If you need further evidence of the genius of Rankin & Bass, and their favorite writer Romeo Muller, I present to you exhibit B: Rudolph the Red- Nosed Reindeer. The only thing I could really call this special out on, in my umpteenth viewing, was how silly Rudolph’s ostracism is, but that’s a given of the story, and ostracism is usually baseless and it’s really lampooned if it’s based on something so frivolous.
What really stands out in this tale is the characters and some of the things which are done with them. You have Rudolph’s parents who have differing opinions his mother sees no problem with the nose, his father, Donner; is embarrassed by it. You also have Santa Claus, of all people, being wrong about Ruldolph and admitting as much.
Typically, I do not favor didacticism in the arts, but there are exceptions to every rule, and many to this one; here it works wonderfully because it’s not overt. Kids see that even Santa can be wrong and learn not to judge a book by it’s cover, so to speak.
Yet, where this special really excels is in the original characters it brings into the mix, and the different wants they each have, and yet, most of them are also misfits. There of course is Hermey, who wants to be a dentist and not build toys. He and Rudolph are fast friends.
The cause and effect also works very well the Abominable Snow Monster chases them away and they run into Yukon Cornelius. A character who meets a very real fate, following a Disney axiom that you can scare kids if things work out in the end.
Then of course there is the iconic Island of Misfit Toys. All these pieces may seem disparate but the fact that they’re all sewn together in a coherent manner, and each are still original pieces that do not get homogenized, make this story work.