Distributed by: Rankin/Bass
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
In 1975, Rankin/Bass came up with a sequel to the stop motion animated television special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. It was called Rudolph’s Shiny New Year. Watching this hour special just before New Year’s Eve soon became a family tradition in our house.
Rudolph’s Shiny New Year takes place on the same night as the original animated special. Rudolph has just finished guiding Santa’s sleigh as he delivered toys all over the world in one of the worst blizzards in history. But Rudolph’s heroics aren’t done yet. When Father Time (Red Skelton) asks Santa (Paul Frees) for help in finding a runaway Baby New Year, Santa has just the reindeer for the job. With the storm still raging outside, Rudolph (Billie Mae Richards) is Father Time’s best bet for hunting down the Baby New Year. And he’ll have to be fast about it – if the Baby New Year can’t be found before midnight on New Year’s Eve, the world will be doomed to repeat December 31st over and over and over again.
Standing in the way…or should I say flying in the face of the mission…is a giant buzzard named Aeon. This is his last year in this world and he would like to prolong it as much as he can. Making matters more difficult is the Baby New Year’s own issue – the reason he ran away in the first place. You see, Happy, the Baby New Year, is a misfit just like Rudolph. He is humiliated by his large ears which, when seen, have caused many a person to chuckle. Feeling completely embarrassed by his large ears, Happy has fled to the Archipelago Islands, where past years go to retire. Can Rudolph and his new friends find Happy and convince him to return to Father Time before the old year runs out?
Rudolph’s Shiny New Year is a fun tale with some new and rather interesting characters including General Time, the military clock; The Great Quarter Past Five, a fairly slow-traveling camel; a caveman named O.M.; Sev, a colonial man who strongly resembles Ben Franklin; Big Ben, a whale with a clock attached to his tail and many more. The story is cute and quite believable for little children. Older kids may see some inconsistencies, but just might overlook them for the sake of a good animated tale.
Rudolph’s Shiny New Year is important in that it repeats the message of the original Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer – it’s okay to be different. In fact, it’s our differences that make us special and can often propel us to greatness. A terrific message that every child should learn early in life. A great animated special is one that is entertaining and conveys an important message to its audience. Rudolph’s Shiny New Year scores on both fronts, making this a great animated classic.