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. A direct sequel to their own Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, the special is narrated by Red Skelton as Father Time. Three years later, it was followed by Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July, forming a trilogy of sorts.
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 Old Year lives on an island where it forever remains the year that henote reigned over.
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 Eon 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.
Rudolph's Shiny New Year provides examples of:
- 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.
- Artistic License Geography: Eon's island is "due north of the North Pole." Just go with it.
- Artistic License History: Gee, where even to begin? Dinosaurs are included in the year one million BC, 1023 has the aesthetics of The High Middle Ages instead of The Low Middle Ages, and the Americans of 1776 hold Fourth of July parades every day when they should still be fighting their war for independence.note Oh, and 4,000 BC predates Egyptian civilization, let alone the Pyramids. Really, it would be easier to point out the things that were historically accurate.
- Art Shift: The flashback to Rudolph's story is done in hand-drawn animation.
- Big Damn Heroes: Just as Eon is about to attack Rudolph, Big Ben surfaces to confront him.
- 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: Eon 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.
- "Groundhog Day" Loop: The people on the 1776 island celebrate Independence Day every day. They don't seem to mind.
- Immediate Sequel: The special starts on the very same night that Rudolph made his famous flight to save Christmas.
- Immortals Fear Death: Eon's motivation. He's not technically immortal, but he's clearly lived several millennia, and as such, 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.
- 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.
- 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 Eon is and why he wants to find Happy.
- Narrator: Father Time, voiced by Red Skelton
- New Year Has Come: Rudolph's Shiny New Year deconstructs 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.
- 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
- 1 Million B.C.: The first island Rudolph visits. It's a tropical isle inhabited by dinosaurs, of course. The year's personification is a caveman who goes by "O.M.", short for "One Million BC". Just go with it.
- 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?
- 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: 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 for August, 1928. That's the month and year in which screenwriter Romeo Muller was born.
- 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.
- Time Stands Still: What will happen should Rudolph fail.
- Time Travel: Visiting the islands in the Archipelago of Last Years is a kind of a time travel. Sorta. Well, the song "Turn Back the Years" does encourage you to think of it this way.
- 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, Eon the Terrible—Yes kidnapping an infant and trying to avert the coming of the new year is a jerk move, but Eon 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, Eon 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, the theme of 1492's island, where they were "too busy discovering things." 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.