Off Campus

08 December 2004

The Lost Rankin-Bass Specials

We all remember Rudolph, Frosty, Santa, and Nestor, those timeless Rankin-Bass animated classics. As that time of year rolls around again, and ABC Family pulls out all the stops and airs them round-the-clock, we at OC turn our attention to some of the lesser-known Rankin-Bass specials that, for one reason or another, have remained on the shelves since their original broadcasts, far from the shimmering light of a picture tube or DVD. Here, for the first time publicly, we dip into the Rankin-Bass vault and uncover the lost classics of our youth.....


The Story of Ike, The Cristmas Chimp (1975)
Christmas as seen through the eyes of a chimp who appears on greeting cards. Ike discovers the sprit of Christmas through a series of comic adventures and wild ride on a runaway hot dog cart.

Rudolph's Shiny New Ears (1978)
After an emergency crash landing into a snowblower, Rudolph is re-built better, faster, and stronger with bionic ears. After learning a hard lesson about eavesdropping, Rudolph is enlisted in the off-season by the FBI as a wireless wiretapper, listening in on organized crime figures in the greater Detroit area.

The Little Drummer Boy Joins The Navy (1980)
The Little Drummer Boy, now 18, decides to leave home and join the Navy, where he uses his drumming skills to both entertain the troops and communicate with dolphins. Special performance of "In The Navy" by The Village People, animated as a school of Tuna.

Frosty: Still Smokin' (1981)
Frosty dips himself in dry ice and heads to Florida for Spring Break to chill with the party crowd. Giving off an eerie fog everywhere he goes, he becomes the life of the party and the target of local narcotics officers. Featuring an animated performance by Kim Carnes and guest voices by Larry Hagman and Linda Lavin.

The Year Without a Santa Claus Suit (1982)
A department store Santa loses his rented suit, and must improvise with vegetables to create a passsable costume, or lose his job.

Santa Claus Is Taking A Year Off An Re-examining His Values (1983)
Santa Claus decides to cool it for a year and look within. A more adult approach to animation from Rankin-Bass, essentially a claymation one-man show as Pernell Roberts (TV's Trapper John, M.D.) goes deep inside the psyche as Kris Kringle, the man. Special guest voice appearance by Linda Lavin.

The Year Without A New Rankin-Bass Special (1984)
Strange, experimental special from Rankin-Bass, examining the effects of no new Rankin-Bass special on two young children, who have to fend for their Rankin-Bass-deprived selves and watch IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE again. Broke the fourth-wall in a revolutionary, though not terribly entertaining, way. Essentially a ten-minute wrap-around created to bookend a network airing of IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE.

Santa Claus Is Doing Just Fine (1985)
Special created after the complete failure (and avalanche of hate-mail received after the airing) of the experimental SANTA CLAUS IS TAKING THE YEAR OFF AND RE-EXAMINING HIS VALUES, to reassure children that Santa still existed and was not a self-pitying emotional sinkhole. Santa sings songs, pets animals, and delivers lots and lots of presents. A special 900 number was activated the week before and after the special aired, featuring the voice of the animated Santa apologizing for the previous special, and assuring children that he was happy and free of self-hatred. Special guest voice by Linda Lavin.