|ROBBIE THE REINDEER IN LEGEND OF THE LOST TRIBE (bbc and cbs, 2002)|
Why was it such a misfit?
When last we saw Robbie the Super-Nosed Reindeer, son of Rudolph, he had just conquered the Reindeer Games, thwarted the evil schemes of Blitzen, and realized his growing passion for Donner. What's he up to NOW?
Or more accurately, what was he up to around 2002? As the opening scene of the sequel special Legend of the Lost Tribe reveals, he now holds a job as a tour guide. The reason he's working, they explain, is because Santa gives his toys away and doesn't pay his reindeer anything.
A penguin (voiced by Ricky Gervais) interrupts him and says, "Scuse me, sir, but is it just me or is that fence really rickety and unsafe? Like to say, some poor sod could just fall right off--no, wait..." He backs up a few paces, gets in position.... "--could just fall right off, like if he did something like this!" Sure enough, the ramshackle fence breaks, and then the penguin looks completely surprised as he starts tipping over the edge. Robbie rushes to save him, executing a perfect Nose Bounce, but in the process becomes trapped on the cliff edge himself. He screams for help, but the tourists say "Uh, it's YOUR job to save people." Barely a minute in and already this special's hilarious.
Robbie plummets downward, saved only by a small branch at the last possible second. Someone or something seen only in shadow lets him down, then tells him if he follows the path before him he'll make it back up the mountain. All we can tell is that he's wearing a horned helmet. Robbie turns back to thank the man, but discovers he's now vanished.
We now travel to a log cabin, where it's revealed most of the reindeer cast from the first special have opened their own tourism trade, "North Pole Holidays." Business is....not good. The fence was lousy because Robbie built it, and the cabins he erected are also of equal quality. No visitor will stay in them, and some demand immediate refunds upon their arrival. Because of the negative profits, everybody has to bathe in the same tub simultaneously -- they can't afford more water than that. Can you believe CBS cut out that last scene in their redub?
In fact, they cut out a lot of good material, including the entire opening sequence and this following one. Robbie returns to the office and swears to everyone he just met a living Viking. His only response is scoffs and jeers. Old Jingles, the crazy one, points out Vikings have been gone for centuries. "I should know, I was there!"
Jingles tells, in animation, the story of how Vikings disappeared: after they'd fought everybody, and there was no one left to fight, they settled for fighting each other. Eventually they were all dead save one Viking, who ripped his own arm off and beat HIMSELF to death. And thus, they went extinct, and so Robbie couldn't have possibly seen a Viking.
It goes without saying, the BBC version is by far the superior cut. It's not because the CBS version was recast with American celebrities -- the celebrities did a pretty good job, sometimes even better (Brad Garrett is Prancer; you can't beat Brad). It's because in the CBS airing, there are vikings in this for no reason. The special sorely needed Old Jingles' speech.
The scene now shifts to the county jail. The jail warden is speaking to an unseen deer behind a solid iron door. "Due to your winning the Best Behaved Prisoner award six times in a row, we've decided to reduce your sentence by fifty years! Congratuations, you're a free man....Blitzen." Uh-oooooohhhhhhh.
The second Blitzen shows his face at North Pole Holidays, the reindeer shriek in terror and throw him out, then barricade the door. He tries slipping in through a window, and when that results in his being thrown out the same way, he resorts to the chimney. Finally he gets the message. "So you don't trust me anymore.....well, I can't say I blame you. I see it's too late for me to mend my fences around here." As he slowly trudges out the door he adds, "......And I never had a chance to tell you how to save your holiday business."
Suddenly, they all trust him again.
Blitzen speaks while drawing up a blueprint of something. "See, your problem is, you've built huts. No one wants to stay in huts. They're not animals! ....well, they are animals, but that's beside the point. If you'd built yourselves a luxury hotel, like this, you would start attracting a desired crowd of rich affluence!" He finishes drawing at that point and reveals his blueprint of a gorgeously ornate building.
