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Western Animation / Olive, the Other Reindeer

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Based on the children's book of the same name by Vivian Walsh and by J. Otto Seibold, Olive, the Other Reindeer is a 45-minute animated Christmas Special from 1999, produced by Matt Groening (the creator of The Simpsons and Futurama) and Drew Barrymore, and animated by DNA Productions (of Jimmy Neutron fame). It's about a dog named Olive (voiced by Barrymore) who thinks she's a reindeer and makes a perilous journey to the North Pole to help Santa Claus fly his sleigh and save Christmas.

Along the way, she makes many friends and tries to avoid the schemes of the mean, Christmas-hating Postman. Again and again, she is told that she is not a reindeer and that there is nothing she could possibly do to save Christmas, but her never-dying spirit eventually turns them around.

The special had no sequels, but Olive did return in Walsh & Siebold's 2004 children's book Olive, My Love, which was themed around Valentine's Day and didn't feature any of the other main characters from the special. Martini (or a lookalike penguin) also starred in their 1999 children's book Penguin Dreams.


Olive The Other Reindeer provides examples of:

  • Adaptation Expansion: It's to be expected that an animated special running for nearly an hour based on a children's book would have more content added to the plot. For instance, more detail is added to Olive's journey to the North Pole, plus the special features a postman as the antagonist when the original book had No Antagonist.
  • all lowercase letters: While capitals appear fairly often, the font used throughout the movie lends itself to a lot of all-lowercase words.
  • Ambiguous Situation: It's not exactly clear if Fido genuinely misheard Tim trying to apologize to Olive, or he deliberately lied to Olive to push her into heading to Santa's.
  • Animal Athlete Loophole: Sleigh-pulling is athletic, right? Well, there ain't no rule that flying-sled-pullers must be flying or reindeer — or rather, as Olive puts it to Santa, "Can you afford not to find out?"
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  • Animated Adaptation: Of the book.
  • Anti-Christmas Song: "Bah, Bug and Hum!" by the Postman, complaining about how Christmas is constantly adding to his work load.
  • Ass in a Lion Skin: Olive is constantly trying to convince people she's a reindeer. No one believes her.
  • Big Bad: The Postman serves as the main villain, as he tries to prevent Olive from saving Christmas.
  • Black Bead Eyes: Olive's eyes, and those of several other characters, are black and beady.
  • Brick Joke:
    • Round John mentions he wants a cordless drill for Christmas during Olive's speech in the bar. Olive mentions it during her appeal to Santa. The Postman finds it in Santa's sack, and it's later delivered to John.
    • Martini mentions one of the reasons he was "let go" from the zoo was smuggling in nail files hidden in cakes. When Olive walks by the zoo later, the monkeys can be seen filing away at the bars of their cage. At the end, they've successfully escaped.
  • Brought to You by the Letter "S": Fido has an F on his chest.
  • Canon Foreigner: The animated special features many characters who weren't present in the original book. The most notable examples are Olive's owner Tim, the penguin Martini, and the Postman. Martini did show up in Vivian Walsh's second book starring Olive set on Valentine's Day called "Oliver, My Love" from 2004 where he makes a few non-speaking appearances and is seen on Oliver's picture frame.
  • Christmas Elves: This Christmas special has elves in it.
  • Clip-Art Animation: All the characters.
  • Coat Full of Contraband: The shady penguin Martini tries to sell Olive wristwatches from such an alley. He also has stationery and pens that he stole from the zoo when he escaped. More than one of these turns out to be a hilarious Chekhov's Gun.
  • Creepy Crossdresser: The Postman, for as long as he's wearing his "Flo the Waitress" disguise. (He still has the makeup and earrings on in the next scene, too.)
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Martini has a few sarcastic comments.
    • The postman, too, especially during his Villain Song.
    Send a friend a two-ton gift,
    I don't mind, I LOVE to lift!
  • Deus ex Machina: While trapped in the postman's truck, Olive finds a package addressed to her from 'Deus Ex Machina' which turns out to be just the thing to get Olive out of the truck.
    Martini: Denise who?
    Olive: Look it up.
  • Dogs Love Fire Hydrants: Olive is seen browsing a window display of fire hydrants in the beginning of the special.
  • Ear Ache: Olive is worried that the Postman would ruin Christmas. So Martini makes a paper airplane, which gets caught in the Postman's ear, making him yell in agony.
  • Easter Bunny: The Easter bunny shows up in the bar.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The Postman is only referred to as "Postman" and never given a real name.
  • Everything's Better with Penguins: Martini is a penguin and the Deuteragonist of the special.
  • Evil Plan: The Postman's is to cancel Christmas forever so he has less mail to deliver.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: All the letters shown during the Postman's Anti-Christmas Song are addressed to Bart Simpson.
  • Freudian Excuse: Partway through the film, the Postman reveals that his disdain toward Christmas is at least partly because Santa didn't give him the train set he wanted as a child.
    Postman: Santa didn't cut me any slack, so now I'm not cutting him any slack!
  • Funny Background Event: The movie is packed with these. The bus station has routes to Mecca and Jerusalem as well as Los Angeles and Salt Lake City. A sign says "icicles MUST be SURRENDERED at door" in the Arctic Junction bar. And there are many more. Even the page picture has one.
  • Furry Reminder: Olive frequently walks around on two feet and can easily communicate with humans. But she runs around on four feet and frequently whines if distressed.
  • The Grinch: The Postman. He supposedly hates Christmas because it makes his job as a mail carrier harder and more painful, although it is also implied that he's mad at Santa for putting him on the naughty list.
  • Heroic Dog: Olive is a dog and she saves Christmas.
