounce Abominable. Hell, I can’t either.
Back at home, Rudolph’s parents realize they were assholes and set out to find their wayward son, along with Clarice. As they start their trek, the boys arrive at the Island of Misfit Toys, where they’re met by the Island’s sentry, Charlie-in-the-Box, who famously announces“NO CHILD WANTS TO PLAY WITH A CHARLIE-IN-THE-BOX!” He’s wrong, of course. What child wouldn’t want a sentient, talking toy? The other misfit toys then reveal themselves, from a cowboy riding a bird, a depressed doll, a swimming bird, and a plane that can’t fly. It’s like “Toy Story” meets “Child’s Play” - living toys that may or may not be capable of … murder! King Moonracer, who sounds like a rejected ‘80s wrestler but is actually a flying lion and presides over the Island, offers refuge to our weary travelers. However, they cannot stay because only toys can live on the Island, not living creatures. This is where the whole thing comes off the rails for me. THEY’RE TALKING TOYS WITH FEELINGS! The doll has serious psychological issues, for crying out loud! Have they not seen “Short Circuit?” Number 5 alive? And it’s not clear whether King Moonracer is a toy lion with wings, or some sort of Chimera with a God complex. Either way, he’s as prejudiced as the reindeer.
When the Donner Party returns, Santa and the gang realize how they’ve been dicks this whole time to Rudolph and Hermey. Then, Yukon and the Bumble show up, and Yukon announces the Bumble is not only reformed (and still toothless), but he’s looking for a job! Seems like Hermey isn’t the only one who values hard work in this story.
Oh, did I mention it’s Christmas Eve? Yes, that’s right, everyone returned just in time for Santa to make his magical trip around the world! Except the storm is so bad Santa and the reindeer can’t see their way through the snow. But wait! Santa remembered that song he heard as a little Santaling about the reindeer with the nose so bright! Surely, Rudolph’s nose could cut through the snow and light the way! So Rudolph, with his nose so bright, agrees to guide Santa’s sleigh that night. Their first stop is the Island of Misfit Toys, and all the loveable scamps are stuffed in a bag to be handed out to kids who will squeeze and squish them. Hopefully none of them end up like my toys when I reenacted the Optimus Prime-Megatron fight from “Transformers: The Movie.” They still tell tales of the carnage. Anyway, that’s where the story ends, with a Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night. Until the next episode, where King Moonracer and Professor Hinkle unleash their nefarious plan to steal all the world’s pumpkins. “Without pumpkins there can be no fall. Without fall there can be no winter. And without winter there can be no … CHRISTMAS!!! BWAH HAH HAH HA!
- Hank Price
Icon vs. Icon / Acid Pop Cult