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Western Animation / Rudolph's Shiny New Year

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"You know Rudolph, who guided and pulled Santa's sleigh
And who saved Christmas by lighting the way
But there's more to tell
Rudolph saved the New Year as well!"

Rudolph's Shiny New Year is a 1976 Stop Motion special created by Rankin/Bass Productions and first aired on ABC. A direct sequel to the studio's own 1964 Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, the special is narrated by Red Skelton as Father Time.

Father Time has a problem. Happy, the Baby New Year, has run off (or crawled off, as it were) because everyone was laughing at his big ears. If he's not found in time, the Old Year will never end and it will remain December 31st forever. Rudolph is sent to search for him in the Archipelago of Last Years, where the Old Years go to retire. Every retired Old Year lives on an island where it forever remains the year during which the Old Year was the New Year.

Hitching a ride with a whale named Big Ben, Rudolph explores the archipelago, visiting three islands onscreen. He's joined on his quest by their personifications, "O.M" (short for "One Million BC"), Sir 1023 (pronounced "ten-to-three" for the time pun), and "Sev" (short for 1776). There is, of course, also a villain. It's a great evil bird called Aeon the Terrible, so named because he's fated to live for exactly one eon. His eon will end with the New Year, so he hopes to capture Happy in order to freeze time and live forever.

Keep the MST3K Mantra firmly in mind, because not a whole lot about this special makes logical sense. Note the number of times this page tells you to "just go with it."

Followed by the 1979 feature film Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July, forming a trilogy of sorts. The Rankin-Bass version of Rudolph also returned in the 2001 CG film Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Island of Misfit Toys.

Rudolph's Shiny New Year provides examples of:

