In 1997, a children’s book titled, “Olive The Other Reindeer” published nationwide. The book caught the attention of The Simpsons/Futurama creator, Matt Groening. One night, he read a bedtime story to his kids. Encouraged by the book’s storyline, Matt decided to adapt it as a Christmas Special.
Olive The Other Reindeer aired on Fox in 1999. (same year Family Guy & Futurama also aired on Fox) It earned positive reception from critics and viewers alike. It went on to earn an Emmy Award nomination for “Best Outstanding Animated Program.” Sadly, it went home empty handed.
Now that Matt Groening is still airing The Simpsons for nearly 30 years & also developing a second season of “Disenchantment” on Netflix, I’d like to present my review for one of my personal favorite Christmas Specials. I have to admit, I wasn’t aware it was based on a book.
The following review doesn’t contain any crucial SPOILERS whatsoever. Feel free to read this non-spoiler article. Does it still hold up? Well let’s find out shall we?
Nice & Naughty Elements
Nice: Drew Barrymore did a great job for her voiceover performance as the title character.
Fun Fact: Drew named her daughter Olive after the character she voiced. Ain’t that adorable?
Other Cast Members such as Dan Castellaneta, (voice of Homer Simpson, Groundskeeper Willie, Mayor Quimby among many other Simpsons characters) Joe Pantoliano, Peter MacNicol, Jay Mohr, Tim Meadows, Tess MacNeille & Ed Asner all did a good job for their respective voiceover performances. Wait a second? Ed went on to play Santa in Elf. I guess Will Ferrell & Jon Favreau must’ve watched Olive The Other Reindeer.
Computer Animation brings the book to life. Kinda like a living and breathing coloring book. Even though the animation looks cheesy, it surprisingly still holds up.
Matt Groening did an excellent job for producing the special.
Humor retains Matt’s style of humor from The Simpsons.
Musical Numbers are catchy to sing-along.
A bus passes through a Frostbite Falls sign. A reference to “The Rocky & Bullwinkle Show.” Matt Groening stated the show inspired him to create The Simpsons. Homer’s middle name “Jay,” is a tribute to Bullwinkle’s middle name.
A talking dog interacting with his owner and other people. Brain Griffin made his first appearance on Family Guy in 1999.
The Special did a jab on a plot element called, “Deus Ex Machina.” Gotta love meta humor. Matt Is known for mocking tropes.
The Special also mocked Rudolph’s existence. I would assume that Matt didn’t like the 1998 version or Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer.
If you’re a fan of R.E.M. Michael Stipe, the lead singer of R.E.M. provides the voice of Schnitzel The Reindeer.
In one scene, The Mailman (real name never mentioned) grunts Homer’s catchphrase, “D’OH” twice.
The Mailman’s motive makes sense because he believes Christmas can stress him during the holidays. He also mentioned his childhood during Christmas.
Someone referenced a James Bond line. Pierce Brosnan’s third Bond film, “The World Is Not Enough” came out the exact same year as Olive The Other Reindeer.
Similar to The Joker’s complex backstory from “The Killing Joke” or “The Dark Knight” mentioned or shown in multiple versions, Olive’s “Call To Adventure” can be interpreted in multiple choice from her flea friend, “Fido.”
Naughty: To be honest, I couldn’t find anything wrong with this special. I’ll give The Cast & Crew an Extra Point for making a flawless Christmas Special.
The Final Verdict: A, FOR APEX!
In my opinion, Olive The Other Reindeer is one of the best Christmas Specials of all time & also one of my personal favorites next to “Shrek The Halls,” “Ed Edd N Eddy’s Jingle Jingle Jangle,” “The Madagascar Penguins In A Christmas Caper” & South Park’s three parter episode “Black Friday.” If you’re interested in Olive The Other Reindeer, I strongly recommend it for you and your family members.