Monday, December 19, 2016

Christmas Movie Marathon Day 24

           I'm trying something different to get in the holiday spirit this year. Every day, from now through Christmas, I will be watching a different Christmas movie or television special. I have compiled the list of features ahead of time and am drawing one, at random, from my Christmas stocking everyday to determine what gets watched. Thank you for joining me in this endeavor. We are closing in on the finale. What is the pick for day twenty-four?

Olive, the Other Reindeer (1999)

           This is one of those specials that I knew had to be on this list. It is one that I have a huge soft spot for but have not seen in a while. I own it on VHS but not DVD, which explains the gap in my viewing. Truth is, I bought the DVD specifically for this project. My personal history with this special dates to its original airing on FOX in the holiday season of 1999. I've mentioned that I was a moody teenager on this blog before and, while it is something that I can poke fun at now, it was not without reason. My time in junior high was simply awful, things didn't begin to turn around for me at all until around the back end of 10th grade. The point of relaying this isn't to start a pity party but more to convey that I was not feeling the holiday spirit at all in December of 1999.
           This changed at least somewhat the night this special aired. My parents were out of the house. I am not quite sure why, but assuming that they both had meetings is a pretty safe bet. So, I had the house to myself and was mostly depressed. Looking for anything to distract me, I stumbled across Olive, the Other Reindeer on FOX. I don't know why it worked to put me in the holiday spirit as well as it did. Perhaps it was the sarcastic, off-beat tone that spoke to me. Maybe it was just that it was a really good, new Christmas special. I am not sure, but I doubt that pulling me out of my funk, even for a few days, is something a more traditional special could have done. All of this is to say that this special holds a prominent place in my memory and I am excited to see it again.


           The special starts with Olive, a decidedly non-dog-like dog doing the last of her Christmas shopping. On her way home she encounters Martini, a penguin selling “genuine” Rolexxx watches. During his sales pitch, a police officer approaches and begins to hassle Martini. Olive plays along and helps Martini out of the jam and then finally heads home. At home, her owner, Tim, is short with her. He scolds her for not acting like a normal dog and states that Christmas might not be coming this year. Olive is hurt and confused by what Tim meant about Christmas. She goes in to her dog house and begins wrapping gifts with the help of her pet flea, Fido. Upon turning on the radio for background music, she finds out what Tim meant. Blitzen has been injured in a training flight and it sounds as though Santa will have to cancel his flight. Fido mishears part of Santa's speech as “Olive, the other reindeer” instead of “all of the other reindeer” and soon convinces Olive that she is needed at the North Pole, after all she barely acts like a dog.

Penguins selling knock-off watches may be even better that penguins in scarves.

           Olive heads to the bus depot to purchase a ticket to the North Pole. While there, she runs in to Martini, who asks her to buy him a ticket to the North Pole as well. After momentary hesitation, she does so. As Olive is heading towards the bus for departure she comes in to contact with the villain of the special, a Postman who is sick of the increase in mail that Christmas brings. Martini provides a distraction to allow escape and soon Olive and Martini are on the road to the North Pole.
           The bus is not a direct route and they have a stop at Polar Junction. Olive, Martini, and their bus driver, Richard Stands (who used to think the pledge of allegiance was about him), decide to grab a bite to eat at the diner. The Postman makes another attempt to stop them and successfully kidnaps Olive. She escapes via Deus ex Machina but has missed the departure of the second leg of the trip to the North Pole. All hope seems lost but they are able to get a ride the rest of the way from Round John Virgin, a patron of the biker bar at Polar Junction.

I wasn't just trying to rush the synopsis.

           Upon reaching the North Pole, Olive is able to convince Santa and the Reindeer to give her a chance and attempt to go through with the Christmas deliveries. Olive is able to help, though she is not quite sure how she is doing it. Santa, Olive, and the others set out on their deliveries but, upon reaching the first house they discover a problem: the Postman has stolen Santa's bag of presents and replaced it with a mail bag. They are able to overcome the Postman and get back the presents and save Christmas. 
Final Thoughts

           I still absolutely adore this special. Admittedly, there is a ton a of nostalgia coloring my view on this one. It came along at a time in my life when I absolutely needed it. However, my girlfriend watched this one with me and enjoyed it even though she had never seen it before. So, I am going to guess that I am not entirely off base in my opinion on this one. That being said, I am surprised how little this special has aired. The original airing that I caught is the only network airing that I am aware of. Further, I have never seen this on a cable network as part of a holiday block. It's possible that cable airings have gone under my radar but even if they have they certainly don't go out of their way to push this one too much. That is a huge missed opportunity. This is one of the most charming specials in the last twenty years and it deserves its due. It has just the right blend of earnest holiday optimism mixed with a sarcastic bite. It is available for cheap on Amazon and well worth your time. That's it for today, I'll see you back here tomorrow.

I stand corrected; Postal Service penguins are the best penguins.

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