  • The '60s: "1965 was too noisy." This could be a reference to the tumult of the 1960s or just a jab at modernity in general. In any case, 1965 is the most recent year mentioned by the special.
  • Always Male: To judge by what we're shown and told, the personification of years are this.
  • Ancient Egypt: Apparently, the theme of 4,000 BC's island, which is visited off-screen. Rudolph mentions they were obsessed with building pyramids over there.
  • Anthropomorphic Personification: Father Time, of course. Additionally, every year has its own personification, each of whom started off as a Baby New Year. We meet three - the personifications of One Million BC (a caveman), 1023 (a knight), and 1776 (a Benjamin Franklin lookalike).
  • All of the Other Reindeer: Happy is laughed at for having big ears. And yes, they do point out the really obvious connection, complete with a reprise of Rudolph's theme song.
  • Ambiguous Situation: Father Time implies that he was once a year during his song. Of course, given that the other years simply retire to their own islands when they finish their job, he seems to work independently of them. Possibly he was the very first year, at the dawn of time itself.
  • Artistic License – Geography: Aeon's island is "due north of the North Pole," even though literally every place on Earth is located south of the North Pole. Just go with it.
  • Artistic License – History: Gee, where even to begin? It would be easier to point out the things that were historically accurate.
    • Dinosaurs are included in the year one million BC, of course. And yes, Jurassic and Cretaceous dinosaurs are mixed in together. And yes, the carnivorous dinosaurs don't seem to be trying to eat the herbivores. And yes, the dinosaurs speak English.
    • 1023 has the aesthetics of The High Middle Ages instead of The Low Middle Ages. For example, those castles should be built out of wood rather than stone. Another point is that the fairy tales we all know and love took place in 1023. Charles Perrault's Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood were published in the 1600s. Most of the Grimm fairy tales referenced, via appearances by the Seven Dwarves from Snow White and the title character from Rumpelstiltskin, were published in the 1800s. To be fair, since The Brothers Grimm merely collected their stories, it can be argued that those took place in some far off time, but Perrault intended his stories to be satirical and timely.
    • The Americans of 1776 hold Fourth of July parades every day when they should still be fighting their war for independence. Also, independence was actually declared on July 2nd (the 4th was when the Declaration was drafted), and the Betsy Ross flag wasn't adopted until June 14, 1777.
    • Oh, and 4,000 BC predates Egyptian civilization, let alone the Pyramids. The Pyramids were, however, built about 4,000 years ago, so it's possible someone at Rankin/Bass confused 4,000 years ago with 4,000 BC.
  • Artistic License – Marine Biology: The boat in which Happy departs One Million B.C.'s island is described as a "conch shell" by the narrator, but is clearly a scallop shell. Conchs and scallops aren't even in the same taxonomic class.
  • Art Shift: The flashback to Rudolph's story is done in hand-drawn animation.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Just as Aeon is about to attack Rudolph, Big Ben surfaces to confront him. Later, Santa Claus shows up to get everyone back to Father Time before the twelfth bong.
  • The Eeyore: This is implied to be the case with 1893, who apparently "never heard of" Happy. This may be a reference to the Panic of 1893, making the 1893 island one of the only Crapsack Worlds in the entire Archipelago of Last Years.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: While the first special takes place over the course of at least a year, Rudolph's Shiny New Year starts immediately after the end of it and is set in the span of less than a week.
  • Feathered Fiend: Aeon the Terrible, though it's hard to blame him if you look at things from his perspective.
  • Flintstone Theming: Hope you like time puns!
  • Forgot About His Powers: Rudolph could have solved a lot of his problems in this special by flying, but he seems to have forgotten that he can do that.
  • The Gay '90s: 1893 is one of the islands visited off-screen. All that's mentioned about it is that Happy hasn't been seen there.
  • Gentle Giant Sauropod: Some peaceful sauropods live alongside other dinosaurs on the One Million B.C island.
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop: The people on the 1776 island celebrate Independence Day every day. They don't seem to mind.
  • Hollywood Prehistory: The first island Rudolph is a tropical isle inhabited by dinosaurs, whose year's personification is a caveman who goes by "O.M.", short for "One Million BC".
  • Human Snowball: Aeon causes an avalanche that sends Rudolph, O.M., Sir 1023 and Sev rolling down his mountain as snowballs. Rudolph melts the snow off him using his nose.
  • Immediate Sequel: The special starts on the very same night that Rudolph made his famous flight to save Christmas.
  • Immortals Fear Death: Aeon's motivation. He's not technically immortal, but he's clearly lived several millennia - to clarify, he will live "until he is one eon old," and an eon is one billion years. With the deadline looming, he's terrified of dying, and thinks he can stave off death by kidnapping the New Year. (And he succeeds, just not the way he figured.)
  • Ink-Suit Actor: Father Time is designed to look like Red Skelton.
  • Innocently Insensitive: Literally everyone who sees Happy's ears laughs at him, but Father Time establishes that none of them meant to hurt his feelings. Rudolph explains it by saying that the sight of Happy's ears make people feel so good inside, it just "pops right out" in the form of laughter.
  • It's All About Me: Aeon doesn't care about how important the new year is to everyone; he just doesn't want to die. Understandable, but still selfish.
  • Just in Time: They deliver Happy to Father Time's castle "without a bong to spare." (Not that kind of bong!)
