Shark Jumping: Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

Tim & Beth dive into this month’s Rankin/Bass Marathon! Looking at some of the company’s most famous televised holiday specials. First up, the one that started it all: Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer!

About SharkJumping

Hosts Tim & Beth break down the best, worst and strangest TV shows to find out when they jumped the shark.


  1. I AM A MAN! *punches next commentor*

    What happened?

  2. The first of MadTV’s series of parodies, Raging Rudolph, continues to be a staple for my family. I’d absolutely recommend looking it up.

  3. While i have found nostalgia for the show, I don’t rush to see it now. It has a very racists message.

    You differences only matter if they can be used for someone else’s benefit. It’s the same with Dumbo. You’re differences make you an outcast. Only when you can save the bigoted clowns who shunned you with that same difference can you gain acceptance.

    That said, I think Rankin Bass works because there was so few offerings year after year. Nowadays, Prep and Landing blows the doors off of Rudolph.

    • I wouldn’t say racist so-much as abilist, since both examples are about physical differences one has within there own family. Also it’s not saying the differences make you an outcast it’s society’s response and (let’s be honest) for most of history the only way misshapen and disabled folks could function in society was to prove a social use for there strangeness. The line about freedom and exploitation is not always thin.

      I do agree with one thing though. Santa is a first class jerk in this special. In fact, with the possible exception of Mrs. Claus ALL of the adults are pretty much jerks. Even that griffin ruler of Misfit Toys seemed to almost enjoy there hovering submission.

      Still Burl Ives performance is a lot of fun. Though not quite as fun as the TV Funhouse video parody “The Narrater who Ruined Christmas.”

  4. I’m totally on Beth’s side here, but it’s probably different when you grew up with the special versus seeing it as an adult for the first time. Padding it may be but it’s a good adventures for young people and there’s a good message of finding your own path.

  5. So not just doing what’s in the song is padding? You do realize that even the song is a very abbreviated version of the original, right?

    If you’re not going to like things because of the pacing, turn back now and don’t watch movies made in this time period. Stay away from “It’s a Wonderful Life,” too. The part everyone remembers is like the last 1/8 of the movie, as they spend the whole time setting up George’s life.

  6. Also, you really need to vary up your title cards. Keep the shark and put him in different situations associated with the film. You can probably find someone on DeviantArt to help for free if you don’t want to handle it yourselves.

  7. The main thing I found fascinating about the animated specials produced by Rakin/Bass is that the main studio responsible for a couple of their animation was Topcraft, which was the precursor to Studio Ghibli. As in Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli, that blew my mind when I first learned about that.

    • Which explains some of the visuals from The Hobbit (The Animated Movie, because, you know, we have to distinguish it from that Peter Jackson series of films).

  8. I have watched “Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer” as a kid and I am with Tim on why they made Santa Clause such a jerk in this short. In the animated “RTRRR: The Movie” the Santa in that one was nice and encouraged Rudolph to achieve his dreams despite his red nose, not to mention, in the 1940s cartoon classic he saw the red flashing nose as a blessing after his sleigh ride from hell.

    They never give us a explanation as to why Santa in this short is so bitter and asshole-ish. Weird

  9. I’m definitely with Beth in this camp. Even though it’s HORRIBLY offensive when you grow up and just realize what they’ve been implying the entire time, (and yeah I’m a feminist too, the comments about “the wimmen folk” make me cringe) it’s pretty bad… But I just can’t help it. Now that I’m an adult, I enjoy riffing on it when I watch it with my folks. I’m also a little disappointed that you guys didn’t seem to know, or point out, the reason for having the Island of Misfit Toys in the special. While it seems like a cheap sympathy ploy, it teaches children (and adults), they even if there’s something “wrong” with you physically (mentally or emotionally), you’re still a normal person and should be treated as such. And we’re taught that even if we are different, we’re still capable of doing amazing things!

    Also Tim, it The Life and Time of Santa Claus might not seem Christmas-y, but I always believed it was going for a more Pagan take on Santa more than anything else. The Great Stag (the older man with the deer antlers) always struck me as an amalgamation of The Holly King and The Horned God from Celtic paganism traditions.

  10. Also Tim, you’re crazy! I think the songs are wonderful! The “We Are Santa’s Elves” song is kinda bad, but “Holly Jolly Christmas”, “I Am Not Just A Misfit”, “Island of Misfit Toys”, as well as “There’s Always Tomorrow” and “Silver and Gold” are all wonderful!

  11. I never saw this special when I was a kid (at I don’t think I did) but after seeing it last year I just hated it. It just made everyone come off as real horrible people, I mean what’s wrong with having a red nose or wanting a different career path than most people. In fact that whole different career path thing is happening back where I live where the parents of kids and other people are saying they have to be welders and shunning the idea of wanted to do something you want to do instead. So yeah this special it’s sets a bad message.

  12. Every time I see this special it takes me back to when my family first moved to the USA from Japan. The animation style reminded me of some of the children’s shows back home, and I liked the songs. But yeah, Santa was really terrible towards Rudolph. I adore Rudolph and Hermie though. As for the misfit toys, I could never figure out what made the little doll a misfit.

  13. *receives phantom punch from PaladinDemo that missed everyone else*

    OW! MY EYE!

    I had this on VHS back in the 80’s and watched it several times a year for many years.

    I guess the only reason Santa was a prick was because it was about 20 years before people really saw the benefit of being an equal opportunity employer.

  14. Little Drummer Boy! YES!! I always loved that one, and ya gotta give props to Ranken Bass for actually giving us the REAL meaning of Christmas in some of their specials (Birth of the Christ Child)

    But seriously, you guys, how are you gonna cover ALL of the Ranken Bass specials?! They made so many of them…are you gonna do one a day or something? Are you gonna cover the lesser known ones, too? (The First Christmas Snow is a sweet one)

    Also, Yukon being fine was easily explained, guys! Didn’t he ever tell you about bumbles? Bumbles BOUNCE!

    Can’t wait for you guys to get to Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas In July. Tear THAT one apart guys! That one was pretty bad…

  15. Yeah that’s right you female doey bitch I am a man!

  16. I’ll be Buck what do you think this is Disney Animation Renaissance or 1998 hand-drawn digital animated version, Feminism or strong independent female characters have little to place in the world of non-computerized stop motion animated features and shorts which is probably okay since most puppets are already ugly and never going to be strikingly beautiful like in traditional hand-drawn animation.

  17. I’m all for people changing up their hairstyles, trying something new, BUT – was Beth going for “Gozer the Gozerian” with this ‘do? I kept expecting her to turn to Tim and say, “Are you a God?”

  18. There was one part of this movie that sticks out as particularly awful to me. It’s the scene where Rudolf’s nose is exposed for the first time, and it’s the teacher deer…Blitzen I think, who tells the other kids not to let him participate in the reindeer games. I mean sure, bullying is the theme of the song, we expected poor Rudolf do be bullied and ostracized by the other kids…OTHER KIDS, not their TEACHER. When did you ever go to school where the teacher told you it was okay to ostracize this one kid because of…well in this case a physical deformity but really any reason? Imagine it, “Alright kids, remember to stay away from Billy here, he has 6 toes.” What about “Stay away from Larry children, he’s a jew.” Am I the only one who really gets pulled out of the story because of that?

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