If you’re looking for some cinematic holiday spirit, it should be abundantly clear by now that The Polar Express is not the answer. May I recommend, then, the unjustly obscure classic Olive, the Other Reindeer?
Perhaps you are one of the lucky few who caught this hour-long animated Christmas special on Fox before they inexplicably stopped running it. If so, then you know it’s savvy and goofy and sweet, the best in its genre since the Grinch. In fact, if you ask me, it’s a good sight better; it’s one of those blessed pieces of kiddie culture that aims to please the parents as well, not to mention random adults who don’t have the face-saving cover of children to explain my, er, their deep familiarity with it.
Michael Stipe crooning soulfully as Schnitzel, Blitzen’s nonflying cousin; Joey Pants playing a penguin who hawks phony Rolexes out of a briefcase; Drew Barrymore as a dog who thinks she’s a reindeer: what’s not to like? Trust me. I realize “animated holiday special” are not words likely to strike hope in the hearts of the aesthetically discerning. But every skeptical soul that I’ve tied to a chair and forced to watch Olive has thanked me for it in the end.
Bonus materials: the brilliant creators of Olive, J. Otto Seibold and Vivian Walsh, introduced her in this book. Seibold, who seems to have looked at a lot of Picasso, draws his penguins, dogs, and fleas on a Macintosh. Walsh and Seibold also wrote and illustrated the official children’s guide to Going to the Getty Center in Los Angeles.
UPDATE/CLARIFICATION: Delicious of Delicious Pundit rightly points out that I wrongly imply that Seibold and Walsh are the only brilliant parties involved here. While credit for creating Olive and her universe is theirs, the television special itself is the fabulous work of television comedy writer Steve Young. Far be it from me to deny credit to someone whose work has pleased me so, well, deliciously. I’m grateful for the correction.