And as convienience would have it, right at that moment a rich rabbit enters the room. "Hello, I'm software billionaire Warren Hutch....I'm in the area and I'm looking for a fancy hotel to stay at; anybody seen one?"
"SURE, JUST WAIT A
FEW MINUTES!" all the reindeer shout, and in
cartoonishly record time, they've raised the walls on the
new hotel, built to Blitzen's specifications.
"Yes, it's a lovely
place," says Warren, "but you know what would
make it better? Some champagne."
They rush inside to find.....nothing at all. Wait a minute.....
At that point, Blitzen hits a remote button and steel bars CLANG over all the windows!
"You've built an attraction, all right, but MY attraction! Or rather, the first of several! I'm starting an amusement park, with YOU as my slaves!" Blitzen has exacted his revenge, and now reveals his new gang of buddies from prison, a huge and muscular bunch of rabbit toughs. And then, "Warren Hutch" pulls off his mask to reveal he is really Long-Eared Jack, Master of Disguise!
"We're going to show
you the meaning of suffering," croons Blitzen
That evening, Blitzen and his gang are drinking by the fire and throwing out suggestions. "And we'll sell the popcorn under a big sign that says 'IF YOUR DADDY DOESN'T BUY YOU POPCORN, HE DOESN'T LOVE YOU!'"
Robbie and the other
reindeer watch helplessly from behind bars. "You
know the worst part about this? They made us build our
Prancer breathes at that corner lightly and it falls to pieces.
The campfire where the villains are gloating is dangerously close to the hotel/prison, so our protagonists have to sneak out quietly, one at a time, and quickly dart behind trees. Robbie makes it, and Donner does too.....but Prancer's plump body has trouble hiding, and then he just outright runs into a tree, causing it to topple on the remaning reindeer. That definitely gets Blitzen's attention, and the three run for their lives. Fortunately, they escape.
Blitzen can't complete his
revenge without them. "They could be anywhere by
now! If only we could find Yukon Bob, the legendary
tracker! He would hunt them down ruthlessly..."
He's now a middle-aged
woman. "Huh? So what?" humphs Blitzen.
"Well, tickle my
fancy. You ARE Yukon Bob," Blitzen says
Meanwhile, Robbie, Donner
and Prancer need a plan to break the others free. But
how? They would need an army, points out Prancer.
But then Donner thinks about it, and realizes they have no other leads. "All right. Lead us to where you saw them last."
The three reindeer hike through the next day and into the evening, and are bushed once they reach a clearing. Donner suggests they head one direction, which has a stream, because "people live near water." Robbie wants to go a different way. This little tiff escalates within seconds into a full-heated argument which ends in Donner saying "Fine, yer choked!" It must mean "I'm breaking up with you" in British-ese.
Robbie and Donner are so angry with each other they don't notice the tunnel of dirt, as if dug by a rabbit, heading rapidly for them. It's already pulled Prancer under! Prancer's cries for help alert the two and they immediately burst into a sprint. Donner isn't fast enough and gets pulled in as well. It's up to Robbie, but he stops fast once he reaches the edge of a large cliff. His only hope, as he remembers the wise words of Old Jingles, is to "BOUNCE with your NOOOOOSE!"
Robbie gets a running
start, grabs two pickaxes from his backpack and charges
at the cliff, nose-bouncing on the edge! And he.....
When Robbie stirs again, the first thing he sees are out-of-focus blobby shapes....with horns. He immediately snaps fully awake. HE FOUND THE VIKINGS!
"Uh.....no, no, we're
not Vikings, are you a Viking, Magnus?"
As Magnus explains (by the way, they're all named "Magnus"), Old Jingles' story was actually correct...except for one detail. During the final battle, a small group of Vikings slipped out of the fight and hid under a rug....because they were too cowardly to finish. This act brought great shame upon them, and even though they're the last Viking tribe on Earth, they can never go public. "We're nuttin' but cowards....we can't help you, I'm sorry."
Robbie won't stand for that, and gives them a rousing pep talk, reminding them of their roots. As he's reaching the end of it, he doesn't see Yukon Bob on a hang glider heading straight for him. It's too late to run, and Robbie is helplessly captured, screaming for their assistance as he's taken away into the clouds.
