The lovable Rudolph has been in a few other stories besides his own Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, and my favorite of these is called Rudolph’s Shiny New Year. This animated cartoon actually takes place right after the events that made Rudolph famous. It’s a story about the new year being in danger.
The marvelous Red Skelton voiced Father Time, a character animated to resemble him. He also gave voice to Baby Bear, who was part of a My Three Bears type sequence. He sings a couple of numbers, including my favorite of the program, “Turn Back the Year.”
Skelton is,naturally, superb. He added real credence to the special program.
The story’s concept is that Happy, the baby new year, has run off. He is self-conscious because he has big ears, and every time he makes friends, they end up laughing. He thinks they are laughing at him and always runs off. Rudolph understands Happy’s feelings completely. After all, he just went through something similar with his red nose. This makes him the mentor now, and it is a perfect concept in my mind. The reindeer sings another of my favorite songs (the soundtrack for this special is quite good), “Have a Little Faith in Me.”
As Rudolph searches for Happy, he comes across a variety of characters that represent various points in time or certain years in history. My favorite is the whale, Big Ben, voiced by Harold Peary. I just like the humor and look of Big Ben. He was fun.
Frank Gorshin, Morey Amsterdam, Paul Frees, and Don Messick provided some of the voices, with Billie Mae Richards reprising Rudolph. I’m not that big on Gorshin, and his vocals are over the top, which I am sure it was intended to be. That really is the only part of the story, or the only character, I am not thrilled with.
The Santa bits are terrific, especially how he is incorporated into the ending. There’s a nice line about getting Happy to Father Time within a few bongs that always gets me smiling.
So, this is a great special for the holiday season.