For once again bringing innocent and nostalgic cheer to generations of viewers, CBS’ 50th anniversary broadcast on December 9th of the perennial holiday favorite Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer is the Best TV Show of the Week.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is one of American broadcasting’s longest-running Christmas specials. Rudolph is a true light in the darkness of prime-time, and offers a heartwarming message about overcoming adversity and the value of friends and family. The entire family can be inspired and touched by the trials and triumphs Rudolph experiences.
In the classic story, a young reindeer named Rudolph aspires to be part of Santa’s team of reindeer that draw Santa’s sleigh throughout the world on Christmas Eve. Unfortunately for Rudolph, he has a birth defect: a shiny red nose. When he is told he won’t qualify for the team and is ridiculed by his peers, Rudolph sets out to find his own place in the world. Befriended by other perceived social “misfits” on his journey, Rudolph learns courage, compassion, and self-worth. His perseverance pays off when he learns that his defect is actually a blessing that will save Christmas: Rudolph’s red nose is the only thing that can help Santa to navigate his sleigh through bad weather.
Two features on this broadcast were of particular note. Firstly, this broadcast that Rudolph was followed two hours later by the horrendously sexist and inappropriate Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. The PTC warned viewers the day before that it was likely that CBS would promote the sleazy lingerie show during what should be an innocent children’s special. In the event, not a single promo for Victoria’s Secret or its fashion show was shown during the Rudolph special. CBS is to be congratulated for its responsible corporate behavior. (This proves that networks CAN take young viewers into account if they wish to; unfortunately, they generally don’t bother.)
Secondly, one promo did air for the crime drama NCIS; but it was charming, even sweet, with two of the characters from NCIS wishing Rudolph a “Happy 50th” – as did several other ads from CBS. It is truly a sign of respect (and class) that CBS should make a point of celebrating the 50th anniversary of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
While it is a true delight to have quality family programming such as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer broadcast, it is unfortunate that networks don’t realize that the message of the program is not only attractive to viewers during the holiday season, but all year. Rudolph’s story is not the longest-running Christmas special in history because it pushes the limits of decency or brings shock value — a formula networks seem to believe is the path to success. Rather, is has been successful because it is good and decent. It reminds people of the way things were, of a time when families could gather together and enjoy entertainment equally. Rudolph warms hearts, sparks compassion, and gives hope. To write an animated story for all ages that can achieve these goals generation after generation is sheer brilliance – which is why Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is once again the Best TV Show of the Week.