"What a noble little
lad. I hope someone can help him."
Blitzen's amusement park is now open for business. He's fitted mind-control helmets on all the reindeer and forced them to act as animatronics in a ride, with painful results.
The attraction's first visitors are piled into a railcar and sent along a track. An announcer's voice calls out, "This is a reindeer. He has a tough and sturdy pair of antlers that will not come off. Even if they're shaken, like this."
Donner and Prancer are being forced to graze in a scene depicting reindeer living with dinosaurs, which means a giant foot stomps on them periodically. As for Robbie, he's been given the worst gig of all. "Today, the reindeer faces many dangers. He must avoid painful bear traps, like these....and these....and don't forget THESE!" Robbie is dangled above a death pit filled with metal snapping jaws of all sizes, and the rope he's suspended by is purposely beginning to fray. Robbie doesn't even get a mind control helmet. As Blitzen seethes in the control room, he hisses "I want him to feel EVERY MOMENT of this!!"
Just then, the first tourists to take the ride jump off the railcar. They look like giant walking trenchcoats, but of course, inside they are Vikings on each other's shoulders. Using arrows tied to strong ropes, they shoot an instant net and save Robbie from his doom, then CHARGE against the army of security bunnies!
While the melee is taking place, Robbie rips the helmets off the other reindeer and their make their escape. Then so does Blitzen, who hops into the railcar and pushes a secret button. Jet engines protrude from the back and he blasts out of the park, into the forest.
Prancer corners Yukon Bob in the hallway. Bob pulls off his "Bob" mask to reveal he's really a ninja, but his moves are no good against Prancer who simply grabs him by the neck and slams him against the wall. Prancer yanks off mask after mask, muttering "Come on, who are you? Who are you really?" When the actual final mask comes off, he's astonished to see....
"CARLOS THE HAMSTER,
WANTED IN TWENTY COUNTRIES!"
Robbie won't allow Blitzen to escape so easily, and runs after him. Donner wants to help too, but Robbie says "No, this is man's work," or something to the equivalent of that. At first Donner was so happy to see Robbie that all his past faults were forgiven, but now they're coming back into memory.
Robbie stuffs a popcorn bucket full of unpopped kernels and heats it up, climbs on top of it and blasts into the forest. Coming right behind unbeknownst to Robbie is Donner, who fits herself in a tuba and is PHROMPHED clear into the sky.
Robbie catches up with
Blitzen and leaps onto his railcar, but Blitzen is
unfazed. "DO YOU KNOW what I practiced EVERY DAY in
prison? DO YOU?"
Blitzen has Robbie pinned and down for the count when Donner interrupts the fight by crash-landing into the back seat of the railcar.
"ROBBIE, WE NEED TO
"You take me for
granted!" "That's not true!"
Blitzen points at Donner.
"YOU should stop worrying so much. It's obvious
Robbie loves you more than anything. He just forgets
himself sometimes, 'cause he's an idiot."
Robbie looks at Donner as violin music rises. "Donner....I love you. Would you make me the happiest reindeer in the world?"
"You'll never know.....because NOW IS WHEN I KILL YOU!!" Blitzen raises his fist and prepares to knock Robbie out of the car.
"No one.....but NO ONE....threatens my FIANCE!!!" Donner screams, socking Blitzen away before he can react.
The Vikings have chased the rabbits all the way back to the county jail, where the warden is waiting with the doors open. Just as they're all chased inside, Blitzen falls out of the sky and bounces back into the big house. "This is such a bitter disappointment," the warden sighs as he closes the door.
Robbie and Donner arrive
back at the amusement park and everyone cheers as they
kiss in public.
"Well, Magnus had an
idea about that...." starts one Viking.
Prancer had his heart set
on his own idea. "No....a DISCO HALL."
The only thing to do was compromise.
Why didn't it fit in?
Five years later, a third Robbie special appeared. Did it keep up the streak? .....You'll find out someday.....