  • Honest John's Dealership: Martini is a wheeler-and-dealer and at least something of a con man (er, con penguin), but essentially good-hearted.
  • Hot Potato: At the bar, Martini claims that Olive can fly, and the patrons toss her back and forth to mock her.
  • Humiliation Conga: The Postman gets defeated and left tied up in the back of his own truck. Martini then dresses him as a penguin and leaves him in the penguin enclosure at the zoo.
  • I Am Not Weasel: Martini takes offense to being called a puffin.
  • Injured Limb Episode: Blitzen gets injured during a practice flight and is unable to recover in time, so Olive goes to the North Pole to take his place.
  • Jerkass: The Postman is pretty rude and, while his complaints about Christmas aren't without merit, he tries to ruin Christmas without any consideration of how anyone else would feel about the holiday being cancelled.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Martini may be a cowardly, opportunistic sleaze but he can usually be counted on to do the right thing when it matters.
  • Large Ham: The Postman emotes more than everyone else combined. And this is no mean feat, since the other characters are far from Dull Surprise.
    • Olive has her moments too.
  • Mailman vs. Dog: Played with in that while the main character Olive is a dog and the antagonist is a postal worker, Olive didn't bear any hostility toward the Postman until he went with his scheme of preventing her from saving Christmas.
  • Milkman Conspiracy: The Postman is trying to stop Christmas because the mail is too heavy around the holidays.
  • Mondegreen Gag:
    • The premise revolves around this. Olive gets the idea to go to the North Pole after hearing Santa saying that he needs to rely on "all of the other reindeer", and mishearing it as "Olive the other reindeer".
    • One of Olive's allies is a bus driver named Richard Stands, who mentioned that as a kid he thought the pledge of allegiance was about him ("and to the republic for which it stands").
    • One of the tough guys at the bar is named "Round John" Virgin (a nod to the carol "Silent Night": "Round yon virgin mother and child"). When Olive hangs a lampshade on it, Round John claims to have no idea what she's talking about.
  • Multiple Demographic Appeal: The movie is designed to be entertaining for kids while still highly enjoyable to older audiences, thanks to Matt Groening being on board.
  • No Name Given: The Postman. Most of the characters have names, but he's just called "the postman" or "that postman" or "a very mean postman".
  • Noodle Incident:
    Martini: So then I pointed out to the judge that it wasn't a pyramid scheme, because I had-
  • The Nose Knows: Olive uses her dog-like sense of smell to locate the postman after he steals all of Santa's presents.
    • She later uses her nose to guide the sleigh through a fog to get back to the North Pole.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: The postman's waitress disguise. In particular, all he does to hide his mustache is hold a notepad in front of it. Everyone is fooled.
    Martini: I think the waitress likes me.
  • Pet the Dog: Nearly literal. While he's in the middle of Evil Gloating, the Postman doesn't even bother to chastise Olive when she knocks him over. Olive is clearly expecting him to, though arguably his gloating afterwards is a worse punishment given the special.
  • Plucky Girl: Olive fits this trope to a T.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Olive's flea Fido mishears her owner apologizing to her from outside her doghouse, so Olive believes Tim doesn't want her anymore (which "frees" her to run off to help Santa).
    Fido: I wouldn't believe it if I hadn't heard it myself.
  • Pun-Based Title: The title is a play on the "All of the other reindeer" lyric from the song Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
  • Punny Name: Several, mostly mondegreens.
    • Olive The Other Reindeer/"All of the other reindeer"
    • Richard Stands/"For Which It Stands"
    • Round John Virgin/"Round Yon Virgin"
  • Reasonable Authority Figure:
    • Richard Stands becomes this after Olive misses the last bus and gives her an alternate solution by getting help from someone at the bar.
    • Round John Virgin after Olive shames the mob, and offers her and Martini a ride to the North Pole.
  • Santa Claus: Not only does he exist, but everyone knows of his existence.
  • Saving Christmas: Olive attempts to save Christmas after Blitzen breaks his leg.
  • Shaming the Mob: Olive calls out everyone in the bar for mistreating her and see the error of their ways, in addition to believing in her.
  • Shoddy Knockoff Product: Martini sells ripoff Rolexxx watches.
  • Shout-Out: Quite a few.
  • Subbing for Santa: A variation. Olive takes over for one of the reindeer after he breaks his leg.
  • Talking Animal: Every animal in the special can speak with humans, and although some are pets and others "work" in a zoo, animals are typically treated as regular people, for the most part.
    • Though Olive is pressured into acting like a 'normal' dog, but at the same time it's similar to some parents encouraging a teen to go out and make friends. For better or worse.
  • This Is Reality: "There's no Rudolph; that's just one of those urban legends".
  • Title Drop: No fewer than five times, Olive says she's "Olive, the other reindeer". Santa also says it to congratulate her at the end.
  • Tyop on the Cover: Martini spells Rolex as "Rolexxx". Olive lampshades it.
  • [Verb] This!: "Deliver this, punk!" Martini throws a paper airplane into the mailman's ear.
  • Villain Bar: Subverted; the song sung by the patrons is even titled "We're Not So Bad".
  • Villain Song: "Bah, Bug and Hum!", where the Postman sings about his distaste for Christmas because of how strenuous making his deliveries gets during the holidays.
  • Was Too Hard on Him: After he finds that Olive has gone missing, Tim expresses regret for being too hard on her.
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: Quite a few characters, including the Postman, have weird non-rhotic accents that sound sort of like they're making a half-assed attempt at a British accent, or a Boston one.


Video Example(s):


Christmas (Bah, Bug and Hum!)

The Postman sings about his distaste for Christmas because of how strenuous making his deliveries gets during the holidays.

How well does it match the trope?

4.85 (13 votes)

Example of:

Main / VillainSong

Media sources: