I don’t mean to get all Henry Hill on you, but as far back as I can remember, the Christmastime preparation has been synonymous with those old 25-45 minute TV specials made by the puppets-and-cartoons powerhouse of Rankin/Bass Productions. Arthur Rankin Jr. and Jules Bass were pioneers in a lot of stop-motion animation techniques, including “Animagic,” which used a special kind of wood-based puppetry. Their characters had a very distinctive visual style (many designed by Mad Magazine artist Paul Coker Jr.) and were voiced by some quite famous stars. But, really, who cares about any of that? I love them because they’re super weird, and now we’re going to talk about, arguably, their most famous Christmas specials, each of which I could probably recite from memory.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)
When I was negative 20 years old, the very first Rankin/Bass special first aired, and it would largely set the stage for the rest of their Christmas output, in that almost all of them are based on an existing Christmas song. The special, as we all surely know, tells the story of a reindeer born to Donner (one of the big 8), who has a shiny, nay glowing, nose, which of …read more