  • Large Ham: Sir 1023 is made of Ham. Being voiced by the first Riddler of the 60s will do that to someone.
  • Lighter and Softer: Than the Values Dissonance-riddled original special.
  • Medieval European Fantasy: The island of 1023 has this as its theme. As Father Time informs us, it turns out 1023 was the year in which all Fairy Tales really happened. Just go with it.note 
  • Mr. Exposition:
    • When Rudolph meets Father Time, he's the one who explains how New Year's Eve works and what the Archipelago of Last Years is, even defining the word archipelago.
    • Quarter to Five is the one who explains to Rudolph (and the audience) who Aeon is and why he wants to find Happy.
  • Narrator: Father Time, voiced by Red Skelton.
  • Never Say "Die": Aeon the Terrible's lifespan is expiring and is said to "turn into ice and snow" when it ends.
  • New Year Has Come: Rudolph's Shiny New Year depicts New Year's Eve as being an ordained and necessary ritual that must occur at midnight on December 31st for time to continue flowing.
  • No Indoor Voice: There is not one line that Sir 1023 doesn't shout as loud as humanly possible.
    • This is also implied to be the case with 1965, who, according to Rudolph, "was too noisy."
  • Nostalgia Filter: The song "Turn Back the Years" outright advocates this:
    Just remember the good times that you knew
    Don't remember the bad times you've been through
  • Only Friend: Rudolph is the only one who actually accepted Happy for who he is.
  • Only Sane Man: The only characters who don't laugh at Happy's ears are Santa, Father Time, and the people at the New Year's Eve party.
  • Patriotic Fervor: The island of 1776, themed after The American Revolution, where "every day is the Fourth of July." Can you tell this special originally aired in the year of the bicentennial?
  • Pep-Talk Song:
    • "It's Raining Sunshine" by O.M., as he cheers Rudolph and encourages him to think happy thoughts.
    • "Have a Little Faith in Me" by Rudolph, as he lets his sidekicks know that no matter what happens, he'll be there to help them.
  • Please Keep Your Hat On: Happy has to keep his on to avoid having anyone laugh at his big ears.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: General Ticker, Father Time's captain of the guards, speaks in rhyme.
  • Sapient Cetaceans: Big Ben, a whale with a giant clock on his tail, sent by Father Time to help Rudolph.
  • Sequel Non-Entity / Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Rudolph and Santa are pretty much the only characters to return. Rudolph's parents are briefly seen during the Art Shift segment, but that's it. Hermie, Yukon, Clarice, etc. are never seen or mentioned.
  • Shout-Out: The sail on Rudolph's boat is a calendar page for August 1928. That's the month and year in which screenwriter Romeo Muller was born.
  • Social Ornithopod: Some friendly hadrosaurs live alongside the other dinosaurs on the One Million B.C. island.
  • Take a Third Option: Regarding Aeon's fate, either he dies (turning to ice) or the New Year doesn't come. Rudolph assures the audience that Aeon's laughing fit at seeing Happy's ears will keep him warm and alive anyway.
  • Time Stands Still: What will happen should Rudolph fail.
  • Time Travel: Visiting the islands in the Archipelago of Last Years is a kind of time travel. Sorta. Well, the song "Turn Back the Years" does encourage you to think of it this way.
  • Tragic Villain: Ultimately, Aeon the Terrible is an example, as despite being a monstrous vulture who kidnaps Baby New Year and intends to stop the new year from coming, but the reason he’s doing this is to avert his own death when he turns one eon old.
  • Vile Vulture: Aeon resembles a giant buzzard with a serrated beak and is the film's Big Bad.
  • When the Clock Strikes Twelve: Happy must come to Father Time before the twelfth bong of midnight on New Year's Eve, or there won't be a new year for eternity.
  • Wingding Eyes: Any time a character laughs at Happy, their pupils turn into upside-down Us.
  • With Friends Like These...: Baby Bear declares Happy his friend, but has the distinction of being somewhat nasty in guilt tripping Happy for not "doffing his helmet" during a game of "knights and dragons." This also holds true, albeit to a lesser extent, with literally everyone Happy encounters.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: On the island of 1023, they briefly reenact the Goldilocks story, but with Happy taking the place of Goldilocks.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: If you think about it from his perspective, Aeon the Terrible is this. Yes kidnapping an infant and trying to avert the coming of the new year is a jerk move, but Aeon can only live for one eon (hence his name) and if the new year comes, that deadline will finally be up and he'll be reduced to ice and snow. In short, Aeon isn't so much malicious as he is terrified of dying. Fortunately, Rudolph and Happy manage to avert that fate for him.
  • Wooden Ships and Iron Men: Apparently, this is the theme of 1492's island, where they were "too busy discovering things" to pay attention to Rudolph's search. If 1776 is any indication, we can assume that 1492's personification resembles Christopher Columbus.
  • Year X: Turns out the new year is "19-wonderful". Just go with it.
  • Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: This is how Sir 1023 talks. Being from the early 11th century, he should be speaking Old English, but if we raise that point, we'd have to question how O.M. knows English at all.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Rudolph to Happy about their similarities over being different and he shouldn't let his big ears bother him.
  • Your Days Are Numbered: Aeon is aware that his eon will be up this December 31st and is determined to hold Happy captive so he can continue living forever.


Video Example(s):


What A Wonderful World

Turns out 1023 (pronounced "ten-two-three") was the year in which all fairy tales really happened.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / FairyTaleFreeForAll

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